While in graduate school, I spent a year serving as a crisis pregnancy counselor at a Christian organization that seeks to provide women and couples with the resources necessary to choose life. I had always been anti-abortion, so I saw this as an opportunity to do hands-on pro-life work. What I experienced will forever change the way I understand what it means to be “pro-life.”
I’m not really sure what I was expecting to encounter when I agreed to the opportunity, but whatever it was, the actual experience was a completely different reality. I encountered women who lived with abusive husbands, but were dependent on them for financial support or had other children with these men that they had to consider. I encountered men and women who had been laid off from work and were unable to find gainful employment to support this new child. Families whose jobs didn’t provide medical coverage so they couldn’t even afford prenatal care, let alone the exorbitant cost of child birth. Teen mothers who were kicked out of their homes when their parents found out they were pregnant. Women whose husbands walked out on them when they found out, and left them to face the pregnancy alone. I walked these women and couples through the process of procuring government assistance and saw, time and again, how it failed to meet their needs, how it provided only a fraction of what it would take to raise their child to maturity, how the abundant requirements for assistance disqualified people who desperately needed help. For all that the center did to provide aid, most of this assistance only lasted until the age of two.
It is because of this experience that I came to understand the totality of the Christian call to be pro-life. It was in walking with these women and seeing the enormity of what they faced that I realized how much work needs to be done, starting with birth and every single day after. It was there that I realized I couldn’t simply pat myself on the back for changing a mother’s mind; I then had to do the even harder work of electing leaders, supporting policies, and donating to charities that would continue to give her and her child the assistance they needed.
So today, on Respect Life Sunday, let us of course pray for an end to abortion, pray for all of the children we have lost to abortion, and all those we still stand to lose. But let us also be sure to remember those parents who feel like they don’t have any other option. Let us pray for them and pray for the creation of a society that makes it possible for every family to unequivocally choose life.