Learning from those who walked silently from their church to an abortion clinic.
As we thoughtfully look at a study of 1,038 women who chose abortion, we find that nearly 4 in 10 were churchgoers when they ended their pregnancy, yet only 7 percent discussed their abortion decision with anyone at church. In fact, three-fourths (76 percent) said the church had no influence on their decision to terminate a pregnancy.
Why didn’t our sisters in the faith reach out to another woman, man or clergy? Let’s look at more of the results from the study to try and understand the perceptions and experiences of women in the church and what may have kept them from reaching out.
- Two-thirds (65 percent) believe church members judge single women who are pregnant.
- A little more than half (54 percent) say churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
- More than half (59 percent) believe churches are not prepared to help with decisions related to unwanted pregnancies.
- Only 3 in 10 think churches give accurate advice about pregnancy options.
- Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe church members are more likely to gossip about a woman considering abortion than to help her understand options.
- When weighing an abortion decision, women say they expected or experienced judgment (33 percent) or condemnation (26 percent) from a church far more than caring (16 percent) or helpfulness (14 percent).
- A little more than half (54 percent) said they would not recommend discussing unexpected pregnancy at church.
It is difficult to see that we, as the body of believers, have not provided an emotionally safe place for women to process a life-changing decision. But we can learn from the women who have walked this path and unite to provide compassionate support through four simple initiatives in the church community.
- Intentionally facilitate honest and safe conversations about unexpected pregnancy and abortion, where people “listen to understand.” (Alternatives’ Fall 2021 workshops will be a great resource. Sign-up below for more details)
- Make it known throughout the congregation that teens, women and men who are unexpectedly pregnant will not be judged but instead they will have their desperation and loneliness acknowledged and validated.
- Express that church is a place where loving, caring individuals will provide material, emotional and spiritual support to help them through their decision and beyond.
- Create a pregnancy care ministry that collaborates with the local pregnancy center (Alternatives) for counseling, medical services, education and support.
Alternatives is here to be a resource and assist your congregation with this important ministry outreach. In the Fall of 2021, we will host a series of Lunch and Learn workshops designed to train church leaders to cultivate productive conversations around the issue of unexpected pregnancy and abortion. Sign-up below for more details as they become available!