The uproar over the Komen Foundation/Planned Parenthood debacle from a few weeks ago has led to a lot of dialogue about abortion, women’s health, and conscience. Few have provided better or more thoughtful analysis than Russell Moore or Ross Douthat.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation (which raises funds to support Breast Cancer awareness, treatment, and research) made the decision to cut funding from Planned Parenthood. The news was met with cheers from Pro-Life advocates, and an avalanche of fury from the national media. Komen relented to pressure, resumed support for Planned Parenthood, and ran off the executive responsible for the initial decision.
If the statistics are to be believed, then funds that are meant for breast cancer research are filtered through Komen to our nation’s largest abortion provider.
In the aftermath, many people are just plain angry. Angry that the pro-life movement has been successfully vilified (once again) as woman-hating and compassionless. Angry that abortion remains abundant and seemingly untouchable in our broader culture. Angry that lives are lost in heart-wrenching numbers.
But it’s not enough for us to feel angry about abortion. It’s not enough to share a conviction about abortion. We need to ask if there’s a way that we can contribute to the battle against it.
Reframing the Abortion Battle
Our tendency is to treat this battle as an institutional struggle. It’s framed as pro-lifers versus pro-choicers or conservatives versus liberals, but that’s only one aspect of the abortion fight, and it misses the gaping need that exists in our communities.
The struggle against abortion isn’t one big institutional or governmental battle; it’s 1.2 million small battles annually. It’s a battle for the hearts and consciences of mothers who feel like abortion is their only option. Often, they are overwhelmed by the prospect of a child, the pressures of poverty, and an ignorance of the resources available to help with the medical costs and the needs of a newborn. They face pressure from family members and the gaping absence of fathers. At its core, abortion is a selfish and sinful decision, but it’s one made all the easier by desperation (“I have no options”) and propaganda (“it’s a woman’s right to choose” or “it’s your body”).
In the face of such pressure, women don’t need an ad campaign or a political movement. They need a friend. They need someone to make themselves available, providing avenues to resources and hope.
Two Beautiful Examples
In my own city, this battle is being led groups like A Woman’s Choice, Necole’s Place, and Scarlet Hope. These organizations aren’t led by politicians or lobbyists. They aren’t political action groups. You don’t really need any special training to help them in their cause. They show up in the lives of women who are in trouble and they offer love, grace, help and the hope of the gospel.
Over the years, A Woman’s Choice has seen countless women choose life. They’ve shuddered abortion clinics. They’ve provided medical care, facilitated adoptions, and educated mothers in need of help through Necole’s Place. I would daresay they’ve done far more to end abortion in Louisville than any politician.
In a somewhat different vein, Scarlet Hope has been serving our city by helping women who work in the sex industry. They show up in clubs, serve meals, share the gospel, and offer help. Women are leaving that predatory world and finding hope in Christ.
The soldiers in this battle are mostly women. Some of them look a lot like my mother. Their weapons are casseroles and sweet tea. The workers of Scarlet Hope sit in the green rooms of strip clubs, fixing the worker’s hair, praying for their children, and quietly opening the exit door to club life. At A Woman’s Choice, they provide ultrasounds and medical care. More than that, they provide a listening ear and a caring presence. It’s a classic example of the subversive power of the gospel; the battle against Satan, sin and death being waged by church ladies bearing cupcakes and Mary Kay.
Anger and Action
The pro-choice lobby wants us to believe that they’re working for the health and welfare of women, as if the pro-lifers weren’t. I know of no better example of advocacy for women’s health than ministries like A Woman’s Choice and Scarlet Hope.
Ministries like this exist all over the country. And they need more help. They need folks who are willing to turn their grief over abortion into compassion for women who stand at the brink of the worst decision of their lives. Righteous indignation about abortion affects nothing. A heart that’s broken over abortion should be stirred to action and compassion.
Abortion should make us angry. My prayer is that it makes us angry enough to act.