USA (MNN) — Pro-life Americans have their sights set on overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion across the country. And it looks like it could actually happen. With pro-life bills making headway in states like Alabama and Georgia, there is a good chance a challenger case could go to the Supreme Court.
But Eric Verstraete, president of Life Matters Worldwide, says overturning Roe v. Wade should not be the end goal of the Church. Ultimately, reversing abortion legislation won’t change hearts and bring healing.
“If we stopped just there, we will have failed. It needs to go the next step farther, which I believe is calling the Church and calling those even in communities to step up and support these women and men [with unplanned pregnancies.]
“Whether or not it goes to the Supreme Court, frankly, the bigger issue for me is, how are we creating support within our churches? How are we tearing down the shame walls that have been up for years and years and years so that we can support people in all areas of their life with all the decisions that they’re making? We believe the right decision in the abortion discussion is to save that baby, to not have an abortion.”
Shame causes great harm in the abortion conversation, especially in the Church. Women and men in Christian circles who end up pregnant out of wedlock sometimes would rather abort their child than face the shame. But then women who get abortions often feel so ashamed about their decision, they still suffer silently.
Some women go to the other extreme and become defensive of their decision to abort. #YouKnowMe was trending on Twitter recently as women shared their abortion stories in an effort to normalize and even celebrate abortion.
Instead of responding to abortion revelations from our friends, family, neighbors, and church members with the extremes of praise or shame, the Body of Christ needs to respond with God’s forgiveness, love, and healing.
“Shame is never a good option,” says Verstraete. “We always want to come alongside people with love and honor and respect and give them as much equipping [and] encouraging that we can.”
There are, of course, other factors besides shame that lead women to choose abortion or to hide their abortion. No matter the reason, the Church needs to be ready to stand in the gap for women and men facing unplanned pregnancies.
“[A] huge percentage of people who have had abortions have said [they got the abortion] because it’s not the right time, they can’t afford it, they don’t want to bring a baby into the world and the situation that they’re bringing in. And I can only imagine how difficult that decision is. I know that those women and men who are making those decisions, it’s an agonizing decision for them to do that.
“We’re saying there are so many other options that are out there to help and support. But it has to be the highest priority of churches and other members of the community to support those people going through that really difficult decision.”
Verstraete recently heard the story of a woman who’d had an abortion in her past. She wanted to pray with and counsel other post-abortive women in her church and asked the pastor to announce her services from the pulpit.
“This pastor, at first, said, ‘I would know if there were any women who have had abortions in my congregation.’ But after weeks and weeks of this woman pleading, the pastor finally absolved and said, ‘Okay, I will tell people that you’ll be available to help.’
“After the service, 12 women walked up to get prayed for [and] to get some counseling from this woman. Thankfully, the pastor had the humility at that moment to realize, ‘I was wrong.’ He went to this woman who had been pleading with him for months, and said, ‘I’m so sorry, please forgive me. Whatever you need, we’ll move forward.’”
If you have had an abortion, Verstraete wants you to know this: “I am so sorry that you were in a situation where you felt that was your only option. And I’m sorry that you didn’t have the support, love, and encouragement from your community to make a different choice in that matter. But right now, your life is what matters to me. I can’t tell you that I understand what you’re going through, but I want to walk down that road with you of healing, for you to better understand just how much you are loved — and more importantly, how much you’re loved by the Father. He does not want you to carry this burden.”
If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering abortion, “I would beg them to reconsider. I would beg them to say, please do not make this decision based on your current circumstances. There’s help out there. There are pregnancy centers that are out there. There are churches who are out there who will not shame you…. We want to be there. We want to support you so that you don’t have to live with the lasting consequences of the decision that you’re going to make in the moment right now. I’m sorry, you’re in that position and I can’t begin to tell you that I understand. But let someone come alongside and walk with you in this really difficult time of your life.”
Finally, Verstraete emphasizes, “This would be a call to the churches as well. What are you going to do to help that unplanned or that crisis pregnancy that’s out there? Now, we believe that there’s no such thing as a crisis pregnancy because all pregnancies are created by God. But what are you going to do with that unplanned pregnancy, Church, that’s coming to your congregation? I would beg churches not to shame those people.”
Click here to learn more about Life Matters Worldwide and their pro-life resources!