Because the legal issues surrounding abortion have become associated with partisan politics in the US (and to some extent in Canada) we have become politically polarized and unable to build a broad, effective movement to reduce abortions in the US, Canada, and in the Global South.
Consequently, it is difficult to find partner agencies and organizations that reflect an inclusive approach. Many fit well with the CRC’s ethical position and appeal to those who wish to cut abortion rates and save lives, but their strategies for doing so tend to polarize rather than unify.
In terms of advocacy to change laws, the largest and best known anti-abortion organizations publicly and strongly endorse specific candidates for office, based solely on the level and passion of their anti-abortion stance. However, churches and faith-based organizations with tax exempt status are prohibited from publicly endorsing candidates.
Because of these realities and more, we may best fulfill our denominations ethical position on abortion by pursuing means other than direct legislation. We must also not forget that the vast majority of abortions and maternal deaths occur in the developing world – in the global South - and particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Here are some important ways to get involved now in saving lives:
Direct involvement in your community
A good way of learning about the realities of this issue in our own communities is to directly support women who are pregnant and trying to choose an option other than abortion. We've compiled a map that will help you find local pregnancy resource centers in your area. Most of these centers offer pregnancy tests, counseling, and support for mothers who decide to carry their babies to term. Volunteers and financial support are always needed and welcome. Click here to view the map.
The abortion and counseling polices of pregnancy centers can vary, however. You may find that your local center does not offer any kind of family planning counseling or contraceptive advice other than abstinence. This is a serious deficiency if you believe that helping women avoid unintended pregnancies is the most basic and effective way to reduce abortions. Check with your local pregnancy resource center about their policies.
If your local pregnancy resource center does not offer pregnancy prevention services and counseling, contact your community health department. Ask them what organizations in your community do offer counseling and low cost pregnancy prevention materials. Work to ensure that all ethically sound pregnancy prevention methods are readily available to all those who need them in your community.
Support programs that empower pregnant women
Recent studies have shown that the three primary reasons that women choose abortion in the US and Canada are:
- having a child would interfere with personal responsibilities such as school or work,
- financial reasons (more than 70% of women cite financial reasons), and
- relationship issues and a lack of support from those close to them.
This video shows how a nutrition program helped one teenager keep and raise her baby.
Encourage your church to participate in Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
The third Sunday in January is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, and the Office of Social Justice (OSJ) is pleased to offer resources for your church to honor the day. While this is not an official event on our denomination’s calendar, synod has encouraged Christian Reformed churches to commemorate the day’s significance (Synod 1981 and Synod 1995). OSJ would like to help churches commemorate the sanctity of human life in ways that are sensitive and mindful of the impact abortion has on society, our churches, and members of our congregations. Click here to view the materials.
We have developed materials to observe the day in a way that we hope affirms the value of every human life--and at all stages of development. We encourage you and other leaders in your congregation to commemorate the day in ways that are sensitive to those in the pews who have been hurt by abortion--both women and men, those who chose abortion and those who had no choice. We hope to avoid rhetoric that wounds or is politically partisan and would encourage you to do the same.
To learn more about reducing the disturbing number of easily prevented abortions – as well as maternal deaths - in the Global South, check out Christian Connections for International Health.
- CCIH publishes an excellent chart describing the full gamut of family planning methods, how they are thought to work, and how effective they are.
- CCIH has recently produced a highly regarded survey of global Christian attitudes and practices concerning reproductive health, family planning and contraception.
- CCIH is also active in advocacy for increased US and global support for reproductive, child survival, and maternal health.