HEADlines: Abortion and the Church

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, January 25, 2020~

I don’t know who she sat next to in church that week—or if she even went to church then. And for a long time after I met her, I had no idea what had happened in her life.

It all looked great from my viewpoint.

Then we went on a bus trip to the March for Life. That’s the annual Washington, DC, commemoration of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in all 50 states. I don’t know the moment that made a difference for her. I just know that she lived that moment and her life changed. She made a connection with someone she felt she could trust with her secret. And when she did, she found healing.

And I might not have ever known but for a chance meeting.

One Sunday morning, we were visiting a church in a neighboring community. And when we got out of our car, she got out of hers.

She was the guest speaker. She had come to tell us the secret she had carried for years. She had had an abortion.

And she told us about the someone who helped her. And the God who healed her.

Now she helps others. And those others are all around us. We just don’t know who they are or what they are living.

Perhaps one such person sat next to you last Sunday.

One in five women who reported that they’ve had an abortion were attending church weekly at the time. Four in ten said they attended church regularly when they aborted. Seven in ten aborting women identify themselves as Christians.

Only seven of 100 such women said they discussed their decision to abort with someone at their church.

Roland C. Warren of CareNet says, because the issue of abortion has been politicized, many pastors shy away from addressing it. So many women sit in the pews feeling that they cannot speak of their crisis pregnancies.

“[A]s a result of pastors’ withdrawal, there have not been broad-scale ministry on-ramps built around helping women and men make pregnancy decisions,” he writes.

It’s not about politicizing our churches. It’s about providing compassion to people who may hold pro-life convictions in their hearts even when they perceive that their desperate situation has no solution other than abortion. So we also must offer compassion for men who have made abortion decisions. Consider this story:

There is a Planned Parenthood facility in Montgomery County, Texas, that was the special focus of prisoners in the local jail during a 40 Days for Life campaign.

Forty Days for Life was meeting outside the PP at that location from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm daily during those 40 days. One of the participants also volunteered in the chaplaincy program at the local jail. He went to see whether the inmates of faith would be willing to cover the other 12 hours of each day in prayer.

A few days later he “returned to the Wynne unit and the offender heading up the unit prayer vigil gave me the sign-up list. It turned out to be 12 pages full of names. As I examined the list in semi-shock and asked several questions, I realized that each man on the list had agreed to pray for one hour each day for the whole 40 days. For example, 16 men are praying every day from 7 PM – 8 PM for the whole 40 days. Again, 16 different men from 8 PM – 9 PM. 15 men signed up for 3 AM – 4 AM and so it goes. Every hour is covered with at least 10 men who signed up to pray.”

I don’t know how abortion touched the lives of each of these inmates.

But Donna Gardner knows that abortion has touched the lives of many men incarcerated today. Gardner became involved in ministry to post-abortive, incarcerated men after an inmate spoke to a prison ministry about his guilt over participating in abortions.

“The inmate was feeling haunted because he had pressured three different women he had gotten pregnant into having abortions. Surprised that a man was talking about abortions, Lawlor invited Gardner to speak at the annual prison ministry meeting in 2011.”

Gardner believed many prisoners suffered from PTSD because of their involvement in abortions. Her research and instincts found support when “an anonymous survey issued to the inmates at both of the prisons [Martin and Okeechobee in Florida] indicated that 90 percent had been involved in an abortion experience that hurt them.”

She says, “It’s not what you think about men in prison. They longed for their children and somehow recognized that life went wrong after their abortion experience.”

It doesn’t seem like a natural progression of logic that men would find themselves in prison as a result of abortions in their lives. After all, these men had histories before and after their abortion experiences that may also have contributed to their incarceration.

It didn’t seem like a logical connection to the men either—at first. “Many men are unaware that their emotions are the direct result of an abortion experience,” according to Gardner.

Emotional wounding comes from all sorts of trauma. But with nearly 62 million abortions happening in the US since Roe, it’s time to acknowledge that the wounding is widespread.

Gardner’s program includes multiple classes. Men learn how to deal with the pain of the past. They find healing. They experience, she says, “the healing power of God.”

The men are building “this beautiful brotherhood of life . . . behind the wall.”

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Credit: Tim Marshall

Only God can form such a brotherhood. And only God can place a healing helper in our path after we’ve wounded ourselves in a way that seems insurmountable.

Whether the place of ministry is a prison or a church, it must be a place of transparent compassion that says, “We will love you no matter what you face, no matter what you’ve done because there is a great God who loved us and you too,” Gardner says.

That’s the same love that my friend found. And the love she now offers. That’s the love the men suffering after abortion offer.

That love is the Gospel.

And the Gospel is the message of Christ. The message of the Church—if we can be bold enough to share it.

Top Photo Credit: Maria Oswalt

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Freedom to Choose?

She was 24 years old carrying a baby of 22 weeks gestation. She was looking forward to having her baby. But she sat before a court that would decide what would happen to both of them.

The judge understood that the woman was happy to know a baby was growing inside her. That the baby would need care. That she, the woman, would need help caring for the child.

The woman’s mother testified that it would be bad for the woman to lose this child.

The woman’s social worker agreed with the testifying mother.

The judge said that “if [the woman] was making the choice, . . . she would not want a termination. . . . she probably will suffer some trauma or upset from the termination,” and “that I do not underestimate the harm from this course [abortion].”

The judge said the mother’s “best interests lies in her having the termination.”

How did this woman end up before a judge who dared to decide death for a baby and harm for a mother whose supposed best interests dictated that she be childless through trauma?

The woman’s diagnosis of “moderate learning disability and challenging behavior” seems inadequate to answer the question.

But apparently the United Kingdom has a “Court of Protection” that makes such decrees.

I look forward to teaching George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four later this school year. Orwell set his story in England, the UK, where the Court of Protection presides today.

Orwell depicted a Ministry of Peace that oversaw the empire’s war efforts. The Ministry of Truth made up lies. And the Ministry of Love tortured the citizens.

Now the UK’s Court of Protection deems a little child must die so as not to become an inconvenience–to whom?

Has England truly fallen so far? Not quite yet.

As Matt Britton of Day 41 writes, “When ‘Pro-Choice’ Becomes ‘No-Choice.'”

“Praise be to God, the Author of Life, that the Court of Appeals quickly overruled this abomination and this young lady is well on her way to having the happy, healthy baby she wants.”

So one baby, one mother, one grandmother, and one social worker have escaped the horror of forced abortion.

But the UK sits on a slope that becomes more slippery.

Power slips from people into the hands of those who believe they know best what is best for all.

Not even George Orwell could have dreamed up such a world.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No, I won’t stay down

Earlier this week, Anne Susan DiPrizio was arrested in the Alabama House of Representatives for spraying the glass separating visitors from legislators with green paint and repeatedly yelling, “Dumb, dumb, dumb.” She “swung and threw paint on” security guards as they were arresting her.

DiPrizio was protesting the Alabama House’s passage of a bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state.

New York and other states are passing laws expanding abortion and refusing to protect children who survive abortion and are born alive.

Some states are going out of their way to make sure that the smallest abortion victims do not live to speak up later on. Others, like Alabama, are doing everything possible to protect the unborn.

America is gearing up for a showdown on Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton the 1973 Supreme Court decisions that eradicated every abortion law in all 50 states.

Forty-six years later, it’s an issue that just won’t go away.

Every year since 1974, the March for Life has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to Washington, DC, to mark the anniversary of Roe and Doe.

America has seen attacks on abortion facilities. “Fanatics resort to violence on both extremes of the pro-choice/pro-life spectrum,” writes Feminist for Life Serrin M. Foster (emphasis Foster’s).

More recently, it was in San Francisco during the 40 Days for Life–before Easter this year–when a young attacker assaulted an 85-year-old pro-life man praying outside a Planned Parenthood clinic.

The attacker knocked “Ron” down and said, “Stay down, old man–Stay on the ground–unless you want to get hurt.”

While on the ground, Ron wouldn’t let go of the pro-life banner the attacker was trying to steal. So the attacker kicked him several times. But Ron came back the next day. He had committed to a certain number of hours–and he came back to fulfill that commitment.

In response to the attack, he said, “No, I won’t stay down.”

So Ron returned to his post where he stood and prayed quietly. The 40 Days for Life philosophy asks participants to always respond “with love and charity”–no matter what they see, hear, or experience.

Forty Days for Life credits Ron’s efforts with saving the lives of three babies.

Many Americans don’t realize that laws like New York’s–laws legalizing abortion until birth–simply restore Roe and Doe in their original form. Abortion for any reason at any time in pregnancy.

But today when legislatures pass laws allowing abortion until birth and allowing the neglect until death of children who manage to live through the abortion process, Americans see that as extreme.

Most of America–even those who call themselves pro-choice–do not support abortion until birth. In fact, only 13 percent do.

Perhaps America has turned the tide on Roe and Doe. Perhaps the strategies of 40 Days and Ron can win the day.

If the side of life is the side of reason–and the side against life is a violent man kicking a peaceful elder and a screaming woman splattering paint on security guards, we will win.

But we must be like Ron to win. We must peacefully pray and stay at our posts–even if we are bruised.

Peace and prayer will win this, the battle of our lifetime. They are the greatest tools. If we use them and them alone.

The lives of many depend are depending on us.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”