Having read through the Bible multiple times, I don’t see one place where God’s people are commanded to change the laws of our nation, though we are to stand up for justice. The United States is unique in that the principles in our constitution were based upon Scripture, and it is good for us to fight for righteousness in our laws. But we were never meant to neglect the commands to care for the poor and needy in the process.
The first place most people (including Christians) think of running for help in an untimely pregnancy is Planned Parenthood.
~ Joni Williams Shepherd
Why the Church Needs to Prepare
If we fight to change a law that affects millions of women, then we must also see to the care of those women. The State of Alabama outlawed abortion except to save the life of the mother. Ohio bans abortion once fetal heartbeat is detected. Utah bans it beyond 18 weeks. Texas banned it past six weeks. A woman and her doctor will break the law if she has an induced abortion outside these parameters. Several other states have passed laws restricting abortion and 26 more are likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. At the same time, other states have already passed laws, or are rallying to pass them, to increase abortion rights up to the moment of birth, to allow the baby to die and even to kill the baby up to weeks afterward. The State of Colorado leads the way in this horrific turn of events.
Whether abortion is legal or illegal, young women will continue to have untimely pregnancies. One of the frequent arguments for abortion rights is that many women don’t have resources to give birth and care for children. While we fight for abortion to become illegal, what are we doing about that? What do we “pro-lifers” have in mind for these women? It is a very real concern that should become one of our most important initiatives and not primarily in the legislative sense.
“The government will take care of them.” Umm, that’s not a very Christian-like attitude! It should be the church, above all institutions and entities, that considers this dilemma and provides true redemptive “pro-life” solutions. Obviously, we can’t help all women across the globe, but we can help the women in our own community through our local church. We can begin with women from our own church. How can we call ourselves “pro-life” and not care about the life and needs of the moms? In God’s eyes, there is no difference between a needy mom and a preborn baby. He loves them equally. We, the pro-life church, tend to love and root for the baby a lot but the mom is more of a problem to us.
I remind us that Christianity is providing the abortion industry with more than half of its customers. I propose the bigger battle is in-house. Most of us are unaware of this even with abortion being legal, so what would be any different if abortion should become illegal? More than a third of these Christians who have lost children to abortion currently attend church regularly. We should be surprised that they attend at all anymore because the reason many of them chose abortion was not only because they may have felt they couldn’t afford a baby but, more importantly, they felt too ashamed to come to us because of their sexual sin. Few congregations proactively make it crystal clear that they are safe (non-condemning) to approach in these situations and offer mentorship, discipleship, and resources.
“The local pregnancy resource center can take care of them.” True, if a woman is aware of the pregnancy center, she can take advantage of their help and resources. But most churches don’t even advertise the pregnancy center’s services to their own people, assuming they would never need them.
But a pregnancy center can only help a woman for about two years at most. They do a fantastic job saving lives but most people in crisis pregnancies don’t even know they exist. The church should partner with them in additional significant ways! The church has basically outsourced hope and grace in this area to the pregnancy center without even telling their own young women, most of the time, that this resource is available for them also if they need it. A small percentage of the local churches pays them to do this job for us. Then we brush our hands off and declare our job is done.
Don’t get me wrong. I am 100 percent in favor of pregnancy centers! They are the ones saving the majority of babies and moms and dads. They save lives regardless of state or national laws. But the church has the power and resources to save a lot more, partnering with their local pregnancy center for services every church cannot logistically set up on their own. Let me explain.
Take Colorado Springs as an example, which has two pregnancy centers within the city limits. If a woman wants to make use of their pregnancy services, she must first know about them, then drive across town to one of their locations. On the other hand, there are over 400 Protestant and over 20 Roman Catholic churches in the city. Women and men pass by these churches regularly, whether they ever enter their doors or not, because there is at least one in or near their neighborhood. If just ten percent of these churches committed to become a safe, non-judgmental place to come for help, something amazing and precious would begin to happen.
A new reputation. A good one!
Presently, the church, in general, does not have a very good reputation for being a safe place to run. We are often seen as judgmental of other people’s sins and uncaring of the sinner. Obviously, their sin stinks worse than ours! (NOT!) We have all kinds of wonderful ministries but aren’t known very often for caring for needs in our neighborhoods. We fight to end abortion at state and national levels, but we don’t often fight for life in our own churches and communities. Ending abortion rights is a substandard goal. Jesus came that we might have life, and that abundantly. Let’s work with Him toward that goal!
Whether abortion remains legal or not, we must prepare to meet the needs of the pregnant woman. Let’s change the narrative: Instead of Planned Parenthood, let’s make the church the first place people think of running for help in an untimely pregnancy!
By Joni Williams Shepherd
Joni Williams Shepherd is the Executive Director of Hope and Grace International and author of two books that help equip the church to address abortion with hope and grace. To start the conversation, Memoirs of a Christian Who Chose Abortion gives perspective of a the journey of a fellow Christ-follower who lost two children to abortion and found redemption and healing through repentance and the grace of God. Why Can't We Say the "A" Word in Church? (Overcoming Our Dirtiest Secret with Hope and Grace) contains the stories from Memoirs in less detail, along with The Scenario of abortion and its ensuing trauma in the world and the church, The Dilemma the church faces in addressing abortion, and The Remedy for how to address abortion in the church comprehensively and with compassion.
 Care-Net, 2015. Cited May 18, 2022. Online: https://www.care-net.org/churches-blog/church-abortion-survey.
 World Guides. Accessed 5/21/2022. Online: http://www.world-guides.com/north-america/usa/colorado/colorado-springs/colorado_springs_churches.html.