As pro-lifers, we must push beyond pro-birth

By Emily Leedom

Most of us don’t have to look very far into our circle of family and friends to find a single parent, often a single mother, raising her child. Chances are one of our daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters or friends has faced an unplanned pregnancy at some point in her life. In fact, about 40 percent of births in the U.S. are to single or “unwed” mothers. While there is much to be said about the fracture of the family unit in the modern age, I want us to instead look at the reality at hand.

In a recent podcast episode of Leedom to Life, I had the great honor of sitting down with a friend of mine who just so happens to be a single mother. She shared her story with me, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a rather emotional conversation.

But the emotion didn’t come from a place of sadness or grief. Rather, it was emotional because of her incredible witness of joy and hope that comes from embracing life to the full. The conversation left me pondering what it really means to be pro-life.

One of the most common criticisms of the pro-life movement is that we are only “pro-birth.” One of the leading pro-choice organizations in the U.S., NARAL, refers to the pro-life movement as the “anti-choice” movement and is “committed to calling out the pro-life hyprocrisy.” In other words, the only thing pro-lifers care about is getting the baby from the womb to the world but the rest is up to them.

They are on their own. Pro-lifers don’t care.

Well, does this criticism have any merit? Before getting defensive, I think it’s actually a worthy question to ask ourselves. Are we pro-life or simply pro-birth?

If, in our lifetime, we see the overturn of Roe vs. Wade, are we ready for it?

An end to abortion would mean we will see more families in crisis, not fewer. We will see more single mothers struggling, not fewer. We will see more children born into difficult home situations, not fewer. We will see more children in poverty, not fewer. Are we ready for it? Am I ready for it?

Today, for every one abortion clinic there are nearly three pro-life crisis pregnancy centers supporting women in the transition to motherhood, offering counseling, financial support, baby items, friendship and community for several years. As of 2018, some 2.6 million grandparents have stepped up to raise their grandchildren when the parents needed the support.

Countless social services offer clothing, food, money, counseling and support to parents. Members of the Church are meeting women in crisis pregnancies with compassion, love and support. I’ve seen families rallying around unplanned pregnancies as a team ready to support their loved one for the long haul. This is the pro-life movement on the ground.

So, are we ready for an overturn to Roe vs. Wade?

I think we’re getting there. No doubt, there is much work yet to be done. But it starts with you and me.

I used to say if someone left a baby on our doorstep, we would embrace that child, no questions asked, and raise that child as our own. But it’s 2020. And the likelihood of that happening is close to none. So I was convicted.

It’s not enough for me to simply wait and respond. I actually need to be missionary in my love and support for human life.

How might we walk with and support single parents who chose life despite its many difficulties? How might we help heal the shame of a young woman in a crisis pregnancy—shocked at how she landed here? How might we support fathers in our communities who feel unequipped to be dads?

We need to send a loud message to our daughters, sisters, granddaughters, nieces, students and friends that says: “We’re with you for life.”