We often hear about the medical health of women who choose to have abortions, including their psychological health. What we don’t hear much about is the psychological health of women after they have had an abortion. Speaking not as a physician but as a pastor, here are some things I have learned and observed.

Matthew’s gospel records the desperate plight of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus after the visit from the Magi: “Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’” (Matthew 2:13)

In the little space allotted to Dec. 21, most calendar makers write the words, “Winter Begins.” Here in the Walla Walla Valley, most of us have learned not to let the calendar alone define the arrival of winter. We know it’s wise to do whatever we need to do to winterize our corner of the world well before that date, even though there might still be a few roses and petunias hanging around. The weather people agree. A recent headline read “Brace for Brutal Cold; Arctic Blast Invades U.S.”

Dec. 25 was not the actual birthday of Jesus. No one in the second and third centuries remembered the actual date. Luke says the shepherds were in the hills when Jesus was born. In Palestine, they were in the fields from March or April until November, so spring, summer and autumn are all possibilities.

Why, then, was Dec. 25 chosen?