Article

Why Planned Parenthood doesn’t fit on Mother’s Day

May 13, 2020

I don’t know why I was surprised. Planned Parenthood rarely misses an opportunity to capitalize on a cultural moment. This Mother’s Day was no different. But still, as I was scrolling through social media on Sunday, I was met with a sense of shock when I encountered a post from Planned Parenthood’s Twitter account. The words themselves were fairly benign; the tweet read “Happy Mother’s Day” and featured a graphic with the message: “From moms at home, to moms on the front line—thank you.” But unlike the countless other Mother’s Day posts I encountered that day, that post is lodged in my memory. 

In a sense, their messaging was perfect, meaning it accomplished exactly what it was supposed to. On a day like Mother’s Day, few people would think of Planned Parenthood. Indeed, who would want to? But rather than letting the day pass without comment, the organization opted to draw attention to itself anyway. Planned Parenthood, though, can’t acknowledge Mother’s Day apart from a twisted sense of irony. On a day of celebration, where Americans take time to honor those who gave us the gift of life and the blessings of nurture, love, and care, Planned Parenthood doesn’t fit. 

The joy of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day often comes under criticism for being a Hallmark holiday. Some claim we ought not to celebrate it because, instead of being about moms, the hype surrounding Mother’s Day is actually driven by industries that stand to profit from excessive purchases of cards, jewelry, flowers, and other gifts. Regardless, there is no doubt that the institution of motherhood is immensely valuable, not just in American society, but in any society. And that’s because motherhood is one of those indispensable features of God’s design for human flourishing.

The fact that we pay tribute to mothers each year by marking a day out on the calendar is surely appropriate. Sunday, my social media feeds were full of posts from friends about their moms. Some were physically present with their mothers. Some were only able to communicate digitally. Others posted in remembrance. But all of that was beautiful. The fact that for so many thinking of the value of motherhood evokes feelings of gratitude and joy tells us something important about God’s pattern for families. There are few blessings on earth like a kind and compassionate and devoted mother. Indeed, such women change the course of our lives and sometimes the course of history.

The pain of Mother’s Day

But it is also true that Mother’s Day is not a happy day for all. There are people in my life who do not know their mothers. There are even more men and women for whom that relationship is more burden than blessing. Not only that, but for so many women, Mother’s Day is just one more reminder of the painful reality that they are unable to bear children of their own. And my heart breaks for them all. But even this pain points us toward something important. The longing we experience, either for a joy-filled relationship with our mothers or the strong desire for motherhood, clearly marks the absence of something good.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t fit on Mother’s Day. And we should work and pray for the day when it doesn’t fit at all.

We live in a world broken by sin and under the weight of the curse (Gen. 3:14-19). And as we live together in this fallen world, we experience the hardships of life. Our relationships are broken. Our bodies are broken. And sometimes these realities bring about a deep and abiding pain. But even as I think about the sorrow of those who’ve lost their mothers, the pain of those who’ve never known them, the longing of those whose dreams of motherhood are unfulfilled, or the struggles of those whose relationships with their mothers are riven with strife and contention, I’m also mindful of the loss that so many women across America must have felt yesterday because of the lies of Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby.

All of us know why we don’t want to hear from Planned Parenthood on Mother’s Day. For those on both sides of the abortion debate, abortion itself is something we would prefer not to think about, especially on a day like Mother’s Day. If not for that tweet, I might not have. But I did. And my heart was grieved. How many women are mourning the loss of their children this week because of the work of Planned Parenthood? How many families gathered around a dinner table on Sunday were pierced by the awareness of an absent son or daughter? Honestly, I do not know. But I know there were too many.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t fit on Mother’s Day. And we should work and pray for the day when it doesn’t fit at all. We might not be able to fix every family or fulfill every longing, but there is much we can do to elevate the value of motherhood in our society. There is much we can do to support women in unplanned and crisis pregnancies. There is much we can do to prevent more women, more families, from experiencing the pain of a past abortion. We must not only work to make abortion illegal, but to make it unthinkable. And ironically enough, celebrating mothers is one of those ways. You don’t even have to wait for the second Sunday in May. 

Josh Wester

Joshua B. Wester serves as the Chair of Research in Christian Ethics at the ERLC. He is also pursuing a Th.M. in Public Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Josh is married to McCaffity, and they have two children. Read More by this Author