Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pro-All of Life: Stewarding the Progress We've Made on Abortion

Since the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion discussion has dominated my twitter feed. I have a conviction based on a straightforward reading of the Word against abortion. I also have a conviction based on a straightforward reading of the Word that the sanctity of life doesn't end when a mother does not abort her baby.
Sanctity: The quality or condition of being considered sacred; secure from violation or profanation. www.freedictionary.com
The sanctity of life. That phrase means that life itself is sacred and should be secure from violation. What makes human life sacred? God does. He did this when He created man and woman in His image. He set human life apart in that moment, and when He handed down His law, “Thou shalt not kill,” He gave us a clear parameter for how we as humans are supposed to view life. It is set apart. It is inviolable. Don't violate it.

After the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I asked myself, “Does not this sanctity of life extend to all the days of the life itself? Is this only about a moment in time where we choose to end life or not?” We know of course it isn't! We are image bearers of God all day of every day of our lives. From snotty infant to gray haired maturity, we are image bearers of God, instilled with the dignity that He put on us when He created us, a dignity that is distinct from animal, plant, or natural resource.

The set apart, inviolable nature of life involves the whole of life. And I wonder how well pro-life believers are stewarding the lives saved through the influence of the pro-life movement. I want to focus on the state of Mississippi, which now has only 1 abortion clinic in the state. It also has the highest rate of births to unwed mothers in the nation. Abortion rates have steadily declined in the state. In 2009, the CDC reported a rate of 4 abortions per 1000 women in Mississippi, as compared to 15 per 1000 in the nation as a whole. Interestingly, Jackson, Mississippi just last week was listed as one of the most Bible-minded cities in the United States, #5 out of a list of the 96 largest cities in the U.S.

So, the state with only one abortion clinic and the highest number of births to unwed mothers in the U. S. also houses one of the most Biblically minded cities in the U. S. I think the state with the fewest number of abortions and largest number of births outside of marriage represents a good place for believers to think through what we are going to do with successes we've made against abortion. How are children born to single mothers faring? How many end up in foster care? How are believers and churches in this Biblically minded state meeting the needs of children who would have been aborted if their mothers had access to it?

I have found one place online that support mothers in the moments of trying to make a decision for or against abortion for themselves. It sounds like it also supports after birth for a while as well.

My Pregnancy Choices

I am interested in highlighting organizations that support moms throughout the toddler years with more than just diapers and formula (though those are important too). Are you aware of organizations that offer food, clothing, education, and/or childcare? Or an organization/church/ministry that in some other way has shown the value of the sanctity of life after birth? I'd like to highlight ministries among demographics that often feel pressure from life circumstances to abort— the immigrant, the poor, and the uneducated/undereducated. Please help me highlight those who have embraced a full-fledged conviction of the set apart, inviolable, eternally valuable nature of life. I'll tweet those I know with the hashtag #proalloflife. Please tweet it too, if you're into that. I'd love to see more pro-life believers becoming pro-all of life believers, as many already are. And I'd love to garner support by raising awareness for those individuals and ministries who are already living out this lifelong work.

On the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the greatest thing believers can do to show the dignity of life is to ... show the dignity of life. To the children who weren't aborted but are living in poverty or abuse. To the women who did or did not abort often living with shame in either case. To mankind in general including the immigrant or homeless. May we strive to treat man and woman, adult and child, with the dignity deserved as image bearers of God.
Matthew 25 
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
#proalloflife

15 comments:

  1. Don't judge mississipi prolifers. There is a veiled self righteousness in your concern for narrow minded prolifers to be pro for all of life as you define it. There is a smugness about this post that really saddens me.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous, you know nothing of my motives, and I call you out on your lack of charitable reading of this post.

      If you're going to criticize, at least your name.

      Delete
  2. From Stacy Tennison, Executive Director, Center for Pregnancy Choices, Vicksburg, MS

    Our center begins serving our community by going into our local high schools and teaching the students about STDs, pregnancy, sexual health, and abstinence. We teach based upon medical research that has been approved by our Medical Director, who is a state-licensed MD and volunteers time to the center. STDs are a major problem in Mississippi, with our state leading the nation in several diseases. Our county is plagued with STDs especially within our local high schools because the students are so grossly uneducated. We teach the students that most diseases don't have initial visible effects, yet the disease can still be passed to another person. A friend of mine, who is a local nurse practitioner, does school and sports physicals at a clinic. She asks every teen she sees if they have been sexually active. If they have been sexually active, she will encourage them to have an STD test. She told me that approximately 8 or 9 out of every 10 teens that is sexually active tests positive (in her experience).We talk about condom use and their ineffectiveness against diseases (all of our information comes directly from the Center for Disease Control). We discuss that while birth control can prevent most pregnancies, it will not prevent STDs. The ultimate aim of our discussion is to allow the students to conclude that the only way to stay safe from disease and pregnancy is to abstain from sex until they are in a committed, monogomous relationship (i.e. marriage).

    If a woman believes she is pregnant, she can come to the CPC for a free pregnancy test and ultrasound, performed by our trained and licensed staff RN and overseen by our MD. Additionally, the woman (and father of the baby if present) will attend a peer counseling session to discuss all pregnancy options. Most people in a unplanned pregnancy situation are overwhelmed by the intensity of the crisis. We encourage the woman to talk through all of her options, ask lots of questions, and gain all the information that she can before making a decision. We truly believe that knowledge gives power to make good decisions.

    ...

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  3. Continued from Stacy

    ... We are not an abortion clinic, nor do we refer for abortions, but we do provide the information they seek regarding fetal development, the abortion procedure(s), costs, potential risks and side effects, etc. We do not coerce, but allow the facts to speak for themselves. If a woman chooses abortion after learning about all of her choices, we do not discard her. We encourage her to come back when she's ready for post-abortion counseling. The program we use for post-abortion counseling is Surrendering the Secret.

    We are also not an adoption agency, nor are we affiliated with one. We have, however, researched a few trustworthy adoption organizations that we will refer to our clients. The adoption agencies in which we feel confident have a continued care program for these women who make an adoption plan. Adoption is not a one-time event: it is a lifetime of grieving, questioning, healing, and reassuring. The idea of adoption carried many myths associated with it. We seek to dispel these myths and give these parents an accurate view of adoption. One of the adoption agencies we work with stated that one adoption plan is made for every 75 abortions committed.

    When a woman chooses to parent her child, we do offer support from our location for her parenting and financial needs. We begin a program with the mother (and possibly father) called "Earn While You Learn." As they are learning more about pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, baby care, parenting skills, and life skills, we provide them with "Mommy Money" and "Daddy Dollars" to shop in our Baby Boutique. The Baby Boutique is a large room filled with diapers, wipes, bottles, cribs, strollers, etc. that have been donated by members of our community. We have volunteer workers that we call "Mentors," who sit with the parent(s) in these one-on-one classes, answering their questions, encouraging them in their parenting and life-decisions, and then helping them as they shop in the Baby Boutique to know what they will need. These mentors also help our clients as they complete paperwork for government assistance, school enrollment and classes, child care, job applications, etc.

    ...

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  4. continued from Stacy

    ...We have a wide-range of curriculum, but our base-line curriculum can be viewed here: http://www.ewylonline.com/EWYL/Main_Curriculum.asp.
    You will notice on this site that there is also curriculum for life skills, toddler care, father program, Bible study, and Spanish courses. We utilize all of this curriculum with the exception of the father program. This is a program that we hope to launch in the near future. Additionally, we utilize programs such as The Power of a Positive Mom, The Five Love Languages, Overcoming Emotions, and other curriculum by writers such as Kevin Lehman, Chip Ingram, Julie Barnhill, Dave Ramsey, James Dobson, Les & Leslie Parrott, Dr. Cloud, and Dr. Townsend.

    In addition to these services for our clients, we have a small budget line for client assistance. So, if a client needs their electricity turned back on, a hotel for the night so that they don't have to sleep in the car with their children, baby food, things for a job interview, college book fees, we are able to provide this through that budget line. Many client needs can be solved by involving another social services agency. We often refer to other organizations that are helping the members of our community.

    Finally, with every client that comes through our doors, we offer to pray with them and show them the plan of Salvation from the Bible.

    I truly hope this gives you a better understanding of the work that the Pregnancy Centers across our nation are doing. If you have any questions, please feel free to email or call any time!

    If you would like to hear and see more about our center, we have a 3 minute video including client testimonies here:
    http://vimeo.com/34995719

    Also, I encourage you to visit our websites. This first site is designed for our clients: www.VicksburgPregnancy.com.

    This second site is for our supporters, donors, and volunteers: www.CPCVicksburg.com

    There are many Pregnancy Centers like ours in our nation -- thousands actually!
    Most of the centers are affiliated with Heartbeat International (http://www.heartbeatinternational.org/), Carenet (https://www.care-net.org/), and/or NIFLA (http://www.nifla.org/).



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  5. From Meg Brown.

    I'm a social worker for Covenant Care Services, a Christian adoption agency in Georgia. It is our mission to serve women and their children, born or unborn, as they consider making a sacrificial plan of adoption. Probably only one in ten of the women we serve will ultimately choose adoption, but our desire is to show them the unconditional love of Christ and speak truth into their lives, regardless of their decision. The adoption of children is such a beautiful and redemptive act that so closely mirrors our adoptions into the family of God through Jesus...and affects every area of our professional practices.

    New Beginnings Adoption and Family Services is a similar agency licensed in Mississippi and Tennessee. They do both domestic and international placements.

    Grateful for your blog and Biblical insight on so many issues. I'm in the middle of reading The Gospel Centered Woman and have been very much encouraged by it. A greatly-needed perspective for Christian and secular audiences!!

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  6. I have a dear friend, Krysta, who is pro all of life and while she has spent several years working at a pregnancy clinic, she is truly passionate about loving and helping foster kids. She (with her husband) adopted two wonderful boys last year. I love that you are highlighting individuals and ministries that show the love of God for all at all times.

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  7. Aww, thanks, Shannon!

    I tweeted about the podcast that led us to foster care. There are foster care agencies in every state (some run by the state and some private). It was my pro-life conviction that led us to foster care, not only in the hopes that we could adopt some day but also that we might help a family reunify if possible. We've been able to do both.

    I also firmly believe in a newer organizations called Safe Families for Children that intervenes with families before the state has to. Their website is http://www.safe-families.org/.

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  8. From my first post...you are right Wendy and I am very sorry. I admit that I tend to be overly sensitive to the discussion where conservative Christians are admonished (or seem to be admonished) for their narrow minded/onesided/backwards/southern redneck/hateful/ hypocritical stance on issues like abortion and gay marriage. And this often comes from fellow believers, as you probably realize. You were doing none of this, but I reacted out of my weariness. Forgive me please.

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  9. Great post. Thanks for sharing the info about Mississippi. I hadn't heard that. It's great to hear some positive facts in the battle for the unborn.

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  10. Anonymous, thanks! I really appreciate that.

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  11. Thanks for raising an important point that doesn't get talked about for sure.

    We have a dear single mom friend who's helped us see the heavy reality of what being pro-life for all of life entails. Her story is almost cliche - a Christian went through some hard times, was taken advantage of by a non-Christian one night and got pregnant. Now, two years on, she's just gone back to Jr. College to try and finish her degree so she doesn't live on welfare indefinitely, she's heartbroken over having to put her little one in daycare, and she has constant legal battles with the father of her baby and her family who slander her character in an attempt to get more custody. We've helped her out in a variety of ways, and are committed to doing so indefinitely, for just this reason. I'm thankful that Jesus said "for one of the least of these" as sometimes we think the only way to help is to do it on a large scale. Honestly, it seems to me that if we as individuals just found our "one of the least of these" and truly committed to them, we would see more progress.

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  12. Check out Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center, Cedar Rapids, IA. My mom volunteers one day a week and tells me of their wonderful Bible based services to men & women. Their "Earn While You Learn" Program provides support from pregnancy and beyond.

    http://bridgehavencr.org/index.html

    "Whether you're pregnant and preparing for your new arrival, or you have a child in their
    teens, we understand that being a parent is rewarding but very challenging as well. The team at Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center is here for you. Parenting support services are designed to offer you help in many different areas: emotionally, materially, socially, and spiritually. Our Earn While You Learn program is designed with you in mind.

    Earn While You Learn classes help you grow personally and as a parent. You'll start with a personal appointment to complete a goal plan. Your goal plan helps us determine which class will be the best fit for your needs.

    Classes focus on key areas of growth such as relationships, financial stability, physical health, emotional health, career skills, and spirituality.

    If it's a need for you, your class attendance earns you weekly material support to help ease pressures on you and your family while you embark on this personal growth journey!"

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  13. teenmotherchoices.org out of Illinois

    Blessings of Summit and Portage Counties http://www.graceinkent.org/blessings/

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