A timely new book by Laura Hughes brings hope to a culture currently filled with despair and hatred.
Choose Zoe: A Story of Unplanned Pregnancy and the Case For Life which details Hughes’s personal story of choosing life at fifteen, brings light to the experiences, emotions, and struggles many people with an unplanned pregnancy face. She also gives practical tips for everyone involved in the cultural struggle for life; pastors, teachers, students, and others who can benefit from the advice she gives.
Choose Zoe begins with a brief explanation of its title, and the reason behind it. “Zoe,” as Laura explains, is not the name of her child, although she points out that it would be humorously ironic. Rather, Zoe is Greek for “abundant and divine life." By titling the book Choose Zoe, Hughes shows choosing life for someone else is the highest good we can achieve, especially in circumstances that are less than optimal. Throughout the book, this theme plays out multiple times.
Starting with her own story, Hughes takes readers into the home and family dynamics in which she was raised. Hughes also writes about the struggles she experienced as a child and young adult, even before becoming pregnant and how it has influenced her since then. The importance of past experiences can often be overlooked, as this can affect the way people perceive the pro-life message.
As Stephen Wagner, president of Justice for All says, sometimes common ground is one of the most important areas where we can reach people when discussing abortion with someone who holds opposing views.
A common misconception is those opposed to abortion are only opposed to it because they never experienced a painful situation in their life. The assertion pro-lifers are all old, ignorant, white Republican men is common in street level discourse on abortion, and increasingly in some academic writing.
Choose Zoe completely abolishes this argument. Instead of being a movement rooted in ignorance, the pro-life movement responds to human brokenness and despair. Instead of ignoring pain and suffering, pro-life advocates are working to correct the pain and brokenness.
Hughes takes us through her story of her pregnancy at age fifteen, and how those in her social circle responded, especially her immediate family. Instead of condemning their daughter, Hughes’ parents stepped up alongside her to help. From comforting her when she needed it the most, to helping take care of their granddaughter after birth, Hughes’s parents lived out what it means to be pro-life.
Hughes emphasizes the importance of a supportive community writing the following:
“Women who are considering abortion need to feel hope that they can succeed and that there is a good plan for their lives. They need a love for their child that surpasses their own self-interest. Finally, they must have faith in the person helping them-- God’s representative in their situation.”
Far from just words, Hughes shows us how to live out this conviction. She highlights the story of others who have faced similar circumstances to her and how they have been able to not only change their minds and choose life, but to see the hope which is still there.
Contrast this with the small, but increasingly vocal “Shout Your Abortion” movement beginning to dominate the conversation around abortion. Reading through the stories on their website, one is a bit surprised to see the stories which tend to be marked by an angry demeanor. One could ask, “if abortion is no big deal morally, and is even a good thing, why the anger?” No one is starting a “shout your liposuction” or a “shout your face-lift” movement, angrily writing stories (and books) to justify their decisions to obtain plastic surgery.
This is a good example of the cognitive dissonance increasingly affecting our culture’s views of abortion. It is easy to understand why this is the case: our culture will squeal with delight when seeing an ultrasound or pregnancy test for a wanted baby, but will still defend the legal ability to brutally kill the very same child before birth if they are unwanted.
One story on the Shout Your Abortion website stands out as an example of this heartbreaking trend:
“The kind of love and thought that goes into making a difficult decision like that is a radical act of choosing life. I chose my life. I chose to save a potential child from a life of suffering. I chose to bring that soul into existence when I knew I was ready to receive the gifts of the truest love I have ever known.”
The need for people who will strive to create a culture that will “Choose Zoe” cannot be overstated. Laura Hughes is one of those people.
As the book progresses, she tells the story of how she lost her second child at seventeen, in addition to the fact that her own daughter was sexually assaulted at age fourteen by her boyfriend and the resulting struggle which came out of it.
Hughes also gives a good answer to the accusation pro-lifers do not do anything to help those who are struggling both before birth as well as afterward. She explains how pregnancy resource centers have stepped up during the most desperate hours of those who need help and also gives a great defense of pregnancy resource centers to those who are currently criticizing their work and services.
The objections to pregnancy resource centers is deeply absurd, as Hughes says, just ask those who have stepped into one. In fact, there are multiple groups which have gone to great ends to help women in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, from providing medical care to even housing women who are pregnant and have nowhere to go.
Choose Zoe is a perfect book for those looking to get involved in pro-life work, especially in a counseling manner. From volunteers in pregnancy resource centers, who are on the front lines of the abortion struggle, to sidewalk counselors, pastors, and church leaders, Choose Zoe gives an important look behind the curtain of emotions underlying many of the struggles of those at risk for abortion. The need to step up and love individuals who need our help the most cannot be overstated.
To purchase Choose Zoe: A Story of Unplanned Pregnancy and the Case For Life by Laura Hughes find it on Amazon.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.