Every sector of our economy made adjustments over the past two years in response to the global pandemic, creating new norms and challenges for us all. Many of us experienced this change in virtual learning, increased Zoom meetings, or online worship services from our living rooms. I don’t want to debate the pros and cons of this shift, but I do want to highlight a change that many may not have even realized was happening in communities across the country. This silent but critical change involved abortion pills and the increased ease at which women could recieve them.
Telehealth was once a privilege for a few, but is now a common practice for most. This makes life easier for patients, medical offices, and for the everyday American dealing with a full calendar. Telehealth, however, also makes abortion much easier to access, with little to no oversight, and allows for mailboxes to become makeshift abortion clinics in every corner of our country. This dangerous precedent, highlighted by Planned Parenthood’s telehealth expansion to all 50 states in 2020, will only further the upward trend we are seeing across the abortion landscape as chemical or medical abortion (abortion by pill) went from 39% of all abortions in 2017 to 53% of all abortions in 2020. We do not anticipate seeing these numbers decline anytime soon as the FDA continues to make obtaining these pills easier and the abortion industry seeks to make up deficits as more and more pro-life states are successful in restricting abortion access.
This is why post-Roe planning is so important and must be front of mind for Christians and for those on the frontlines of this work in pregnancy centers around our country. As we anxiously await the decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, we must not sit on our hands. We must be prepared to act now. At Hope Resource Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, we have been proactive in offering virtual services for parenting education and mentoring. Many centers like us have also implemented their own telehealth options to connect and serve women in need. In addition, we have allocated large amounts of our budgets to reach women in our communities via digital marketing. We do not have the budget of the abortion industry, but that doesn’t mean we should disengage from the work at hand. Instead, we get creative, offer high-quality services, and provide free expert medical care to women and moms in need.
We are on the cusp of a monumental court decision in the coming months. If and when Roe is overturned, we should celebrate. We should take a moment to honor those who have fought for this outcome, to mourn those we have lost, and to recognize the very courageous and bold decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in such a time as this. This victory lap, however sweet it will be, must quickly transform to action as we seek to continue to serve and love those in need. This action must involve digital engagement with potential patients via marketing, education, and efficient telehealth expansion.
How you can help
Traditionally, we have not focused fundraising or partnership efforts on having a digital footprint. The past two years have brought a pendulum swing in this area as we now must focus efforts in these areas. We have done this in Knoxville by producing educational videos housed on our website and played in our lobby to highlight what a patient can expect when they schedule an appointment with us. We have also allocated a large percentage of our budget to reach the abortion-minded patient in our area via digital avenues like social media, Google, and SEO or website content.
A digital marketing focus takes time, talent, and treasure. This is where the Church comes in. We now have metrics available to us that prove this model works. These metrics, coupled with the playbook we are seeing implemented by the abortion industry, is the call to action we have been waiting for. This heavy lift can be eased by Church engagement via dollars, volunteers, and connection.
If we have learned anything over the past two years it is this; abortion does not discriminate, it does not take a holiday, and it does not pause for a pandemic. We have made great strides in this work over the last 50 or so years, but our work will not stop if Roe ends. It’s a giant step in the right direction, but the only way we truly honor those who have spent their lives fighting to see abortion ended is to continue that work today and tomorrow as we take up the baton, adapt, and make way for image-bearers to be loved well as life is celebrated and abortion becomes a footnote in history books.
We cannot do this work in silos or apart from each other. As the Church, we must unify and lead the way to a post-Roe era. Our organization in Knoxville would not have been able to find success these past 25 years without the consistent and bold support of the local church. We are able to fund, expand, and efficiently deliver services because of these partnerships. This need will only increase if we enter into a post-Roe future. Church, we need you. We need your prayers, your time, and your treasure as we seek to serve and love vulnerable babies, dads, and moms in our communities. I trust and believe that we are up for the task, and I am grateful to stand with you today.