Is the pregnancy center an "emergency room?" Should pro-life people spend time and energy trying to convert a woman who is considering abortion?Though one does not need to be a Christian to believe that children in the womb deserve protection, Gallup tells us that most pro-life people identify as Christians . This makes sense. After all, Jesus Christ said that His disciples were to love “the least of these.” The Apostle James wrote that the religion that is faultless and pure is to care for orphans and widows. David wrote in the Psalms that God knits us together in our mother’s wombs and that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
So while not everyone who says they are “pro-life” is a believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, many believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are pro-life.
Though the Gospel is a driving force behind much of the pro-life movement, more and more pro-lifers are questioning its efficacy in pregnancy center ministry. Why spend time and energy trying to convert a woman who is considering abortion? They argue that our time is better spent getting pregnant women to choose life for their babies; salvation can come at a later date. Women considering abortion are in crisis, making pregnancy centers an “emergency room.” You don’t share the gospel in an “emergency room”; you quickly fix the problem and move on to the next problem.
While this argument is correct in its focus on helping women and men choose life, the minimization of the Gospel is not the best way to achieve that goal.
Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood want pregnant women to think they are in crisis; that they are in need of emergency room-like attention. Why? Because people in crisis go into a “fight or flight” mode in which they often do not make good decisions. In a state of heightened stress, concern, and fear, people put their own needs ahead of those of the weak and vulnerable. Anyone who has watched videos of people trying to escape a burning building has seen children and the elderly shoved to one side by the frantic crowds.
It is no different for children in the womb.
Every day, women walk into one of Care Net’s 1,100+ affiliated centers knowing that the child in their womb is a life, but feeling like their own life is falling apart and that abortion is the only way out of their crisis. It is only when they receive compassion, hope, and help from the caring staff at the center that their moment of crisis becomes a time of reflection and determination. The center becomes a refuge – not an emergency room, but a safe room – where a young woman and her partner can begin to think through their situation and make a life-affirming decision.
Our pro-abortion culture believes every unplanned pregnancy is a crisis. But pro-life people understand that some of the best opportunities for growth and improvement are unplanned. If we treat pregnant women as if they are in a crisis – if pregnancy centers think of themselves as emergency rooms – then we will not take the time we need to help people work through the issues that landed them in the center.
Emergency room doctors do not take the time to teach heart attack patients about the eating habits that contributed to their heart disease; they simply treat the effects of heart attacks. Likewise, Planned Parenthood is happy to provide an abortion, but will do little to help their clients learn how to find better partners or ask deeper questions about their sexual practices. The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute tells us that 45% of women who have abortions already had a prior abortion.
Planned Parenthood relies on repeat business.
Pro-life pregnancy centers, however, do not exist to simply treat the effects of the sexual revolution’s delinking of marriage, sex, pregnancy, and parenthood. We exist to help transform clients so that they become less likely to make the choices that led them to the center in the first place.
And nothing has greater potential to transform a life than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our sharing of the gospel plays a central role in ensuring that over 80% of the women who visit a Care Net affiliated pregnancy center considering abortion leave choosing life. This happens not despite our presentation of the Gospel, but, in a large part, because of it.
Moreover, none of this requires our Gospel presentations to be heavy-handed or offensive. The most effective presentations flow naturally from conversations with clients about their feelings, beliefs, and concerns with their pregnancies. But the last thing pro-life pregnancy centers need to do is neuter the transformative, culture-changing power of their work by excluding the Gospel from the conversation. To do so would be to play right into Planned Parenthood’s hands and help ensure that more women and men will face difficult pregnancy decisions and, as a result, more will choose abortion.
The last words Christ spoke before He returned to heaven were, “Go into all the world and make disciples.” For pro-life pregnancy centers, this vital work begins with introducing clients to the One who knows them by name, loves them, and has a plan for their lives and their babies’ lives.
What better news could there be?