Do you know women who have gone through an abortion? I do. Talk to them. Let them share their stories, and offer both a listening ear and a compassionate response. Point them to places where they can find help. Groups like Project Rachel (the post-abortion ministry of the Catholic Church and the founder of HopeAfterAbortion.com) and Silent No More offer resources and information for women who seek to heal from the pain of abortion.
Encourage your churches and pastors to familiarize themselves with such resources as well. We need churches to be equipped to offer support for women who have gone through this experience. The more we can speak up about the ways women suffer after abortion, and the more light we can shine on resources available to them, the better we will be able both to minister to these women and to encourage others to find alternatives.
We also can’t be afraid to speak out about how abortion affects men and families too. Although society never acknowledges it, abortion forces men to give up their role as provider and protector, and it can have long-lasting, detrimental consequences. Wayne Brauning, the founder of MARC (Men’s Abortion ReCovery) Ministries, has stated, “Men everywhere report that abortion is a horrendous and heartbreaking experience, whether they oppose or support [their partner’s] decision to abort.” Such men feel “angry . . . guilty and powerless.” The ramifications of abortion on a relationship can be devastating too.
The children of mothers or parents who have gone through abortion suffer as well. One study showed that children whose mothers had abortions had less supportive home environments and more behavioral problems. Given that many of these mothers are struggling with depression, grief, and in some cases substance abuse, this is unsurprising. We must be willing to speak up about these realities, because the longer they go unnoticed, the more men, women, and children will suffer in silence.
PROMOTE AWARENESS FOR ALTERNATIVES
On the other side of the coin, when it comes to women who are pregnant and are considering abortions, we need to promote awareness about alternatives. Despite the pro-choice misnomer, women in crisis pregnancies often feel as if they have no choice. They need to know that they are not alone and that they have other options, aside from abortion.
As I’ve mentioned, the many pregnancy care centers in this country provide incredible resources, from financial and emotional support to referrals for adoption, social services, and medical treatment. They also provide resources and counseling for husbands and partners, who need to be a part of this conversation. Women who feel that they have practical and emotional support from their partners are far more likely to choose life, and pregnancy care centers are working to help men speak into this space.
We need to support the work of such organizations and to increase their visibility to women facing difficult situations. Among your Christian friends, consider committing to pray for pregnancy care centers, volunteer there, or even support them financially. The best way to combat abortion is to spread awareness that other options exist.
For those of you who feel called to do more, let me say a word about sidewalk counseling. Outside abortion clinics all over this nation, kind- hearted volunteers stand with warm smiles, coffee, and balloons offering to help women in distress. The media’s image of angry people yelling is false and ridiculous. It’s just the opposite, in my experience. I recently went to pray outside Planned Parenthood’s flagship clinic in Houston, Texas. This $26 million building is their showcase facility, the largest in the nation. Joining me on the sidewalk were a handful of volunteers who faithfully take turns with others in their community to offer women alternatives. Some stand in silent prayer, but others flag down the cars entering the lot. If a car stops, the volunteer smiles and offers them the opportunity to go across the street to a state-of-the-art mobile health clinic where women can receive a free sonogram from qualified health professionals as well as counseling.
These folks are nonthreatening people of faith offering another choice, and guess what? It works. As I stood with these volunteers, I watched as young women and their husbands or boyfriends walked across the street to investigate other options available to them. Consequently, just as in my own experience, when those women see their babies for the first time, they will often come to terms with their pregnancies and welcome life. Consider joining local CWA ladies and others who go to ground zero in the abortion battle in order to share the love of Christ, or even donating to purchase more state-of-the-art mobile clinics.
Sharing the love of God with women in need isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s biblical. God asks us to care for women and children and to sup- port those who find themselves in difficult circumstances. In Matthew 18:5 Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever receives a little child like this in My name receives Me” (NKJV), and again, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40). We are called to care for women who are struggling and to help promote adoption and other resources for their children.
ADVOCATE FOR LIFE
This is an issue for which advocacy is critical. The courts pushed abortion laws far beyond the pale in 1973, and we have to combat that with new laws that protect our citizens and value the dignity of human life. As Esther Women, we need to vocally support such work. As important legislative votes come up, we should write to our state and federal representatives urging them to act. Sign up at www.concernedwomen.org to receive emails alerting you to important opportunities to advocate for life. And consider participating in rallies and events that promote the sanctity of human life, such as the March for Life.
Every year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, CWA joins with hundreds of thousands of other people in Washington, DC, to march from the White House to the Supreme Court in support of life. Families, school groups, and churches join together with one voice to cry out for the least of these. If a trip to DC is not a possibility for you, think about organizing a group to march in your own town. It’s an amazing testimony to both your elected officials and to the media.
Let me also give a shout-out to those who participate in peaceful demonstrations. Just as in the civil rights battle, there is a place for civil disobedience in the battle against abortion. Although I have never participated, I can’t say that I never will. Recently a group of pro-lifers got tired of waiting for the twenty-week ban to come to the House floor and held a sit-in outside Speaker John Boehner’s office, asking him to bring up the bill. Although I believe that the Speaker wanted to pass the bill, I also believe that this activity helped to focus the attention of the House leader- ship. Such actions remind me of the importance of every level of activism. Finally, vote your values. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee and others work tirelessly to provide voter education. Take the time to question candidates. If someone running for public office does not understand or believe in the necessity of respecting life from conception to natural death, then he or she does not possess the judgment required to lead our nation. It is essential that we make our voices heard in the voting booth.
Penny Young Nance is the author of Feisty & Feminine and is the CEO and President of Concerned Women for America. She holds a degree from Liberty University. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.
Publication date: April 11, 2016