Do the pro-choice and pro-life movements really empower women?

A large number of women who choose to end the life of an unborn baby actually do so because they feel as if they have no choice.  Whether it is a middle class white woman who feels shame for a pregnancy out of wedlock or a minority teenager who is told her and her child will amount to nothing if she brings this child into the world.  I’ve had personal friends in these and many other similar circumstances.  Specifically in my work with YoungLives, Young Life’s ministry to teenage mothers, I have seen numerous young women visit clinics where they are belittled and pressured into considering abortion.  Hearing their stories of their encounters with the health industry and others in their community is heartbreaking.  Making a choice when you feel as though you have no other choice does not look like women have rights or choice to me.

Here is where I see both the pro-choice and pro-life movements failing.  We are so busy arguing about the principle that the majority of us aren’t actually doing something for these women.  What if we worked together to really empower these women to have a choice.  What if we worked together to show them the beautiful future they and their children can have.  I can imagine a day in this country when every women would feel that she had all the love, support and resources necessary to bring her child into the world.

Over the past day, I’ve had and witnessed many interesting conversations on this topic in light of my recent post.  One of my friends who shares a different view than me shared this thought earlier today:

“When, in reality, the VAST majority of us, pro-choice, pro-life, whatever, I really think are on the same side of things when it comes to the ‘end’ we are striving for.  We just disagree, sometimes deeply, on the ‘means.’ I want a world in which abortions don’t exist because there is no need for them because we do so well at supporting both young men and women before, during, and after pregnancy.  I think most people do.”

For the sake of discussion, let’s say that we do all want every human to feel supported and loved before, during and after pregnancy in such a way that they would feel empowered to choose adoption or personally raising their child.  What does it take to really love and care for women, specifically those who may currently feel as though they have no choice?

I know far less people will read this post than my last one.  I know far less people will share this one.  We would all rather think and speak instead of act.  It is far more costly to act.  Acting gets your heart tied to the issue, not just your brain.  Acting gets your hands dirty in the messy work of redemption.  Acting means you will know the real life stories of people, not just what if scenarios.

We are all called to care for the women and men making these difficult decisions.  A lot of this work can be done together.  If you are pro-choice, it can be to ensure that all women really have complete freedom to make any choice when they are in this situation.  Many, many, pro-choice people have told me that being pro-choice does not mean being pro-abortion.  While I personally still have difficulty with this statement, it does lead me to conclude that you really do want women to feel empowered to make whichever choice she wants to make.  This means that all choices should look easily plausible.  If you are pro-life, it can be to ensure that the woman has all the resources and tools she needs to continue with pregnancy, adoption or parenting.

Alright, so here’s our call to love these women and men.  To get off Facebook and comments and speeches and marches and actually get to know people.  There are a million ways to do this and when you think through the possibilities you may become overwhelmed and simply do nothing.  But I challenge all of us to do something.  It doesn’t have to be everything, but it needs to be something.

Volunteer at a pregnancy resource center.  Equip the women with the tools they need.  Have a conversation with them about their life and what they currently need to succeed.  Looking for a great one in Dallas?  Try Thrive.

Mentor a teenager who finds herself pregnant.  Looking for a great option as a Christian woman?  Try YoungLives.  We walk with girls from pregnancy to parenting.  We cheer them on.  We talk about the value they and their children have.  It’s beautiful and redeeming and brings together families from all different walks of life.

YounglivesEducate yourself about what is available through nonprofits and the government to people in these situations.  40% of the abortions done in the US today are done by black women.  Find a school in your city with minority students and ask to volunteer to educate the students on available services.  Most of the schools are desperate for help.

Decide your family should adopt.  Communicate to a birth mother that her child is loved, wanted and will be provided for by you.  While engaging in an open adoption, love that birth mother.  Tell her thank you for her courage and bravery.  Tell her thank you for giving your family something for which you have longed.  Some of the most beautiful things I have seen in recent years has been the way an adoptive family has loved a birth mother.  Show a woman that adoption is a great option.  Want to partner with an organization that communicates how adoption is a brave choice on all sides?  Brave Love.

Find a group that educates youth against violence, specifically sexual violence.  Volunteer with them to teach the next generation about how to treat others with love and respect.

This list is just a start.  You people are smarter than me and bigger lovers of others.  You are passionate and driven and relentless.  You are people that can make a big impact on this world with your life.  Don’t simply use your words and your thoughts, use your hands and your heart.

If you’re in the Dallas area, I’ve got a long list of organizations you should check out.  Just reach out.  So many places are desperate for more volunteers.  If we all do a small piece, we can make a big impact.  Sometimes big means changing the world of just one person.

Together let’s really be about women.  Loving women.  Equipping women.  Empowering women.


3 thoughts on “Do the pro-choice and pro-life movements really empower women?

  1. Great follow up post Ali! Although I have a different opinion than you, I believe it’s always beneficial to see both sides. While I do believe abortion should remain legal (mostly for safety issues/my grandmother knew someone who almost died giving herself an unsafe abortion), I do believe we should be giving women more resources to make the best decision for themeselves–Both BEFORE and after pregnancy. I’m so sorry for your recent loss, and I hope we can continue these difficult conversations. I’m going to start volunteering working at a child abuse prevention center and hope to make an impact in whatever small way I can! I also hope that all women (of different viewpoints) can come together in love and support and learn from each other. Much love to you — Shannon

    • Thank you girl. I do think we can all agree that we are falling terribly short of actually caring for these women and that is something we can all do together. Proud of you for starting to volunteer. That is the way to really be a solution to this issue!

  2. I am in the Dallas area and interested in receiving a list of organization volunteer opportunities. Thank you!

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