Last week, all across our Nation, people celebrated Sanctity of Human Life Week culminating on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Many of you heard sermons on Psalm 139. You learned how God lovingly knit you together in your mother’s womb, how He has a plan for your life—a GOOD plan.
But you didn’t see the woman sitting next to you who was grieving her abortion that day.
You didn’t see her because you don’t know about her past—she doesn’t talk about it.
Because she doesn’t know how you’ll react. She doesn’t know if she can trust you. She doesn’t know if you’re safe.
The latest statistics show that as many as four in ten women have experienced one or more abortions. The next time you’re in a large group of women look around and let that statistic wash over you. Our churches, women’s organizations, PTA’s, salons and spas, and gyms are FULL of women who are hurting from an abortion, suffering in silence because they’re afraid if they tell you, you won’t understand.
Do we understand?
There was a time when I really didn’t. I said things like, “I don’t get how a woman could ever have an abortion.” Or, “It’s a child, not a choice.” What I didn’t understand was that in all our efforts as a society to make sure women have a choice, what we’ve done is make them feel they don’t have another choice. Most women faced with an unplanned pregnancy don’t want to have an abortion. They just don’t feel there’s another option.
A woman’s choice to have an abortion affects every part of her being, but the good news is that the choice to abort is not outside of God’s ability to forgive and heal.The bad news is that many times our “christianese” makes the woman sitting next to us in the pew who’s had two feel we’re unworthy of her trust.
If these precious women don’t trust us, how can we help them heal?
Here are a few ways you can help her feel safe.
1. Lay down stereotypes
Go through the counselor training at your local crisis pregnancy center and learn more about who she really is. You might be surprised to know that the stereotypes don’t always fit. Your child’s PTA President is just as likely to have chosen abortion as the mom on welfare in the inner city.
2. Don’t use loaded words.
Murder is a word that gets thrown around all too often when we talk about abortion. And while it might be true, saying it in mixed company might be all the post-abortive woman in your group needs to hear to know you’re not safe. Always look at the crowd you’re in and think, “she could be here. How can I help her know I care?”
3. Get rid of black and white thinking.
I freely admit that I’m a black and white thinker by nature. I have to work hard to see the grey in the world. But after working with women in unplanned pregnancy for over 15 years of my life now, I can truly say that I DO understand why a woman would choose abortion. I’m not saying I think it’s the right or even the best choice for her, but I get it. I’ve heard stories that would curl your toes. I’ve counseled women who would’ve been murdered for being pregnant outside of marriage, others who arrived at our doorstep black and blue—a friendly reminder from the father of the baby about what her choice had better be. Until you hear her story, you simply can’t know why she made the decision she did. Be open, and welcome her story.
Remember that left to yourself, apart from the work of God in your life, you could just as easily be the one with a story of abortion to tell. If you caught yourself saying, “I would NEVER have an abortion” as you read that last sentence, consider spending some time reflecting on the nature and definition of sin. The sin of abortion is no worse than the sin of gossip in the eyes of God. And the truth of the matter is that you can’t possibly know what you might’ve chosen if you were walking in her shoes.
So many women in our world today need to know freedom and forgiveness from their choice to abort. And there’s no better place for them to come find it than in the body of Christ.
Brooke McGlothlin is the co-author of Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess, and helps boy moms navigate the testosterone-filled life at the MOB Society.