By Katie Ellington, News Editor
I still remember the day I learned what ‘abortion’ meant. I was attending a private Christian middle school. We had a huge assembly with sobering statistics, emotional testimonies and I think we may have watched a video. Then we each ate a cupcake and we were asked to think about a child that cupcake represented. A child who would never live, never have a birthday, because of abortion.
I was very moved. From that day forward I have considered abortion to be morally wrong. I embraced the label “pro-life” with fervor. But somewhere along the way, something changed. By the time I got to college, something about the pro-life movement began to make me uncomfortable. I see politicians use a pro-life stance as a tool to gain conservative votes. I sense the attitudes of judgment and condemnation that some (not all) pro-lifers have toward mothers seeking abortions, an attitude that I admit I used to share. Lastly, our focus is too narrow. We fight for a child’s right to live, but not their right to a good life. In this way, we are not really being pro-life, but merely anti-abortion. If we want to claim to be pro-life, we need to care about more than just birth and abortion. So as you decide for yourselves what being pro-life means to you, I hope you’ll do me a favor and ask yourself the following three questions.
First, are we helping mothers? Abortion involves two people, and while it may be easy to see the mother simply as the one who makes the decision to abort a child, this viewpoint is not fair to her and won’t help decrease the number of abortions that take place. If we continue to see mothers in this way, we will never make a difference. A woman who chooses to undergo an abortion is more than just a statistic. She’s a person. And if we want to stop abortions, we need to be reaching out to mothers who need support during their pregnancy.
“We are called to be servants of the mothers who need our support and the children they bring into the world.”
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that just over half of women (58.2 percent) who choose to have abortions are in their 20s. A 2008 survey by the Guttmacher Institute stated that 42 percent of women who sought abortions that year had incomes that were one hundred percent below the poverty line. The institute also stated that low-income women are “almost four times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy….and more than three times as likely to have an abortion.” The CDC also tells us that in 2012, 85.3 percent of women who had abortions were unmarried. What do these numbers tell us? Many of the women who seek abortions at a young age simply lack financial resources and the support of a spouse. Meanwhile, a 2011 study found that hospital bills for labor in the U.S. range from $1,100 to $12,000; this does not include the bill from the anesthesiologist or any other pregnancy-related costs. As Christians and pro-life advocates, what are we doing to help support these women both emotionally and financially?
Secondly, are we helping children? Yes, the pro-life movement seeks to give children a chance to live, but are we helping children after they are born? Are we making sure that they have what they need to live a good life? We often tell mothers that adoption is an alternative to abortion, but are we adopting, if we’re able? According to the Children’s Bureau, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there were 415,129 kids in foster care in 2014. 107,918 children were waiting to be adopted, while less than half that number were adopted (50,644 children). I realize that not everyone has the financial or emotional resources to adopt a child, but some of us can. Others can foster. Even if you can’t adopt or foster, there are still things you can do improve the life of a child, whether that means volunteering, tutoring or mentoring.
Lastly, are we being Christ-like in our opposition to abortion? Christ always defended the weak and the helpless, but he did so with fairness, forgiveness and grace. Do we show respect in our discussions with pro-choice women and men? Or do we use our pro-life stance as an excuse to look down on those who disagree? I’ve heard people I know and love very deeply say that Democrats can’t be true Christians. I hope that as we move forward as adults and as Christians we realize that abortion should never be an excuse to judge, to hate or to divide.
I think it’s also important to stay humble in our efforts. We are all human and all fallen. When we fight abortion merely because they are wrong and we are right, our fight stops being about children and becomes about us and our pride. We are not called to be heroes, rather we are called to be servants who change minds through our kindness and arguments for life that reflect the humility and righteousness of Christ. We are called to be servants of the mothers who need our support and the children they bring into the world.
I know that many people who claim to be pro-life are not hateful or judgmental. I know many pro-lifers who are filled with love and compassion not only for unborn babies but also for their mothers. I also acknowledge that changing abortion policies and persuading the public that abortion is wrong are both important. If we claim to be pro-life, our priorities should go beyond these things. Our actions as a community which calls itself pro-life need to include more. By focusing our efforts on awareness, ideology and trying to pass anti-abortion laws, we have forgotten that we are fighting for more than principle. By opening our hearts and lives to mothers and children, we can honor our Father and truly be pro-life.