As we continue to thank God that abortion is now illegal in many states, our prayers and actions are still desperately needed for women in all states who are considering abortion. If a woman cannot get an abortion in the state where she lives, she may travel to a different state where it is legal, or she may order the abortion pill online to take at home to end her pregnancy. This calls for our continued vigilance and readiness to give hope and help to women in our midst who are experiencing a surprise pregnancy. And in doing so, not only might we save the life of a preborn baby, but we would also help spare a young mother from the detrimental effects abortion would inflict upon her life.
During my 18 years of serving in two pro-life pregnancy resource clinics, I spoke with hundreds of women who were considering abortion. I would do my best to help them choose life, but if a woman left without a commitment to life, I knew that God would use our time together and my efforts for her spiritual benefit—and mine. And all thanks be to God when a woman considering abortion chose life instead!
Sidewalk Advocates for Life, a national pro-life organization, trains volunteers to reach out with a loving heart to women in front of abortion facilities and encourage them to choose life by offering life-affirming alternatives. Lauren Muzyka, the executive director and founder of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, says in her sidewalk advocate training that speaking with love and sincerity is of utmost importance because “if people do not feel like we love them, they will hear nothing we have to say.”1
Since its inception in 2014, Sidewalk Advocates for Life has saved thousands of babies nationwide. Only God can give us this gift of love to share with our neighbor. Prayer is vital. His grace will enable us to do good things that we could never do on our own.
Understanding why women choose abortion is a first step in helping a mother choose life. Commissioned by the Vitae Foundation (formerly The Caring Foundation), research conducted by the Right Brain People concerning the psychology of pro-abortion women has given the pro-life movement crucial insight. In his article summarizing this study, Paul Swope writes about women who choose abortion: “The sudden intrusion of motherhood is perceived as a complete loss of control over their present and future selves . . . and thereby paralyzes their ability to think more rationally or realistically.”2
The research also notes that these women know, although often subconsciously, that abortion kills a human being, but they view it as a “necessary evil” to preserve their self-identity and future. In other words, a woman’s problems and concerns can overwhelm her to the extent that she believes abortion, while not a good choice, is the choice she must make, given her situation.
Muzyka uses this Right Brain Research in her sidewalk advocate training. She teaches that to be most effective, the order of topics for the conversation with a woman considering an abortion should be Mom, then Baby, then God to effectively address the woman’s pattern of thinking. Muzyka further explains that since a woman in crisis is consumed with her problems and worries when faced with a surprise pregnancy, if we help her solve the problem(s) causing her to consider abortion, she may then be open to listening to facts about the baby’s development and God’s love for her and her baby. Muzyka states, “The research admonishes us to, first, really connect and empathize with the mother’s situation, not excusing the choice of abortion, but showing how each choice will truly help or harm HER.”3
When sidewalk counselors compassionately offer real, concrete help and alternatives, plus encourage an outlook regarding how a mom can have her baby and still have the future she desires, many obstacles can be removed that are weighing upon the mom’s decision.
So what would you say if your daughter, friend, or coworker told you she wanted to have an abortion? When focusing on “Mom,” it can be helpful to first ask the woman, in a calm, nonjudgmental way, why she wants an abortion. You could ask, “Why do you think ending your pregnancy is what you should do?” Then listen to her response. Based on her answer, acknowledge her concerns, then assure her that she is not alone and that she has other options.
What follows are some reasons women give for considering abortion and some suggestions for responding.
If she is worried about money, you can let her know that a local, pro-life pregnancy resource center can help her find the assistance she needs to have and care for her baby, which could include financial aid and baby items, such as formula, clothing, and furniture. Many churches and most cities have food pantries to help families save on grocery bills. A little exploration on the Internet can uncover a wealth of resources.
Sometimes a young woman may think her parents will be angry. You could tell her that this baby is their grandchild, and although they may be upset at first, they love her and will love her baby. But if the extreme happens, and she is forced to move out of her parents’ home, there are maternity homes in most states where she would be welcomed. Point out that this is a temporary situation. She will get through it and be a stronger person.
If she is in a bad relationship or being pressured by a boyfriend to abort, you could explain that it would be best to remove herself from that situation rather than aborting her baby. Because studies from the Pew Research Center indicate that the typical woman seeking an abortion is unmarried, a young woman needs support to withstand the pressure from those who think she should choose abortion.4
This may be the time in the conversation to share with her some of the harmful effects—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—that abortion can have on women. Some of these effects include an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, infection, perforation of the uterus, depression, regret, nightmares, self-destructive behavior, low self-esteem, and feeling and/or becoming distant from God.
A woman considering abortion may say, “This is just not the right time for me to have a baby.” Take this opportunity to help her envision how she can have her baby and still have a great future. Maybe she wants to finish school and cannot see how a baby will fit into her plans. You can explain that there are online options for school, and many campuses have childcare available if she wishes to attend in person. If she needs to work a full-time job, many companies allow employees to work remotely, and her local pregnancy resource center may be able to recommend reputable childcare after the baby is born if she needs that option.
You could speak about the uniqueness of every human being. This baby cannot be replaced by another child later on when the timing seems right. The clock cannot be turned back as though this baby never existed, and she will always remember this child. You can point out some facts about her preborn baby’s development by saying, for instance, “At just three weeks, your baby has a heartbeat,” or “At nine weeks, your baby can yawn and suck his thumb.” Encourage her to get a free ultrasound at a pro-life PRC. If she is around at least six weeks’ gestation, she may be able to hear the heartbeat during the ultrasound and watch her baby moving. This will make the pregnancy “more real” to her and can lead her to a decision for life.
You can let her know that God loves her and knows her situation. He will care for her and this child He created. His timing is always right. Many women have had an unexpected pregnancy, and they later see their child as a huge blessing.
Some women consider abortion because of health problems, a previous difficult pregnancy, or because they already have a child with health issues or special needs and fear they cannot handle another child with these challenges. In such cases, it is crucial for a woman to get a second opinion, especially if she says that her doctor advised her to get an abortion. Most PRCs can give women a referral to a pro-life doctor for a second opinion. You could point out that she will love the child she is carrying just as much as she loves any other child she has, regardless of health challenges that may or may not exist.
As pro-lifers, we typically think that adoption is a great option. The Right Brain People found, however, that adoption is the least attractive choice to most women with a surprise pregnancy. Among other reasons, the woman fears that if she chooses adoption, she will lose her identity by having to carry the baby to term and feels that she would be abandoning her child. This option does not give her the resolution she seeks.
Presenting a positive picture of adoption can help a pregnant woman in crisis view it as a realistic alternative. It is helpful to use language that sounds positive, such as “place your baby in a loving home” instead of “give up your baby for adoption.” You can tell her that birth mothers can choose the adoptive parents and communicate with their child through the years if they desire. Many couples long for a baby but cannot conceive, so her child will be very much wanted and loved.
I believe that anytime we find ourselves in a position to have a conversation with an abortion-vulnerable woman, God has placed us there. It is not a coincidence. You can confidently call upon His grace, His love, and His guidance, and regardless of the outcome, His presence will be with you—and with her.
We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ and to love the mother as well as the preborn baby. If she believes that we love her and truly care, then we have the foundation for a fruitful conversation that can pave the way for her to turn from abortion and choose life instead.
1. Sidewalk Advocates for Life Basic Training, Edition 2.0, 2019, p.12.
2. Paul Swope, “Abortion: A Failure to Communicate,” First Things, April 1998, firstthings.com/article/1998/04/004-abortion-a-failure-to-communicate.
3. Sidewalk Advocates for Life Basic Training, Edition 2.0, 2019, p. 22.
4. Jeff Damant and Besheer Mohamed, “What the Data Says about Abortion in the U.S,” Pew Research Center, January 11, 2023, pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/01/11/what-the-data-says-about-abortion-in-the-u-s-2/.