I shamefully admit that up until 4 years ago I didn't really think twice about abortion. But when I lay on that grey cushioned exam chair for the first time, an ultrasound wand to my abdomen and a screen displaying my 18-week old son moving around and kicking his little legs before my very eyes, things began to change.
I won't re-tell the whole of Israel's story in this post, but I will say that many babies with his same birth defect are aborted every day. And 18 weeks is not too late to have it done. Our doctor painted a pretty bleak picture for us, offering little encouragement and lots of negative speculation. I thank God for the faith He had given Vince and me, and that He was our firm foundation both on ethical side of things and in the grief side of things. I am so grateful Israel was given to us.
But the reality is that so, so many babies are never given a chance, whether "healthy" or otherwise. The number of abortions that have taken place in the last 40 years is over 55 million in the U.S. alone- legally. All over the world, this is happening to an exponentially greater degree. Abortion is now so common and normal that it's become a defining feature of our culture today. I don't know about you, but I find this incredibly overwhelming and despairing. I want to do something about it. But I'm not very outspoken or bold, and I've never personally felt the calling to protest outside of abortion clinics or anything of that nature. So, I've been praying, discussing with close friends, and mulling over in my mind for the past several months... what can I do to help fight against abortion? I've landed on eleven things that I can do, with God's help, to defend the cause of the unborn. I thought I'd share it with you, because anybody can do these things. So, here goes.
1. See it for what it is. There is a reason they call this the "culture of death." That's exactly what it is... the purposeful extermination of the most vulnerable among us. And this terrible, evil practice is simply accepted, and even in some cases celebrated, as being a basic right of reproduction. But the right to not be pregnant has unjustly taken precedence over the right to life itself. This "right" is something that is unique to the culture of death. But the heart of God advocates the cause of the weak, the unwanted, the oppressed, the fatherless. I could probably write a whole essay, but what it all comes down to is this: if we who follow Christ claim to care about the things God cares about, then we will be passionately pro-life. We will see abortion for what it is, and we will not just look away and wish it to be gone... we will act. This is not a political issue. It is not a matter of opinion so as not to offend anybody. It is a theological issue, it is a heart issue.
I have found certain blogs and websites helpful in keeping me informed about abortion, as well as giving me a biblical perspective on it. One of them is Russell Moore's blog. Another is The Gospel Coalition, which produces and promotes fabulous articles on all kinds of topics from a biblical worldview. Much of the time you will find great articles about abortion. Or you can do a search for them on the website. OK, on to the rest of the list... they won't all be this long, I promise.
2. Pray. This is the one I forget to do most. We need to remember that God hears and answers prayer. We also need to remember that He is wisely sovereign over every single pregnancy. So, let us pray for the unborn, for parents, for healthcare workers, for politicians, for worldviews to shift, for hearts to change, for evil and death to be defeated.
3. Talk about it. I have found that, like me several years ago, many people simply don't think much about abortion. Because it wasn't something I had passionate feelings about, I never took any action. I don't think I realized what the big deal was. Some people include abortion as a taboo topic. It isn't comfortable or easy to talk about it. And, it takes a lot of graciousness to present the pro-life viewpoint, especially when it might spark passionate feelings. But the more we have informed and humble discussion, the more people will be thinking about what we say. In my opinion, the best way to persuade someone of your viewpoint is not to bombard them with graphic images or shouts of condemnation. It is to engage them in love, seeing them also as one who, like you, cares about human rights and women's health. One great thought-provoking example of doing this is found here.
4. Vote. There are all sorts of varying opinions about how much faith should affect public policy, if at all. But abortion is different. I wrote above that it is a theological issue, but it is also a human rights issue. We must help elect policymakers who will legally protect unborn children.
5. Support local pregnancy resource centers. There is a lot to be said for organizations that work at the local level. That is where change begins to take place, within individual communities. Lots of women, men, and children are really and truly helped by these centers. You don't have to give only money... there are needs of all kinds that you could help meet. For example, Turning Point of Las Cruces currently needs unisex newborn clothes. And volunteers. You can also reach out to pregnant women yourself. I believe one of the things we ought to be doing well is treating the problem of abortion holistically. This generation should work to find a solution that takes into account all the factors contributing to abortion. It won't be easy, and it won't be black and white. But it must be done well.
6. Have children, and parent them well. The sociology of abortion is surely very complex. But it's been found that the birth-rate in the western world is on the decline. More abortions are being performed than ever before in history, and also fewer babies are being born. Some blame the economy while others blame the rising trend of independent living... but one factor to recognize is that children aren't exactly highly esteemed in our culture today. It doesn't take much to notice this to be true... there is no place for children in the career-driven, materialistic, quiet, organized, well-traveled kind of society that is so highly pursued. But society has it wrong. Children are treasures! They are not problems to be eliminated, they are not consequences for mistakes made. They are worth giving up ourselves and our lives for. So, if the world can look at my children and see how wonderful they are, that can help undo the perception that children are nothing more than a nuisance. If you don't have children, then love the children that are in your life- your nieces, nephews, or the baby in line at the grocery store. They are highly valuable- treat them as such.
7. Adopt... or support those who do. Perhaps the opposite of aborting a child is adopting a child. Of course, not everyone can adopt or should adopt. But we should support the idea, as well as the people who are taking otherwise unwanted children into their hearts and homes. Check out the Orphan Justice Center and their article, Ten Ways to Care for Orphans.
8. Sponsor a child. This may seem to have nothing to do with fighting abortion. But the reality is that millions of babies are aborted worldwide simply because their families cannot afford them. But there are great organizations that offer child sponsorship to make sure poor children are taken care of. These programs offer hope to mothers and families who might otherwise feel hopeless and desperate because of poverty. My favorite child-sponsorship organization is Compassion International, and there are many other great ones.
9. Share your faith. The gospel of Jesus isn't just a message to get people to heaven. The gospel changes cultures, shapes history, transforms individuals and entire societies. Our need to be rescued from our slavery to Self and brought into a restored relationship with God is the thing that defines and unites all of humanity. It's where true change takes place. I firmly believe that the gospel is the primary solution to abortion... both in saving lives of the unborn, and in offering peace and healing for the men and women who have experienced it.
10. Support missions, locally and abroad, particularly among college students and the poor. Those two people groups are the most targeted by Planned Parenthood, and they both have the highest rate of abortion procedures. Like I said above, preaching (and sharing and conversing about) the gospel is the best way to fight against abortion. Campus ministers, high school and college youth groups, and missionaries to the poor locally and internationally are worth supporting as you seek to help the pro-life cause, because they work directly with the women who are most likely to get an abortion.
11. Don't get discouraged. While we may be bombarded with alarming statistics about the reality of abortion, it might be easy to feel as though we're fighting a losing battle. But the kingdom of God will overcome all evil and death. Let's fix our eyes on that perspective. And remember, God isn't just going to make everything all better someday in the distant future. Rather, He is at work very much in the here and now in ways that we can't even see. We like to have hard, concrete evidence of our hard work. But we have to be willing to give up our need for that and walk by faith instead of sight. The truth is that we don't know what our conversations accomplish, or our donations, or our prayers. We can't know... but I believe one day we will know. And in the meantime, the sovereign, omnipotent God is holding all things in His hands. Knowing that is all the more reason to keep pressing on.
So... how about you? As you've considered this issue and what you can do, does anything stand out? I'd love to hear other ideas or suggestions.