Championing the valuable work of pregnancy resource centers should be front and center when it comes to advancing the pro-life movement and changing hearts and minds regarding abortion in the United States.
That was the theme of a recent podcast hosted by Warren Smith, the president of MinistryWatch (ministrywatch.com). Smith applauded the progress made by pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) over the last several decades in regards to shaping public opinion, but also lamented a dramatic shift that has happened in recent years, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“For decades, the pro-life movement in America was essentially a grassroots movement. The soul of this movement was compassion,” Smith said. “That compassion was most evident in the network of more than 3,000 PRCs that had grown up around the nation.”
The impact of PRCs in local communities was recently highlighted in Hope for a New Generation, a collaboration of national survey data provided by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, Care Net, Heartbeat International, and National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. In 2022, PRCs provided $358 million worth of material support and vital services to women, men, and children, including: pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting education programs, baby diapers, wipes, formula, clothing, and other necessities.
“These organizations are not flashy or full of firebrands. They quietly go about their work. Over the decades they have saved millions of babies and helped millions of women,” said Smith.
On the MinistryWatch.com podcast, Smith cited a Gallup survey to show how the numbers used to be trending in the right direction when it came to abortion.
“By the early 2000s, abortion was morally wrong,” he said. “In 2010, the percentage of Americans who thought abortion should be was just 21 percent. That means a full 79 percent of Americans favored abortion restrictions.”
In the past decade, however, the numbers have changed dramatically with 35 percent of Americans believing abortion should be legal in all circumstances today.
Smith explained the rising numbers by saying many in the pro-life community were seduced by what philosopher Jacques Ellul called “the political illusion,” a notion that all problems are political problems, and therefore have political solutions.
Although he said the 2022 Dobbs decision was “a worthy goal,” Smith noted how it came with a high cost. “The tactics and political liaisons of some in the pro-life movement alienated many undecided Americans,” he said. The polarizing decision also energized the pro-choice movement, increased Planned Parenthood funding, and led to attacks on and marginalization of PRCs.
There are two ways pro-lifers can regain the high moral ground on the abortion issue, Smith said. The first is to remember that the issue is indeed a moral one, and not a political one. The second is to redouble our efforts to love our neighbors.
And that’s where the valuable work of PRCs comes into the equation.
“We need, now more than ever, to make pregnancy resource centers the front lines of our pro-life activism, taking precedent over even our political activism,” he said.
“Some of my friends in the pro-life movement have said that the real goal of the movement is not merely to make abortion illegal, but unthinkable. I agree with that goal. The overturning of Roe has placed some restrictions on abortion in some states, but it has taken us farther away from making it unthinkable. We will never make it unthinkable if we jettison our commitment to the truth in order to win short-term political battles. If we do, we will become what we are fighting against, and we will get what we deserve.”
At Care Net, we are seeking to advance the Pro Abundant Life movement in the hope of making abortion unthinkable. Being Pro Abundant life requires embracing and promoting marriage, encouraging responsible fatherhood, and consistently making disciples by sharing the transformative message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This movement can’t succeed without local churches. The key to making abortion unthinkable depends not only on the valuable work of pregnancy centers, but will require a greater collaborative effort with more Pro Abundant Life churches who are positioned to make disciples. By God’s grace, we can move the needle regarding abortion.