Imagine being so passionate about something that you’d be willing to stand up and talk about it for 10 hours.
That’s what happened in June when Wendy Davis, a state senator from Texas, filibustered Senate Bill 5, which bans all abortions after 20 weeks in the state and enacts new regulations on abortion clinics that will likely shut down all but five.
Though the bill eventually passed both houses and received the stamp of approval from Republican Governor Rick Perry on July 18, Davis’ filibuster put the entire process in limbo and brought national attention to the controversial legislation.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence showing life begins at the moment of conception. That being said, to abort a pregnancy is to end a human life and should not be legally permitted at any stage of pregnancy.
Of course, that idea has fallen out of favor. A 2012 Gallup/USA Today poll shows that most Americans—61 percent—favor “generally legal abortion” in the first three months of pregnancy.
Some would say it’s too harsh to equate abortion with literal murder. Others would say the government should not tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her own body. And some will insist that the fetus should not be considered “human” when it hasn’t even been born yet.
There are 42 abortion clinics in the state of Texas. This bill will likely reduce that number to five. That means 37 abortion clinics are going to close, leaving two in Houston, one in Austin, one in San Antonio and one in Dallas—none in West Texas, none near the Gulf Coast.
This is where the Church comes in.
The Orthodox Church opposes abortion rights because abortion poses a threat to the sanctity of human life, which, according to their own propositions, was intricately woven together by God Himself. Yet most Christians and church-goers would say—to the same people who choose to have their baby instead of turning to abortion—that they should take responsibility for their poor choices and not expect the government to provide for them. Is this the way the Church intends to treat the life it claimed was intricately woven together by God?
Ironically enough, the Church’s opposition to abortion has all too often resulted in the abandonment of several Biblical ideas; namely love, grace, compassion and humility.
Society sees a Church that is passionate about spouting off Bible verses and legislating morality, but retreats at the sight of responsibility and commitment. With this in mind, it is no mystery as to why the Church’s voice cannot be heard. Our angelic tongue is interrupted by resounding gongs and clanging cymbals.
Church, it’s time to step up. The global society needs a Church that will make its anti-abortion stance part of a larger pro-life worldview. The moral obligation of a pro-life advocate does not cease when they convince a mother to have her baby. The Church needs to abandon the harsh rhetoric and manipulation that sways instead of secures. It needs to be prepared to offer help and options for women.
Because of this law, lives will be saved from an unsolicited death. That is a very positive development. But it may also force children into an unsolicited life. There will be an increased risk for babies to be born to young mothers, teenagers and abusive homes. These are needs the Church must be ready to meet. Indeed, that has to be what we mean by being “pro-life.”
The Church cannot only stand against death—it must believe in improving the quality of all life, from the cradle to the grave.
There are consequences to everything, whether they’re intended or not. So, is the Church ready for the consequences of opposing abortion? Are we ready to take on the responsibilities that comes with revering life? Are we ready to support single mothers in our Churches, provide foster care to abandoned children and step up in our communities to support education? These are difficult demands and long roads—more difficult and comprehensive than simple abortion opposition—but in doing so, we’re creating a better world for babies to be born into. That’s the best kind of anti-abortion work there is. It will result in a Church that makes its mark not just by ranting and protesting, but by improving the quality of life for the children it has fought to save.
As people celebrate the passage of this bill, do not fall under the impression that the work here is finished. Saved lives will not be its only fruit. Indeed, they shouldn’t be. The real work—the work that actually makes a difference in people’s lives—will be the fruit of a Church that recognizes pro-life as a commitment and a responsibility.
It’s easy to hold up a sign with a picture of a dead baby on it. It’s a lot harder to actually sympathize with a woman who got pregnant and has to keep her baby because there’s no abortion clinic nearby. Will we do it?
That remains to be seen. But if we improve our idea of what it means to be pro-life, then make no mistake, the culture’s view of what it means to be pro-life will improve along with it.
Haley is a philosophy major at Dallas Baptist University who seeks to engage a lost world through evangelism, discipleship, and apologetics. You can follow her on Twitter @hendersonhaley.