Those of us who identify as pro-life share a common desire to save unborn lives and spare women from the pain of abortion. But how do we really impact the abortion industry and create lasting change in our culture?
I had the privilege of working at New Life Family Services when we first started offering ultrasound services in 2000. This technology dramatically changed the discussions we were having with clients.
I will never forget one client who came to us during our first few months of offering ultrasound service. She was single, abortion minded, and scared. We offered an ultrasound and once the picture came into view, she started crying and screaming, “It’s a baby! It’s a baby!” Her 10 week old baby was moving, had a beating heart and was undeniably…a baby. She did not have an abortion.
The Power of Ultrasound Today
Today, the conversation has changed. There are still clients who have revelations like the woman back in 2000, but they are becoming more rare. Today, most people understand there is a baby growing inside of them and that abortion would stop a beating heart. When the baby comes into view today, the reactions of abortion-minded women are often along the lines of, “Wow…this is going to make having an abortion more difficult.” The power of the ultrasound today is in moving the idea of “a baby” to “my baby.” Today it is making a personal connection with the life growing inside of them.
The Reality of Abortion
Yet in spite of ultrasound technology and the truth it has revealed about life in the womb, abortion is still an all-to-common reality in this nation and our state. Some might question how someone can see their child moving on the ultrasound monitor and still have an abortion.
Here is the truth: Most of the women New Life serves don’t really want to have an abortion, but they believe abortion is their only option due to their current life circumstances.
These circumstances could be the financial strain they are under with their current children, unreliable or inadequate housing, joblessness, or pressure from the father or their family. They often times don’t know how they will provide for this little life.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health’s most recent annual abortion report (2015), 60% of women having abortions in 2015 have had at least one (or more) previous live birth. In other words, the majority of women having abortions in Minnesota already have children – they know full well the miracle of life. These women aren’t necessarily lacking information on prenatal development, what they need are resources to help make a way where they cannot see one. We must address these social and economic barriers that lead women to abortion clinics. This is pro-life work.
New Life’s Approach
At New Life we believe this requires a broader perspective and holistic approach. While God continues to change hearts and save lives through ultrasound and decision making counseling, our work doesn’t stop there. Our approach spans multiple years and focuses on long-term relationships with our clients that will bring true and lasting transformation in their lives.
Here are two ways we have broadened our approach:
Parenting Plus Education Program
Through our Parenting Plus program, families with young children visit our centers to meet with Parenting Coaches who create a unique educational plan for each family on various topics. The topics range from discipline to caring for a newborn, spiritual development, and managing finances. Following educational sessions, families are able to “shop” in our clothing closet (which provides practical items such as clothing, diapers, wipes, formula, and car seats) or save earned points for future visits. This is a beautiful way to show the love of Christ in a very tangible way. As families are struggling to make ends meet, we are able to provide the practical, emotional and even spiritual support they need. Furthermore, relationships with staff and volunteers are formed during these sessions and many clients come to know Christ in the process, which we know creates the most meaningful and lasting change.
Client Social Services
With licensed social workers employed at each of our centers, we are equipped to help eliminate the barriers to choosing life for current and future pregnancies. Many of our clients have serious needs for housing, food, employment or beyond. Because our Social Workers are equipped to utilize their network of connections with other community organizations, we are able to advocate on behalf of the families we serve and connect them to the resources they need to be successful parents. This has increased our ability to support life in a more holistic way.
What can you do today to help create a culture where abortion is not a “have to”?
- Drop off diapers and baby clothing at your nearest First Care Pregnancy Center.
- Look for ways to befriend your neighbors and support parents of young children in your community.
- Offer to babysit for a single mom.
- Change the tone we use when talking about unplanned pregnancy so that those in that situation see us as safe people to seek out for advice.
- Be an advocate for healing to those who are hurting from a past abortion by referring to our Conquerors program.
- Volunteer with our Parenting Plus Education Program where families with young children meet with Parenting coaches to work through a unique education plan for their family to gain parenting skills.
- Donate to our clothing closet – where families are able to “shop” for practical items such as clothing, diapers, wipes, formula, and car seats.
- Donate online.
Let’s treat those around us as the valuable, image-bearers of God that they are. Let’s show them the value their life has so that they can give that same value to their children, both now and in the future.