Posts Tagged ‘caregiver’

Jackie Burkle gave birth to twins at home.  But, on January 11, she was charged with the killing of her daughters.

Jackie is a 2008 graduate of a high school twenty miles from my home.  She was a music major at my local community college.  As of this writing, she is incarcerated thirty miles from my home.  She is facing two counts of first degree murder and being held on a million dollars bond — half a million dollars for each child.  The Judge told her that she will face “a mandatory life sentence in prison if convicted.”

Police found Jackie’s twin daughters in the trunk of her car.  She confessed to the crime.  The DCI special agent handling the case said, “She acted to terminate the lives of both of her newborn infants.  She also stated that she intended to end their lives and was not at any time intending that these children would live.”  Police were called to check on the 22-year-old mom after someone noticed that she wasn’t pregnant anymore.

How do we make this kind of behavior unthinkable?

Believers in the Creator of life need to ask ourselves some important questions.  Why?  Because we are all part of Jackie’s human family.

  1. Did Jackie know about Iowa’s Safe Haven Law?  If a parent takes an “unwanted” baby to a hospital or health care facility and leaves the infant there with staff, no questions will be asked.  Fourteen Iowa newborns since 2001 have been dropped off at a safe place. 
  2. Did anyone tell Jackie about the Lighthouse Center of Hope (a caring pregnancy center close to her) or any one of the many life centers in Iowa?  Did anyone discuss making an adoption plan?
  3. Did Jackie have anyone who cared enough to ask her questions about her pregnancy?  How she was doing?  If she was in need of emotional, financial, or spiritual help?
  4. Did anyone invite Jackie to a support group, Bible study, or even out for lunch?
  5. Did anyone explain to Jackie that she and her babies are “fearfully and wonderfully made?”  That each is a treasure for whom Jesus gave His life?
  6. Was Jackie schooled by years of sex education, made comfortable with her “sexuality,” and taken captive by a sensualized culture?  Had Jackie been convinced by Planned Parenthood-style education that she could separate the act of sex from procreation?
  7. Did a man use words of love to lead Jackie into intimacy and then abandon her?
  8. Was Jackie influenced by billboards that read: Children are loud, smelly, and burdensome… unless you want one…?
  9. Did Jackie rationalize that if it’s o.k. to take a baby’s life days before birth then what can be so wrong with a few days after?
  10. Will anyone help Jackie confront the evil of her action and tenderly lead her to the mercy and healing forgiveness of Christ?

Maybe Jackie will be found “mentally incompetent” or traumatized.  Maybe she will be spared one kind of prison.  But, there is another.  It is the guilt of our sin.  Of doing something that goes against creation itself.

Jackie is my neighbor.  Your neighbor.  Jackie did not have to choose death for her daughters or suffer the consequences of aborting them after birth.  She had other choices.  There are many.  But, we are part of those choices.

For the sake of all the other Jackies — confused, frightened, lonely — and their babies, we need to be watchful.  Willing to lead away from danger.  Offer a better way.  A hand.  A shoulder.  A safe place.  A new beginning.

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Last year, in Arizona, I was asked by a friend from Canada to have lunch with the daughter of her friend.  My Canadian friend knew about my involvement in Lutherans For Life and Word of Hope.  She knew a little bit of why Titus 2 for Life grew out of my experiences with women grieving after an abortion.  She also knew that her friend’s daughter was interested in starting some sort of caring ministry for women in her area who were affected by their abortions.

So, under a canopy of blue sky, two older and two younger women gathered around an informal table.  We were there to imagine:  What could be done to welcome, encourage, and heal with the amazing love of Jesus?  It was easy to see the passion in Tessie, the woman who desired to begin a post abortion group.  She wore a genuine heart on her sleeve.  But, more than the passion and heart was her conviction and the courage to speak the Truth  For, you see, without the truth, the passion and heart would not bring hope.

I offered my assistance and prayers to Tessie.  We parted ways, but promised to stay in touch by e-mail.  We have.  Tessie is accountable with her “reports” to me and a few trusted others.

In the spring, Tessie started her first group for post abortive women.    By the end of September, she had led three groups.  All of this was done by word of mouth and little posters in area churches.

I asked Tessie about the diversity of the women.  She replied,

“There have been 18 women from the three groups that I’ve led.  They range in ages from 28 to 60+.  The women are mostly Caucasian, with one Hispanic and two African Americans.  Seven are single.  Three are divorced.  Eight are married.  All of the women claim to be Christians.  Three of the women married the father of their aborted child, but one [of those] divorced years later.  Five have had multiple abortions.  Two were late term.”

The eighteen women that Tessie has encircled remind me of the women God has placed in my life.

At last count, 24 of my friends, relatives, or acquaintances have shared their abortion experience with me.  Many of these are women who came up to me after I had finished speaking about Biblical manhood and womanhood.  One woman admitted that was the only reason she could attend the event.  She said, “If you had come to speak about abortion, I wouldn’t have showed up.  But, I was curious about living as a Biblical woman.”  She went on to explain, “When you shared the story of your friend who had an abortion, how did you know?  You were speaking to me.  That was my story.”

Of the 24 women in my “circle” who have suffered an abortion, 18 are Lutheran.  Two are the wives of Lutheran pastors.  At least three have had more than one abortion.

One of the women is someone I’ve known a long time.  We’ve traveled different paths and, because of that, our experiences have resulted in very different consequences.  One day, quite unexpected, she shared a receipt from Planned Parenthood that she keeps in her billfold.  She also shared a cut-out picture of a little girl that, she explained, may have looked like her daughter.  God has done a healing work on this woman.  She will live with the regret the rest of her life but, every morning, she looks in the mirror to see the Robe of Jesus’ Righteousness wrapped securely around her.

Another woman and I nearly lost our friendship after her abortion.  I think it was the first time I realized how divisive the double-edged Sword of God’s Word really is.  She knew she was living on the wrong side of the Sword, but had to defend herself.  In time, that Sword pierced through the denial to change the heart and mind of a beautiful and forgiven woman.  This friend has motivated me to make myself available to women everywhere — through speaking, writing, and the Titus 2 for Life ministry.

To all of these women, God has Words of promise:

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.  I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound . . . to comfort all who mourn . . . to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes.

(Psalm30:5b; 32:3-5; Isaiah 61:1-3)

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