“My convictions about abortion are rooted in science & biological facts rather than faith” – Obianuju Ekeocha

Recently there has been a call by a Member of Parliament for the Jamaican Government to repeal legislation that makes abortion illegal. This has sparked a vociferous debate among various civil society and church groups in Jamaica. If we are to go by the recent Don Anderson poll however, it would appear that most Jamaicans are still against the idea, with 75% saying no to legalizing abortion.

This Easter, Family & Faith Magazine take counsel from an expert outside of our shores – a Specialist Biomedical Scientist originally from Nigeria now living and working in the UK – Ms. Obianuju Ekeocha.

Family and Faith Magazine: What is your position on abortion and what are the factors that led to that position?

Obianuju Ekeocha: I am against abortion because I believe that the first and foundational human right is the right to life of every human being at every stage and phase of development. Abortion (whether done legally or illegal) violates that right.

Family and Faith Magazine: A good Christian friend of mine shared with me recently that after understanding the excruciating struggles of a family member who was pregnant with her third child, she helped her to secure an abortion. The reasons were largely due to the woman’s age (she was an older woman) and financial and emotional inability to take care of another child. Do you think there is ever an acceptable reason for abortion?

Obianuju Ekeocha: There is no acceptable reason for abortion just as there isn’t any acceptable reason to kill a toddler, not even in the most desperate circumstance, not even if a parent is poor, homeless, jobless, no one will think it a compassionate solution to kill their little child. This is because we understand the inviolable principle of right to life.

I am not going to make light of desperate situations that many pregnant women may find themselves in. Crisis pregnancy is a very real problem, but what the community around a woman in crisis pregnancy must tackle and remove is the crisis rather than the pregnancy. The community should focus on finding a way to solve the financial difficulty, family instability or any number of other difficulties that may be constituting the crisis. What must not be done is to kill an innocent unborn baby which is already a unique irreplaceable human.

 Family and Faith Magazine: Even if you oppose abortion from a moral or spiritual perspective, why should those with a different view be criminalized for having the procedure?

Obianuju Ekeocha: It is true that I am Christian, and I love my faith, I try to live my faith and I love and serve God.

However, my convictions about abortion are rooted in science and biological facts rather than faith. We are living in an era of cutting-edge science and medical advancement. Perhaps 50 years ago some people may have convincingly claimed that the baby in the womb was a blob of tissue, so an abortion is just like removing a mass of tissue and blood from the womb, but that has been thoroughly debunked by medical science. We have sonograms that allow us to hear the heartbeat of the unborn baby in the womb, we have 2D, 3D and 4D ultrasound technology that allows us to see the baby. This is how we know that from even the first trimester the baby has recognizable arms, legs, fingers and toes.

I am a Specialist Biomedical Scientist in the area of Haematology, we are able to run tests while a woman is pregnant to accurately determine her baby’s blood group.

So, the question is, what does an abortion entail if it’s not just “cleaning the womb”?

Abortion entails killing a gestating baby by either poisoning it, or cutting off its supply of nourishment, or at a later stage in pregnancy cut the baby into pieces. This is inhumane and it should be rejected in every country in the world by people of all faiths and no faith at all.

Family and Faith Magazine: Even if ‘pro-lifers’ and ‘pro-choicers’ don’t agree on the ‘right or wrong’ of abortion, isn’t abortion a personal health care issue – is there a reason for the state to get involved?

Obianuju Ekeocha: Abortion is not healthcare because the core aim of healthcare is to preserve life and preserve health for both the mother and her unborn baby. Whether pro-life or pro-choice everyone instinctively should know what healthcare for a pregnant woman really looks like. She goes to a prenatal clinic, she is examined by a doctor, nurse or midwife, her baby’s heartbeat is perhaps monitored, her own heartbeat and pulse are checked and she gets all the medical support and advice that will help preserve her life as well as her baby’s who is in fact the second patient. If something goes wrong due to the neglect of careless by the gynecology healthcare professionals, there should be consequences. We all understand this. So it is only a logical step from this understanding to all of us acknowledging that any direct procedure that seeks to end the life of the baby in the womb can never be truthfully described as “healthcare” because it goes against every underlying principle of healthcare which really is to preserve health and life of the patients even the ones in the womb!

Family and Faith Magazine: What is your advice to women’s groups in Jamaica about the decriminalization of abortion?

Obianuju Ekeocha: Every woman has the maternal-protective instinct. So, women by nature are meant to be fierce and valiant protectors of babies and children. We should cherish and nurture life especially the most fragile and vulnerable.

Abortion goes against nature (as it violently destroys life), but even beyond that, abortion goes against the natural femininity instinct to nurture life especially at the most vulnerable stage of development- in the womb.

My advice and appeal to women’s groups in Jamaica is for them to rise to full stature and defend the most vulnerable. In my travels, I have had the privilege of speaking with so many women and listening to the most inspiring life-experiences, I have listened to women-war-survivors, I have talked with women who chose life in crisis pregnancy situations, I have conversed with poor women as well as rich women. This is what I learnt – that women are much more resilient, valiant, heroic and courageous than the world has given us credit for in the past. We are able to survive crisis situations, we are able to thrive even in adversity, we are able to empathize and console the wounded, we sow peace in time of war, and we are able to heal communities.

Abortion is not in any way consistent with our nature as it kills the weakest among us (the unborn children), it destroys relationships, breaks family trees and leaves the deepest and ugliest scars in the hearts, lives and homes of so many.

Abortion is very bad when it is illegal, but it is catastrophic and calamitous when any nation embraces it and legalizes it.

Women should be at the forefront of fighting against this horrific practice. I hope the Jamaican women will stand in valiant defense of Jamaica’s precious unborn babies.

End

Leave a reply or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

More About Obianuju Ekeocha  @obianuju

Obianuju Ekeocha is a Nigerian woman, living and working in the United Kingdom as a Specialist Biomedical Scientist.

She is also the founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, an organisation dedicated to the promotion of a Culture of Life in Africa through research, education and the dissemination of information.

She is an internationally acclaimed pro-life speaker, strategist, author and documentary filmmaker who has studied, worked and travelled extensively in Africa.

She is the author of Target Africa: Ideological Neocolonialism of the Twenty-First Century and the Executive Producer of the new documentary Strings Attached.

Obianuju has advised many African, European and North American legislators and policy makers on issues concerning African women’s health, social issues, youth, family, healthcare, foreign aid, education, and culture.

Obianuju she has so far spoken and worked in more than 45 cities in 18 different countries around the world. She has been welcomed as a guest speaker at many high-profile meetings and events including policy briefings at the White House, the US State Department, the European Parliament and a number of Parliaments in Africa, Europe and North America.

Ms Ekeocha has been featured by numerous broadcast networks, including BBC television and radio.

Her passion and privilege is to continue to work in defense of the sanctity and dignity of life within Culture.

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Women are Good, Men are Great?

“Women are good, and men are great” – those were the jarring words escaping my brother’s mouth as he sweetly greeted me and my 4 daughters at grandma’s house.

He beamed as he said it, while bumping fits and adoring his nieces. As a women’s rights advocate and daughter of the King with equal inheritance to the Creator’s blessings, I was confused. What was my worldly, cool, soon-to-be-saved, beloved older brother saying? Part of the confusion was his doting smile. From his vantage point, he was clearly offering a compliment! Of course, I couldn’t let a phrase and ideology like that just waft through the atmosphere among my 4 daughters, lest it found somewhere to take root.

So, I had my brother sit down and explain where he was coming from. He was at pains to emphasize that he was not saying that women were inferior to men or any such notion. He was simply saying that men must be valiant to go to war, to fearlessly and dedicatedly lay their life on the line for the protection and preservation of the family and the nation. In other words, men must be great.

A woman on the other hand, according to him, is good when she can support a man and encourage or convince him to fulfill his responsibility; to always take up the mantle to lead and protect. I agree, at least in part. Offering this encouragement to men is indeed good and helpful to men. The only trouble is that oftentimes some men still fail to be great; fail to take the mantle to lead and protect in spite of encouragement from women, which means its not up to the goodness of a woman for a man to be great.

Furthermore, is the sum total purpose of a woman to encourage a man? Does she not have a broader role in the community? She must only be seen to provide support for another? What about support and encouragement for her and the unique call on her life? Does she not also have dominion (leadership) over the earth? Was that call to have dominion and to be fruitful not given to both the man and the woman? (Genesis 1:28).

Plus, what if she is a single woman? If my brother’s unenlightened view holds, single women would have to be waiting around for a man to make great? That would be her purpose? That would make her ‘good’?

These views need blood-washed redemption.

Moreover, is war the only sign of valiance? What about birthing and breastfeeding the said community we are eager to protect? Yes, birthing and breastfeeding are by God’s design and for his glory, but women are the major players in these acts of greatness.

As I debated with my brother about all this and his main point about protection and community, I remembered the Bible story of Deborah and Jael – 2 great women who stepped forward with their femininity in full force to defend and protect their community (Judges, chapter 4).

A man, Barak, was in fact called by God to defend the people of Israel. God had spoken – but no action was taken. Deborah reminded Barak of God’s call to fight for his people and the promise of victory. But he declared that he would not go to war, unless Deborah herself went with him. Like a champion, Deborah agreed but with a warning, telling Barak that because of what he required, the glory would not be his, but rather that the glory would go to a woman.

During the battle Barak was looking to conquer Sisera, captain of the enemy camp. But as fate would have it, Sisera found himself outside the tent of no less than a woman named, Jael. The short of it is that Sisera goes inside her tent, she offers him warm milk and covers him with a blanket, and when the time was right, she drove a peg through his temple, effectively slaughtering the enemy. Women are great and women are good.

Deborah wasn’t only obedient and discerning of God’s will and word for the season; she was valiant and unafraid of war. Jael wasn’t only domesticated and hospitable, she was a strategic conqueror for her people. Women can be good and great.

And of course, so can men.

Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Mordecai, Jehoshaphat, Joseph of Nazareth, John the Baptist and Stephen are just a few awesome examples from Scripture.

But the ultimate example of goodness and greatness is found in our Lord Jesus.

He encouraged the brokenhearted. He washed people’s feet. He taught and coddled little children and, like a mother, waged war against anyone who dared to harm them. He healed the sick and powerfully raised the dead. He was sacrificial and put others first. He was lowly and dealt with everyone. He had long and meaningful conversations with people (I particularly liked His talk with the woman at the well). He stood for righteousness and turned over tables when wickedness was happening in His temple. And like a father, He valiantly gave His life for His creation whether they loved or hated Him. And like the ultimate warrior, The Conquering Lion who He is, took the bullet for all mankind and stormed the gates of hell for the keys of death, effectively removing the fear of death and offering eternity with God to all humanity.

Jesus was/is good and great!

Our main claim to any kind of goodness or greatness is emulation of and obedience to Him.

Let us all – men and women – strive to be like Him! Let us have dominion together. Let us honour and encourage one another (women to men and men to women) to do good works. Hebrews 10:24.

You hear me, bro?

And still with all of that being said, putting individual worth and goodness or greatness aside, there is something about what my brother said that creates an opportunity for even more reflection and discussion on the specificity of the design of men versus women.

If we agree that there is specificity in the design of men versus women, then is there not specificity in their roles? (A plane was designed to fly. A ship was designed to sail.) Not lessor or greater roles, just different roles that are generally performed better by man versus a woman, and by a woman versus a man, by design.

We should aim for equality and not conflation of roles.

I believe that the Creator deposited equally great but absolutely unique stuff in the design of a man and the design of a woman, which enables men and women to more ably and aptly fit specific parts of the puzzle of life.

Issues arise however,  when we start to elevate some roles as more important than others and deem one gender to be inferior or superior to the other. We need to tap into God’s wisdom and discern what godly gender roles look like, and not be boxed in by un-biblical traditional views where men lord themselves or rule over women. Or where women are docile and are relegated to being someone’s armrest. Last time I checked this was an outcome of the curse that Jesus so valiantly destroyed.

When we fail to abundantly bestow equal validation and respect on each gender and the roles that they perform, I believe we do ourselves a gross injustice and miss out on the effectual magnificence of men and women working together.

Women and men are great!

Shelly-Ann Harris is the President and Founder of Family and Faith Magazine. Leave a reply or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

@harrisshellyann

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Who is your Model Woman?

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By Sophia Campbell (3rd left), founder of Model Woman Ministry

Clothed with strength and dignity, she is the Model Woman.  Far from being perfect but being perfected in and through her experiences and along the way positively impacting the lives of others. She is you, me, the stay-at-home mom, CEO in the boardroom, the single woman, the working woman, community leader, household assistant, pastor, no matter the role or position.; she is a Model Woman.

Six children she raised, a housewife, always at home and looking out for the best interest of the family.  There was never a day that I returned from school and she was not there.  She was also a dressmaker, who sewed only for her children and the only person who I knew could bake without using any measuring apparatus. Her Christmas cakes were the best!!  Every Saturday morning, bar none, she traveled to Coronation Market.  A trip she loved to make. I went on many of them with her.

She was wholly dependent on my father for financial assistance.  I loved her, but at the same time feared becoming like her, for the sole reason that she had nothing of her own and she was dependent on my father to provide for her.   She always honoured and respected him and served him hand and foot.

No matter what time my dad came home she served him a hot meal, even without him asking.  I hated that, because I never once heard him say thanks.  She was selfless and I could not understand why she chose to stay home.  Especially in an environment that was “not so harmonious” most of the time. Me stay at home?  Never.  Independence was the goal for me, my own money, my job, my things, my life…my OWN EVERYTHING!!!   

However, as I grew older I began to appreciate mom being at home. The place could not run without her.  It was proven time and time again.  She left a few times and eventually came back, every time.  However, overtime we took her for granted, but she remained steadfast in her commitment and unconditional love for us.

I remembered the last time I saw her, I was upset with her, because she did something for me and I did not like the way she did.  I left home angry that day. However, later I realized that I was too harsh and had an apology card, a gift and a bar of her favourite chocolate in my tote bag. However, my hopes of reconciliation were dashed when my sister met me at the street corner, before I could reach home that mom was in the hospital.  When I saw her in the hospital she was unconscious, she suffered a stroke and passed away.  I found it hard to recover.  It was difficult to forgive myself.  It took a long time to come to terms with it.

She was not a Christian; however, she always shared a scripture form the book of Psalms before I went to bed.  I would see her cry sometimes and I promised myself I would take her away from here one day and take her to a “happy place”.  I knew that she served and loved us through her trials and pain.  She sacrificed a lot for me, for our family and I did not get a chance to tell her how much she meant to me; how much I appreciated her. It was the one time in life I can truly say, “I did not get a second chance.”

Now, when I look back on her life. I realized that, though not perfect, she taught and showed me unconditional love, how to honour a spouse, irrespective of how the spouse treats you and how to manage a household.   She is my   MODEL WOMAN…one of.

We have an opportunity now to tell the person who is a Model Woman to you how they impacted your life and honour them for it.   This is counter to what we have been taught or seen, as this is usually reserved for preparing a eulogy. I am convinced that this should change and we should share our appreciation testimony while the person is still with us. Make the effort to let them know that they do indeed matter and change your life, for the better, no matter how small. Launched in May of this year, Model Woman is a ministry that has this simple objective; to recognize the woman/women in our lives who have helped to mould us and model the character of Christ to us.

Another person I consider my Model Woman is Mrs. Patricia Scully.  She mentored and discipled me for over 15 years.  She is like a mother figure to me.  Her advice to me is always “Remember who you are in Christ Sophie.”  Indeed, there are many godly women who discipled younger women; there were those who trained and mentored them, transforming them by God’s grace.

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As we reflect on how to minister to women today, we should remember and recognize those who have blessed us, particularly my Pastor, Mrs. Joan Fletcher, who encouraged me to launch the Model Woman Ministry and hosted it at her home.  The next meeting will be held in September 2017. For more information, check out Model Woman Ministry on Facebook.

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