2 October 2019
Question: Abortion – What does the Church do now? Answer: We care more ... we offer life more.
The battle to stop the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 in NSW, that makes abortion easier to access, seems lost, with legislation recently passing convincingly in the NSW Lower House (as of when this article went to print, the bill was being debated in the NSW Upper House).
It is vital that Christians don’t just throw their hands up in despair and lament the state of our society.
This outcome means we must become even more active in our communities, holding out hope and life and particularly letting young, vulnerable girls and women who are pregnant know that there are viable alternatives available to them than terminating the life of a child.
I know from my work with vulnerable young people that they often make decisions ‘in the tunnel’, based on their current difficult circumstances. When given support and a community that will love and care for them, these choices may change.
Our job now is not to push our views and disappointment at the outcome in the NSW Parliament onto others, but simply to love. We can remind people that God loves them and their unborn child. We can help them realise that their existence is not an accident.
The Word of God says, “You [God] made all the delicate, inner parts and knit me together in my mother’s womb. ank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:13-17 New Living Translation).
So the Church, more than ever before, must now be the voice of Jesus to women and girls in this situation, being a visible demonstration of God’s Word, offering both practical support and a community to belong.
This has always been the role of the Church – to be the conscience of our community by defending and caring for the most vulnerable in practical ways, such as housing, poverty alleviation, friendship, etc. We do our best work here, on the front line of human need, rather than lobbying and objecting in the corridors of power.
I know the Church has often failed to do this, but on this issue we can’t afford to fail; the lives of thousands of innocent, unborn babies now hang on our willingness to care and befriend.
This is why every church and faith community must rise up with one voice and message on this issue. Our message is simple but powerful: We care about your life and the life of your child.
A good example of the compassion I am talking about is Vickie*, an asylum seeker who fled to Australia in 2018 and sought protection here. She ended up at The Salvation Army because she was homeless and in need of a community to house, protect and accept her.
During her stay in The Salvation Army’s care Vickie discovered she was pregnant as a result of being raped just before she left her home country. Many people advised her to get an abortion.
“You’ve got no income, no secure housing, nothing for the baby,” some said. Other people pointed out that the child was conceived out of a rape, and the mother had a very insecure and tenuous immigration status. “It’s best not to bring the child into the world,” they advised.
But Vickie chose life, and with the support of a loving community, a few months ago she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, who is now a much loved part of The Salvation Army where she has many ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’.
And then there is my own story. My birth mother was just a teenager when I entered the world. The Department of Community Services tell me that she was from a country town.
From my original birth certificate I know her name was Elaine. It must have been so hard for
her in that era (the early 1960s), to be pregnant in a small, conservative rural community, with no government benefits or support available.
I imagine she would have been torn apart by the choices she had to make.
Somehow Elaine found her way to The Salvation Army. Someone there offered her a path to life, not death. Elaine gave birth to me in a Salvation Army home for unmarried mothers. Shortly after, I was adopted by a beautiful Salvation Army couple who couldn’t have their own children.
At a different time, in a different era, I might not have entered the world. If that same scenario was to happen today, given the way legislation has shifted the goalposts and made abortion so easy to access, it is likely my mother would have taken the easier road and had an abortion.
I would have never existed. Thank God Elaine carried me even though she would never raise me. She trusted God to find someone good who would do that, and he did.
And here’s a very personal note. Elaine, if you are reading this article, I want you to know that I understand, I forgive you, I love you even though I have never met you, and I promise to do all I can to find you in the months ahead.
Thank you for choosing life and not death! I’m alive today because of your courageous choice. So, members of the Church, the mantle now falls on us. We must help vulnerable, scared, traumatised women and girls to choose life and not death.
How do we do this? By loving them, because love changes everything.
The Bible passage from 1 Corinthians 13:13 sums it up best: “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love”.
* Not her real name.
Major Paul Moulds is Corps Officer at Auburn Salvation Army in Sydney.