The Church and Abortion

As I was helping a young woman last week and doing an assessment of her situation, I was able to get to the heart of what was really pushing her to have an abortion. Her boyfriend? No, not this time. Her parents? Guess again. Her goals, dreams, and future? Not even that. It was her church. Oh, she was concerned about her future, worried that she wasn't ready, and wasn't thrilled with not being able to pursue a career before children, but she was able to think of ways to get around all of that. We'll call her Jenny.

Jenny is a college-aged woman. She's ready to look for a job that will allow her to save up some money so that she and her boyfriend can marry and start a family. She looks forward to being a stay-at-home mom at that point. She's a Catholic, and she lives in a small town. Her sister just had a baby, and her close friend became pregnant as well and placed the child for adoption. She's a very stable, good-head-on-her-shoulders kind of woman. This pregnancy is early, unplanned, but not necessarily unwanted.

She makes comments like "I don't want to be ridiculed like my friend was," "Pregnancies outside of marriage are bad, and I'm ashamed everyone will know," and about abortion: "I've been told to believe it as a murder, but it's the easiest way out." In responding to her, I let her know how hypocritical it is for the church (Catholic or Protestant) to teach that abortion is murder and then shun women who decide not to have one. I think she understood that point, but that doesn't make what she has to deal with any easier.

I found an article that touches on this. The article, called "
The Catholic Abortion Paradox" deals more specifically with the fact that Catholic women are more likely to have abortions than Protestant women and, in fact, do so at a rate equal to the general population.
According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health data, non-Hispanic Catholic women of childbearing age are 29% more likely than their Protestant counterparts to have abortions. The rate is even higher--33%--if Hispanics are factored in. Another way of looking at it: while Protestant women make up about 54% of the population, they account for only 37% of the abortions. Catholic women make up 31% of the population and account for 31% of the abortions.
That's a pretty eye-opening statistic.

The one explanation for which there is at least some anecdotal evidence is that Catholic women appear to experience more feelings of guilt around sex, and more shame about pregnancy outside of marriage.
That was certainly the case with the woman I was working with. All of her concerns had to do with what those in her church would think. While this study might be about Catholics and abortion, I believe that the same problem lies within the Protestant church too. It's a shame that we are teaching those in our church to care more about not disappointing other church members rather than caring more about their souls, isn't it?
There are crisis pregnancy centers in almost every sizeable [sic] town, where women can get help throughout the pregnancy and in the adoption process. But relatively few women make that choice. Perhaps it is because they are not aware of the services. Perhaps it's because when they first find out about an unplanned pregnancy, their initial impulse is to erase it entirely with an abortion.
I think it's the latter. Abortion makes it so easy (in a difficult way) to erase the situation. Women then often realize that it creates an entirely different situation - one that is not as easy to erase. If I had a dime for every time a woman told me she's planning for an abortion not 2 days after her positive pregnancy test, I'd be rich. I encourage my clients to wait at least a couple of weeks before doing anything. It takes time for things to sink in, for thoughts to be thought through, and for answers to be found out.

Worried about disappointing her mother and making her father angry, she turned to her boyfriend’s mother, who in turn helped her find the abortion clinic. "I feel bad about it because it is a life, and the one thing I was scared of coming here today was that my mother would be outside carrying one of those signs, you know--'Abortion kills babies.'"
This problem has been blogged about before, and it definitely does exist. Parents who are actively involved in pro-life activism make pretty unapproachable subjects when it comes to pregnancy. It's a delicate balance that I hope and pray that I will have with my daughter as she gets older. I don't want her to turn to her boyfriend's mother.

The one point I find confusing throughout the article is that they seem to blame the increased abortion rate on reduced access to contraception. I don't doubt this is true, but I think we need to delve a little deeper than the surface. The problem lies in the fact that our children aren't believing what we tell them about sex before marriage, abortion, and self-respect.

Kearney recalls counseling a 17-year-old who was pregnant for a second time. The young woman told her that in her first pregnancy, she went to a priest who told her abortion was an unacceptable sin and that she should carry the child to term. She did, but a few months later during Mass the priest "went off on a tirade about teen pregnancy," Kearney says. The young woman "felt this deep sense of betrayal," she adds, and decided to terminate her second pregnancy.
So, what can we do about this message? I don't have the answers, and I'm hoping that we can all share to come up with answers that will work as we assist our friends, family members, and especially our kids. It's clear to me that we need to develop our foundation before an unplanned pregnancy occurs. Teach our kids that sex before marriage is wrong, but an abortion doesn't make it right again. Teach them that they don't need to have an abortion to avoid embarrassment within the church. The main focus should be to show them how helping pregnant women remain pregnant makes you feel good and does the work of Christ. That way, should she become pregnant, she'll know you won't ostracize her or judge her. Preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words. Teach them that children are a blessing that can be brought out of a bad decision, but abortion is a bad decision brought out of another bad decision. (Two wrongs don't make a right to the extreme in this case.) What are some other ways that we can share this message with our kids?

It's a delicate balance, especially with our kids. In my church, when given the opportunity to put fliers with the phone number to the local pregnancy center inside the bathrooms in our student building, they replied, "Maybe we can arrange it for the main bathroom where the "other" kids go, but we don't need those in the bathrooms where our kids go." Suuure you don't. Ignorance can be bliss - but only for awhile.


Anonymous said...

I read an article once, and I am afraid I really don't remember where, I think it was a CPC newsletter, but they stressed the importance of making sure that if you as a parent work at a CPC to make sure that your child knows of another CPC to go to so if they don't feel comfortable talking to you (although we all hope that our children will) they have an alternative.

Rose said...

That is a really good, common-sense idea. Thanks Sarah!

Christina Dunigan said...

Maybe just openly talking about it would help. If the girls heard, "How can we discourage them from having sex outside of marriage, while still embracing them when they come to us pregnant?" Knowing that they WANT to be helpful could make all the difference in the world.

San said...

There is no arguing with statistics but I would like to thank all those priest, pastors ministers that live the gospel both with their words and actions. 25 years ago I was a teenage single mom and went to my parish priest to meet with him about the possiblity of marrying my baby's father. In his wisdom he refused to marry us ( the man was unstable and abusive) but he made sure that I knew that he, God, and my parish family welcomed me with love and support. As I work with youth I am learning that there are many men and women in ministry that welcome pregnant teens with total and unconditional love. A big thanks to each of you.

Zeke said...

If they are Catholic then that means they are almost certianly lost and need to hear the gospel so they can believe it and be saved through the sealing of the Holy Spirit at the moment of belief (Eph 1:13-14). Most Roman Catholics can't even tell you what the gospel message is and I know this because I ask a number of Catholics this question each month and have for years.

So-called spiritual and religious parents let the government schools raise their children with a Godless and even anti-Christ as well as amoral curriculum where the students consider it a bad thing not to be sexually active and these parents are "shocked" when they find out their daughter has become a whore and/or pregnant?

The only solution is for parents to actually raise their own children through a good, Christian homeschooling curriculum until they are @ 18.

The more time I spend around homeschool families the more apparent it becomes just how much better behaved and prepared their children are then those poor kids who are shuffled through the abusive government school system.

Oh yeah, the Apostle Paul gives very clear instructions on how to deal with the unrepentant sexually immoral in 1 Corinthians 5.

1 Corinthians 5:1-13 It is actually reported [that there is] sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles -- that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying [is] not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet [I] certainly [did] not [mean] with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what [have] I [to do] with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person."

Rose said...

Zeke, you're way too filled with hate , anger, and vitriol to be quoting Scripture. I'm not even going to waste my time commenting.