To say that one is pro-life or pro-choice comes with a lot of baggage. It is a polarizing issue. Both sides are known to picket, yell and argue. It’s not pretty. Recently, at the Texas Capital building in Austin, someone caught footage of a pro-life group singing “Amazing Grace,” with pro-choice activists around them shouting “Hail Satan!” to antagonize them. But the other side of the coin is that some extremist pro-lifers have bombed abortion clinics killing and injuring people.
Pro-choice advocates have characterized abortion as a women’s rights issue, and to oppose the right to abortion is seen by them as trying to control and suppress women. I’ve just read a very interesting book by Brian Fisher called “Abortion: The ultimate exploitation of women.” Fisher points out that early feminists decried abortion. Mary Wollstonecraft, an 18th century feminist who wrote “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” condemned actions that would either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born.” Famous early 20th century feminist Susan B. Anthony described abortion as “infanticide” and “foeticide” and Elizabeth Cady Stanton said “when you consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”
Abortion as a women’s rights issue is a relatively recent phenomenon. The first edition of “The Feminine Mystique,” by Betty Friedan, credited with reigniting the feminist movement in the 1960’s, did not even mention abortion in her seminal work. Two men, Larry Lader and Bernard Nathanson, a political activist and a gynecologist, drew Friedan into the abortion cause by convincing her it was a civil rights issue. Nathanson is now a pro-life advocate and admitted in his book “Aborting America” that the number of deaths of women from unsafe abortions they used to convince Friedan and America were completely made up.
Knowing all the divisiveness, name-calling and ill-will that surrounds this issue, how can we, believers in Jesus Christ and ministers of reconciliation, bring peace?
We could fight for new legislation, making abortions more difficult and eventually illegal. This is certainly a good idea, but what about the abortions we know will continue illegally, preying on and endangering desperate women? If we win the political battle, have we won the war? Are we fighting a symptom instead of what really ails us? This cannot be our end goal, but only a step in the process.
We could also continue to volunteer at, create, and fund crisis pregnancy resource centers that provide sonograms and care for women and families who have unplanned pregnancies. Prayerfully consider seeking out crisis pregnancy resource centers in your area. I support the Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center, and know that they always have opportunities to serve and get involved. There is likely a similar center near you. If you are unable to serve in person, check out Online for Life, an organization committed to providing comprehensive care to abortion-determined women and men in their greatest time of need. They have a great app that notifies those who have opted into their prayer team when a woman is considering an abortion nearby.
But we must not stop there. James 2 challenges us: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” Pro-choice advocates accuse the church and pro-lifers of doing just that—not caring about the woman or the baby after she decides to keep her baby. We give them a sonogram, a guilt trip, some diapers, promise to pray for them and scoot them out the door. Let’s leave no room for this accusation. Mentoring young children in broken homes, meeting physical needs of families in need, giving financially are areas the church could always be striving to improve.
New legislation making elective abortions more difficult is a step in the right direction, and crisis pregnancy centers are doing wonderful and much needed work. But what can you and I do today? What is the average Christian called to? Let’s look to the Word of God for some answers.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31
The poor among us are not just homeless folks panhandling on the side of the road. “In 1995, nearly six of 10 children living with mothers only were near the poverty line. About 45 percent of children raised by divorced mothers and 69 percent by never-married mothers lived in or near poverty, which was $13,003 for a family of three in 1998.” The courageous women who chose to keep their child need a good neighbor. Could that be you?
New abortion laws will likely be passed in Texas making abortions illegal after twenty weeks and effectively shutting down many abortion providers as new requirements will be too expensive for them to implement. This means there will be more babies in Texas in years to come. Unfortunately, “Texas is among the nation’s leaders in child poverty, teen pregnancy, dropout rates and illiteracy. We’re also among the nation’s lowest-spending states on child poverty, teen pregnancy, dropout rates and illiteracy” according to a call to action editorial by Marv Knox, Editor of The Baptist Standard. Now is the time to put our money where our mouths are. Knox outlines some great steps to “get ready for all those babies.” He suggests streamlining the local adoption process legislatively, and calls on churches to “support this by creating a culture of adoption—adoption as ministry—that provides a ready and willing supply of families who receive children.” Churches also need to be integrally involved in education and nutrition, he says.
Jesus said in Matthew 25, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”