Recently, North Dakota tried to ban telemed abortions—the practice of administering an abortion pill to a pregnant woman under the long-distance video supervision of a doctor.  But a temporary restraining order was put on the law, and so the practice will continue for the time being.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is delighted with the restraining order, saying,

This law has nothing to do with protecting women’s health—it defies reason, science and medical expertise in a clandestine attempt to limit women’s access to abortion.

They say, “Medication abortion is a safe and common use of FDA-approved drugs to induce first-trimester abortions.”

In charity, I’m going to assume they’re speaking in ignorance, and not in malice.  After all, there was almost no news coverage of the FDA’s recent findings that the abortion drug is far from safe.  According to LifeSiteNews:

The FDA, with no fanfare, has released a new report, dated April 30, 2011.The report indicates 14 women in the United States alone have died from using the mifepristone abortion drug and 2,207 women have been injured by it.

Of the women experiencing medical and physical problems resulting from the abortion drug, 612 women required hospitalizations, 339 experienced blood loss significant enough to require a transfusion, 256 experienced infections and 48 women experienced what the FDA labeled as “severe infections.”

Fourteen dead women, and 2,207 injured—but the Center for Reproductive Rights says:

This law [banning telemed abortions] has nothing to do with protecting women’s health—it defies reason, science and medical expertise in a clandestine attempt to limit women’s access to abortion.

Well, most of the readers of the Register are already thoroughly convinced that abortion is wrong, and thoroughly horrified at the deception and cruelty practiced by its advocates.  I don’t need to remind you of any of this.

But telemed abortions somehow bring a fresh horror to the story.  That phrase—“distance abortions”—doesn’t that give your heart pause?  Distance.  That is what the world wants:  to introduce space, some sense of remove, into every human interaction.  That is what evil does:  it makes spaces where there should be no spaces.

In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis describes the vastness of Hell, a dingy, insubstantial place of perpetual twilight, where one only has to think of a house to make it appear.  But most of the houses are empty—deserted by people who cannot stand to be close to one another.  Hell should be interesting, bristling with historical characters—but one man says that only after a search of fifteen thousand years did they find Napoleon:  “We’ve picked out the house by now.  Just a little pin prick of light and nothing else near it for millions of miles.” (The Great Divorce, 11)

The Church, every time, demands closeness.  It insists that babies be conceived in their mother’s womb, with the father as close as a man can be—not prodded into existence with a needle in a petri dish.  Sex should be enjoyed without physical barriers, or the barren dead ends of vasectomies or tubal ligations.  Even confession, like all the sacraments, must be in person, and not done by distance, over the phone or internet.  The Church concerns herself with the most intimate things, because this is how we are made:  with hands and skin, with voices and breath, and with blood.

I understand that abortion advocates believe so firmly in the justness of what they want that long-distance abortions seem like nothing more than a practical advance, a compassionate use of technology.  And abortion is abortion, whether it’s administered through a pill and observed remotely, or done hands-on, in a horrible parody of intimacy, with the surgeon up to his elbows in blood.  It’s the same thing, and I don’t expect pro-aborts to be horrified by either.

But look at your life.  All of us, look at our lives.  What are we working for in everything that we do?  Does it bring us closer to each other, and closer to God?  Or does it make more distance?  This is what I struggle with as a mother:  I hear myself saying, “Not now!  Go away!  Don’t touch me!  Leave me alone!”  This is no way to serve.

Evil always wants distance.  But the Incarnate God did not come to us remotely, observing and supervising our salvation from on high.  Instead, He came to us.  He feeds us, He breathes on us, He makes a mixture of spit and mud and daubs it on our eyes so that we can see.

God always wants closeness.  Not the false intimacy of sentimentality and pornography, not the shallow closeness of gratified desires—but the dogged intimacy that does not allow me to turn my face away when I am done.

God wants closeness.  I do not say that closeness brings comfort:  the closeness that love demands often leads to pain.  Christ showed us the beauty of love when He became a man, and then the pain of love when He accepted the intimacy of nails through his hands.  This is how we are made.

This is what closeness brings:  intimacy, pain . . . and then salvation.