By / Jan 11

Welcome to episode #348 on The ERLC Podcast where our goal is to help you think biblically about today’s cultural issues. Today, we’re starting a new series that will focus on life. In this first episode, we’ll discuss what you should know about the pro-life movement after Roe.

Dignity of all human life

God’s Word, from the very beginning, affirms the dignity of all human life. Genesis 1 tells us that at the end of the creation process, “God said, ’Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ … 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” This reveals to us that every person is made in the imago Dei, the image of God. And this means that every life, regardless of age, ability, or any other feature, has infinite value that cannot be taken away. The rest of the Bible unwaveringly affirms this truth. 

Pro-life movement after Roe

The pro-life movement is grounded in this reality and, most fundamentally, has sought to protect our tiniest citizens from the horrors of abortion. The culmination of this work was realized on June 24, 2022, a historic day of celebration as the Supreme Court ruled to overturn the constitutional right to abortion and return abortion legislation back to the states. This was a long-time unifying goal of the pro-life movement. According to The New York Times, since the court’s ruling, abortion access has dropped overall, with 21 states banning or restricting it and others reinforcing abortion protections.

However, the fight for life and the mission of the pro-life movement is far from over, and there’s still much work to be done on the local, state, and federal levels. New frontiers have arisen, with abortion tourism, or travel for abortions across state lines, and chemical abortions, or abortion pills, gaining momentum across our country. 

As we begin our series, we’ll talk to several guests who will give us a clear picture of the current state of the pro-life movement since last year’s historic Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. 

This week’s podcast guests: Benjamin Watson, Herbie Newell, and Dr. Bart Barber

You’ll hear from Benjamin Watson, a former NFL tight end, as well as a writer, speaker, and activist. He is the author of, “The New Fight for Life: Roe, Race, and a Pro-Life Commitment to Justice.” He serves as vice president of strategic relationships with the Human Coalition, one of the largest pro-life and pro-woman organizations in the country. Along with his wife, Kirsten, he is the founder of The Watson 7 Foundation, a nonprofit focused on strengthening families. The Watsons live in Georgia with their seven children.

Also joining us is Herbie Newell, president & executive director of Lifeline Children’s Services and its ministry arms. He holds a Master’s of Business Administration in Accounting from Samford University. Under Herbie’s leadership, Lifeline has increased international outreach to 25 countries through adoption and strategic orphan care, obtained licensure in 17 states, and established the foster care arm at Lifeline. 

Finally, you’ll hear from Dr. Bart Barber, who is pastor of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, and president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Our goal on the ERLC Podcast is to help you think biblically about today’s cultural issues. As we discuss important topics that matter to Southern Baptists, you might have additional questions. We’d love to hear from you. Please e-mail us at [email protected] and let us know how you’re processing the conversations featured on the podcast. 

And just a reminder, we want to make sure you are kept up to date about the important work the ERLC is doing on behalf of Southern Baptists. The best way to do that is by joining us at Signing up for email updates allows you to hear directly from us about our work and ways we are serving you on the issues that matter most to Southern Baptists. 

The ERLC podcast is a production of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. It is produced by Lindsay Nicolet and Elizabeth Bristow. Technical production is provided by Owens Productions.  It is edited and mixed by Mark Owens.

By / Oct 10

In December 2022, Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), a pro-life bill that aimed to make the workplace more accessible to pregnant women by requiring employers to provide accommodations to pregnant workers under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This bill was implemented at the end of June 2023. However, a federal agency is manipulating the bill’s language to require that employers provide accommodations for abortion.

What the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was supposed to achieve

Sponsors of the bill repeatedly stated that the PWFA was a low-impact bill that would only require “common sense” accommodations—a bottle of water, relief from carrying heavy objects, a stool—to ensure pregnant women can safely remain in the workforce. On the surface, this legislation was promising from a pro-life perspective because it removes barriers to women choosing life instead of abortion. For example, lower income women would be able to work later in their pregnancy, financially equipping them to care for their precious preborn life. 

As a result, the PWFA received broad bipartisan support in Congress and from a variety of advocacy groups. Pro-labor groups were supportive of the labor protections it provided to pregnant workers, and many pro-life groups were supportive of the opportunity to help pregnant women choose the path of life.

What happened during the implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act? 

However, the initial bipartisan support for the PWFA has not continued into the implementation of the bill. The PWFA requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.” However, the bill does not define what is considered a “reasonable accommodation,” or what is considered a “related medical condition.”

When there is such vague language included in a bill, Congress will often delegate implementation of the bill to a federal agency. The agency will then release additional guidance, known as “rulemaking,” which dictates how the bill will be implemented. At that point, entities like the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) can submit comments on the rulemaking that share concerns regarding such guidance.

In the case of the PWFA, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was given rulemaking authority. In July, the rules were released, and they directly contradicted the intent of Congress. Not only was “reasonable accommodation” interpreted to include additional paid leave, but the EEOC included abortion in the definition of “related medical conditions.” The PWFA would now essentially require employers to provide medical leave for women to end the life of their child through an abortion.

Such rulemaking directly contradicts the intent of Congress and the pro-life advocacy groups who hoped the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would help mothers choose life. 

The bill’s primary Democratic sponsor, Sen. Casey, assured pro-life organizations that the bill was “straightforward … [and would] allow pregnant workers to request reasonable accommodations so that they can continue working safely during pregnancy and upon returning to work after childbirth.” 

The bill’s primary Republican sponsor, Sen. Cassidy, echoed those assurances and strongly opposed the EEOC’s actions saying, “These regulations completely disregard legislative intent and attempt to rewrite the law by regulation…The decision to disregard the legislative process to inject a political abortion agenda is illegal and deeply concerning.” 

These statements alone should unequivocally eliminate abortion from being considered a pregnancy related medical condition.

How the ERLC responded 

Every life matters because every life is created in the image of God. Therefore, the ERLC responded to this rule by submitting public comments, pushing back on the EEOC’s attempt to insert abortion into a life-affirming law. In these comments, the ERLC shared the longstanding history of Southern Baptists in advocating for pro-life legislation, supporting pregnant mothers, and opposing overreach by the federal government to subsidize the abortion industry. 

God has spoken clearly throughout Scripture to the value and dignity of every human being as created in the image of God and to the goodness of his design for every aspect of human life in accordance with his will (Gen. 1:26-30; Matt. 19:4; Luke 12:22–31; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; 1 Pet. 1:13-16). 

It is clear that the intent of Congress in passing the PWFA was to help pregnant mothers have healthy pregnancies and babies, not to expand access to abortion. The ERLC will continue to advocate for healthy mothers and preborn babies and urges Southern Baptists to join us in praying for abortion to be removed from the list of pregnancy related medical conditions. 

Additionally, we urge the sponsors of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to exhibit leadership and boldness by safeguarding the responsibility of Congress to legislate fairly and honestly and resist the urge to cave to the EEOC’s deceptive approach to rulemaking through filing public comments of their own. In doing so, the ERLC believes both the lives of preborn children and the consciences of employers will be protected.

By / Oct 9

SBC’s policy arm filed public comments, calls bill sponsors to file with EEOC

Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 9, 2023 The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention filed comments calling for the removal of abortion language from the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act regulations. 

The comments were filed in a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The federal commission is tasked with issuing regulations to carry out the newly passed law, but the EEOC’s proposed regulations include abortion procedures in the list of “pregnancy related medical conditions”—directly contradicting Congress’ stated legislative intent and endangering preborn lives.  

“We urge each sponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to file an official comment on this proposal and demand abortion be dropped from this regulation,” said Brent Leatherwood, ERLC president and the signatory of the letter. “Failure to do so will only empower a radical agency to completely disregard clear congressional intent and, more alarmingly, turn a law meant to help mothers and children thrive into the abortion regime’s newest tool to destroy life.”

The ERLC affirms the important objective of the bipartisan PWFA to ensure women are given accommodations in the workplace in consideration of their health and the health of their preborn children. 

“Every human being has inherent dignity and every life should be protected,” the ERLC states in its letter to the EEOC. “In the context of the PWFA, Scripture makes it clear that mothers and children are precious and worthy of protection.” 

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 13.6 million members and a network of over 47,000 cooperating churches and congregations. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

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By / Jan 31

Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 30, 2023—The Psalm 139 Project, a pro-life ministry of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia (SBCV), has donated an ultrasound machine to Warrenton Pregnancy Center in Warrenton, Va. 

Details for the dedication ceremony are below:

Date & time: Tuesday, Jan. 31, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. EST 

Location: 400 Holiday Ct., Suite 101, Warrenton, VA 20196

Attendees: ERLC Policy Manager Hannah Daniel will be in attendance 

“Placing ultrasound machines in pregnancy centers is always a joy for our staff at the ERLC,” said Rachel Wiles, director of the Psalm 139 Project. “But when we can partner with state conventions to place these machines, it’s an extra special blessing as we cooperate together to see lives changed.”

The machine was provided through a grant by the SBCV. Brandon Pickett, director of strategic initiatives and communications for the SBCV, commented on the partnership.

“The churches of the SBC of Virginia are thankful to be able to come alongside the Warrenton Pregnancy Center. We count it a privilege to be able to support this incredible ministry with our partner, the Psalm 139 Project. We pray that countless women, men, and families are loved and served because of the work of the Warrenton Pregnancy Center. We believe that we won’t know until eternity the lives that were changed because of our partnership in the Gospel.”

Warrenton Pregnancy Center was founded in September 2017 and opened in March 2018. This center has served Fauquier County for nearly five years, offering medical services including ultrasounds and medical-grade pregnancy tests, and educational programs such as advocacy, abstinence, parenting, post-abortion healing and material support. The city of Warrenton has a population of 10,000 and the surrounding communities make up a greater population of about 50,000. Warrenton Pregnancy Center is open five days a week and walk-ins are welcome.

“Our sonogram machine is 10 years old, so the new machine from ERLC is a great blessing to us,” said Patrick Novecosky, executive director of Warrenton Pregnancy Center. “The new technology will help our clients to see their babies more clearly and hear their child’s heartbeat with clarity. We’re grateful to the Psalm 139 Project for their generosity!”

One hundred percent of financial contributions designated to the Psalm 139 Project go toward purchasing ultrasound machines and providing training for workers. No ERLC Cooperative Program resources are used for these machines. Tax-deductible gifts may be made online to The Psalm 139 Project, or via check to ERLC, 901 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tenn., 37203. Learn more at

By / Jan 20

In this episode, Brent interviews Jon Nelson, a pastor in Missouri, about racial unity and the SBC. Lindsay also reviews a few pieces of ERLC content focused on life in light of the 2023 March for Life.  

ERLC Content


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  • Internships | While it may seem early, now is the time when many college students begin planning for their Summer 2023 internships. You likely already know this if you have a college student in your life—whether it’s in your own household, or your church ministry. At the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, we believe strongly in investing in the next generation. Our internship program exists to prepare students and young professionals with a gospel-centered, kingdom-focused perspective on the issues of everyday life. Interns come alongside ERLC staff to equip church leaders to address complex ethical issues in their communities, local churches, and represent Southern Baptists to the United States government. They help write policy briefs, draft correspondence to congressional staff, assist with communication strategy, provide research on ethical debates, meet with state and federal Christian officials working in the public square, and so much more. In sum, ERLC Interns do much more than simple errands and coffee runs. If you know of a college student looking for an internship for summer 2023, or you are a college student in need of an internship, visit to apply.
  • Psalm 139 | Thousands of women are now traveling to states where abortion is still legal. Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood are targeting these states by placing mobile abortion centers near the border to take advantage of vulnerable women. The need for lifesaving ultrasound machines is greater than ever. That’s where the Psalm 139 Project comes in. As an initiative of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the Psalm 139 Project works on behalf of Southern Baptists to place ultrasound machines in pro-life clinics across the country. Will you help us save vulnerable lives in 2023 and beyond? When you partner with the Psalm 139 Project, 100% of your gift goes directly to placing ultrasound machines and training PRC staff and volunteers. All of our administrative costs are covered by the ongoing generosity of Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program. That’s what makes us unique — and that’s why partnering with us will make a real, tangible difference. Learn more and partner with us at
By / Jan 19

Where do we go from here? Sometimes that phrase is heard after a family tragedy or a moment that upends our life or business. Many Kentucky Baptists and their neighbors were asking that very question after the historic west Kentucky tornadoes on Dec. 10, 2021, and the eastern Kentucky flooding this past July.  

But in this case, the question was being asked after the Yes for Life Amendment (Constitutional Amendment 2) failed to pass in Kentucky’s voting booths Nov. 8, 2022. The amendment stated, “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” The result of the vote was disappointing for those who worked diligently to see this amendment passed.  

Much prayer and sacrifice went into the drafting and promotion of this historic amendment. Many elected leaders, as well as pastors and church leaders, put their own names on the line to defend the preborn in our state. Kentucky Baptist pastors and associational and ministry leaders were “all in” on promoting the passage of Amendment 2, and Kentucky Baptists showed up and voted for the amendment. We should give thanks for those who provided leadership to speak up for the preborn.  

We are disappointed in the defeat of Amendment 2. Legalized abortion is the greatest human rights atrocity of our day, and Kentucky Baptists will continue to work and pray that it remains illegal in our state. We are grateful that Attorney General Daniel Cameron has proven that he will fight to uphold Kentucky’s pro-life laws in court, and we encourage our state legislators to continue passing legislation that protects preborn children made in the image of God. 

What’s next for pro-life Kentuckians? 

But, where do we go from here? Here are five actions to consider:  

1. We continue to pray for abortion to be abolished in Kentucky. Abolitionist William Wilberforce fought tirelessly against the inhumane slave trade in Great Britain. He suffered defeat after defeat before finally experiencing victory. Our cause is one worthy of continued effort and prayer. This defeat gives each of us an opportunity to sharpen our pro-life apologetics and get to work convincing and persuading others of the rightness of our position.  

2. We continue to care for women and families with unplanned pregnancies. Forty-nine pregnancy resource centers in Kentucky are connected to the Kentucky Baptist Convention. You can learn more here. The leaders and volunteers at these bastions of compassion woke up on Wednesday morning following the election and went to work doing what they do every day—serving women and families experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. We can help them with their work.  

3. We continue to encourage elected leaders who defend life. I was so proud of many of Kentucky’s elected House and Senate members and constitutional officers who put their own popularity on the line to defend preborn children in Kentucky. The disrespectful chant that says “politicians look for a parade and get in front of it” does not fit these courageous leaders. In Kentucky, we have strong pro-life laws and an attorney general who will vigorously defend them before the Supreme Court. Continue to pray for the Kentucky Supreme Court as it heard arguments on Nov. 15t, 2022, about a challenge to the state’s pre-Roe trigger law which has currently banned abortion. We pray that they will uphold the ban which is currently in effect.

4. We continue to pray for pro-abortion advocates. During the recent Amendment 2 campaign, I was given a renewed passion for praying for and striving to persuade those who view preborn human beings differently than I do. I believe, according to God’s Word, that they are wrong in their position. I also believe they are people made in the image of God who need the gospel. 

5. We continue to promote the adoption of vulnerable children. While a vulnerable mom might not be up to the task of parenting her preborn child, someone else is. There are couples all over the commonwealth who would line up to adopt vulnerable children and give them a great life.  

So where do we go from here? We keep working toward the day when legalized elective abortion will be part of our terrible past, but not part of our more humane future.  

As of the writing of this article, there are no legalized elective abortions being performed in Kentucky. Please join me in praying that this will be our normal from now on. 

A version of this article first appeared here

By / Jan 9

My OBGYN, Dr. John Bruchalski, used to be an abortionist. When he was conducting his residency in Virginia, an attempted late-term abortion he was performing turned into an unexpected delivery. Under Virginia law, he was required to send that living, breathing baby, even at just 1 pound, 1 ounce, to the neonatology unit for care. With his training as an abortionist, he saw this botched abortion as a problem. The neonatologist saw things differently. 

When Dr. Bruchalski called her, she scolded him for treating the baby like a “cancerous tumor,” instead of the living human being that the baby was.1Dr. John Bruchalski: From Abortionist to Pro-Life Doctor,

How could two doctors’ approaches to healthcare be so different—no, not only different, but inherently antithetical? How does the abortionist’s “care,” which prematurely ends the life inside the womb, cohere with that of the neonatologist’s, which seeks to nurture the prematurely born to health?

Indeed, does it even make sense to call what both of these doctors do “healthcare”? Is healthcare anything a doctor does for a living? Or is the location important—is it anything done in a hospital or clinic? Is healthcare anything we call it, anything we want it to be? 

Our relativistic, secular culture may say so, but a theologically orthodox account of healthcare is morally important to uphold. Embedded in the words “health” and “healthcare” is the word “heal,” a word that has deep historical and biblical significance. 

A biblical understanding of healthcare

The Hippocratic Oath, which physicians have been guided by for more than 2,000 years, begins with a vow to the healer (ἰητρὸν) deity, along with a promise to “benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment.”2Greek text: Hippocrates Collected Works I. Hippocrates. W. H. S. Jones. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1868; English text: Hippocratic Oath. Hippocrates. Michael North. National Library of Medicine. 2002; both are accessible via Certain practices and disciplines are off-limits to health professionals: physicians vow to “do no harm or injustice” to their patients, and they vow not to “give a lethal drug to anyone [even] when asked,” nor provide an abortion (οὐδὲ γυναικὶ πεσσὸν φθόριον δώσω).3Ibid. From the beginning of the profession, there was a distinction drawn from practices intended to heal and those, like euthanasia and elective abortion, which were not.

Likewise, in the Bible, “healer” is one of the most common identifiers for Jesus, as well as the Father, Jehova Rapha, “the Lord Who Heals.” Biblical healing is always about restoration: sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and strength to the weak and crippled. In fact, the whole biblical story is about healing: of a fall that took place in our bodies, cursed our bodies, and ultimately of a healer who will restore us to our bodies in glory. Restoration is an affirmation of the goodness of God’s original creation and a sign of our ultimate destiny as human beings with God in eternity. When Jesus heals, he restores nature to its intended state of being (Rom. 8:19-21). 

This is what healthcare is: the practice of healing, the restoration of the body’s integrity and wholeness, a recognition of and reprieve from the curse of sin, which separates our bodies from our sense of self, and ourselves from God. Healing is a gift. 

However, there are many things, some even seemingly mundane, that our modern secular culture considers “healthcare” that do not qualify as such under this traditional historical and biblical definition. In most of these cases, healthcare providers’ innate compassion for the sufferer compels them to try to solve their problems through the use of surgery or medicine. But if the “healing” is not restorative of the body’s integrity and wholeness, we’ve made a mistake: we’ve assumed that our suffering can be solved by medicine, technology, and yes, so-called “healthcare.” But in reality our suffering is rooted in a deeper problem: our alienation from God, which has resulted in our alienation from our own bodies. 

As Christians, we are called to suffer and to suffer well. This is countercultural, especially in today’s world. By all means, we should make use of the gift of healthcare that God, in his mercy, has granted to us through the brilliant minds of the doctors and researchers and scientists that He has created. But when that so-called healthcare reaches beyond the bounds of healing, we must abstain, even if it means our suffering could be greater for it.

Abortion is not healthcare

Perhaps one of the most insidious and lethal tactics used by abortion proponents is the equation of abortion with healthcare. Elective abortion is not and never can be healthcare, because elective abortion is the willful destruction of a body—the unborn body.4I am distinguishing here between elective abortion (abortion performed not for medical reasons but simply upon the request of the woman) and other types of medical practices that are often called “abortion” or coded as such in medical settings. Miscarriage is also called “spontaneous abortion,” and sometimes requires the use of medical tools used in abortions to evacuate the uterus. This is not abortion. Similarly, ectopic pregnancy care is medically and morally distinct from elective abortion, as ectopic pregnancies are lethal for the baby and the mother. For more on the difference between these legitimate medical practices and elective abortion, see the following: Nothing with the explicit purpose of destroying the body can be considered healthcare. Indeed, the destruction of the body is antithetical to the true nature of reality: the biblical story of creation, fall, salvation, and glorification. The destruction of the body is satanic, in the most literal sense of the word: “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy”—this is what elective abortion is, no matter what our culture deigns to call it.5John 10:10

Regardless of one’s position or worldview, pregnant women, and especially pregnant women who do not wish to be pregnant, are deserving of compassion; as Dr. Bruchalski himself once told me, pregnancy and childbearing are affected by the curse of the Fall. As beautiful and miraculous as pregnancy is, it also comes with much pain and suffering, physically, mentally, and emotionally. But our compassion should not compel us to “solve” the pregnant woman’s suffering by killing the life inside of her womb. They are symbiotically connected, but they are separate human beings. They are two different patients deserving and in need of care. 

Not long after Dr. Bruchalski’s botched abortion attempt, a series of miraculous encounters transformed his life—and the lives of his future patients, born and preborn. He told his hospital he could no longer perform abortions, and eventually began what would become the largest pro-life obstetric and gynecological practice in the nation, Tepeyac OB/GYN. Dr. Bruchalski began practicing true healthcare: healthcare which recognized that there were two patients in the exam room upon which he was called to have compassion and care.6Dr. Bruchlski’s new book, Two Patients, details his conversion story and was released on October 11, 2022 via Ignatius Press:

There are powerful historical, biblical, and moral arguments for insisting that abortion is not healthcare. But even more importantly, God has written his law into the hearts of every human being, “their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them.”7Romans 12:15 While we can take confidence in knowing the truth that abortion is not healthcare, ultimately we should be praying for those with whom we disagree: that God would trouble their hearts and reveal himself and the truth to them in a saving encounter, just as he did for Dr. Bruchalski.

View the latest issue of Light magazine here.

  • 1
    Dr. John Bruchalski: From Abortionist to Pro-Life Doctor,
  • 2
    Greek text: Hippocrates Collected Works I. Hippocrates. W. H. S. Jones. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1868; English text: Hippocratic Oath. Hippocrates. Michael North. National Library of Medicine. 2002; both are accessible via
  • 3
  • 4
    I am distinguishing here between elective abortion (abortion performed not for medical reasons but simply upon the request of the woman) and other types of medical practices that are often called “abortion” or coded as such in medical settings. Miscarriage is also called “spontaneous abortion,” and sometimes requires the use of medical tools used in abortions to evacuate the uterus. This is not abortion. Similarly, ectopic pregnancy care is medically and morally distinct from elective abortion, as ectopic pregnancies are lethal for the baby and the mother. For more on the difference between these legitimate medical practices and elective abortion, see the following:
  • 5
    John 10:10
  • 6
    Dr. Bruchlski’s new book, Two Patients, details his conversion story and was released on October 11, 2022 via Ignatius Press:
  • 7
    Romans 12:15
By / Dec 27

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to testify before Congress for a hearing of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. I was the sole pro-life witness called to Capitol Hill that spring day, in the weeks leading up to the reversal of Roe v. Wade. I recognized that it was my responsibly to advocate well for our cause, not only for the sake of Americans United for Life, but also because I knew I would be speaking on behalf of all American pro-life moms, dads, and families.

I knew it would be a generally hostile pro-abortion hearing, and I had to do whatever I could to focus Congress’s and the public’s attention on the reality of the humanity of the preborn child, the dignity of every mother, and the threat that is every abortion business to both mother and child.

“The future of America, a post-Roe America, is a future full of hope,” I shared in my opening statement. “Roe’s reversal will make it possible for America’s lawmakers to once more affirmatively protect the human right to life and to enshrine law and policy that makes abortion unthinkable even for those most vulnerable to abortion propaganda.”

“Abortion is fundamentally unjust,” I continued. “Abortion deprives our brothers and sisters of the equal protection of the laws. Abortion turns equals into unequals. Abortion empowers the strong at the expense of the vulnerable. And it makes us all less human and less humane along the way.”

The Role of Pregnancy Resource Centers 

In June, of course, the U.S. Supreme Court finally reversed Roe and rejected its deadly abortion precedents. Although we are still only in the first months of this post-Roe America, and although we undoubtedly have many years left before we achieve the abolition of the scourge of abortion in America, we can be proud in knowing that pro-life advocates and lawmakers are making a difference in states across the country. We are recognizing, in powerful ways, the importance not only of abolishing abortion, but also of the crucial family, community, and state support for mothers and families who desire to choose life.

There’s no question that the organic growth of pro-life pregnancy resource centers across the United States over the past few decades played a major role in persuading the Supreme Court that America’s mothers and families can truly succeed without reliance upon abortion. We must continue to build upon the authentic healthcare responses of pregnancy resource centers now that we are living in this post-Roe era. 

We must give our resources and time to helping centers expand their healthcare services through qualified medical providers. We must ensure that every American mother in every state and in every county has access to a high standard of care like that represented in pregnancy resource centers. And we must establish partnerships across organizations where individuals can receive whatever care they need in life-affirming, loving environments. 

I knew that day on Capitol Hill that pro-abortion members of Congress would attack pregnancy resource centers. I knew the sort of falsehoods I would hear about the so-called assistance offered by Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses. But I also knew the reality of what pregnancy resource centers provide, and the tragedies that take place every day at abortion businesses. At one point during the hearing, I was asked about the claims of Planned Parenthood and abortion businesses, and where mothers who need help can go.

“When it comes to helping mothers in difficult situations,” I said, “go ask Planned Parenthood if they provide diapers or formula or a crib or rent assistance or food or bill assistance or counseling or mammograms or continuing education and compare that to what pregnancy care centers offer and then come tell me that pro-lifers are the ones who don’t care about children.”

Who Provides Real Healthcare? 

In Washington, D.C., just a stone’s throw from the halls of Congress, the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center has been doing the rewarding work of serving mothers for years. In fact, it was one of many targeted by the pro-abortion activists from a group calling itself “Jane’s revenge.” Since the fall of Roe, pro-abortion activists have defaced, broken into, and even committed acts of arson to intimidate pregnancy resource centers. I joined the thousands of pro-life advocates who donated to the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in response to the attack on their mission and property this summer. They are an organic example of Washingtonians’ pro-life response to our still too pro-abortion culture, and their persistence gives me hope that we will win the hearts of Americans on the truth about abortion and pregnancy-related care.

I often hear pro-abortion activists mischaracterize pro-life protections as if they are threats to reproductive care. Yet, there is no greater threat to reproductive care than Planned Parenthood, where every pregnancy ends with a dead child and a wounded mother and father. 

Those who are truly concerned about reproductive care should be stepping up to support the pregnancy resource center in their communities. It’s at our nearest pregnancy resource center that we should expect to find real reproductive care, real compassion, real options, and real healthcare. 

In this post-Roe era, we look to the successes of the pregnancy resource center movement as a model to emulate. We must speak boldly and courageously about what we all really need—what every child, mother, and father deserve—and that is hope. All of our law and policy focus should be on cultivating cultural norms, nationally and in the states, that make it easier to embrace children as a part of the heroic and noble work of building up families. 

Our pro-life law and policy efforts, most directly through model bills and political and legislative pushes—especially for laws that strengthen pregnancy resource centers—should build up a culture that embraces a spirit of doing even more than laws require, because to be pro-life means being pro-love. In addition, we must continue to give of our time and money in order to enable and support the expansion of existing pregnancy resource centers as they seek to provide more healthcare offerings for vulnerable women and men. 

All true care, and every instance of authentic healthcare, comes, at the deepest level, as an expression of love. We care because we first choose to love. And we love by ensuring the right to life and well-being of every individual.

By / Oct 6

By the end of September 2020, there were over 407,000 children in foster care. And it’s possible that with the overturning of Roe, even more children might need care in the future. Vulnerable women, children, and families in the United States will need help in a variety of ways, and Christians should continue to lead the way in making that possible. One of the organizations that’s doing incredible work in this area is Hands of Hope, an adoption and foster care ministry serving Indiana. Amy Jo Fox, the Communications and Care Community Director, answers questions below that shed light on practical ways we can join in their type of work wherever we are. 

Eli Pattat: What is Hands of Hope, and how did it begin?

Amy Jo Fox: In 2003, our Executive Director and her husband adopted their son internationally. God first planted the dream for Hands of Hope in Suzy’s heart just as they were pulling away to bring their son home. She turned to see the rest of the children that were staying there—with no toys, no playground, nothing to do, and she knew at that moment that she was being called to do more. In 2010, Hands of Hope became a 501(c)3.

Simply put, we believe the very best place for any child is in a family. Oftentimes, fear and finances are the two things that keep families from moving forward. So, the first thing we did as an organization was adoption and foster care informational meetings. Then, we began providing adoption matching grants and interest-free loans to help financially. The mission has always been the same: to uniquely and deeply love orphans at home and around the world. We educate on God’s heart for orphans and vulnerable children, motivate individuals to get involved, and support those who do.

We place a high value on going deep to change the trajectory of a child’s life. We do this by how we relationally engage with the families, churches, and partners we serve. We try to listen well and understand where they’ve been and where they currently are. We build relational equity and lean into opportunities to develop trust, moving at the pace of relationship instead of outcome.

EP: Your three areas of focus are adoption, foster care, and children’s homes. What does it look like practically for your organization to serve in these three areas? 

AJF: We partner with and support five Children’s Homes in El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ukraine, India and Brown County, Indiana. Each partner is carefully vetted. Through our Children’s Homes sponsorships, over 150 children are provided with safe and loving environments in which they receive necessities like food, education, and medical care. The children we support are victims of poverty, abuse, and/or disease.

As mentioned above, we hold monthly adoption informational meetings for those wanting to know more about or considering adoption. We also provide financial support to hopeful adoptive parents through our matching grant program.

Lastly, our largest area of focus is foster care. We act as a bridge organization, linking the various needs of Indiana foster care with those that want to help. This includes support and providing county Department of Children’s Services offices with basic necessities like diapers or belonging bags for children when they first enter care, real-time needs for at-risk biological families, and community wraparound for foster and adoptive families among other things.

EP: In what specific ways does Hands of Hope educate the church on God’s heart for orphans and vulnerable children?

AJF: Multiple times a year, we offer a virtual clinic to train and equip church leaders and advocates on how to implement Family Advocacy Ministries (FAM). Churches are often full of people that want to impact the lives of vulnerable children, but don’t know where to begin. FAMs provide practical and concise onboarding in order to recruit and equip families to care for children in their homes, serve families in crisis, and advocate for and minister to these families by meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

We work to mobilize and resource the Church to teach on what Scripture says about caring for orphans and vulnerable children as well as organize and/or host other awareness events to empower people to understand the need. Nationally, 50% of foster families quit fostering after the first year because they do not feel they have the support they need. However, when these families are surrounded by a FAM’s wraparound support model called Care Communities, we see that statistic drastically improve. With Care Communities, we’re able to retain 90% of foster families, helping them foster longer and stronger. 

EP: What are some of the greatest needs you see in families that you serve through Hands of Hope? 

AJF: The greatest needs for the families we serve is summed up in one word: support. They need the support of the Church and their community. Whether it’s a hurting biological family in need of tangible assistance in order to preserve their home or a weary foster family in need of a mentor for their child who is struggling, families in crisis need to know they’re not alone. It’s sometimes easy for us to get stuck in the “they signed up for it” mentality and assume we’re not responsible if we aren’t able to actually bring children into our home through foster care or adoption. These kids are OUR kids, this is OUR problem, these families are OUR responsibility. 

EP: Are there misconceptions about adoption, foster care, and children’s homes that hinder Christians from serving well in these areas? 

AJF: One misconception we often see is around foster care. Many times, people care about child welfare but since they aren’t able to physically take children into their home, they assume there’s nothing they can really do to help. That’s simply not true! Every single one of us can do something.

EP: What are some practical ways that the church can get more involved with organizations like Hands of Hope in serving vulnerable children? And if there aren’t organizations like yours in our states, how can Christians meet the needs of those in foster care? 

AJF: CarePortal or Care Communities are two nationwide programs that give churches practical ways to serve vulnerable children and families. There are also many other next steps like hosting a support group, organizing a foster supply closet, blessing foster children at Christmas, etc.

EP: How can Christians around our country be praying for those involved in or thinking about being involved in caring for this vulnerable population?  

AJF: Pray for everyone to find their specific purpose in how they can help vulnerable children and at-risk families so that every child has a family and those families have support.

By / Oct 5

College campuses are places full of big dreams for the future. Young men and women often go to university expectant of what doors their education will open for them. Yet, some of those women become pregnant and find themselves facing uncertainty and fear about what’s ahead. They feel as if they have to choose between life for their child or a completed college degree. That’s where Baby Steps, an organization serving pregnant women on Auburn University’s campus, enters in and enables them to parent and finish their degrees. While Baby Steps isn’t faith based, they welcome people of faith as volunteers, among others, and are an example of those whose work Christians recognize as being consistent with a biblical ethic of human dignity. A member of Baby Steps’ staff answers questions below about this unique organization that’s doing incredible work with moms and their children. 

Kadin Christian: Baby Steps is an organization with an incredible idea—serve pregnant moms on a college campus. What is the story behind how Baby Steps began? And what does the organization hope to accomplish?

Baby Steps Staff: Baby Steps was founded by Michelle Schultz (now the Executive Director) and opened our doors on Auburn’s Campus in 2017. Michelle found herself in an unplanned pregnancy her junior year at Auburn University. In a moment of uncertainty and fear that “her world had ended,” she chose to terminate her pregnancy. She thought there was no way she could be pregnant and finish school. That decision affected her life greatly for many years, and she began recognizing there was an overlooked, isolated population of people in desperate need of support. There was a need to help college women in unplanned pregnancies that wasn’t being met at Auburn University or on other campuses around the country. 

Her first of many affirmations that Baby Steps was needed at Auburn was when she met Kaitlyn Willing, now Director of Operations, in the spring of 2013. In a moment of doubt that Baby Steps was really what Michelle was being called to do, Kaitlyn came into her life. Kaitlyn discovered that she was unexpectedly pregnant in August 2011, also as a junior at Auburn University. She shared the same fear Michelle had experienced almost 30 years ago—the fear that her life was over. While Kaitlyn decided to parent her child and finish her degree, the lack of support at Auburn University made graduating almost impossible.

Once she was presented with the idea of helping build Baby Steps, those past experiences lit a fire within her to see to it that no woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy on Auburn’s campus did it alone. She did not have the support that Baby Steps currently provides student-moms and confidently claims, “I couldn’t think of anything else I could’ve possibly needed or wanted more than Baby Steps.” 

Although very different, Kaitlyn’s and Michelle’s journeys continue to be the inspiration that fuels Baby Steps’ desire to create a place where young women can thrive, having their baby and their education.

KC: Is your organization considered a pregnancy resource center? If not, what are the differences? 

BSS: Baby Steps is not a pregnancy resource center. PRCs offer women pregnancy confirmation and resources on their options. Baby Steps does not provide any medical care or pregnancy decision counseling. Student-moms that reach out to us have typically already decided they want to parent their baby and stay in school, and they need our help in order to succeed in that.

KC: What are some of the unique aspects of serving college women and a specific university campus? Do you have any insights between the correlation of unplanned pregnancy and completing a college degree? 

BSS: Twelve percent of college students report either experiencing or being involved in an unplanned pregnancy. Some experts say that this number may be closer to 23%. According to these statistics, it should be much more common to see pregnant students walking their campus halls and concourses. Why is this not the case? Judgment and stigma leave them feeling isolated and unsupported with no safe place to turn. They do not believe they can have both their baby and their education. We are here to change that culture on college campuses. Baby Steps is the safe place where student-moms are not defined by their circumstances but are empowered to thrive in all areas of their lives, especially as students and mothers.

KC: What are the specific services that Baby Steps provides? And how many women and children are you typically serving at any given time?

BSS: Baby Steps serves two types of student-moms. Some of them actually live on Baby Steps’ property, and others are just a part of our social community.

Resident student-moms:

Baby Steps provides the following for pregnant and parenting college women living in the Baby Steps home at no cost to them

  • Housing & utilities
  • Childcare
  • Groceries & meals
  • Immediate and personal access to medical professionals (including, but not limited to, an OB-GYN and pediatrician)
  • Professional counseling
  • 24/7 access to staff support
  • Weekly & monthly gatherings 
  • Academic advising & tutoring
  • Resources for education grants & scholarships
  • Access to The Baby Steps Boutique (supplies including, but not limited to: diapers, wipes, car seats, bassinets, and baby clothing)  
  • Education on relevant topics including, but not limited to, childbirth, child development, sleep training, nutrition, mental health, financial planning, and many other pertinent life skills
  • Support and community that instill confidence to persevere and excel as Student-Moms and future graduates.

Community student-moms:

Baby Steps provides the following for pregnant and parenting college women not living in the Baby Steps home at no cost to them

  • Weekly & monthly gatherings which include meals
  • Academic advising & tutoring
  • Resources for education grants & scholarships
  • Access to The Baby Steps Boutique
  • Education on relevant topics including, but not limited to, childbirth, child development, sleep training, nutrition, mental health, financial planning, and many other pertinent life skills
  • Support and community that instill confidence to persevere and excel as student-moms and future graduates.

We typically serve anywhere from 8-15 student-moms and their “Tiny Tigers” at a time.

KC: With the historic overturning of Roe and the question of abortion returning to each individual state, how do you anticipate organizations like yours will be affected? And how do you expect the women and children you serve to be affected? 

BSS: Baby Steps is a non faith-based 501C3 nonprofit that is not affiliated with any religious or political agenda, so for us what we do is not political. Our mission is strictly to serve the student-mom and baby that is in front of us, giving her all the tools necessary to graduate from college and succeed in life. Our goal is to change the culture of our response as a society to unplanned pregnancies on college campuses. 

In this day in time, politics and religion can be seen as very divisive. We don’t want to add to that division in any way, so Baby Steps steers clear of putting ourselves in any boxes that might cause people to think we have intentions other than empowering student-moms to have their education and their babies. We’re proud to be an organization that can bring people together who while potentially having many different opinions and views, can say as a collective voice, “We stand behind student-moms pursuing their education.”

Our doors are open wide to students experiencing unplanned pregnancies, no matter what their background or personal views are. 

KC: Has Baby Steps been negatively affected or targeted since the Dobbs decision? And has it changed how you go about providing your services? 

BSS: Since the Dobbs decision, Baby Steps has seen an increase of involvement on both sides of the political spectrum, wanting to support what Baby Steps does, not only locally on Auburn’s campus but on future campuses around the nation. This momentum has been key to helping us launch our National Initiative that is working on bringing Baby Steps to as many college campuses as possible. We are excited to announce our next campus will be Baby Steps at University of Central Florida.

KC: Christians, who we represent, are known as a pro-life people who value all of life because we believe God created us in his image. How can individual Christians and local churches help support the work of places like Baby Steps?

BSS: One of the most beautiful parts of Baby Steps is our wide array of supporters. Our mission and vision clearly align with many different views and backgrounds people possess. There is such beauty in being a part of a movement that is supported by groups of people that may not have the same beliefs but can find solace in supporting student-moms and their babies. If our mission aligns with your views, we would love you to join us in changing history! Please visit our website to find ways you can get plugged in, or simply stay in touch with our movement on social media “Baby Steps at Auburn University”.