To Christians and others who value life, abortion is always in the midst of conversation during the campaign season. I think it’s a fair statement that most Christians are against abortion although there may be a wide gulf with regard to the allowances given to pursue one.
Personally I have never been pro-abortion (I refuse to use the politically correct, “pro-choice”, as it has been purposefully employed to anesthetize the full implication) although I have wavered at times over the reasons why a woman might be granted an abortion. Typically I would say, “An abortion should never be allowed except in the case where the mother’s life is in jeopardy or in the case of rape or incest.” But lately I’ve been rethinking the latter; my thoughts have been on St. Mungo.
Some years ago I read Nigel Tranter’s Druid Sacrifice , a historically based work of fiction about the life of St. Mungo, also affectionately known as Kentigern which means “chief lord or prince”. Tranter’s novel was based on documents recording the life of this saint from the 12th century. It was a gripping tale and shed light on druid practices, family structures of the 6th century, and God’s amazing grace in this dark period of history.
Mungo’s mother, Thanea (or Thenaw) was the daughter of King Loth (or Leudon) and objected to his druidical practices, also refusing to marry the man selected for her. In Tranter’s tale, Thanea is raped at the hands of one she knows from the inner court. In other biographical accounts, the term “rape” is not employed but the encounter is always portrayed as illicit.
Humiliated at her obstinacy and now pregnant state, King Loth decides to execute his daughter by casting her from Traprain Law. When she miraculously survives, she is then sent forth in a coracle to perish on the River Forth. Divine intervention carries Thanea and her unborn child to safety and the care of the monks of St. Serf. God's grace is bestowed on this young mother who later delivers and delights in her precious son.
The life of Kentigern is a beautiful tale of how goodness and mercy may be born of violence and evil, of wildflowers growing in the rockiest of places. As I was reading more on St. Mungo, I happened upon a site by Rebecca Kiessling that stirred my convictions.
She is a woman who was conceived in rape and now speaks to others regarding pro-life and what that little phrase implies when we say “...except in cases of rape...”. She boldly proclaims, “Please understand that whenever you identify yourself as being “pro-choice”, or whenever you make that exception for rape, what that really translates into is you being able to stand before me, look me in the eye, and say, “I think your mother should have been able to abort you.”
In no way do I wish to judge or diminish the pain and horror some women have known at the hands of violence. It is all the more that I stand in wonder of those women who have overcome darkness to rejoice in the babies that resulted from rape. May God continue to bless them and enable them to tell their stories far and wide.
*Photograph is from the Church of St. Mungo website; he is the patron saint of Glasgow.