How should a pro-lifer react when a friend says they want to get an abortion? The support a woman does — or does not — receive can be the difference between life and death for her child. An unexpected pregnancy can be terrifying, raising fears about money, education, and career.
Most women are not seeking abortions because they have cavalierly decided they don’t feel like being mothers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, the decision to get an abortion is largely situational. Most women considering abortion are young and unmarried and fear that having a child (or another child) would interfere with school or work, and feel they cannot afford a baby. While no one person can solve every problem that might be leading someone toward abortion, knowing what influences women to consider abortion can help.
1. Listen. The most important thing about this conversation is what you don’t say. Ask her questions about how she’s feeling, what she’s afraid of. First and foremost, just be there for her to talk with. Show compassion and empathy, and pay attention to her fears. If and when you do ask questions, it will require a lot of sensitivity and intentional listening. What does she want for the future? How is she feeling? Is she afraid? What does she really want to do?
READ: Love Them Both: 7 pro-life ways to help a pregnant or parenting teenager
2. Avoid shame. It’s important for her to know that no matter what, you do not judge her for having an unplanned pregnancy. Understanding and acknowledging how easy it might be for any woman to find herself with an unplanned pregnancy will go far.
3. Tell the truth. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth — with Live Action’s help. Find out how far along she is, and then — in a positive way! — share some photos and facts about her baby. For example, you could say, Wow, look at this: your baby can already suck her thumb and has measurable brain waves! Isn’t that amazing? Abortion businesses will not tell her the truth about fetal development, so gently give her some information about the baby to help her realize his humanity. You can share one of Live Action’s fetal development videos — including week by week development — as well as videos on abortion procedures and Baby Olivia (below):
4. Offer help. Many people who need help in a crisis won’t ask for it, so instead of simply waiting for her call, take action, and offer it on your own. The questions and conversations you’ve had will play an important role here, too. If she’s scared that her parents will kick her out and you have a couch she can sleep on, tell her that, and then help find a maternity home together. Tell her you will help her to sign up for Medicaid if she needs it — pregnant women and their children are automatically covered in most states — and drive her to her doctor appointments.
Direct her towards pregnancy resource centers that can help with financial counseling, provide free baby items, and connect her with the resources available to her that can help her confidently choose life.
Here are some of the resources available to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. A more complete list is available here:
Standing With You. Students for Life of America’s Standing With You Initiative connects women with non-violent pregnancy resources and helps community members assist local families. It also helps pro-life students serve their pregnant and parenting peers and provides a list of national and local resources for women.
OptionLine. Option Line offers a confidential live chat, text line, and toll-free hotline for women facing an unplanned pregnancy and is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-712-4357.
Care Net. This organization has pro-life pregnancy centers across the country ready to help women and their babies. Care Net offers free resources and a confidential, toll-free line for pregnant women to call at 1-877-791-5475.
Heartbeat International. The organization behind OptionLine and Abortion Pill Rescue, Heartbeat International offers pregnancy support through thousands of centers worldwide as well as maternity homes and non-profit adoption agencies.
5. Empower her. Culturally, women are told they cannot be mothers in anything other than perfect circumstances and still thrive. Reassure her that she can do this. Yes, she will need help along the way, help that you will be willing to give, but she is strong and capable enough to raise her baby, despite the circumstances.
6. Refuse to go with her — but be there for her. You will need to do this gently, but if she asks you to go with her to the abortion facility, say no. Sadly, many people — even those who consider themselves pro-life — will actually assist in a loved one’s abortion, despite the harm it will cause their friend or family member. Pro-lifers must never cave to the pressure to help a woman abort her baby, which would make them complicit in that child’s death.
If your friend still has an abortion despite your best efforts, be there to help her deal with the abortion trauma she may suffer. Women who undergo abortions are essentially abandoned by the abortion facility afterward when they are overcome with feelings of depression, guilt, regret, and even suicide. There are many resources that can help her. A comprehensive health clinic or a Federally Qualified Health Center can provide follow-up care, which she often won’t receive from the abortionist. Group support, through organizations like Rachel’s Vineyard, or post-abortion counseling, which she can find through organizations like Healing After, can help her work through the post-abortion grief.
It can be difficult, knowing you don’t support abortion, to see a friend consider taking their child’s life. But remember, you can potentially make a difference and save a life.
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