Pastor’s Column: Being Pro-Life Beyond Creating Laws
2017 brings a new year and with it a new President which some pro-lifers hope will usher in change to the landscape of abortion across our nation. At New Life Family Services, we exist to help those who believe abortion is their only option. Our goal is to see lives saved and hearts changed through our services, and ultimately impact the number of abortions occurring in Minnesota, sparing women and men from the pain of abortion. But being pro-life extends far beyond the polling place and laws created to protect life. Regardless of laws, which may come and go, New Life will continue to be here serving women and men, one at a time, as we build relationships and share the truth in love. Together, we are working towards creating a culture that not only supports life, but supports it abundantly. (John 10:10)
What Does it Mean to be Pro-Life?
Most of the women we serve at New Life don’t really want to have an abortion, but they believe abortion is their only option due to their current life circumstances. These circumstances could be the financial strain they are under with their current children, unreliable or inadequate housing, joblessness, or pressure from the father or their family. They often times don’t know how they will provide for this little life.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health’s most recent annual abortion report (2015), 60% of women having abortions in 2015 have had at least one (or more) previous live birth. In other words, the majority of women having abortions in Minnesota already have children – they know full well the miracle of life. These women and men aren’t necessarily lacking information on prenatal development, what they need are resources and support to help make a way where they cannot see one.
At New Life Family Services we believe pro-life work requires a broader perspective and a holistic approach. While God continues to change hearts and save lives through performing ultrasounds and offering decision-making counseling, our work doesn’t stop there. The clients we are seeing every day have desperate needs and it is their life circumstances that are leading them to abortion. Many of our clients have serious needs for housing, food, employment or beyond. Our Social Workers at New Life are equipped to utilize their network of connections with other community organizations. To support life in a holistic way, we are able to advocate on behalf of the families we serve and connect them to the resources they need to be successful parents. Our approach spans multiple years and focuses on long-term relationships with our clients that will bring true and lasting transformation in their lives.
Life decisions need support, especially support from the Church. Christians must address the social and economic barriers that lead women to abortion clinics. Being pro-life is about more than saving babies. It is also about raising children. It is about helping mothers and fathers build healthy relationships and families (so maybe the next time they are facing a pregnancy, abortion isn’t even an option because they are in a better place). It is about supporting them in their practical struggles and nurturing their spiritual development.
This is vital pro-life work and these are beautiful ways to show the love of Christ in a very tangible way. As families are struggling to make ends meet, we as the Church need to work to provide the practical, emotional and even spiritual support they need.
Here are some ways you and your church can get involved in the work of affirming life:
- Help create a culture where abortion is not perceived as the only viable option, by supporting single moms and dad, young moms and dad, and moms and dads struggling to make ends meet.
- Talk about abortion and life issues as a church. With 1 in 3 women having had an abortion by age 45, this is an issue in the church. (Here is a link to resources and speakers from our Conquerors program to help equip and train churches on how talk about this with grace.)
- Drop off diapers and baby clothing at your nearest First Care Pregnancy Center.
- Look for ways to befriend your neighbors and support parents of young children in your community.
- Offer to babysit for a single parent.
- Change the tone we use when talking about unplanned pregnancy so that those in that situation see us as safe people to seek out for advice.
- Be an advocate for healing to those who are hurting from a past abortion by referring them to our Conquerors program. According to the research, more than 1 in 3 women were attending a Christian church once a month or more at the time of their first abortion.
- Volunteer with our Parenting Plus Education Program – where families with young children meet with Parenting Coaches who create a unique educational plan for each family on various topics (ranging from discipline to caring for a newborn, spiritual development, and managing finances).
- Donate to our clothing closet – where families are able to “shop” for practical items such as clothing, diapers, wipes, formula, and car seats.
This is the vital pro-life work that builds stronger families and communities and has far reaching impact. Let’s treat those around us as the valuable, image-bearers of God that they are. Let’s show them the value their life has so that they can give that same value to their children, both now and in the future. This is how we affirm the good news of being pro-life.
Tammy Kocher is the Executive Director of New Life Family Services, an affiliate ministry of Transform Minnesota.