What is the Best Way to Support Women?
The debate on how to best support women has been raging for decades, but it has intensified in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V. Wade. As states begin passing laws to restrict abortion or even ban it outright, many pro-choice advocates have proclaimed that the pro-life movement doesn’t have women’s best interests at heart. This has led many to ask what supporting women really means. Does it mean giving women unrestricted access to birth control and abortion so that women do not have to conceive or bear children they don’t want? Or does it mean creating a community where women receive the help, assistance, and care they need and deserve as they manage their pregnancy and care for the new baby?
For Christians, the answer is obvious. The Bible makes it clear that what a person does to the “least of these”, he does to Jesus himself. To this end, Christian women are called to reach out to any struggling woman who needs help, regardless of this woman’s political affiliation, beliefs, social status and/or marital status. However, in order for a woman to truly be able to help other women, she must become empowered herself.
What Does it Mean to Be an Empowered Woman?
The strength to love others as oneself comes from the Holy Spirit. However, a woman who wants to help struggling pregnant women also needs to understand the challenges a woman faces when dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.
Recent statistics have found that the average cost of raising a child until the child turns 18 years old is a whopping $272,049, and this sum does not include funding a child’s college education. Unfortunately, many women feel they do not have the financial resources available to care for a child, especially if they have other children, are single parents, and/or are struggling financially. The current economic situation has made matters worse than ever for many people who have already been having a hard time paying bills and putting food on the table, so it’s not surprising that many women would consider having an abortion due to financial instability.
Relational problems are another reason many women opt for an abortion. If a relationship is on the rocks and/or the father of the child is unhappy about the pregnancy, the woman may not get the support she needs before and after the baby is born. What’s more, many women in this situation also lack the support of parents and other family members.
Perhaps relatives live too far away to offer support; alternatively, relational conflicts or hurts may leave women unable to safely turn to parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and/or grandparents for assistance and advice.
Many have proclaimed that adoption is the ideal solution to the problem; however, the truth is that many birth mothers feel adoption is a positive option for others, but don’t think they have the emotional capacity to make an adoption plan themselves.
Fear can be another motivating factor for women considering an abortion. Perhaps they are worried that their partner would not want a child (or another child). They may worry that they will lose their job or miss out on a promotion that could offer increased financial security. In some cases, these fears are unfounded but in other instances, they are grounded in reality as pregnant women who have to take time off work could suffer a career setback that may lead to financial problems in the future.
How Empowered Pro-Life Women Can Empower Women
While the problems are very real, the solutions are real as well. There are a number of ways that pro-life women can empower struggling women.
Perhaps the most important one is providing a listening ear and unconditional love and acceptance to any woman who is struggling to decide how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy or pregnancy that isn’t turning out as initially planned. Struggling women need to know they are loved no matter what they did, why they did it, or what they may do in the future. They also need a gossip-free atmosphere. Women should encourage other women to avoid speaking negatively about women who, for whatever reason, are dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.
Pro-life women should also actively look for ways to provide practical assistance and support to struggling pregnant women. Referring a woman to a pregnancy center such as Caring Network gives a woman access to professional counseling, medical care and assistance, and free supplies needed for a new baby’s care. Women who struggle financially may need help getting to and from doctor appointments, and they may also need financial assistance to buy clothes and other needed items for the new baby. Pregnant mothers who have other children may need someone to watch their other children while they visit the doctor and shop for items the new baby needs. Even dropping off meals and/or groceries from time to time can be greatly appreciated. Women who have extra time may want to consider volunteering with a pregnancy center to provide additional care and support to women in need.
Pro-life women should also bear in mind that support shouldn’t end when a woman has a baby. One out of seven women struggle with post-partum depression and need a listening ear, support, and compassion in order to care for themselves and their new little one. New mothers may also need help with other children, housework, or errands. Empowering other women isn’t a temporary task that one takes on for a few months before moving on; rather, it’s a lifelong commitment to helping other women become their best selves. The help and care needed in each situation will vary depending on a pregnant woman’s exact needs and personal situation. However, in each instance, a caring, compassionate heart and attitude coupled with an awareness of the challenges women face when dealing with an unexpected pregnancy will enable a woman to empower other women to make the right choices and live their best lives. Get in touch with us if you know a pregnant woman who needs help and encouragement, or if you are looking for ways to serve and support pregnant women in your community.