By / Sep 28

With a government shutdown looming, Congress is scrambling to find agreement on how to fund the government before this year’s budget runs out on Sept. 30. If Congress is unable to pass the appropriations bills or a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to temporarily extend its current funding, the government will shut down until an agreement is reached.

Though this tedious and dysfunctional process must be completed each fiscal year, it is one with great importance to Southern Baptists because we care deeply about how our taxpayer dollars are being used. As ERLC President Brent Leatherwood wrote in his letter to Congress on this topic, “As a nation, our values and priorities are most clearly displayed through the allocation of our resources. It is our desire for those resources to be used in a way that promotes life, religious liberty, and the flourishing of all our neighbors.”

In light of those core convictions, the ERLC engages each year with the congressional appropriations process, highlighting both areas of concern and support to lawmakers. As negotiations are taking place, we want to make sure the voices of Southern Baptists will be heard.

How is the government funded?

Each year, Congress must move through the appropriations process in order to fund the government. The process should work like this:

  • The president submits his proposed budget process in the early spring,
  • then appropriators in the U.S.House of Representatives and Senate begin drafting each of the 12 appropriations bills that fund different parts of the government.
  • From there, these bills pass the appropriations committees, pass through both chambers, and then go on to the president’s desk for his signature.

All of this work must be completed by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, or Congress is forced to pass a short-term funding patch known as a CR. 

In reality, the president’s proposed budget is largely ignored, and when the House and Senate begin working on their versions of each of these 12 bills, they look vastly different depending on the party in power. Compromise versions of those bills are often combined into a large omnibus or a few smaller minibus bills that make it easier for Congress to pass the bills rather than voting on them individually. The last time Congress passed all 12 bills individually was 1994.

Why does this appropriations process matter?

As trillions of taxpayer dollars are allocated, it is important that we speak into how that money is spent. Without continued advocacy, this money can go toward things that Southern Baptists find objectionable, such as gender transition procedures and abortion at home and abroad. Many of the protections that prohibit government funding from going toward these things and protect consciences must be included each year as a policy “rider.”

As these bills move through a complicated process, there are significant opportunities for harmful provisions to be added in unnoticed or for important protections to be excluded. Consistent advocacy on these issues is essential to ensure the inclusion of important riders such as the Hyde Amendment.

How is the ERLC advocating?

Every year, the ERLC engages in the appropriations process. Our team does a comprehensive review of all 24 of these bills—the 12 House bills and 12 Senate bills. As we wade through thousands of pages of legislative text, we look for anything of concern. Specifically, we’re looking for issues where government funding could be going to an abortion provider or funding gender transition procedures or policies that could implicate the consciences of medical professionals or taxpayers. 

We also look for positive things that we can support, such as expanded protections for life or funding to promote international religious freedom. 

When negotiators are down to the wire and are trying to decide what gets into a final, compromise package, we want them to know the priorities of Southern Baptists and urge them to include what we care about. After we do our review, we make sure that those concerns and priorities are communicated to negotiators and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

What is the ERLC advocating for?

One thing that we were excited to see in both the Republican-led House proposed bills and the Democratic-led Senate proposed bills was the inclusion of longstanding life and conscience protection riders. These riders, such as the Hyde amendment, provide essential, baseline protections. For the last two years, they have been excluded from the initially proposed House and Senate bills. Though they were ultimately included in both fiscal year 2022 and 2023 appropriations, it is a victory worth celebrating that compromising these protections was not on the negotiating table this year.

However, even with these protections in place, the proposed House and Senate appropriations bills contain several things concerning to Southern Baptists such as increased funding for:

  • abortion providers at home and abroad,
  • “gender specific care” that can go toward abortion-travel,
  • and the United Nations Population Fund.

Additionally, the House State and Foreign Operations bill excludes a longstanding provision known as the Lautenberg Amendment. The Lautenberg Amendment has provided an essential pathway for persecuted religious minorities from former Soviet Union countries, including many Christians, to find safety in the United States.

There are also several provisions in the proposed House bills that the ERLC is urging Congress to include in its final package. These include provisions such as:

  • Prohibiting funding for abortion providers;
  • prohibiting funding for gender transition procedures
  • prohibiting funding for abortion travel;
  • and reinstating important safety precautions for chemical abortion drugs.

Though it remains unlikely that all of these provisions would be included in a compromise package, the ERLC is continuing to advocate for as much progress to be made as possible in protecting life, caring for our neighbors, and upholding conscience rights.

What happens next?

Congress will continue to debate these individual appropriations bills while also considering short-term measures to avert a government shutdown. While a government shutdown looks likely, and it remains unclear how an agreement could be reached to fund the government, the ERLC will continue to advocate on behalf of Southern Baptists and make lawmakers aware of these concerns and priorities.

By / Sep 15

Abortion and gender ideology have once again become a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill, this time in relation to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024. 

The NDAA is an annual piece of federal legislation that authorizes the budget and expenditures for the Department of Defense (DOD) and other affiliated agencies. The NDAA serves as the principal mechanism through which Congress exercises its constitutional authority to “raise and support Armies” and “provide and maintain a Navy,” as stipulated in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Some of the key components of the legislation in which abortion and gender ideology play a factor are the budget authorization, policy guidelines, and personnel matters. The NDAA specifies how much money can be spent in various categories. Beyond budgetary matters, the NDAA often includes policy provisions that guide the military’s conduct and regulations. The act also frequently addresses issues related to military personnel, such as payment or reimbursement for specific medical procedures.

National Defense Authorization Act Amendments related to abortion and gender ideology

In July, the House of Representatives passed a bill that included amendments related to abortion and transgender surgeries. The amendments include the following:

  • Prohibits the secretary of Defense from paying for or reimbursing expenses relating to abortion services.
  • Undoes the Pentagon’s policy of allowing service members to have access to abortion services.
  • Bans the Pentagon from paying for or reimbursing service members for abortion-related expenses.
  • Additional restrictions on abortion. 
  • Prohibits TRICARE from covering and the DOD from furnishing sex-reassignment surgeries and gender hormone treatments for transgender individuals.
  • Prohibits provision of gender-transition procedures, including surgery or medication, through the Exceptional Family Member Program.
  • Recinds the Pentagon’s policy of allowing service members to have access to gender-transition procedures. 

The Senate also passed a version of the bill in July that avoided making any changes to current abortion and gender-identity funding or policies. The two versions of the bill await a formal conference in the fall to reconcile these differences. The amendments on abortion and gender identity aren’t expected to survive the reconciliation process. No Democrat in the Senate supports those amendments, which means they cannot pass in the Senate. Even if they made it into the final bill, though, President Biden would likely veto the bill.

Other cultural issues addressed by House amendments are: 

  • a prohibition on drag shows and drag queen story hour, 
  • a prohibition on the display of unapproved flags (such as the LGBTQ+ Pride flag), 
  • and a requirement that DOD Education Activity schools are prohibited from purchasing and having pornographic and radical gender ideology books in their libraries.

Congress will begin negotiations this month and must complete the final version of the NDAA before the end of the year. In the meantime, the ERLC will continue advocating on behalf of Southern Baptists at every opportunity. 

We invite our fellow Southern Baptists to join us in praying for godly wisdom to permeate these negotiations, for lives to be saved through maintaining the current restrictions on abortion, and for opportunities to clearly articulate God’s design for gender and sexuality.

By / Sep 14

Each year, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate must pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which funds and directs the functions of the United States Armed Forces and overall national defense. This bill typically includes issues such as the operations of military bases, the procurement of weapons, vessels, and aircraft, and revised training requirements for the members of military branches.

Due to the politically divided nature of Congress, the two versions of the NDAA, one led by Republicans in the House and the other by Democrats in the Senate, vary on how federal funding can be used. As a result, Congress will need to meet, or “conference,” to negotiate the final form of the NDAA to be enacted next year. 

Congressional conference provides a unique opportunity for advocacy groups, such as the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, to voice concerns or support for provisions included in the NDAA as they begin the negotiating process.

Why is the NDAA important?

Through the NDAA, Congress allocates approximately $886 billion in taxpayer funds. In addition, the NDAA helps set what Congress views as legitimate uses of federal funding. Without proper language included in the NDAA, taxpayer dollars could be used to fund activities Southern Baptists fundamentally oppose.

One example of such an issue is federally funded abortion. The Department of Defense has announced plans to use federal funding provided in the NDAA to transport women who serve in the armed forces from military bases located within states that limit or ban abortion for the sole purpose of obtaining an abortion. This is justified as a “national security” issue to ensure women who become pregnant are not required to take a leave of absence during their pregnancy and while giving birth. However, this policy is really part of an overarching plan from the White House to prevent state abortion restrictions from taking effect whenever possible following the Dobbs decision.

Another example is the use of federal funding to cover gender transition procedures and other medication, such as puberty blockers. The Department of Defense spends roughly $136 billion annually on healthcare for employees and military personnel, and under the current leadership, the Department is extending such coverage to include surgical procedures and medication prescribed for gender transitioning. This is part of a federal policy designed to facilitate gender transitions under the guise of supporting the armed forces.

Language prohibiting the usage of federal funds for abortion-related travel and for gender transition procedures is included in one version of the NDAA, but not both. This means when the congressional conference begins, these prohibitions may be removed during the negotiating process.

How does this affect Southern Baptists?

As stated in the Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptists believe that God has ordained government for the purpose of executing justice, praising that which is good, and punishing those who do evil. Any federal funding of abortion or gender-transition services cultivates injustice by violating our consciences as taxpayers and by causing irreversible bodily harm to our neighbors.

Southern Baptists have historically supported these measures through the passage of our annual resolutions such as the:

What happens next?

On Sept. 14, the ERLC sent a letter to congressional representatives urging them to include language prohibiting the use of federal funding for:

  • Abortion, including abortion-related travel, and
  • Gender-transition resources, including both surgeries and medication.

Congress will likely begin negotiations in September and must complete the final version of the NDAA before the end of the year. In the meantime, the ERLC will continue advocating on behalf of Southern Baptists at every opportunity. 

We invite our fellow Southern Baptists to join us in praying for godly wisdom to permeate these negotiations, for lives to be saved through maintaining the current restrictions on abortion, and for opportunities to clearly articulate God’s design for gender and sexuality.

By / Aug 16

On Aug.16, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that important safety precautions surrounding the use of the chemical abortion drug, mifepristone, must be reinstated, drastically restricting the availability of this harmful drug. The court’s decision will not immediately go into effect due to an earlier ruling from the Supreme Court which temporarily allows mifepristone to remain on the market with no restrictions while litigation proceeds. It is likely that the Biden administration will appeal this ruling and the Supreme Court will weigh in on the merits of this case.

If upheld, this ruling will reinstate key safety measures such as:

  • limiting the use of the drug to the first 7 weeks of pregnancy,
  • ending mail-order chemical abortions,
  • and requiring in-person medical visits prior to the drugs being prescribed.

Chemical abortions account for a majority of all abortions in the U.S., particularly in states where abortion has been restricted or banned following the Dobbs decision. 

What is this chemical abortion drug case about?

In November 2022, Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit against the FDA on behalf of four pro-life medical groups. The suit claims that the FDA “failed America’s women and girls when it chose politics over science and approved chemical abortion drugs for use in the United States. And it has continued to fail them by repeatedly removing even the most basic precautionary requirements associated with their use.”

These pro-life groups argue that the FDA was wrong to grant the chemical abortion drug mifepristone fast-tracked approval back in 2000. The complaint continues:

The only way the FDA could have approved chemical abortion drugs was to use its accelerated drug approval authority, necessitating the FDA to call pregnancy an “illness” and argue that these dangerous drugs provide a “meaningful therapeutic benefit” over existing treatments.

But pregnancy is not an illness, nor do chemical abortion drugs provide a therapeutic benefit over surgical abortion. In asserting these transparently false conclusions, the FDA exceeded its regulatory authority to approve the drugs.

Currently, 1 in 5 women who take the drug will experience complications that require further medical attention. The case argues that the disposal of original safety precautions that accompanied the drug’s initial approval have led to increased danger to the women and girls who take mifepristone.

In 2016, the FDA:

  • expanded the availability of chemical abortion drugs from 7 weeks of pregnancy up to 10 weeks of pregnancy,
  • changed the dosing regimen,
  • reduced the number of in-person doctor visits from three to one,
  • expanded who could prescribe and administer chemical abortion drugs beyond medical doctors,
  • and eliminated the requirement for prescribers to report non-fatal complications from chemical abortion drugs.  

Then, in 2021, the FDA removed the requirement of in-person dispensing, allowing for abortion drugs to be accessed through the mail and telemedicine without a woman ever seeing a doctor in-person.

Why now?

Though it is unusual that this case is only now being argued over a drug approved 23 years ago, it comes after more than two decades of continued work by the petitioners against the approval of mifepristone.

  • In 2002, the petitioners submitted a citizen petition to challenge the FDA’s approval.
  • It was not until 2016 that the FDA denied the petition.
  • In 2019, the petitioners filed a new citizen petition to challenge the FDA’s 2016 changes.
  • In 2021, on the same day the FDA changed the in-person dispensing requirement, it denied the citizen petition.
  • Following the denial, the petitioners were finally able to file suit against the FDA in November 2022.

What happens next?

This case now likely heads on appeal to the full 5th Circuit and then almost certainly back to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court’s previous 7-2 ruling in April was narrowly focused on the availability of mifepristone as litigation proceeded and did not look at the broader merits of the case. At this time, it is unclear how quickly the court could hear and decide this case.

In anticipation of that ruling, some abortion advocates have already begun to stockpile the drug in anticipation of its potential removal from the market. Others have suggested that the medication abortion protocol could be changed to just include misoprostol, the other drug in the current two-step protocol, even though this practice is known to cause increased cramping, bleeding, and potential complications for women.

Southern Baptists care about the sanctity of life and dignity of all people, including the preborn. We also care about the health, safety, and welfare of women who have experienced harmful and serious medical complications from these drugs at the hands of the predatory abortion industry. 

If upheld, this decision from the 5th Circuit will save more preborn lives and protect women from the dangers intrinsic to chemical abortions. While we will continue to work toward a day when chemical abortions are no more, today’s ruling is a step forward in our work to build a true culture of life and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of women and girls.

By / Jul 14

In June, the pro-life movement celebrated the one-year anniversary of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. But in ​​the wake of that significant victory, the fight to protect preborn life and care for vulnerable mothers has continued at the state and federal level. Here are four recent events related to abortion you should know about. 

Iowa lawmakers approve ban on most abortions after about 6 weeks

The Iowa House has approved a new law that bans most abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Currently, abortion is legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. But this law prohibits almost all abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. The new legislation will take immediate effect once it is signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Abortions after six weeks would be allowed only in such cases as:

  • rape, if reported to law enforcement or a health provider within 45 days;
  • incest, if reported within 145 days;
  • if the fetus has a fetal abnormality “incompatible with life;”
  • and if the pregnancy is endangering the life of the pregnant woman.

This bill also does not hold a woman criminally or civilly liable for having an abortion.

Iowa will join 11 other states that ban abortion as early as six weeks: Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. 

Idaho sued over abortion trafficking ban that makes it a crime to help minors get abortions without parental consent

A lawsuit has been filed against the state of Idaho over its new law that restricts some out-of-state travel for abortions. Abortion is already banned in Idaho at all stages of pregnancy. But the new law makes it illegal for an adult to help a minor get an abortion without parental consent, and anyone who helps a pregnant minor get an abortion in another state can be punished by two to five years in prison. 

The law is the first to expressly criminalize assisting with an out-of-state abortion. It attempts to sidestep violating a constitutional right to travel between states by making illegal only the portion of the trip that takes place in Idaho.

The lawsuit claims that the law infringes on the right to interstate travel and on First Amendment rights to speak about abortion and provide support for pregnant minors traveling within and outside of Idaho. Abortion remains legal in the neighboring states of Washington, where no parental consent is required, and Oregon, where people over age 15 can get abortions without parental consent.

Pro-abortion advocates in Ohio push to codify abortion in the state’s constitution 

Ohio is poised to become the next major battleground in the pro-life fight to prevent the expansion of abortion. Pro-abortion rights groups submitted more than 700,000 signatures for a ballot initiative that would codify the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution. The initiative, known as Issue 1, would amend the Ohio Constitution to state that “every person has the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization” and “every person has the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion.” The initiative is expected to be on the ballot in November 2023. 

During the last election season, similar pro-abortion measures passed in six states that had similar ballot initiatives. Other ballot campaigns to expand or codify a right to abortion are being pushed in several other states including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and South Dakota.

U.S. government ordered to pay $2.2 million in fees to religious non-profit in abortion lawsuit

A federal judge in Texas has ordered the U.S. government to pay $2.2 million in legal fees to the non-profit Becket Law. The fees were awarded for the organization’s work in leading a lawsuit against the Health and Human Services Department. The lawsuit was related to issues of abortion and gender identity.

Becket Law, formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, has been involved in various legal cases involving religious freedom and abortion including Whole Woman’s Health v. Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, which was a lawsuit over a Texas law requiring abortion facilities to meet certain standards.

Reimbursement is sometimes ordered by the courts when laws that violate civil rights are successfully challenged. Becket Law played a leading role in representing the non-profit in this lawsuit. 

By / Jul 12

With last year’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning the precedent of Roe v. Wade, the organization March for Life has shifted its attention toward changing the hearts of Americans to make abortion unthinkable by focusing on the state and federal level in a post-Roe world. 

March for Life is the largest annual human rights demonstration in the world. The Dobbs case was an incredible pro-life victory that encouraged March for Life, and the organization is hopeful for the future. However, the work they must do is greater than ever before. 2023 marked 50 years of March for Life, and the past five decades have proven that they are up for the task of fighting for life even with the new challenges ahead in a post-Roe world. 

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said, “Yes, there is still so much work to be done, but we are encouraged by the fruits of our labors so far, and we are emboldened by the incredible dedication and passion of our marchers to take these next steps in carrying out our joyful mission.”

Focusing to the state level, too

In 2023, the March for Life in Washington, D.C., shifted from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to the steps of the Capitol. Along with this shift, the new wave of future efforts will focus on the states, continuing to advocate for women and children as the decisions now lie in the hands of the legislators. The organization hopes to march in 10 states in 2023 and to be in all 50 states in the next five to seven years.

Instead of fizzling out in a post-Roe America, March for Life has grown. 

The purpose behind these state marches is to expand the voices that have been heard in Washington for years. The leadership of March for Life understands how powerful it can be for unified masses of people declaring with one voice their commitment to protecting life. They want to send a message of clarity to legislators through the state marches. 

March for Life is also committed to increasing support for pregnant women. Violence and misinformation have threatened the work of over 3,000 pregnancy care centers and maternity homes that provide care for expectant mothers and their children across the country.

“The Supreme Court decision, contrary to the false and widely held belief, did not make abortion illegal across the country,” Mancini said. “Rather, it gave people the chance to fight for life through the democratic process.”

Countering abortion activisim in a post-Roe world

In giving pro-life activists victory, the Dobbs decision also gave pro-abortion activists the opportunity for exploitation and to induce a spirit of fear in Americans. Their efforts threaten thousands of unborn lives in pro-abortion states, as they seek to make abortion policies even more extreme than they were under Roe. Many proposals of pro-abortionists include abortion up until birth. 

Under these circumstances, education related to life, such as how preborn babies feel pain as early as 15 weeks’ gestation, is a key part of March for Life’s mission. The more the public is educated on topics like fetal development and abortion, the more they will support common sense limits. 

The task of marching at the state level is daunting, but the leadership at March for Life is facing this new era with enthusiasm and faith. 

“Our fight, which for the last five decades had been relegated to the courts, is now being waged in Congress, in our statehouses and in our communities,” Mancini said. “The landscape has changed, but our mission to create a culture of love and life where abortion is unthinkable remains the same.”

By / Jul 12

Does the ERLC support the 2023 Born Alive Act? Southern Baptists affirm that every human is created in the image of God. As stated in a 2022 resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Bible “reveals that all human life is created in the image of God, and therefore sacred to our Creator.” Further, the convention’s Baptist Faith & Message affirms that “children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord” and calls us to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.” 

Current federal law lacks sufficient legal protection and medical provision for children who survive failed abortions. The Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act extends sufficient legal protection and medical provision to children who survive failed abortions. The bill would amend the federal criminal code to require any health care practitioner who is present when a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion to, first, exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and second, ensure that such a child is immediately admitted to a hospital.

Infanticide is a grotesque injustice. When a child is born alive, whether in a hospital, at home, or in an abortion clinic, any action taken to end that child’s life is and always ought to be considered murder. Babies born alive following an attempted abortion procedure are living human beings who should have the same access to every measure of medical care available to premature born babies through postnatal care units.

The ERLC is committed to defending the vulnerable at every stage of life. Withholding medical care from an infant who was born alive denies the human dignity affirmed to them by God. Such a callous dereliction of responsibility by both the legal system and medical profession also denies that child’s basic human right of life as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

ERLC urges Congress to pass the 2023 Born Alive Act. Children have intrinsic value not defined by their power nor the whim of doctors, but by the image of God each one of them bears.

For more on what happened at the federal level after the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision, read One year post-Roe by Hannah Daniel, ERLC policy manager. 

By / Jul 10

What does it look like practically to create a culture of life within a family, especially if there are young children?  How can caregivers uphold the value of life in age-appropriate ways?

The sanctity of every human life is one of the most important truths we can teach the children in our care. Kids are being raised in a society that devalues life at every turn, from messages on billboards to ads on streaming services. Too often, any individual who requires our personal sacrifice is viewed as a burden and a threat to our autonomy.  And the abortion industry thrives off of this way of thinking.

If we want our children to be both hearers and doers of the Word, we must demonstrate a pro-life ethic not only in our words, though that is essential, but also in our actions.

Here are 10 ways you can create a culture of life within your family and develop ongoing trust between you and your children. 

  1. Connect with your local pregnancy resource center (PRC). Find out where your closest PRC is, and reach out. All PRCs need support in some way. Ask for a tour, and bring the whole family. Let your children see the facility, hear the stories, and develop empathy for women who may feel scared and alone.
  2. Donate baby items for expecting mothers. You could do this through your local pregnancy center, church, or another local organization that supports pregnant women. Take a family shopping trip to purchase diapers, wipes, bottles, blankets, toys, and more. Talk about how exciting it is to welcome a new life into the world and to support moms by meeting physical needs.
  3. Fill a baby bottle. Many pregnancy centers hold what is known as “Baby Bottle Campaigns”—but even if yours doesn’t, this is still a wonderful way to uphold the value of life. Keep an empty baby bottle in your home where it will be seen every day. Set a goal for your family to fill it up with loose change. Once filled, donate the contents to your PRC or other organization that supports moms. Pray together over that money, that it would bless both parents and new life.
  4. Memorize Scripture that points to the sanctity of life. Psalm 139 is a great place to start. Read this passage together and work toward reciting it by heart.
  5. Read picture books that are pro-life. Picture books have the unique power of uniting both words and images to communicate powerful truths. Add life-affirming books to your library and make a point to read them together. A few places to start: Pro-Life Kids; God’s Very Good Idea; Wherever You Go, I Want You To Know.
  6. Talk about your relationship with your children before they were born. Share stories of your excitement about meeting your children. Share about the kicks, how they heard and knew your voice, and how they developed eyes, fingers, and toes while they were in the womb. Normalize talking about the humanity of children from the moment of conception.
  7. Host a baby shower. If you have a family member or friend who is expecting, offer to host a baby shower or even invite your children to attend one with you. Create the expectation of celebrating new life.
  8. Practice gentleness with babies and respect for the elderly. Whether your children are preschool-aged, teenagers, or somewhere in between, there is value in creating an expectation of gentleness and respect toward all life. Cast a vision for your family members as protectors of the weak. This can be demonstrated with babies by using gentle touches, soft voices, and kind speech. This can be practiced with the elderly by holding doors, assisting with physical needs, and listening attentively to stories and wisdom.
  9. Learn with your family about adoption and foster care. Pray about whether or not God is leading your family to pursue one or both of these options. Invite other families who have fostered or adopted to come share about their experiences. Pray together for those families. Add these words to your family vocabulary, and make sure your children see positive examples of both.
  10. Tell the truth about abortion using age-appropriate language. Our world has sterilized the word “abortion” with phrases like “pro-choice,” “abortion care,” and “removal of pregnancy tissue.” If your children are older, they are hearing this language. Do they know what abortion really is? You can tell the truth about the humanity of the unborn and the sadness of abortion without going into extreme detail. For younger children, it may sound something like this:

    “Sometimes when a mom gets pregnant with a baby, she might feel afraid or scared about being a mom. Some people might tell her that abortion will help her not be afraid. Abortion is when a baby’s life is ended on purpose inside the womb. Abortion doesn’t protect babies or mommies.”

    With age and maturity, your children can learn more. But the important thing is making sure you are the source of their information. Hearing the truth from you will build trust and increase the likelihood that they’ll come back to you with questions. 

Giving feet to your faith

If your children hear you say you’re pro-life, but see no evidence of compassion, empathy, and love toward all life—whether it be a preborn child, a lonely man in a retirement home, or a mother facing an unplanned pregnancy—then they will be less inclined to believe you when they’re grown. 

Additionally, making the extra effort to uphold a culture of life within your family, especially regarding our tiniest of neighbors, will give feet to your faith and bolster the faith of your children. In his book The Storm-Tossed Family, Russell Moore says, “The self-interest that sears over the joy of birth will also sear over the joy of new birth.” New life here on earth is God’s megaphone for proclaiming the gospel to the world. That’s why abortion is inherently a gospel issue.

May it never be said that we let the world inform our children’s beliefs about the immeasurable value of life—or about the One who authors it. 

By / Jun 27

The thought of sitting across the room from a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy strikes fear in the hearts of many. Visions of a quiet room, hushed tones, heartbreaking stories, positive tests, and difficult decisions may cause anxiety or discomfort. To be honest, this fear isn’t unwarranted. As a woman who has worked in the pregnancy resource center (PRC) world in a variety of capacities for the past 10 years, I’ve seen firsthand how serious and intense the frontlines of a PRC can be. 

Staff and volunteers willingly walk into a difficult but essential ministry every day, committed to speaking truth in love to women who are either desperate to hear it or determined to reject it. These workers stand in the gap to advocate for life within the womb and for the mothers who carry those lives. Make no mistake: what’s happening behind those closed doors is life and death.

But in an attempt to paint an accurate picture of the life-changing work happening at PRCs, churches unwillingly—perhaps, unknowingly—may be discouraging their members from connecting with pregnancy centers at all.

Your congregation is filled with women who would go weak in the knees at the thought of closing themselves in a room with a mother who is considering abortion. Their hearts may be burdened to stand for life, but the knee-knocking, white-knuckled anxiety of what “could” or “might” happen keeps them glued to the sidelines.

Meanwhile, the other half of your congregation may believe this is a ministry in which they have no place. After all, what could men possibly have to offer in this woman-focused mission field?

The beauty of the Church of Christ is that there are many parts, but one body (1 Cor. 12:12). Every member of the body has a unique, purposeful, and invaluable role to fill. Because abortion is a gospel issue, the Church must rise up to address it at all costs.

Not only is there room for everyone in the pro-life movement, but there is a desperate need for everyone—male, female, young, old, confident, fearful—to step off the sidelines and find their place within this movement. 

And at The Pregnancy Network (TPN) in North Carolina, people are rushing off the sidelines in droves.

“For many years, we struggled to have volunteer involvement beyond the core group who served as peer advocates,” said Allison Herrington, director of partnerships. “Peer advocates” refers to the trained volunteers who meet with women during their appointments to discuss options and offer the hope of the gospel message.

Herrington noted, “It wasn’t until we changed the narrative about what it means to get involved and make a difference in the pro-life movement that we started to see a shift.”

“We recognized that there was a complete subset of untapped potential within the church,” said Hope Earwood, director of development and communications. “When we started talking about how everyone has a part to play in this story—about how we needed people from all skill sets and backgrounds—we realized just how creative partners and volunteers could be.” 

Women and men who previously had written off their abilities to connect with the mission of a pregnancy resource center now found themselves using their unique talents and abilities to serve. 

Practical ways to serve

What does this look like on a practical level? 

Herrington pointed out they have a volunteers doing a variety of things including: 

  • setting up classrooms, 
  • preparing food, 
  • organizing
  • sorting baby items and donations, 
  • writing notes of encouragement for mothers, 
  • distributing class incentives, 
  • cleaning offices, 
  • and greeting clients

In addition, they have:

  • “women who use their time in school carlines to make phone calls to potential event sponsors; 
  • men with infant CPR and other professional certifications teaching sessions for our parenting classes; 
  • partners who donate funds to cover costs of billboards and other marketing tools to reach more clients; 
  • women who serve as mentors, make baby blankets, assist with mailings; 
  • and men who help set up and break down at events, and mobilize their small groups to assist with special projects.”

“Every volunteer is so flexible and willing to do whatever we need,” said Kimberly Gay, client services coordinator. “No matter what the task, people come faithfully and serve. And I believe it’s because we all want the same thing: to glorify God, love women, and protect life.”  

“Our message to our community is simple,” said Earwood. “No matter where you serve, every person makes an impact on the life of another. You have a vital role to play in this mission. And there is a place for you here.”

Steps your church can take 

So if your church wants to get more involved in the pro-life movement but isn’t sure where to start, what is the first step? 

If your community has a local PRC (and it probably does), I guarantee they would welcome your involvement with open arms. Take the initiative to invite a representative from that PRC to speak with you and your church leaders about their needs. 

Consider the unique strengths of the individuals in your church. Is your church filled with stay-at-home mothers? Empty nesters? IT gurus? Graphic designers? Writers? Businessmen and women? Event planners? The answer is almost certainly “yes” to all of these, and every last person in your congregation can serve in some capacity.

Something beautiful happens when a wave of individuals from different backgrounds, skill sets, and comfort zones unites around a common mission and purpose. When the body of Christ refuses to remain passive and complacent about putting the Word into action, and instead rallies around women in unplanned pregnancies by mobilizing every possible resource they possess, well—that’s when mothers will believe us when we say we value all life.

That’s when we live out our conviction that abortion is a gospel issue. And that’s when abortion can truly become unthinkable.

To find out more about how your church can build a healthy relationship with your local pregnancy resource center, contact The Pregnancy Network’s Associate Executive Director Luke Rosenberger at [email protected].

By / Jun 23

In the year since the landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, there has been a significant shift in the landscape of abortion in the United States. Soon after the Dobbs decision, many states began to impose abortion bans and restrictions. 

Abortion bans

States where abortion was banned included: 

July 2022

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi 
  • Missouri 
  • Oklahoma 
  • South Dakota 
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

August 2022

  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana

September 2022

  • Idaho 
  • Tennessee

Overall, almost half of all states have imposed some sort of restrictions, especially in the early months of pregnancy. The result is that there has been a notable decrease in the total number of abortions in America. 

According to new estimates provided by the Society of Family Planning’s national research project, #WeCount, there were an estimated 93,575 fewer legal abortions in states that banned or severely restricted abortion for at least one week in the nine-month period after Dobbs. The biggest declines were in: 

  • Texas (an estimated 24,420 fewer abortions), 
  • Georgia (14,415), 
  • Tennessee (10,235), 
  • Louisiana (6,755), 
  • Arizona (6,000), 
  • and Alabama (5,715). 

A challenging reality

However, the data also reveal a challenging reality: many individuals, unable to obtain abortions in their home states, are traveling to states where abortion is still unrestricted​. Despite the overall decline in abortion rates, there has been, according to reporting by FiveThirtyEight, an increase in the number of legal abortions in states where the procedure remains widely available​​. 

The number of legal abortions in states where abortion remained mostly available rose by 69,285 in the same period. The states with the largest increases were: I

  • llinois (an estimated 12,580 more abortions), 
  • Florida (12,460), 
  • North Carolina (7,975), 
  • California (4,350), 
  • and Colorado (4,140). 

However, many states where abortion remains legal with few restrictions, especially on the West Coast and in the Northeast, did not experience surges in abortions.

Positive trends

The overall results indicate there were 24,290 fewer legal abortions between July 2022 and March 2023, compared to a pre-Dobbs baseline. Each of these represents a precious life saved, a testament to the effort of the pro-life community over the past 50 years. 

The trend is also moving in a positive direction. Abortion had been increasing in the U.S. since 2017, and abortion rates were increasing in the months before the Dobbs decision. In the two months before Dobbs, the average monthly number of abortions provided by clinicians in the U.S. was 81,730 while in the nine months after Dobbs, the average monthly number of abortions was 79,031. The national abortion rate also decreased from 13.4 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in April 2022 to 12.6 per 1,000 women. 

This suggests that while state-level restrictions are essential, the fight to protect preborn life must extend beyond the borders of pro-life states. We must continue to forcefully advocate for life-affirming laws and resources in all states and at the federal level. It’s also crucial for pro-life Christians in America to intensify our efforts in offering love, support, and resources to those faced with unexpected pregnancies. By providing a robust support system, we can help show the viability of life-affirming alternatives to abortion.

The post-Dobbs era has brought a season of change and challenge, but it’s also a season ripe with opportunities for the Christian pro-life community. It’s a call to put our faith into action, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to continue to uphold the sanctity of every human life.