Joya Breems — Staff Writer
On June 24, 2022 the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1972 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion. In other words, there is no national legislation on abortion anymore. Individual states can make their own laws.
Since the overturn of Roe, Christian’s reactions continue mixing. Some claim it’s a victory, that pro-lifers have won and the battle is over. Others lament the control of women’s bodies and condemn those taking options away from desperate women.
We have a lack of questions and an abundance of opinions. Christians are asking the wrong questions. We shouldn’t be asking, “When does life begin?” or arguing, “My body my choice.” The issue isn’t about life or choice. It’s about love. Christians from both sides must get behind the question: What is the best way to love our neighbors who have unplanned pregnancies?
Let’s start with some statistics. 45 percent of all pregnancies are considered “unplanned,” according to 2019 statistics from the Brookings Institution. For the rest of this piece, I will operate under the assumption that all abortions result from unplanned pregnancies. 40 percent of those unplanned pregnancies were aborted, and 60 percent were born. This means that about one-third of children born are the result of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
Why is this number so high? According to a 2019 fact sheet from the Guttmacher Institute, it is much higher in the United States than in most other developed countries. Demographics also show that unintended pregnancies are most common among women of color, low-income women, teenagers, women in unmarried cohabiting couples, and those that never graduated high school.
Sioux county is 86 percent white and has only a six percent poverty rate according to the Census Bureau. Our demographics protect us from the nitty gritty face of the issue.
Some Northwest Iowans consider themselves passionate about protecting the unborn; I place myself in this category also. We have a strong and Biblical desire to advocate against abortion. The potential for infusing Christian love into the issue is high, but the conversation remains largely theoretical.
I celebrate the overturn of Roe v Wade with an easy conscience. The Supreme Court decision is a fantastic first step in the fight for life. But notice I called it a first step. The work is far from over, in fact, it’s just beginning.
Pro-lifers can’t rest on a victory that is anti-death. We need to love our pregnant neighbors and their unborn children. Unwanted pregnancies are still a large social problem. The most common reason women cite for not wanting a child is economic stress and single parenting. Abortions don’t solve that problem. Maybe love can.
Love could be gifting a pregnant mother with a Walmart gift card to help cover diaper expenses. Love could be offering to help find counseling for a single parent going through a divorce. Love could be covering political discussion on abortion in your devotional time. Love could be offering to babysit for the mother of four who wanted to stop at three.
On a larger scale, Christian love spurs Christian advocacy. We need to form relationships and offer support to individuals, caring about the systems that shape us. I would argue that pro-life advocacy is a form of love, for both the unborn and the mother. Now that we have achieved one goal, we can focus our energy on new ways to love mothers and their children.
Next up for the pro-life movement is advocacy toward preventing unwanted pregnancy and providing a supportive environment for mothers. I’ve seen pro-lifers have a loud and passionate political voice, we just need to change the policies we’re advocating for.
We can turn to research for best practices. Researchers Jessica Arons and Shira Saperstein suggest several strategies for pregnancy prevention in a 2006 article for American Progress: comprehensive sex education, insurance and/or public funding for family planning, and increased access to birth control.
Comprehensive sex education includes conversations about birth control, abstinence, and sexual ethics. As Christians, we also understand the importance of teaching sex education from a Christian perspective. Sin distorts sex. Domestic abuse, sex outside of marriage, and nonconsensual sex all go against biblical teachings, and increase the risk of unwanted pregnancies.
About two-million unwanted pregnancies in the U.S. were prevented by having access to family planning services, according to a research study by the Guttmacher Institute. Increased access to birth control, including emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, also have strong supporting evidence. Although birth control is available in the U.S., poor education levels and incorrect use can still lead to problems. Many women don’t know the options available to them.
Policy option changes could include paid parental leave, improvements in foster care systems, increased access to child welfare, and other interventions designed to bridge the poverty gap. The main advocates for these types of policies tend to also be the primary supporters of legal abortion. Our main arguments about abortion are split down party lines, with the pro-life side advocating for the life of the child in the womb, while the pro-choice side prioritizes the mother’s needs. Rather than pushing partisan arguments about the accessibility of abortion, we should strive together to make them less necessary.