The woman crossed her legs, eyes cast down. “I’m confused,” she said. “I feel like I should be totally pro-life by now, but I’m not sure I am.”
“Ashley” was seeing me for post-abortion recovery. We’d met a few times already, and she’d made some progress, but her thoughts were still conflicted on the issue of life.
Like any of us who struggle with sin of any kind, Ashley still clung to a few rags of self-righteousness. Her mind attempted to formulate a defensive rationalization.
Maybe there are exceptions to abortion being wrong—and my situation is one of those exceptions.
The human heart is tricky. The prophet Jeremiah describes it this way:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” –Jeremiah 17:9
Halfway through her journey out of lies and darkness into truth and light, Ashley still struggled to fully embrace the sanctity of human life.
How can we expect women and men who haven’t yet moved toward the light to accept this truth?
With over 60 million abortions just in the U.S. since 1973, so many of us have been directly affected by abortion. While the abortion lobby’s long-held claim that 1 in 3 women have an abortion before age 45 has been exposed as sheer propaganda, it’s still a sizable chunk of the population.
Think of it. Anywhere you go, you're likely to meet a woman who’s resorted to abortion at least once. For those women—and for men involved in an abortion decision—hearing the truth of the sanctity of human life can be devastating.
Yet we must speak the truth, even if it’s painful. We know that “supporting” people by agreeing with their rationalizations does them no good, nor does it please God.
As I’ve written elsewhere, “The Lord we serve is full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
Pregnancy centers excel at ministering within this tension. Knowing that such a large percentage of our population has been strafed by abortion, we speak the truth while still demonstrating compassion.
We stand for life without pushing post-abortive people away from the healing they so desperately need in at least three ways.
1. We avoid inflammatory terminology. Language like “abortion is murder” and “abortion kills babies” is true, but it is language that builds walls instead of bridges. We know that when such rhetoric is used, post-abortive people will likely be triggered and will react defensively.
2. We avoid making blanket statements to people of whose personal history we are unaware. It may be true that abortion is evil and selfish, but we understand that self-righteous, judgmental remarks may drive a post-abortive individual even further into hiding.
3. We avoid responding to accusations defensively. It’s easy to put up our dukes when it comes to defending the unborn. However, we know there’s another human heart at stake—a heart that needs to heal.
A few years ago, I represented our local pregnancy center at a luncheon for social service agencies. After I shared about our services, the floor was opened for Q&A.
A woman challenged, “I heard you guys are all about ending abortion.”
Despite the adrenaline rush I felt, God gave me a soft answer for this angry woman. I looked her in the eyes and said, “We would always rather see a woman chose life for her baby, because we believe abortion hurts women.”
The woman dropped her gaze to the floor and was silent. Very likely, she had an abortion in her past. She didn’t need to hear a vehement, defensive, pro-life lecture from me.
She needed my compassion.
Rather than using inflammatory language, making blanket statements of judgment, or responding to accusations defensively, those of us in pregnancy help ministry have learned how to make a post-abortive woman or man feel safe in our presence, even as we speak the truth.
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We use merciful language when we talk about abortion. We may opt for a softer phrase like, “Terminate a pregnancy.” We may ponder aloud about how hard it must be for those who suffer from a past abortion.
We lay down our weapons and listen to people.
In pregnancy center ministry, we show mercy. We’re sensitive in how we speak the truth. We aim to create a safety zone for those who are on the verge of seeking healing for their regrettable choice.
Here’s why this matters so much. God speaks through another prophet:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26
How does God do this heart transplant? He does it by means of the gospel. He does it by means of the Holy Spirit’s conviction and enlightenment.
He changes hearts, minds and lives in a way human logic alone could never accomplish.
By the time Ashley completed her post-abortion Bible study, she was thoroughly, enthusiastically, joyfully pro-life.
Freed from the need to cling to old rags of self-righteousness, she clung to the cross of Christ instead—and began training so she could help other women through post-abortion recovery.
Today Ashley is a group leader for PAS recovery.
When we guard our lips and speak the truth in love, hearts of stone are exchanged for hearts of flesh.
That’s the power of God at work through pregnancy help.