Shaney Irene

On Faith, Life, and Being the Church

Something I’m passionate about: “Doing” pro-life

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I feel like I should introduce myself, seeing as how this is my first post…but you can find out what you need to know from my profile. So, instead, I’m just going to jump right in with a post about something I’m passionate about. I originally wrote this as a facebook note:

Adoption is a great way for pro-life people to put their money where their mouth is”-my Child and Family Advocacy and Policy professor

I am 100% pro-life. As are, I’m guessing, the majority of my friends. I have only ever voted for pro-life candidates and have marched in Austin’s March for Life twice. Over the last few years, I’ve seen the pro-life movement take great strides. The 40 Days for Life movement started and is still growing strong. There are many thriving pro-life organizations. Some pro-life legislation has been passed, both at the federal and state levels. Though the fight is far from over, this is good. And we need to continue doing these things. We need to continue to elect pro-life candidates, educate the public on the truth about abortion, pray outside abortion clinics, work to get such clinics shut down, and fight for the rights of unborn children.

But I think we also need to go a step further.

Because in my experience, the argument of “It’s only a fetus,” hardly ever comes up anymore. I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone say (except maybe a Planned Parenthood worker) that an unborn child doesn’t have life that’s worth protecting. Maybe this is just how it is in my circle, but it seems that even those who are pro-choice are willing to admit that there an unborn baby possesses actual human life.

The more common arguments I hear against pro-life views these days are more likely to be more “humanitarian” arguments:

What if the mom can’t afford the baby? Isn’t it more compassionate to kill it than to let a child grow up in poverty?

Isn’t it better to kill a child than for it to grow up in a home where it’s unwanted?

What if a mother is shunned because of her pregnancy? What if her family shuts her out, her boyfriend doesn’t want her? Should she really have to suffer like that?

Obviously, these are only a handful of objections to the pro-life position. But I think these questions clearly showcase the next step we need to take. We’ve been fighting a battle of politics and science, and I believe we are winning. But the battle is now shifting. It is no longer just about politics and science.

 We need to make sure that we pro-lifers, especially those of us who are pro-life because we are Christians, don’t think that the battle ends when we’ve convinced someone that abortion is wrong. That is not the only battle we’re fighting. We could win that battle and still lose the war.

So today, I’m issuing a call for all pro-lifers to take the next step. We need to recognize that we can’t just say, “We hold the right position,” and leave it at that. We need to follow the battle all the way through. What do I mean?

I’m saying that we pro-lifers, and especially the church, need to step up and fight not just for the lives of unborn children, but we need to fight for the children who need help, fight for the women who are suffering, and fight for the families who are struggling.

I’m calling for the Church to not just BE pro-life, but LIVE pro-life.

“In the United States, there are approximately 116,000 foster children waiting to be adopted. That means a judge has either severed the rights of the original parents or the parents have voluntarily signed their children over to the government.

To put this into perspective, we might compare the number of American orphans to the purported 16 million Southern Baptists who attend more than 42,000 churches nationwide. Quick math reveals that there are roughly 138 Southern Baptists for every child in the American foster care system waiting to be adopted. To say it another way, this single denomination has an enormous opportunity to eradicate the orphan crisis in America.”

The above quote is from a CNN opinion piece called “On adoption, Christians should put up or shut up,” and I think the author has a good point. Notice that he is only talking about the Southern Baptist denomination. One single denomination in the United States could make sure every foster child was permanently adopted into a loving home. Say what you want about how the statistics might be skewed…we still have enormous power. This doesn’t even take into account other Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Lutherans, non-denominationals, Evangelical Free, etc. Imagine what we could do if we all banded together.

Just the other day in class, my Family and Child Advocacy and Policy teacher told a story about how one church in Denver banded together to advocate for children in Denver’s foster care system. Through the work of that one church, they cut the number of kids in the foster care system of Denver by 50%!

Now someone tell me, how many churches are in Denver?

Individuals and churches across America, and across the world, need to band together to make a difference. We need to show that not only do we hold very strongly to the idea that all life is valuable, we hold to that conviction and DO stuff because of it.

So, what can you do? Most of you reading this are probably not in a stage of life where you can adopt a child. But there is so much we can do no matter what stage of life you’re in. Below are just a few suggestions (and I haven’t even touched on taking our pro-life stand international, such as through sponsoring a child through Compassion International).

1. If you are in an appropriate stage of life, adopt or become a foster parent.Obviously, not all families will be in a position to do this. But so many are, but just never take the steps to actually do it. Statistics show that about 40% of American adults have considered adoption, while less than 10% have actually adopted.

2. Volunteer at your local crisis pregnancy center. You can do many things through your local center, such as counseling women considering abortion and teaching sex ed in public schools (including abstinence!).

3. Volunteer at a local children’s home. You may not be able to take an orphan into your home full-time, but with just a few hours a week, you could still make a difference in the life of a child who needs love.

4. Start a collection drive at your church for items to donate to a local organizationWhether its baby supplies for a pregnancy center or toys for CASA.

5. Become a court appointed special advocate (CASA) This is what I’m doing right now, and I love it. Anyone at least 21 years old can be trained to advocate for foster care children in the courtroom. It’s incredibly easy and not that time-consuming. For more information, talk to me or check out http://www.casaforchildren.org

6. Become an informed citizen-write to your elected officials to push for legislation that strengthens families Familyimpactseminars.org has a lot of good resources on how to determine whether legislation helps or hurts families, as well as lots of information on specific legislation.

7. Volunteer at an organization like Mission Waco or Mission Arlington 

8. Become an advocate in your church. Encourage other church members to get on board and find their way to “do pro-life”. 

And this just scratches the surface of what you can do. If you have more ideas, please leave them in the comment section!

The Church needs to rise up and show that we are dedicated to fighting for life, and not just in the legislation. Not just to make sure it’s illegal to terminate a pregnancy. We have the responsibility to create an environment where pregnant women can feel safe and secure carrying their babies to term. If they feel that they will be shunned from the church…if they don’t know they have anywhere to turn for help…if they are afraid of raising their children in poverty or other difficult circumstances, all the arguments in the world won’t do any good. We need to send a clear, compassionate message.

Who will raise my baby if I can’t afford it?

We will.

What if I’m 16 and my family kicked me out?

We’ll take you in and care for you.

Who is advocating for the orphans and foster care children in America right now?

We are.

The battle in the courtrooms, the legislative sessions, the science labs, and the news media is still incredibly important, and we need to not let up in that fight. But neither can we afford to not follow the war where it is going. If we win the battle in the courtroom but lose the battle for the children, we will lose the war. We cannot afford to drop the ball.

In you the orphan finds mercy. Hosea 14:3

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. Proverbs 31:8-9

 Let’s send a message. We don’t just say we’re pro-life, we are pro-life.

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