Pro-lifers should not pin their movement's success solely on overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, said the head of a pro-life crisis pregnancy center network of over 1,000 affiliates.
"If we are pinning our hopes as a movement on overturning Roe v. Wade, then we have the wrong goal. Instead, Care Net believes pro-lifers’ goal should be focused on providing compassion, hope, and help to women and men considering abortion so that we can give them and their unborn children life and abundant life," said Care Net CEO Roland Warren. "We can do this regardless of what the law says."
Following the Supreme Court’s decision last week not to lift a block on an Indiana law banning abortions on the basis of sex and race, Warren is calling on churches and Christians nationwide to broaden their visions of what the pro-life movement is all about.
As states across the nation have passed abortion restrictions that many believe are part of a conservative effort to get the Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 ruling that made abortion a national right, Warren suggested that there are problems with placing the hope of the entire movement on legislative and judicial efforts.
“The point that I am making here is that there is a distinction between a goal and a tactic or strategy,” he told The Christian Post in a Wednesday interview.
“So it kind of raises this larger point of what should the goal of the pro-life movement be? The distinction is not what the goals of an individual organization working in the pro-life movement are but what should the goal of the overall pro-life movement be.”
Warren said that when many pastors and Christians today are asked to prove that they are pro-life, they will say that they are pro-life because they voted for a certain political candidate or made a donation to a certain organization or crisis pregnancy center.
But if the pro-life movement places all of its hope in trying to gain a legislative or judicial victory to restrict abortion, it ignores the factors at play that are leading to women seeking abortions.
Warren stressed that the end goal of the pro-life movement is not necessarily political or monetary.
The end goal, he said, should really be about churches stepping up to ensure that women and men facing unplanned pregnancies have the support systems they need to take care of their children after they are born.
“The point that I make is that the goal of the overall pro-life movement should not be to overturn Roe v. Wade,” he said. “That is a tactic. That is a strategy.”
He stressed that pro-life Christians should not only want to ensure that a national right to abortion is erased but to ensure that the conditions that cause women facing unplanned pregnancies to get an abortion are alleviated by providing hope, help and discipleship.
About 86 percent of women who seek an abortion are unmarried, he pointed out. Such a statistic means the abortion issue can't be solved "without strengthening the marriage culture."
”The missing piece here is that Christians, by and large, do not view the life issue as a discipleship issue,” he noted. “They view it either from a political lens or through a material support lens.”
As a LifeWay Research survey from 2015 found that nearly four out of 10 women who got an abortion regularly attended church at the time of their first abortion, Warren warned that most churches in America do not have a specific ministry available to help women facing unplanned pregnancies care for their child in the years after the child is born.
While ministries are eager to help women through the process of pregnancy and maybe even the months after, too few are there to support the family in the years that follow.
“That is why so many women who are Christians end up in the abortion clinic rather than at church,” Warren argued.
Although there are over 2,700 pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. and Canada, such centers are only equipped to provide for the need of the mother and baby during the nine months of pregnancy and a short time after.
“At pregnancy centers, we can’t do discipleship. We can do evangelism, which leads to conversion. But we are not called to make converts. We are called to make disciples,” Warren said. “The Great Commission says to make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey all that I have taught you.”
But if churches and pregnancy centers are providing support to women who give birth to children conceived from different fathers, then that means the women being helped are “coming as they are and staying as they came.”
“We want to transform in her life, which really comes from a connection with Christ, which comes when she starts to align her worldview and the guy that got her pregnant starts to align his worldview with God’s design,” he said. “And the church is the keeper of that narrative. So what I'm talking about is a more holistic way of looking at this issue that's consistent with the biblical narrative in terms of what Christians should be doing.”
Care Net’s website proclaims that the “courts can make abortion illegal, but only God through His church can make abortion unthinkable.”
Care Net offers a resource, called “Making Life Disciples,” for churches that wish to transform their responses to the abortion crisis.
The resource helps equip churches to begin offering compassion, hope, help and discipleship to men and women facing pregnancy decisions.
“If you think about it, so many churches have small groups. But most small groups are about us loving us. What if our small groups became about us loving them. What if small groups were trained so that they knew how to minister to this specific need to someone who's facing a pregnancy decision,” Warren said.
“And if someone is at risk, the [small group] can go to the pregnancy center and say, ‘We have a client who's in our demographic, we as a small group, we're going to walk alongside that person, not just from conception to birth, but ongoing to help them with the physical, emotional, spiritual and social support they need. We will help show them the love of Christ connected to the ministry of the church.’”
Warren stressed the impact that could be had if churchgoing women knew there are ministries in their church to help them deal with an unplanned pregnancy.
“The church has to have a public ministry designed to receive people from outside the church who need compassion, hope, help in the love of Christ and also receive people from inside the church,” he said.
The Care Net Making Life Disciples initiative began two years ago. The network's goal is to have 1,000 partner churches by 2020. So far, there are around 700 partner churches affiliated with the program.
“If just 1 percent of churches do what I say, that is 4,000 additional points of compassion in communities,” he stressed. “But that's just the tip of the iceberg.”