Taking Life out of the Court’s Hands

We can step up to the plate where women need help most.

‘Comedians” are making jokes about getting your abortions now, before Donald Trump’s latest Supreme Court appointment takes the right away. A new series of emojis indicate that a woman won’t have sex with a man who supports said nominee. Headlines declare, “There’s a Special Place in Hell for Women Who Gut Abortion Rights.” Such has been some of the deluge on screens during the days since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court.

What is the future of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all three trimesters of pregnancy here in the U.S.? Many people are activated for or against the cause. It’s all an opportunity to ask: Who are we and who do we want to be? A people who let the Court determine things we really should be talking about on a more intimate level, or a people known for stepping up to the plate when life gets hard?

Friends who just returned from the Holy Land mentioned Efrat, a group they encountered along their travels. The name comes from Miriam of the Old Testament, the sister of Moses. A courageous woman who attained the supreme spiritual level of prophecy, Miriam was granted an additional name, Efrat, which has the same root as pru vrvu — to populate the world — in recognition of her heroic measures to save Jewish children from annihilation.”

As the website explains:

Pharaoh decreed that all male Jewish infants were to be drowned and declared the death penalty to anyone evading his orders. Miriam personally intervened, endangering her own life to save Jewish children from certain death. In addition, she provided the children’s families with all their needs. As a result of her bravery, the Jews continued to multiply and the Jewish nation survived.

The organization is dedicated to saving the lives of unborn Jewish children.

In the case of Efrat, this is an existential movement — given the history of the Jewish people and, most notably in the contemporary record, the Holocaust — to ensure that Jews will have a home in the world, saving one baby at a time. But there’s a lesson for us all beyond Jews or Israel.

In many ways, the people who run Efrat are more boldly feminist than the most ardent feminist because they use their resources to make it possible for a woman to do what seems impossible, and so they spare her from a life of agony, wondering what could have been if she had let her child live.

Our abortion debates can bring out the worst in our politics. But the people who do the work of listening to women and walking with them in their needs are some of the saints and saint-makers among us. The woman who trusts enough to believe that she will be able to raise this unexpected child, or who gives her child to a loving couple ready and able to give her a home, are some of the most generous among us. The families who open their home to a foster child for an uncertain amount of time have some of the most vulnerably generous, loving hearts among us. They are the kind of people who should be receiving more headlines and attention; they are worthy of celebration and emulation. And we should be asking them, always: What more do you need?

Instead of adding to the screaming, what if we all found a group and got more involved, financially or with our time?

A privately funded project, Efrat’s Yad Chava Baby Fund is determined that a woman should not have to terminate a pregnancy for economic reasons. They’ve put together kits, delivered to homes, that will get things started and help along the way. All privately funded, the website explains that you can save a baby with a $1,200 donation, adding:

True, money cannot always save lives. But, when generosity and wisdom combine, vision and vigor unite, then miracles occur. Lives are saved, children are loved, and families are healed and made whole.

More of that.

The chairman of Efrat has been quoted as saying, “We do not have a single case of a woman who was sorry in the end that she brought her child into the world.” Isn’t that the side we ought to be erring on? Not promising simple ways out — these aren’t that at all —  but helping women make choices for life and love? People are doing that in the world, and in ways that aren’t deeply mired in miserable abortion debates. They somehow bypass them and address instead real-life needs, rather than scaring people who are already in frightening situations. Instead of adding to the screaming, what if we all found a group and got more involved, financially or with our time? Or look around and fill some real needs. It’s harder work than pontificating about the Donald’s latest move. And more fulfilling, too. And it may even save a life.

This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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