Nearly one in four women will have an abortion by the time they turn 45 (Jonas, Jerman, and Guttmacher Institute, 2017). This statistic is probably familiar. And while statistics are useful for painting a picture of the world we live in, we can’t reduce people to statistics. As Christians, we know our God doesn’t view us as a number. Instead, he views us as unique individuals whom he has fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa. 139:14).
Statistics can also help us understand what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. For example:
- 66% of women knew that abortion was wrong.
- 67.5% of women said that having an abortion was one of the hardest decisions of their lives.
- Women reported symptoms of depression (14.4%), guilt (14%), shame, regret, self-hatred, feelings of worthlessness, feelings of being unworthy of love, drug or alcohol addiction (9%), low self-esteem, anxiety, and thoughts or attempts of suicide (6.2%).
These reveal that most women don’t need you to tell them that abortion is wrong; they know it is. God’s Word tells us that the law is written on our hearts, so that when we sin our conscience bears witness (Rom. 2:15). What women with abortion in their past, or who are considering an abortion now, need to hear most is that Jesus came, conquered their sin, and offers healing and eternal life. It’s what we all need to hear most.
Up close and personal
There is a woman I’ve known for a long time. She’s a strong believer and one of the best witnesses of Jesus that I have ever met. Most people are shocked to hear her testimony.
When she was 16, she was sexually active and became pregnant. Her boyfriend at the time left, and was out of the picture. Her parents approached her to ask if she wanted to have an abortion. She told them no, she wanted to keep her baby. Her parents agreed to support her. She gave birth to her daughter, was engaged to her new boyfriend, and worked hard to finish high school early.
One day when she was at work, she got a call from her mother. She needed to go to the hospital immediately. When she got there, she found out that her fiancé had sexually assaulted and shaken to death her daughter. Her daughter was legally brain dead. She held her as they turned the machine off.
What women with abortion in their past, or who are considering an abortion now, need to hear most is that Jesus came, conquered their sin, and offers healing and eternal life. It’s what we all need to hear most.
At the time of her daughter’s death and her ex-fiancé’s arrest, she was pregnant with his child. Her parents approached her again to ask if she wanted to have an abortion. In grief and anger, she agreed. They flew her from her hometown to have an abortion and then flew her back home when it was done. She went to her room and cried.
That young woman is my mother.
I cannot fully convey her loss, nor can I begin to explain mine. My siblings should be here, but they aren’t. There may have been no stopping my sister’s death, but if Roe v. Wade hadn’t existed, my brother would still be here.
So, you don’t have to post internet memes and videos, display bumper stickers, or make rude comments to tell me how terrible abortion is. Nor do you need to shout it from street corners or pulpits—I know. My mother knows. Over 66% of women know.
There is undoubtedly a woman around you who has had an abortion or is considering one now. And, there’s probably a man in your community who pressured his partner to have an abortion. There might even be a family member who pressured someone to have an abortion. What we need to bring to them, first and foremost, is Jesus and the hope and healing he offers.
An approach of compassion
There are many ways we can point women who have had or are considering an abortion to the love of Jesus. Here are a few areas where compassion can be on display:
Humility: Since, we all fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), our hearts must be humble when we talk to others. Although I have never had an abortion, I am no better than someone who has. I fall short of God’s glory as much as they do. Yes, abortion is a sin, but we cannot put ourselves in separate categories when talking about abortion, as if there are degrees of sinners. We are all in need of the forgiveness Jesus purchased on the cross.
Do you think of yourself as better than someone who has had an abortion or is abortion-minded? Do you address the sin of abortion with a broken, humble heart? Are you broken for your own sins against the Lord?
Speech: Our words should come from a position of humility. When talking with someone who has had an abortion or is considering one, it is important that we remember that the tongue has the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21). Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Our words matter and should be a reflection of who Jesus is.
As we advocate for human dignity, let’s do so in ways that speak the truth in love and give grace to those who hear. So, believer, are you speaking life, or are you speaking death? When someone has had an abortion or is considering one, are you telling her how terrible she is, or are you pointing her to eternal life?
Actions: God’s Word tells us that we are to love not just in words, but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18). We not only need to love one another in how we speak, but also in how we act. For example, our God keeps track of all our sorrows, collects our tears, and knows all the hairs on our heads (Psa. 56:8; Matt. 10:30). He is a personal, loving God and not some distant, unbothered, supernatural being.
Our actions should show that we genuinely care for these women. Are we being imitators of God (Eph. 5:1-2) by showing this kind of love to our fellow image-bearers? We should seek to know the sorrows, the tears of those who are considering abortion or have abortion in their past. And we’re called to love your neighbor by drawing near to the brokenhearted and crushed in Spirit (Psa. 34:18). Are you more than a noisy gong? Are you entering into a personal, loving relationship with post-abortive women and those vulnerable to abortion, or are you distant and unbothered?
As we fight for human dignity, let’s strive for human compassion as well. God calls us to love one another (Eph.4:2; 1 Peter 4:8; John 15:12), but it can be a challenge to love others in everything we do (1 Cor. 16:14). It’s one worth fighting for, though. So, look for ways to care for the single mom in your small group, serve the young, pregnant woman in your church, and love the woman in your life who has abortion in her past.