Going out to the Front Lines
This past week, I began a new job on the front lines of the pro-life movement: I’m helping a group of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers learn how to use social media. It’s going to be a real challenge and a big learning experience for me, and I intend to share pieces of my work as I go along, so that others can hopefully benefit from it.
As part of my orientation, I’ve been taking classes on how to counsel women considering abortion. It’s been an eye-opener that’s changed the way I view mothers who consider this terrible choice. Some of the women who come to us think we’ll refer them for an abortion. Some come because a friend heard they were pregnant and told them to come to us. A few of them come because they have nagging doubts about abortion and want to be convinced to do something else. But, most believe they want an abortion, and then the counselors usually have only a short meeting during which they try to convince the mothers to spare their children.
The work is not easy. Counselors hear incredible tales of hardship and abuse, and very few mothers come in with malice or a desire to kill. Rather, they only see three options: Abortion; giving up their children for adoption or foster care; or keeping and raising their children, often as single moms.
They usually hate all three options.
Many of them hate the idea of abortion. They know friends or family will be horrified they did it. They might know how dangerous it is. Some even acknowledge their baby to be a human being, and understand abortion stops the beating heart of a child.
But they see the other two options as more evil than abortion. Society has so twisted the notion of human dignity that these mothers honestly believe there are situations where it is better for their child to be dead than to suffer. They have heard horrible stories about adoptions gone wrong, of abusive foster homes. They worry they’ll never see their child again, and cannot bear to think of the shame they would bring to themselves and their children by being a “failed mother.” Society demonizes adoption. They view giving their child up for adoption as an incredible evil to be avoided at any cost, and that it would be better for the child to die than to suffer through a life like that.
Being a parent is equally terrifying. The challenges of raising a child without a father (which is the case the vast majority of the time with women seeking abortions) seem insurmountable. It would be a long and difficult journey for the mother and her new child, and many of them are afraid of that change. They rightly see that becoming a mother would completely alter their life. Many of them feel they will lose their dreams, their friends, or their jobs.
So then, in the face of all this, the real work of the pro-life movement begins. I’m being taught bit by bit how to bring light back to young mothers who think all hope is lost. Because that’s what we do. We don’t tell these women they are horrible people for what they have done, or what they are considering doing. That would only drive them away, and harden their hearts all the more. Instead, we tell them about their dignity, their real worth as irreplaceable human beings. We tell them the same thing about their child. We try to show them ways to make it through the difficult trials of having a baby, or how to deal with a boyfriend who doesn’t want to be a dad.
Right now I’m still being trained. It mystifies me that the people I work with, many of them unpaid volunteers, have the courage and strength to help women like this every single day. One day I’ll learn to do that too. Abortion will not be ended because a government makes it illegal. It will be ended when it’s no longer wanted. Politicians may control the laws, but the rest of us need to work to convince mothers to want something better, and especially to give them the help they need to do it.