I’ve served women in very violent relationships whose only escape was to terminate their pregnancies. The “friendly parent” provisions of custody cases make it impossible for women to escape a lifetime of abuse if they have a child with their abuser.
I’ve sat with women as they turned to their faith community and were told “Pray harder” or “He’s such a nice guy. He just lost control.” The faith community has failed to support women in abusive relationships. I’ve grieved the brutal murders of too many clients to quietly look the other way while people pass judgment.
I would like to gently point out this: imagine someone saying, “The only way for a woman to escape an abusive relationship is for her to end the life of her six-month-old baby.” That would be horrible and unthinkable! But if we believe the scientific fact that life begins at conception and an unborn child is just as precious as an older child—but at an earlier stage of development, smaller, and hidden away in her mother’s womb—then we understand that ending that child’s life is just as unthinkable and inhumane. Both the woman and her unborn child are worthy of protection.
Please know I’m not minimizing what you’re saying here. You’ve obviously had firsthand experience with some horrible and absolutely heart wrenching stories. Real life is messy and often there are no simple solutions. But we have to see that abortion is not an enriching experience for women; it is not a positive solution to a terrible situation. This isn’t about self-righteous judgment. It’s not judgmental to say that abortion ends an unborn child’s life and can harm women physically and mentally and emotionally too. That’s a fact. (See “Irina’s” story about abuse and abortion.)
You’re right that the faith community has failed many women in these situations. “Pray harder” or “He just lost control” are not the correct responses. Church leaders need better understanding and training about how to help and protect women and children trapped in abusive relationships. We all can and should do better, and certainly that should include advocating to change unjust laws that hurt women and children. (And women who’ve experienced an abortion need to know that there is healing and forgiveness in Jesus Christ; see Finding Forgiveness after Abortion.)
For more, see Randy’s article The Least of These: Abused Women.
Browse more prolife articles and resources, and see Randy's books Pro-Choice or Pro-Life?, Why ProLife? and ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments.
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.