I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” [1]

Fortress, sanctuary, refuge – these words evoke images of safety and protection, as they should. With Christmas in our recent memories, we recall Joseph and Mary, exhausted, cold, and far from home, looking for a safe place for the Christ Child to be born and think fondly of the humble stable that was chosen for this miracle.

In stark contrast, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom employed the word sanctuary in an entirely different and odd manner. He recently declared that California would be a “sanctuary state,” but his use of this word is striking considering what he is offering. 

Is he offering to shelter and protect those fleeing harm? 

Is he offering to address his state’s growing problem of homelessness? 

No, he is proudly offering his state as a place where women can come to abort their Pre-Born babies. He is not offering to help women in crisis who want to keep their babies; he is only offering abortions. 

Anticipating the likelihood that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade this year when it announces its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case, Newsom declared that California would use its $32 billion budget surplus to pay the expenses of those women traveling from other states seeking an abortion in California. He proposes to use California taxpayer funds to pay for travel expenses, childcare, lodging, and the abortions themselves. [2]

More inconsistencies 

The inconsistencies don’t end in the incongruous use of the word sanctuary. California houses premier fetal surgical centers where spina-bifida corrective surgeries, fetal blood transfusions, and other lifesaving procedures are performed daily on Pre-Born babies. 

These Pre-Born babies are patients; they are persons with inalienable rights to protection and care. California’s Patient Bill of Rights outlines the rights of all patients in California, rights that these Pre-Born babies also have as patients.  Newsom’s proposal, however, ignores their rights. 

Furthermore, in California, a minor needs parental consent to receive medication for a headache or to attend a field trip, but parents aren’t required to be notified if their daughter seeks an abortion, a life-altering procedure. Any medical procedure requires parental consent for a minor, but not an abortion? 

California is richly blessed in resources, and we regret the governor’s use of those blessings to take the lives of innocent Pre-Born babies. We also lament that this decision will harm countless women and young girls who will encounter devastating emotional, psychological, and physical ramifications of their abortions.[3] [4] [5] We grieve with the fathers who will feel powerless to protect their children and who will also suffer as a result.[6] How can California be a sanctuary by facilitating suffering and death, while trampling on the rights of its citizens?

An Attack on God

Joseph and Mary found shelter — a sanctuary — for the Son of God, but as the Christmas story progresses, we encounter Herod who seeks to destroy the newborn King. In order to do so, he orders the death of all males aged two and under. 

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,

wailing and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be consoled,

because they were no more.” [7]

One cannot help but note that with abortion, we continue to encounter this hatred towards God. Each person is created in the image and likeness of God – from the moment of conception, we bear His imprint. An attack on the image of God in His beloved children is also an attack on God. 

Such animosity towards the beautiful image of God baffles the mind and saddens the heart, but we know that with God, good triumphs over darkness and death; mercy, justice, and peace reign. 

We can respond by providing a true sanctuary for those who are vulnerable and hurting, a safe haven for the weary and downtrodden. Let us pray that 2022 sees not only the reversal of Roe v. Wade, but a world where God and all created in His image are cherished and loved, a world where abortion is unthinkable and sanctuaries provide true healing and solace.

[1] Psalm 91:2

[2] https://apnews.com/article/abortion-california-sanctuary-625a118108bcda253196697c83548d5b

[3] https://www.liveaction.org/news/research-really-shows-abortions-physical-risks/




[7] Matthew

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