The news is filled with opinions about the Texas abortion law that went into effect on September 1. A lot of the commentary from both sides reminds me why I am so passionate that political action cannot, and will not, ever bring true change.
An example that is fueling my passion is the multitude of opinions about Section 171.208 of this law. This is called the “aiding and abetting” clause, and it allows citizens to sue someone who aids and abets an abortion after the 6-week cutoff. The fact that one side chose to put this section in the law, combined with how the other side is exaggerating its reach, demonstrates that neither political party is really interested in knowing exactly what drives women to see abortion as their only option. Their definition of “aiding and abetting” is performing an abortion or paying for an abortion.
Those two things are the very last steps in what is so often an excruciatingly difficult journey wrought with panic, isolation, and shame. These realities are what drive women to abortion.
Four out of ten women who have abortions are regular churchgoers, but only 7% of them talk to anyone at their church before making this decision.* They cite fear of judgment and lack of visible support for single moms as their two primary reasons. By not being a safe place to approach for help, we as the Church have some complicity in “aiding and abetting” an abortion. While it happens much earlier than paying for or performing the abortion, it’s the very real source behind why so many churchgoing women decide to have an abortion.
Not only do we not have visible emotional and practical support in the Church, but our government also doesn’t provide these support systems. Imagine if all the time, energy, and money spent writing and criticizing laws like this were used to address the panic, isolation, and shame an unintended pregnancy induces by putting systems in place to meet the very real needs of women who are deciding what to do. What type of change could we see?
To understand what that could look like, we can look at a different social issue: hunger.
As far as I know, we don’t have a lot of specific laws aimed at preventing people from stealing food. We don’t have two political parties warring about it, and we don’t hear a lot of news about the problem of people stealing food. That’s because we have provisions in our culture to provide food for people. These programs aren’t perfect, so we even have food banks run by nonprofit agencies and churches where people can receive free groceries on a regular basis. I’m not saying we as a society are perfectly addressing access to food and hunger, but between the government and nonprofit sector, we have enough systems in place to meet people’s needs so they don’t feel they have to steal food to survive.
We don’t have these same provisions to meet the very real needs of women facing an unintended pregnancy. These would include:
- Programs that provide emotional support for women making this decision
- Easy access to affordable medical care
- Easy access to affordable and trustworthy childcare
- Protection from pregnancy discrimination in workplaces
- Provisions on college campuses for pregnant or parenting students
I don’t see a lot of hope for the two political parties to stop their tug of war long enough to put their resources into solving these problems and changing the above systems. But that has never stopped God!
The early Church provides us an example of not relying on the government but expanding the Kingdom through the actions of the Church. The Roman government didn’t have basic systems of provision for all people in their society, but the Church did. They shared their possessions. They took care of each other. And they did it more thoroughly than any government program ever could have.
We can do the same with abortion. Women need to be accepted with grace and have support for their emotional and practical needs in order to see a hopeful way forward. We see repeatedly that when women are welcomed into a community like this, they start to see hope for their future and the future of their child. This is meeting the root needs of why women have abortions, not focusing on their very last steps in the process.
If you’re frustrated with the political tug of war and looking for a way to make a difference like I’m describing, I have exciting news! We are launching our first-ever online course entitled “Transform the Christian Response to Abortion.” This is an experiential course to walk us through how we can become a safe place for women to approach for help by learning to think and talk differently about unintended pregnancy and abortion.
The course launches on October 1, and it can be done with a small group or independently. What a hopeful action step for you and your friends who are so tired of the political debate and want to do something positive! Keep an eye out for future emails with all the details, and let’s start solving the root issues that can unleash God’s heart and provision into the abortion issue.