|It is estimated that roughly 50,000 more babies will be born each year as a result of the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last July.
For those who oppose abortion, every one of those lives is a cause for celebration. For those who think differently, that’s 50,000 women who will be forced to carry, and often raise, a baby that they didn’t want.
But while there are many stories of women who are grateful once the child arrives, most who feel inclined to get an abortion do so because their lives were difficult before adding a baby to the mix. Fortunately, an increasing number of people are taking steps to help make sure that being pro-life means more than just being pro-birth.
And, as Adam Macinnis profiles for Christianity Today, Christians are often at the forefront of such efforts.
Learning to cope with being uncomfortable
Embrace Grace is one such example of a Christian group that “supports single parents and women facing unplanned pregnancies.” Betty Hodge started a chapter at her church in 2019 because, as someone who had also faced an unplanned pregnancy and pressure to abort a baby, she can empathize with women who find themselves in a similar position.
She credits the support of her family for helping her to choose life for her child and now works to provide similar support for the women to whom she ministers.
As Macinnis notes, Mississippi—where Hodge lives and works—has “the highest rate of preterm births—over 30 percent more than the national average,” as well as “the highest infant mortality rate in the US, with nearly 9 of every 1,000 babies dying. And for the infants who live to be toddlers, 28 percent will live in poverty.”
There are understandable reasons that Mississippi often finds itself in the crosshairs of pro-choice advocates looking to justify their position by highlighting the additional dangers faced by women denied the chance to abort their babies. However, those increased risks also mean increased opportunities for those willing to step in and help.
Another ministry in the area attempting to meet those needs is Her PLAN. Anja Baker is the coordinator for the Mississippi chapter, and her team partners with 140 churches and organizations that are ready to offer support and help to mothers in need, with more partners still being added. As she describes, “We’re going to take a state like Mississippi . . . and we’re going to make it the champion of hope and life, hospitality and generosity.”
As Hodge cautions, however, such work can get uncomfortable at times: “You have to be ready for the f-bomb to come out of a mouth. You’ve got to be ready for someone to come in here in a short, short skirt.”
But learning to cope with being uncomfortable can be an essential first step to serving the parents as well as their children. And to be sure, helping both is crucial.
“Kids are unwell”
As Kate Woodsome writes for The Washington Post, “Kids are unwell. Worse than ever recorded, according to two new reports tracing depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in teens. . . . But if we want to make any lasting difference, it is us, the adults, who need an intervention.”
Woodsome goes on to describe how “American kids are unwell because American society is unwell. The systems and social media making teenagers sad, angry and afraid today were shaped in part by adults who grew up sad, angry and afraid themselves.”
Working to break that generational cycle of pain is an essential part of being pro-life as well.
The CDC reports that “preventing adverse experiences in childhood could reduce the number of adults with depression by as much as 44 percent.” As such, we see that one of the best ways to serve a child is to serve his or her parents. By working to help parents create an environment in which their children can feel safe and provided for, we can interrupt that cycle of pain and help kids avoid the trauma that so often defined their parents’ lives.
So how can the church help?
We can start by valuing people the same way God does.
The difference between a burden and a treasure
At a recent conference, pastor Chris Legg made the point that the only difference between a burden and a treasure is the value assigned to the object in question.
A fifty-pound piece of iron, for example, would be considered a burden to anyone who had to carry it. But what if it were fifty pounds of gold instead? To what extent would you gladly burden yourself to carry as many blocks as possible?
As Legg points out, the weight didn’t change, and the block would be difficult to carry in either case. However, your perspective changed because your assessment of the object’s worth changed.
How we choose to relate to the people God brings into our lives is similar in many ways.
Even in the best of times, other people can be difficult to work with, take us out of our comfort zone, and generally hinder the way we might prefer to live. But if we can come to see them as God does—as a treasure worth every bit of the exhaustion and exasperation they might require of us—then ministering to them as the Lord intends can become a source of joy rather than sacrifice and purpose rather than pain.
And if we can help parents to see their children, both in the womb and after they’re born, in the same light, then perhaps we can help to break the cycle of trauma and distress that is so often passed down from one generation to the next.
Treating every person God has created as a treasure of inestimable worth is what it should mean to be pro-life.