by Mary Holloman, The Pregnancy Network
How does the church become the safest place for women facing unplanned pregnancies in a post-Roe world? What does this look like in practice?
“If Roe is overturned, are you out of a job?”
The question didn’t surprise me. Having worked at a pregnancy resource center for nearly a decade, I’ve noticed a common theme among those of us who identify as pro-life — we’re obsessed with Roe v. Wade; and understandably so. Roe represents a pivotal time in our country’s history — the establishment of a woman’s absolute, constitutional right to abortion. Many of us have prayed fervently for an end to Roe, while grieving the more than 63 million lives lost to abortion since 1973.
In the wake of the unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, we find ourselves facing the very real possibility of a post-Roe world — a world where hundreds of thousands of children will now have the chance to live.
But a post-Roe world wouldn’t mean the end of abortion. Rather, decision-making about abortion would return to individual states. As many as 21 states are poised to either ban abortions or severely restrict them.
A Possible Post-Roe World
So back to the question so many are asking — would the end of Roe mean the pro-life movement is “out of a job”? The end of Roe changes everything; but in many ways, it changes nothing.
As we rejoice over the thousands of lives that could be saved, we must also prepare for the reality that this decision would be frightening news for many women. For the woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, fear is a powerful force in her decision-making, and abortion may feel like the only way out. That fear may be amplified even more if her “way out” becomes harder to obtain.
Abortions may decrease, but the number of women in need of support during and after pregnancy will only increase. So the church must lead the way by welcoming mothers and families with acts of service and sacrificial love.
How does the church become the safest place for a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy? What does this look like in practice? Here are seven suggestions for how your church can lead the way in a potential post-Roe world:
• Reach out to your local pregnancy resource center. There are more than 2,500 pregnancy resource centers across the United States. Each of these depends on the involvement and support of local churches to serve women and families. Take the initiative to invite a representative to your church for a meeting to listen and learn how you can come alongside them in a post-Roe world.
• Give financially. Evaluate your church budget and consider how to give sacrificially to meet the needs of women in unplanned pregnancies. At The Pregnancy Network (TPN), we challenge churches to give monthly. If it takes about $1,200 (estimated based on costs of a pregnancy test, ultrasound, RN services, classes, advocacy, etc.) to empower one woman to choose life, how many women could your church empower?
• Speak from the pulpit. According to a Lifeway Research study, half of men whose partners received an abortion were attending a Christian church at the time. Another study found more than 4 in 10 women were attending church at the time of their abortions, but only 7% of women discussed their decision with anyone at their church. Pastors and church leaders must not shy away from addressing these difficult topics. Rather, a gentle and regular cascade of truth, wrapped in love and compassionate support, must be the anthem of every church. When we refuse to discuss abortion, unplanned pregnancy and the hard choices surrounding each, it fosters a fear of judgment and rejection in the hearts of mothers and fathers.
• Share stories. At TPN, we’ve made a concerted effort to share stories through video, podcasts and blogs and have seen them make a significant impact within the church. When we share stories of the brave women who choose life in the face of immense social and economic pressures, we stir the hearts of church members, build compassion and normalize conversations around these tough topics. Ask your partnering pregnancy center for any videos they have. If they don’t have any, consider offering your available resources to help create content.
• Serve as mentors. At TPN, our Connect Program links women facing unplanned pregnancies with women in the church to create long-term, healthy support networks. We’ve had church members help new mothers unload moving trucks, cook dinners, provide Christmas gifts, donate furniture and cars, attend doctor appointments and organize playdates. By living life together with women in the church, young mothers are learning they’re truly not alone, even long after giving birth. If your local pregnancy center doesn’t have a mentorship program in place, ask what you can do to help get one started.
• Initiate relationships with local organizations that help women and families. Identify five organizations in your area that specialize in supporting women, children and families, then reach out to schedule a meeting. From there, you can find out which ones your church is uniquely equipped to serve, and delegate a few church members to serve as liaisons. Some ideas to get you started are your local pregnancy center, foster care organizations, maternity homes or your county’s department of social services.
• Pray. God uses prayer to transform the hearts of His people and move them to action, and a true culture of life within the church must begin with fervent prayer. Start with a small group of leaders within your church or schedule a church-wide prayer meeting. Ask God to reveal the ways your church is uniquely equipped to serve women and families within your community. Then pray that God will break your hearts over abortion and foster a compassionate love for women facing unplanned pregnancies.
The Heart of the Pro-life Movement
If the goal of the pro-life movement were to overturn Roe, then yes, many of us would be out of a job in a post-Roe world. But while legislation is a necessary and integral part of the work to uphold the sanctity of life, it’s not our ultimate aim.
We are pro-life because we recognize that an assault on human life — on image bearers — is an assault on our Creator. In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer makes the argument that those who know God have great energy for God. He says, “While their God is being defied or disregarded, they cannot rest; they feel they must do something; the dishonor done to God’s name goads them into action.”
So, brothers and sisters in Christ — we cannot rest. Because we love God, we love the women and men facing unplanned pregnancies and their unborn children. Because we love God, we will continue to be innovative in the ways we create a culture of life within our churches. Because we love God, we will lead the way in helping families flourish and thrive in our communities.
Are we out of a job? Brothers and sisters in Christ — the work has just begun.
— Mary Holloman is the communications coordinator for The Pregnancy Network in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has written for numerous organizations and is a contributing author of two books. Her debut picture book, The Anxious Lily (End Game Press) releases in 2023. This article is shared with permission from Lifeway Research. The original article can be found at research.lifeway.com/2022/05/12/7-ways-your-church-can-lead-in-a-post-roe-world.