10 things we can do (not just pray about) to help eliminate abortions.

blog 10 things we can do to help eliminate abortions“dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? for instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “good morning, friend! be clothed in Christ! be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”

james 2:14-17, the message

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after the strong response to pro-life, pro-choice: a painful paradox, it was clear that one of the biggest gaps in the conversation is “what can we actually do to prevent abortions?”  i feel pretty certain that picketing and spending hours online talking about it won’t change anything. i also know that we can’t throw up our hands and say “it’s a reality of this broken world.”  there are tangible things we can do to participate in change.  in many ways, they dovetail 5 nonviolent ways we can win the war against women and always center on relationship & support.  this is why incarnational Jesus-with-skin-on living matters!

i wanted to clarify that this list is about preventing abortions that stem from unwanted pregnancies, not the complicated issues related to medically-related decisions parents and mothers sometimes have to make.

i am sure there are many others to add, but here’s a start.

10 things we can do to help eliminate abortions:

1. value women, value women, value women. one of the reasons i am passionate about breaking down patriarchy & advocating for women is that women’s less-than-ness is the root of many problems in the world.  the way we value women in the systems we are part of matters.  the messages we send about women’s worth form and shape us.  if we are taught from the beginning that our primary role is to serve and defer to men, we end up with all kinds of painful fallout.  anything we can do to strengthen a woman’s value & worth & dignity makes a difference.

2. support a local pregnancy care center with resources, time, and support.  these agencies are doing amazing work supporting girls and women who make the decision to place their babies in an adoptive family or raise their babies themselves.  they help connect them to proper medical care, housing, food, and ongoing care.  these agencies always need more help!

3. learn to talk freely and honestly about sex & birth control as a natural part of our lives.  we have to create better ongoing conversations about these important issues, not only with young people but across all ages & beliefs, men & women alike.

4. journey with a vulnerable woman for the long haul.  a lot of us already know these women from the circles we are in; others might need some help to open our eyes to the need. but whether you are single or married, young or old, you can invest in her life some how, some way over a long period of time.  be the person she can call.  be a stable force. call out her dignity.  it provides a sense of security & love that is desperately needed.

5. foster or adopt (or support someone who is).  there are a lot of kids, all ages & shapes & sizes who need homes!   i know many amazing people who are called to foster care & adoption.  for some, that may be a calling, and for others, that’s not our passion.  but what we can all do is help support people who are, not just with “it’s so amazing that you are doing that” but with practical help.

6. teach boys & men respect for women.  there are many who would never have sex in the ways they are if true respect was learned and fostered.  that involves giving boys and men the chance to develop self esteem, good character and good boundaries in a world that provides precious little of that.  otherwise, our unrefined desperation for love and connection gets us into all kinds of trouble.

7.  be safe, kind and loving so that when women & men get in trouble they will come to you.   often, the last place people will go to when they are in a rough situation is the church because they are afraid of being judged, controlled, or misunderstood.  the safer we are, the more likely hurting people will be drawn to us and we can journey alongside them in their struggles, whatever they may be.

8.  provide love & tangible care for single moms.  whether they have resources or not,  all these mommies need love and ongoing support for the difficult task of raising babies on their own. helping in small ways by watching kids, bringing food, supporting their education & the education of their kids, showing up at school events, all help.

9. support local agencies that advocate for women.  there are many agencies–non-faith & faith based–who care deeply about women.   find out what they need, how you can support their work, encourage your church to collaborate & partner.  do anything to come alongside them because they are on the front lines helping women find housing, food, education, safety, and movement forward.

10. create little pockets of love where people can talk about their real struggles, real life, so they don’t have to hide.  i don’t think we need more bible studies and places to talk about what we think.  we need more safe places to talk about our real lives and what we are feeling, places where shame’s power can be broken, places we can be loved–by God & other people, places we can learn to become healthier, better human beings. love, safety, friendship & connection can change the course of history for people.

as i write these things, i am reminded how real change always starts first through relationship. someone loving.  someone caring . someone present.  and if we can’t do that directly, we can support people who are.

the question is what is God stirring up in each of our hearts on how can we play our part in supporting life for vulnerable women & children with actions, not only words.

i’d also love to hear what you’d add to the list.  remember, this is a good place to practice dignified dialogue, too. anytime the word “abortion” is used, things can go haywire if we’re not careful.

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

40 Comments

  • Bravo, Kathy! Thank you for calling us to action in support of the unborn AND the vulnerable women who carry them. I love this. Thank you!

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  • That passage from James is amazing. Sometimes I get so startled by the parts of the bible we tend to ignore when we throw around idle words about these huge issues. Thanks so much for directing the conversation into a path of action. This is so important. We need more resources for how to teach society to value and respect women and men, girls and boys. We need to live it out.

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    • thanks for your heart and courage to talk about this at our house of refuge, too. that is such a powerful line “i get so startled by the parts of the bible we tend to ignore when we throw around idle words about these huge issues…” yes!

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  • Hi Kathy. Valuing women and education top my list. You left out jobs and birth control. Poor women are more likely to get abortions because they don’t have adequate income to support a child or another child. Also, poor women are less likely to have health insurance and thus less likely to see a doctor and be able to afford birth control consistently. As Christian women I really think we should be pushing birth control as THE major way to prevent abortions. Just my opinion.

    Adoption and foster care are inadequate answers, especially foster care. My parents fostered plenty of teenage girls when they were foster parents. Once my room was wall to wall beds with teenage girls when I was in high school. Too many of these girls had been used and abused by the foster system and I would not wish it on any child. More children of color will end up in long term foster care and are more vulnerable to carrying on poverty and the need for abortions to another generation. Also, children of color are less likely to be adopted and more likely to end up in foster care until they transition to welfare, inadequate jobs and/or the prison system .

    Another issue related to abortions is protecting our young women from sexual abuse including the need to prostitute to support themselves and sometimes their children. I once lived next door to two women who supported their children by prostituting themselves. So sad.

    OK, I really got to get off my soap box. I am so glad you posted this. Thank you, Kathy

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    • thanks linda, yes, i mentioned it but i am glad you highlighted it. and added education. that is a huge one. i sometimes say if every church would use one offering a month on behalf of educating the vulnerable in their community to empower and strengthen them, we would see radical change over time.

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  • Research has shown that birth control causes an average of 1 abortion a year. The sperm and egg come together and the birth control does not let it attach in the womb causing an abortion. I do not see how I could tell anyone to get on birth control after knowing this.

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    • i abortion a year is not a strong enough stat. Especially considering birth control stops many from overtaxing their already stretched resources feeding mouths, or preventing those who are unfit to be mothers yet will still remain sexually active. THere are many varied ways to use differing birth control and there are many reasons why people choose to be preventative. We can not judge those circumstances. In many it is right and true to prevent unwanted pregnancies. What is worse? A pregnancy terminated or prevention of that pregnancy in the first place by varied measures of birth control. We can not overpopulate and irresponsibly bring future generations into this place without forethought. It is a serious thing to have a child.

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    • This sounds like the morning after pill. I am curious as to whose research and what birth control was being researched.

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      • I am taking a class right now about abortion and the professor mentioned it in class. How different birth control causes on average 1 abortion a year. I just did a search “Does birth control cause abortion” and alot of good research came up. No, it is not about the morning after pill- These forms of birth control DO cause abortions: The Pill, Depo-Provera-the shot, or Norplant-the patch, Lunelle and IUDs. Methods that do Not cause abortion are: natural family planning, abstinence, and barrier methods.

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  • You are very right. I think #8 and #9 are super important – not just supporting women when they are pregnant, but after. And doing it in individual ways is the best. We can also do it in impersonal and structural ways, though, by trying to make our schools and workplaces and social safety nets more supportive of women and moms. Pregnancy shouldn’t have to be associated with “years and years of economic hardship.”

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  • I just realized I never responded to your email that responded to mine about this issue- This is EXACTLY what I meant and I am so glad you wrote a post about it. We wrote something similar (as you know) in our local paper and even still I have people telling me that they were impacted and loved that we took an approach of prevention and aid instead of against or for abortion because it really does come down to these issues…And foster care will start to help if we can revolutionize foster care. I went through training and there is a deep need for better foster care and foster care procedures we should be concentrating on advocation for these poor children already alive.
    I am so glad you wrote this. It starts in tiny steps. It starts in ourselves:)

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    • thanks for taking time to share and for the article you emailed, too. yes, baby steps can really get us toward something new when a lot of people are taking them!

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  • Hi Kathy,

    I’d like to engage with, if I may, what you say about valuing women and teaching boys and men respect for women. I routinely go to dance classes where the gentlemen lead and the women follow. Central to the leading is that it be done in consideration for the lady, that it be offered not forced and always done gently.

    When it has come to relationships with women my endeavour has always been to act similarly. Sometimes in such relationships, the women have been in a position of leadership, so leading hasn’t always been my role, hovever, how I offer strength has always been with the intention of it being done gently in consideration of women’s needs and their edification.

    Most recently this has resulted in one situation when a lady has broken down in tears, saying what I bring is “beautiful and rare”. At the saem time, what it exposed was her own anger at herself as to how she had treaded men in the past, and for men not being like me as she put it. What she also said was that she didn’t feel she could be loved and that she feared rejection.

    Where I do not wish to diminish the responsibility that you rightly place on men for valuning women and for men to be moentoerd (i would use mentor rather thatn taught beacuse it implies a realtional element) in respect for women, I would also caution against an inequal bias on this being the responsibility of men.

    Even though I was relating in a way to the lady I mention that to her was “beautiful and rare”, it didn’t resolve the underling issues that. for her, was preventing her relating healthily. The issue of sex was discusssed and I gave her assurance that I would not put her under pressure to do anything, that I would be reseving it for marriage, even kissing which for her was important. Sadly for me, it did result in the relationship ending because she said she wasn’t ready. I wasn’t entriely happy as right at the biginning or the relationship, she had given me all kinds of assurances of it being a pleasure and easy for her to be in a godly relationship and her expetations were to be loved as Christ loves the church.

    What is it that women find temps them into a sexual liason and pregnancy? Well, yes partly to be loved but also social pressues because everyone else is doing it or simply because they pursue their own sexual desires. There is a responsibility on women for their bodies and treating themsleves with value and respect as well as men for valuning women and treating them with respect. And on women for not breaking men’s hearts and leaving them with a tarnished view of women.

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    • thanks for sharing from your heart, adam, i so appreciate it and it is so beautiful to see you reflecting life to others. i know it is so hard when i talk of women’s empowerment to feel like somehow that is about overpowering men but that could not be further from the truth from what i am trying to communicate. i am a firm believer in mutual submission, equals alongside eachother, not one more powerful or valued than the other, interdependent. and yes, it is so rare and tricky and to get there will take what you are talking about. i am so glad you added the part about women respecting their own bodies, too, that is a huge one that should be on the list for sure. thank you.

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      • Thanks for replying Kathy. I hear what you are trying to communicate with mutual submission, equality, including equal power and interdependance with the tirickiness in getting there. Glad you found what I mentioned about women and their own bodies to be helpful.

        Please forgive me if I have been overassertive in the way I have expressed this with regard to female empowerment. I think it worthwhile considering that power has been abused by patriachal opression which is a theme that comes through in what you write. But also power is abused by the rampant excesses of radical feminism.

        Perhaps it will help if i explain why I am as keen to articulate this as you are about patriacalism. 3 years ago I was diagnosed with dyslexia. A head teacher at school described me as having been lazy and careless. My mother who was the more dominant of her and my father picked up on that and with the best of interests treatd me as such. I have health problems now because that became my beleif about myself and I worked too hard with a lack of confidence while putting on a mask that everythign was OK, not even realising I had been putting on a mask.

        When discussing this issue with a female leader in my last church a matter of a couple of months ago, we got into a debate where frank exchanges were made. She acted in a way that was consistent with her view that when men and women get into a power struggle which the woman finds difficult, then it is the man’s responsibility for that difficulty given that she held that it is the men that are in positions of power. Later she mentiioned that “men have demeaned women, not listened to them and caused them to have low self – esteem”. She claimed to have been acting prophetically.

        I’ve been doing a bit of reading and what Cousins says pretty much sums things up. “Presuming to speak in God’s name when God has not been in it…
        False prophecy degrades the whole ministry and give ammunition to those who
        oppose spiritual gifts altogether.” (Cousin “The Gifts of the Spirit” 1986:
        139).

        He quotes two verses:

        Deuteronomy 18:22 “If what a prophet proclaims in the
        name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not
        be alarmed”.

        Ezekiel 13:17 “Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of
        your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them”

        I recall at the time using the very word “presumptious” to desribe what she had done. We met with the pastor and I used false prophecy to describe what she had been doing. The emphasis of the meeting form the pastors perspective was more in light of men having been demeaning towards women. And were things were resolved to a degree with the lady with her saying she could be attentive when there is a pastoral need from now on rather than debating, the relationship between myself and the pastor detriorated to the point of me coming out from under his authority and him saying that this church was not for me and wanting me not to attend any of the meetings there.

        So in my view, there was scapegoating as a distraction from adressing the issue of false prophecy and me prophecying against that. This is not the first time I have had such an expereince with church. Ath other times on seperate occasions one in a lecture, and another with a prophetice vision, the image of an acorn came up. When I was in the Air Force, the acron was the emblem of the squadron I jioned. The motto of the squdron was “few are chosen” and the Air Force motto is “though adversity to the stars”. What I have taken from these occasions is where everything else may be conspiriing against me, God has been honouring me.

        So, when I came to one of your articles about prophecy and the church rejecting spiritual gifting, and there being fear and vanity within church leadership with regard to that, I felt like I was not alone. The words “wounded and free” and “burnt out with church” have resonated with me. At this point in time I do have health problems and hoping to convalese fomr these. There has been some great expreinces throught the pracise of “mindfullness” in a non-church group that I have found healing and belonging. Perhps something similar to what you do?

        I hope that helps with an understanding of where I am coming from with a female empowering thing and responsibility being placed on men. Can we accept in pronciple that we both men and women have equal responsibility when it comes to the sharing of power and adressing when someone is expereincing difficulty, man or women with opression. With regard to the important issue of abortion, there are equal responsibilities? And, as you say it is tricky to get the balance right when we have differences and expecially if we have had bad expereinces with opressive partichalism or rampant feminism?

        Thanks for taking time to read this. I hope to have more mutually beneficial chats in the interest of interdenpendance, equality, mutual submission and equalitiy of power and value.

        Reply
  • Great list Kathy! You could write a book on each point. Each of us can engage with parts of the list that we can do.

    Some situations can be so hard. I’m thinking about young women who have ready access to birth control, but use drugs and alcohol instead. What can we do to keep them from getting pregnant, then choosing either an abortion or birthing babies they won’t raise who are messed up for life? We know of one situation where the under thirty mom already has birthed six of these babies, but has none, and there’s no indication she won’t have more of these babies.

    When I hear people ranting about birth control, abortion, poor women, etc etc. I think that everyone can have an opinion but opinions are meaningless unless we step up, love, engage and help the people we’re ranting about.

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  • #7 is extremely important. I feel a lot of abortions could be prevented if the person in the situation felt they could be loved through it instead of judges.

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  • How about: Stop firing women who get pregnant. It’s estimated 30,000 US women a year lose their jobs for being pregnant.

    And also: Stop pressuring women to keep their babies, I believe few women would elect to terminate their pregnancies if they believed there was a viable option that didn’t involve becoming a mother.

    The current approaches to reducing or ending abortion are focused on making the negative consequences of abortion greater than those of having the baby. We have centuries of evidence that this doesn’t work very well. I think a better approach is to reduce the perceived negative consequences of pregnancy and childbirth to the point they’re less than the negative consequences of abortion

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    • thanks nathan, oh, that is so true. i have seen this happen multiple times, once in a church and i still will never be able to recover from the realities of what they did to a young woman trying to do the right thing. just crazy. it gets me all riled up just thinking about it. the focus on “there are other good options” is so important but then we have to make those options actually possible. thanks for taking time to comment.

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  • I am pro-Jesus and I believe that you have reflected what Jesus would have done. So important as we could end up like the pharisees. Thank you.

    Reply
  • “i don’t think we need more bible studies and places to talk about what we think. we need more safe places to talk about our real lives and what we are feeling, places where shame’s power can be broken, places we can be loved–by God & other people, places we can learn to become healthier, better human beings. love, safety, friendship & connection can change the course of history for people.” Yes. This is what we need to teach by showing.

    Reply
  • Thanks so much Kathy. I would add to the list – to help young girls and women with
    ‘stinkin thinkin’. I grew up believing
    the lies that my alcoholic dad used to tell me. Because of the awful words he would say to
    me I have struggled my whole life with my value. As a result I’ve made some bad choices in
    life based on these lies. Young girls
    & women need to know they are so beautiful and loved no matter what lies
    they are hearing or telling themselves. Every
    chance we get we should affirm each other with encouragement, love, and
    hope. It may be the only time someone
    may hear kind and loving words.

    Reply
    • irene, that is so good, a great and crucial addition. thank you. underneath all of our struggles, really, are these damaging messages about ourselves that permeate how we live. yes, “young girls & women need to know they are so beautiful and loved no matter what lies they are hearing or telling themselves..” yes, yes, and yes to everything you shared.

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  • Another good post, Kathy. I appreciate how much you advocate for women. As far as preventing abortions, I think the birth control issue is so important. Although many rail against Planned Parenthood, that organization has helped to prevent countless unwanted pregnancies that would have resulted in abortion. That should be applauded. And, although adoption is a wonderful thing, without access to birth control, the likely resulting number of unplanned pregnancies and therefore unwanted children would far exceed the number of families willing and able to care for them.

    It is also important for churches to be in it for the long haul with single mothers. Sometimes churches appear to be supporting a single mother by rallying around her during her pregnancy, praising her for keeping the baby, and celebrating with baby showers and church christenings/ baptisms/dedications. Once the *cute* stage has passed, the support dries up. The mother has no social support system because her peers can no longer relate to her and so have moved on.

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    • thanks cherie, yes, i am so with you on birth control. we are afraid of it and even though abstinence is the only sure method of preventing unwanted pregnancy, it is just so unwise and ignorant to ignore birth control as an option. i also really appreciate what you say about “past the baby stage”. they are not going to be there at 3 in the morning when their elementary-age-kid is throwing up and she is trying to figure out how to go to work the next morning so she won’t lose her job.

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