Many of us encounter immigrants who are at the abortion center because they are not legally here in our country and cannot access much of the help available to pregnant women. They are often poor, often cannot speak English well if at all, and often struggling to make ends meet. The added expense and needs of a new baby seem beyond their capacity to cope.
How to recognize if they are here illegally
In Charlotte, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are Hispanic. In fact, I so often encounter women who only speak Spanish, that I have been studying Spanish, especially phrases to use at the abortion center. When they do stop and talk with us, I have found that there are ways to discern if they are Undocumented.
- They seem very nervous to talk to us.
- They speak no English at all.
- They tell us they are not able to get Medicaid.
- They are hesitant to give us their name or any information.
- When we ask what the struggle is that brought them to the abortion center, they seem to hedge on the answer.
- If we mention that we can get them free doctor visits, they seem very interested.
How to counsel to relieve their fear
I always ask what brings them to the abortion center. Whenever I notice any of the points I’ve outlined above, I assume it is possible that they are undocumented. I will often ask, “Are you able to get free pregnancy Medicaid?” If they say no, I assure them that no matter what their immigrant status is, our desire is to help both them and their baby. I will flat out say, “Even if you are here without documents, we will not report you. We are here to help you.”
Then I list the resources. We have many which are specific to Spanish-speaking immigrants. Usually as soon as I start listing the fact that there is help available, and that we have no desire to report them to authorities, they open up. The fact that I am learning Spanish, and obviously struggle with it, seems to also increase their willingness to talk with me. It makes it very apparent that I care enough about them that I am trying to communicate in their own language.
The common issues to this community are not all that different from most of the moms we counsel with one important exception. If they are here illegally, they cannot access Medicaid. This is a very real and daunting problem. Oftentimes, they live with many other immigrants in a small housing situation and the issue of bringing one more person into that setting is also overwhelming. They often struggle to find work and, therefore, struggle to find food and supplies for their babies and family members.
Overwhelmingly, the Hispanic community believes in God. Many are Catholic. They know that abortion is wrong and I have almost always found them to be deeply conflicted by the thought of killing their child.
Never neglect the Gospel and scripture to point them to the truth that God would never have them kill their baby. Repeat that the 6th commandment is “Thou Shall Not Murder,” and that murder is a very serious sin before God. Remind them that no matter what they face, a solution that defies God’s clear commandments will only lead to more sorrow and struggle.
Offer the ultrasound and discuss the humanity of the baby. Many times as soon as they see the baby, it melts their heart to do what is right. Be sure to list the fetal development facts of the baby the age of their unborn child.
Resources are very important. It is very wise to know ahead of time what kind of resources your community has for the Spanish community. We are blessed to have many good resources in the Charlotte area. Many of them took a lot of digging to discover. A recent one is a translator service that also provides furniture, help with housing and three months of food for Hispanic women who are pregnant. This is an enormously helpful resource!
The churches that cater to a Hispanic population are another great place to go for resources. Many of our mentors for the Hispanic population come from Hispanic house of refuge churches.
We have a pro-life doctor who is so committed to ending abortion that he provides a free medical clinic once a month to Hispanic moms who are pregnant. This takes place at a partnering Pregnancy Resource Center. When I mention this resource, I think the choice for life is often most immediately made. They are very worried about their health care and health of their babies since they cannot receive Medicaid if they are here illegally. This totally eliminates that fear. It is possible that other communities could find a similar sort of solution by talking with pro-life doctors and local pregnancy centers.
Food pantries and PRCs do not care if they are here illegally. These are great resources and almost every community has them.
Appointing a Love Life mentor will help them to know that they are not alone, and that they will have someone in their corner helping them to deal with all their issues.
While we may or may not be personally opposed to illegal immigration, our overriding concern is that a baby is about to die because of an external circumstance. This should never happen! We should do everything in our power to point them to God and to try to help both the mom and the baby.
To communicate with them
It is very helpful to memorize key abortion center phrases. You can use Google Translate to get these key phrases. Write them down and you can read them when you see Hispanic women walking into an abortion center. We also provide a list of such phrases on our sidewalks4life site.
If you are often encountering people from some particular ethnic group, it is a good idea if you can learn their language. I have really found this to be so beneficial. It is also important to have Bibles in that language if you are able to do so. We do have Hispanic Bibles ready to give these families.
I particularly like the app “Instant Translate” because it speaks and writes what is being said. The paid version is best because the free version will not allow many exchanges in a single conversation.
I have also discovered at least on an iPhone that if you use text messaging you can hold it down and actually translate it automatically into Spanish.
We also have a list of people willing to translate for us over the phone. We put them on speakerphone and we tell them what to say, and then they translate what the mom says.
It is also very useful to have our Love Life literature and any gospel tracts in Spanish.
The Hispanic population is one of the easiest groups I counsel in terms of changing to a choice for life. Because of their culture and faith, they know what they are doing is wrong, and can usually be swayed to reconsider.
“To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).