Carrying on a Pro-Life Legacy

The Church’s calling to care for vulnerable women and children

Lauren McAfee

The June 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Womens Health Organization U.S. Supreme Court decision brought renewed interest to our country’s engagement with the abortion issue. National conversations have led to more discussions about abortion at the local level and increased action within churches and communities. I have heard that pregnancy resource center directors report an increase in donors and volunteers, adoption agencies report seeing more couples beginning the steps in the adoption process, and churches are asking how they might engage.

With a flurry of important and beautiful activities going on around the country, it is also paramount to consider the entire landscape of this movement and what the Church’s role should be in the future.

Abortion is Occurring Less, But is Still Accessible

Based on one survey of abortion numbers in the six months following the Dobbs decision, there were an average of 5,377 fewer abortions per month. The Dobbs decision has secured greater protections for the preborn in our country, and every life saved should be celebrated. Yet, we also need to recognize that abortion is still widely accessible. And while the overall number of abortions per month decreased, chemical abortions and abortion tourism have increased.1 Society of Family Planning, #WeCount Report, https://www.societyfp.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/WeCountReport_April2023Release.pdf 

The increase in telehealth abortion appointments has allowed for a chemical abortion to be prescribed to a woman without her ever leaving her house. By early 2022, chemical abortion accounted for at least 54.4% of all abortions.2Rachel K. Jones and Doris W. Chiu, Characteristics of abortion patients, Wiley Online Library; April 11, 2023, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1363/psrh.12224 Chemical abortions, which consist of two pills taken a few days apart, can be mailed across state lines, making it incredibly hard to regulate.  

In states with abortion restrictions, women are traveling to neighboring states that provide access to abortion (i.e., abortion tourism). The states that saw the greatest increases were those that border states with greater abortion restrictions or abortion bans. States like California and New York have also seen a greater number of abortions per month than before Dobbs.3 https://www.societyfp.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/WeCountReport_April2023Release.pdf

Court Decisions are Good, But We Must Reach Hearts and Lives

Affecting change at the policy level is important in combating abortion. However, while abortion remains legal in parts of our country, the Church must have a robust vision for caring for the vulnerable. While we advocate for and applaud good laws and legislative advances, we must also develop discipleship strategies that help change people’s attitudes and behaviors toward a pro-life ethic and provide practical and spiritual care for children, vulnerable mothers, and families.  

For millennia, the Christian Church has cared for the vulnerable out of the conviction that God created every individual in his image, therefore they have innate dignity (Gen. 1). In the early Church, Christians valued the sanctity of life and saved unwanted babies that were thrown out into the trash heaps. These babies were left abandoned to either die or be taken by slave traders who would sell them for profit.4 https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/5-features-early-church-unique/ 

There are also many orphanages that were started by Christians for the sake of caring for children in need, like Christian missionary George Mueller who served over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime.5https://www.mullers.org/museum Or, evangelist George Whitefield who was among the first to found an orphanage in America.6https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/history-today-george-whitefield-founds-an-orphanage/ Believers have always stepped into the challenges of women and children who are in need.

In the same spirit, research of Christian engagement today found that believers are more likely to be generous with their resources in order to serve those in poverty and need.7https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/roe-stand-life/ Additionally, Christians in America are nearly three times more likely than the general population to pursue foster care or adoption.8https://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/magazine/less-god-less-giving/ The Church today must not only continue this trend, but deepen its commitment to caring well for those in challenging circumstances facing unplanned pregnancies.

How the Church Can Love the Abortion-Minded Neighbor

In this moment, our churches ought to be motivated by our calling to love our neighbor and care for the vulnerable. The woman facing an unplanned pregnancy and the child in her womb are our neighbors and fellow human beings made in God’s image. And while not every woman is in a vulnerable position when facing an unplanned pregnancy, there are many who are in circumstances that make it feel impossible to keep a pregnancy. And the child in the womb is certainly vulnerable if a woman is considering abortion. Believers must be willing to step into the lives of those facing unplanned pregnancies and offer support that will encourage choices for life.  

If the Church is to reach out and meet women where they are, we must ask: Who are the women most likely to be seeking abortion services? Based on demographic data from 2022 of women who have recently had abortions, 69.8% of all abortions in America involve minority women, while 30.2% of abortions involve white women.9Rachel K. Jones and Doris W. Chiu, Characteristics of abortion patients, Wiley Online Library; April 11, 2023, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1363/psrh.12224 This data is striking considering that the general population of women of reproductive age are 43% minority and 57% white.10March of Dimes, Population Data for United States, https://www.marchofdimes.org/peristats/data? reg=99&top=14&stop=127&lev=1&slev=1&obj=3 Additionally, 54% of post-abortive women identify as Christian, and three-fourths of abortion patients were considered low income, with 49% living at less than the federal poverty level.11 Guttmacher Institute, Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients in 2014 and Changes Since 2008, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/characteristics-us-abortion-patients-2014  

In order to connect with abortion-minded women, the Church must build bridges with and care for these women, ready to step in and show the love of Christ while pointing to truth and lovingly walking alongside her. Christians have a unique opportunity to carry on the legacy of caring for the vulnerable. May future reports of the Church today show that same kind of gospel-focused, radical service to those in need.

Lauren McAfee is Corporate Ambassador for Hobby Lobby and is beginning a PhD in Christian Ethics and Public Policy. She and her high school sweetheart, Michael McAfee, have been married for over seven years. You can find her on twitter at @laurenamcafee

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24