As followers of Jesus, how do we respond to the brokenness of abortion? Here are little known facts about abortion in the United States:
* 1 in 5 married women choose abortion.
* 3 in 5 women seeking abortions have experienced contraceptive failure.
* 70% of all abortions are obtained by white women.
* in 59% of cases, a woman’s husband, boyfriend, or her parents pressured her to have an abortion.
* most of the women who choose abortions are under 30 years of age; the highest rate of abortions is for women aged 15-24.
* In January of 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data indicating that the abortion rate in the US had dropped to its lowest level in 20 years. They recorded 1.3 million abortions in 1993 and 1.2 million in 1994.
* At current rates, it is estimated that nearly half of all women of reproductive age will have had an abortion by age 45.
Certainly it is difficult to insist on the ultimate value of life unless we are willing to actively reach out to people as they face difficult life circumstances such as unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancies. We must find ways to choose life in holistic ways.
This may need to begin by admitting that our Mennonite and BIC communities have not been safe places for unmarried pregnant women, for single mothers, for the disabled. If we are to be credible, our lives as well as our words must declare an alternative to violence and coercion.
Facing abortion is a difficult, heart-wrenching decision for most women. Many women who have had abortions carry some degree of grief, guilt or shame about the decision. Until as a church we become more supportive of single mothers, and less judgmental / more compassionate of women who face unplanned pregnancies, we cannot expect God’s will to bring about the changes of heart we seek. Let us do what we can to make abortion unthinkable. Action ideas:
1. Work to build self-esteem in teenagers so they do not look for love through premature sexual intercourse.
2. Encourage those who love, support and/or make a home for babies who might have been aborted.
3. Be sympathetic and supportive of persons with disabilities and their families; most Americans support abortion in the face of medical technology showing disability in the fetus.
4. Promote teen pregnancy prevention, family planning, and contraceptive services, and federally funded day care for children.
5. Support young, single mothers through baby showers, baby dedication services, donations of baby clothes, free babysitting, etc. The lack of communal, economic, and social supports often coerce an abortion that would not be necessary in a more just society.
6. Support agencies in your community which assist single pregnant women, both before and after the birth of their babies.
7. Nurture an attitude of acceptance and love toward unmarried pregnant women.
8. Support doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who may jeopardize their jobs by refusing to perform or help perform abortions.
9. Encourage men to mentor young men to speak clearly about their sexual responsibility.