The problem we have to face as a culture isn’t just that so many mothers are getting abortions; it’s that so many women believe that abortion is the necessary and appropriate answer to their fears, doubts, confusion, or uncertainty regarding their pregnancy. Preborn children should not be dying, but neither should mothers ever feel as though they have no other choice except to get an abortion. When mothers feel like abortion is their only option, you get the death and destruction we see today.
To rescue preborn lives, we have to do more than prevent abortions; we have to make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary. And the way to do that is to meet mothers with a culture that embodies the care, confidence, and hope that can empower them to choose life for their child.
In many respects, that means reclaiming a truth our culture has forgotten – the truth, taught in the Bible, that every human person is endowed by their creator with intrinsic dignity and worth. Each and every human is an image-bearer of the creator (Gen. 1:27). Everyone deserves life, and every human life deserves protection. In the context of abortion, this important truth challenges the lie sold by the abortion industry that women need abortions. Instead, both preborn children in the womb and the mothers who carry them always deserve better than abortion.
Unfortunately, even those parts of our culture still steeped in the Biblical tradition are not exempt from the destruction of abortion. Four out of 10 women who have had abortions were regular churchgoers at the time of their abortion. When you consider that statistic, you see that chances are good at least one woman or one family you know in your own church circle has had an abortion.
I should know. Years ago, my wife and I was that family. Shaken by uncertainty and overwhelmed by fear, we decided to abort our child. Despite everything we knew about the value of life from our many years in the church, and despite all the shame and pain we experienced, we felt compelled to choose abortion over life. We believed abortion was our best – even our only – option.
My story stands alongside the stories of countless other mothers and families, both Christians and non-Christian, who have felt abortion’s pain and known abortion’s injury. As much grief as it gives me to remember what my wife and I went through and the mistake that we made, I now know first-hand how our culture of death uses abortion to entrap and harm families and mothers. And I am driven by my experience to change the way our culture talks about and understands abortion.
That kind of cultural change will be difficult. To truly make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary for every mother, we need to do two things at once. On the one hand, we have to make crystal clear in our cultural discussion and discourse that every abortion ends in the loss of innocent life; not a single abortion provides either women or preborn children with healthcare or real solutions. Abortion ends a life every time. Period.
But on the other hand, we must advocate for and support every mother who is facing an unexpected pregnancy, struggling financially, or in need of resources, guidance, and help. We must create and develop the institutions and networks of care that can provide tangible solutions to the everyday social, economic, emotional, and personal challenges that drive women to seek abortions.
This kind of whole-of-culture approach to making abortion unthinkable and unnecessary is precisely the answer to abortion we need. At Human Coalition, our research has found that 75% of abortion-determined women say they would prefer to parent their children if only their life circumstances were different. These circumstances could be anything, from difficult financial circumstances, affordable access to childcare, or not having support from friends and family. But these circumstances are pressuring women to act in defiance of both their conscience and their heart.
That says to me we need to rescue preborn children from abortion by solving the challenging life circumstances expectant mothers face every day. Imagine a country where no woman is told that she isn’t strong enough to have a child and accomplish her dreams. Imagine a country where no woman has to weigh providing food for her current children against welcoming another child into the world. Imagine a country where women are empowered with tangible support rather than exploited by the abortion industry for profit. Imagine a world where good childcare is accessible so that a single mom can feel confident in being able to hold onto a good job to provide for her family. That’s a world that has made abortion both unthinkable and unnecessary.
I know this better world would do better for women. We cannot be against abortion but not stand up and fight for an end to the culture that makes abortion possible. We have to do more for both women and the preborn; we have to transform our culture to make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary for every woman.
Jeff Bradford is President of Human Coalition, one of the largest pro-life and pro-woman organizations in the United States.