If Christian churches want to help women facing unplanned pregnancies, then Christians must improve their attitudes towards abortion-vulnerable women to try to change current perceptions.
A survey published in 2015 and sponsored by Care Net, an organization assisting 1,100 pregnancy centers across the country, found that 65 percent of the 1,038 post-abortive women they surveyed believe that church members judge pregnant single women. 64 percent said that fellow church members are more likely to gossip about the women than to actually help them. This is despite the fact that 70 percent of these post-abortive women consider themselves to be Christians — and 43 percent say they were attending church at least monthly at the time of their abortions.
But the amount of time the women spent at church had a significant impact on their perception of whether church members would be judgmental or helpful and caring. The more weeks the women attended church, the more compassionate they thought the church would be about their pregnancy and their consideration of abortion.
This points to the possibility that these beliefs about the church stem from misinformation rather than from actual experiences with Christians.
These women, whether they are right or wrong about their church communities, aren’t always choosing abortion of their own free will. A 2018 study found that 73 percent of post-abortive women have aborted because they felt pressured – either directly by a person or indirectly by life circumstances. These women needed support in order to continue their pregnancy, but found none. They may have chosen life had they found someone willing to stand with them.
Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, believes that this presents a “huge opportunity for the church to have an impact” on the lives of these women and their children. How the church responds to them is a vital part of how these women will perceive the church and whether or not they will choose life.
“For most women with an unwanted pregnancy, if nobody is willing to say, ‘We’re going to help you through this,’ it’s hard for them to rationally say they should keep the child,” explained McConnell. Women feel alone and incapable, especially in light of the abortion industry consistently sending the message that women aren’t smart or strong enough to be mothers and accomplish their other goals.
Many churches do offer support and programs for women facing unplanned pregnancies, but word needs to spread and volunteers are always needed. One such group, Embrace Grace, exists to help women with unplanned pregnancies through church communities. While churches may be doing everything they can to help women facing unplanned pregnancies, many women still don’t know that help is available.
Everyone is likely to know someone who has had an abortion — even the women in our own churches. The opportunity to help women considering abortion starts with just a hello. That hello can be through an ad in the bulletin for a local pregnancy center, a baby shower thrown by your church for a local mother in need, or a donation drive for a mother being helped by the pregnancy center. Consider asking your church to have brochures prominently available about the different stages of development in the womb, or the services available for pregnant women in the area. You could even start your own Embrace Grace support group at your church.
There is always more that the church can do to help women and families in crisis. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus, especially to those in desperate situations.
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