It is indeed an exciting time for the pro-life movement in America. As reported by the US news agency NPR, “For the first time in nearly a half century, there is a six-justice conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court — six justices with clearly expressed views against abortion rights.” And in July, Mississippi asked the Court to declare there is no such thing as a constitutional right to abortion. The Court is due to issue a ruling on this case by the end of June in 2022.
The implications of this confluence of circumstances are clear. Roe vs Wade, the infamous 1973 Supreme Court decision prohibiting states from making laws banning abortions before fetal viability outside the womb, is on shaky legal ground. If the court rules as broadly as Mississippi has requested, Roe vs Wade would be reversed, giving each state carte blanche to ban or allow abortion within their borders.
Arguments were presented to the Court on December 1. It could rule at any time after that point, although according to Duke University the court deliberates for an average of 84 days after oral arguments. A Roe-free America may be weeks away.
What, then, would be the legal state of abortion should Roe be reversed? According to the Guttmacher Institute, 22 states have laws on their books that could be used to restrict access to abortion. Of these states, 17 have bans on all or almost all abortions that would go into effect immediately upon the overturning of Roe vs Wade.
Data published in late 2020 by the CDC summarizing abortion data from 2018 indicates that 619,591 abortions were reported to the CDC in 2018. Based on the state-by-state abortion rates in this report, a ban on abortion in the seventeen aforementioned states would have prevented about 140,000 abortions in 2018. It is reasonable to assume that this rate will remain relatively constant into the near future, and that, should Roe be overturned, some 140,000 children per year will be born who may otherwise have had their lives cut short by abortion.
What then, in a post-Roe America, will become of these children? And what will become of the mothers who give birth to them? A study analyzing data collected from 2008-2010 found that 40 percent of American mothers who aborted their pregnancies did so for financial reasons. Nine percent cited that they had an unstable relationship with the child’s father, and three percent stated that this relationship was abusive. Twenty-nine percent stated that they felt overwhelmed by their current parenting responsibilities.
Eradicating Roe vs Wade will not make these mothers any more prosperous, relationally secure, or in control of their parenting life. These overwhelmed, under-resourced women need support that they are unable to find.
This is where the church has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The legal ramparts making up the fortress of the abortion industry in America are being shaken. The fortress of abortion claimed to protect these women, but the truth will be revealed when it collapses—it was only a façade. The real issues that abortion-vulnerable women are facing today are much more complex than a simple abortion pill can solve. They are multifaceted—spiritual, material, emotional, and social.
These are gospel issues. These are invitations for the church to have a woman-at-the-well conversation with the women in our culture, in the vein of John 4:1-42. And lest we forget, Jesus’ conversation with this loved-by-God, rejected-by-religion, promiscuous social outcast led to an entire town following Jesus (including the woman herself).
Church in America, are we ready to help the women who thought abortion could save them? Are we ready to show them the God who is ready to save them? Are we ready to offer our finances, our time, our effort, not just to encourage them to save the lives of their children (all 140,000 of them per year), but to show them the practical love of Christ, and by extension, the way to eternal life?
How do we do this? In practical terms, relationship is key.
For Christian women, befriending the abortion-vulnerable woman and listening to her story is a great step in the right direction. Heartbeat International offers helpful information on their website regarding an approach used by many pregnancy resource centers—the “LOVE approach.” It can be used by anyone. This strategy for building a relationship with an abortion-vulnerable woman follows a four-step process: Listen, Offer options, Vision and Value, and Empowerment.
The specifics of this approach are beyond the scope of this article, but it is a helpful tool to explore. While it may not be appropriate for all men to build a relationship in this manner with an abortion-vulnerable woman, it would certainly be beneficial for men to learn about resources for women facing unwanted pregnancies in their area.
Many ministries exist to extend these resources to women in crisis. Pregnancy resource centers, ministries mentoring unwed pregnant moms such as Embrace Grace, Christian foster care agencies, foster care prevention ministries such as Safe Families for Children, and other such organizations are already in place. These ministries are in continual need of the financial, prayer, and time commitments of concerned Christians.
Taking simple steps to support ministries such as these and to encourage women in crisis are excellent ways to meet the needs of women in crisis with the love of Christ. Who knows, in so doing, the church of this generation might exponentially grow the ranks of the next.
These same steps fill a very real need in the present moment, as well. There exists the very real possibility that the court fails to overturn Roe. Whether Roe is overturned or not, ministries already in existence will continue their work, because mothers facing unwanted pregnancies will continue to be in need. Regardless of governmental action, concerned Christians can still stand in the gap for at-risk unborn children by serving in these same ministries.
That said, the overturning of Roe appears more imminent than ever before. And should that happen, 140,000 mothers will be left wondering where to turn. Who will meet them in their need? Planned Parenthood in a neighboring state where abortion is still legal, or their local church? I pray that the church in America will be ready to mobilize in the face of this great opportunity for the gospel. Are we ready to practice what we preach?
Trevor Holloway is a volunteer leader of the fatherhood program at the Alpha Family Center in Lowell, and Lake Odessa, Michigan. Alpha is a crisis pregnancy center that offers parenting classes and resources to both moms and dads who choose life for their children. His wife was center director at Alpha, and together they attend West Cannon Baptist Church in Belmont, Michigan. They served as foster parents from 2016 to 2020 and have an adopted son.
Photo credits: Daniel Tseng and Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash.com