As New York and now Virginia nail their colors to the mast around late-term abortions, many pro-life advocates have wrestled with a real sense of defeat, anger and sadness at the thought of more unborn children losing their lives. And as the topic of abortion yet again takes center stage in our nation's rhetoric and news outlets, we are reminded that this is a major problem in our country. It is estimated that in 2016, roughly 880,000 abortions were performed in the United States. For context, if abortion was classified as a death by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it would have been the leading cause of death in the United States by a landslide.
We need to pause for a moment and feel the weight of these statistics. They are not just numbers. They are people. They are humans who were deprived their right to life. Life that God created and life that God intended. If we truly believe it is wrong to take someone’s life and that abortion intentionally ends human life, we must speak up for arguably the most marginalized and voiceless population of our society, the unborn. After all, God calls us to be a defender of the defenseless, a voice for the voiceless.
But how? How do we speak up? What can we do to help advocate for the lives of these precious, made in the image of God, unborn children? Well for starters…
We need to choose to do something
If human life truly hangs in the balance, the church must do something. Gregg Cunningham, director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, highlights this reality starkly when he writes, “there are more people working full-time to kill babies than there are working full-time to save them.” We need to change this. We need to enlist kingdom workers who are going to push back against the cultural narratives and popular opinions that are resulting in the death of tens of thousands of children.
We need to study and know the arguments
The strong and direct tethering of women’s rights to the issue of abortion was a clever and detrimental move to the “pro-life” cause. The conversation is almost entirely framed around the mother. Listen to how the National Abortion Federation describes the outcome of Roe vs. Wade (the ruling that made abortion legal in 1973): “after hearing the case, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans’ right to privacy included the right of a woman to decide whether to have children, and the right of a woman and her doctor to make that decision without state interference.”
The way the conversation is framed by “pro-choice” advocates makes the mother the center of the issue. The life or death of the child is in the distant background. The problem with this argument is that the “pro-life” cause is not at all interested in attacking women’s rights and does not seek to dictate whether or how a woman conceives a child. It is simply interested in protecting basic human rights–and nothing is more basic than the right to live–once a human has been conceived.
We need to find compassion for mothers of crisis/unwanted pregnancies
It is at this point I believe the religious community (as a whole) has at times done more harm than good. We have yelled in hate and anger at women walking into Planned Parenthood (most of them going for reasons other than abortion). We have bought into the political rhetoric of an us vs. them mentality; speaking louder about the side of the aisle we sit on than the God of love and forgiveness we serve. And worst of all, just like the Pharisees, we have been unwilling to lift a finger to help with the great and enormous burden we leave with the mothers of these crisis pregnancies.
If we really want to bring the life and love of Jesus to the issue of abortion, we need to stop acting like our role is to condemn these women (made in the image and likeness of God!) who find themselves so lost, scared and hopeless that they believe the best choice they can make is to terminate their pregnancy.
I personally know how hard it can be to find compassion for the mothers of crisis pregnancies. On February 1st, 2019 my wife Stacie and I adopted our 18 month old foster daughter Nora Grace. It was one of the best days of my life! We met her in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit) when she was only 8 days old and have been her parents ever since.
Nora entered the child welfare system because her mother was unable to provide a safe environment for her to be raised in. I do not know Nora’s biological mom’s full story, but I do know that she was a victim of abuse. I know that her life has been full of trauma, pain, death and addiction. I am tempted at times to be angry at Nora’s biological mother for the choices she made that harmed my daughter, but I always come back to the reality that she chose to continue with the pregnancy in the midst of terrible circumstances and great pressure to get an abortion.
If I ever get the privilege of meeting her, the first thing I will do is thank her for having the courage to carry and deliver my daughter, it has changed my life and I can't imagine my world without her. She chose life for my daughter and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Let’s choose today be “pro-life” not just for the unborn children, but for the mothers of crisis pregnancies! Let’s be willing and prepared to come around these moms not in hate and protest, but in compassion and love. Let’s be ready not just to preserve life, but to lead people to a place of flourishing. Below are 6 practical ways you can help.
It is estimated that 4 out of 10 women who have abortions are actively attending church. If we are part of a faith community (especially in leadership), we need to make sure our churches are safe and welcoming to those exploring abortion.
Many mothers of crisis/unwanted pregnancies will visit an adoption agency to explore their options. Some of these moms are living below the poverty line. You can support them financially by donating gift cards (ie. Target, Visa or for gas and groceries) to adoption agencies (like Bethany in La Mirada, Ca).
You can educate yourself and possibly train others to support moms considering abortion with a curriculum like Making Life Disciples.
You can volunteer as a mentor of teen moms with orginiations like Younglives.
You can become a lay counselor at a pro-life pregnancy center (like Living Well in Orange, Calif).
You can provide a home to safely surrendered children by becoming a foster and adoptive parent. Several children in foster care are there because of the bravery and love of a biological mother who chose life for their child.
No matter how you help, do something, and do it with a clear head and a heart full of compassion.