Recently, a Love Life sidewalk missionary discovered that the facility at which she would be serving only performed late-term abortions. After reading an article about the abortionist posted in the LA Times, she asked if we had any advice on strategies specific to women who were coming for abortions between 20 and 40 weeks.
I had believed that anyone coming for a late-term abortion was facing the issue of fetal abnormality. An article I found debunked my preconception of that being the overwhelming reason. There are many reasons women schedule late-term abortions. Some of the main reasons and percentage of women who cited the reason are listed below and in THIS article:
Main reasons for women aborting OVER 20 weeks
(Women may have faced more than one of the following issues.)
Any barrier present that made earlier abortion undesired or hard to obtain: 31%
Raising money for procedure and related costs: 40%
Not knowing about the pregnancy: 20%
Difficulty securing insurance coverage: 41%
Trouble deciding about the abortion: 40%
Not knowing where to go for an abortion: 38%
Difficulty getting to an abortion facility: 27%
Disagreeing about the abortion with the man involved: 20%
Fetal abnormality, maternal risk and trouble accessing abortion are listed as main reasons typically; however, as this article and chart shows, that may in fact NOT be the main reason, or the only reason, or even a reason at all for many late-term abortions.
A recent article in the LA times was disturbing. It painted the late-term abortionist (Dr. Hern) as a hero to poor women. He was portrayed as a victim at the mercy of pro-life people, who threatened and stalked him. While there WERE acts of violence from misguided and deceived pro-life people in the past, they were NOT the norm as the article suggested. Acts or threats of violence are roundly denounced by our ministry and by any reputable pro-life ministry. All acts of violence are prohibited in our code of conduct.
The article tries to raise compassion for Hern and the abortion-minded women who come to him. Predictably, the article never mentions the murdered babies.
Live Action skillfully debunked the Times piece with facts that showed the true nature of abortion, as well as the suffering not only of women but even of the abortion workers as well.
Our response to these articles – as well as the missionary’s question of how we might alter our language or approach in sidewalk outreach to facilities where late-term abortions take place – are below.
I do think I would tweak my language just a bit in ministering outside a late-term abortion facility.
We have to do the best we can to get into the mindset of the women we are reaching out to and understand what has them believing that abortion is a good option.
Of course, it boils down to selfishness and in early abortions the convenience factor is a major factor. Basically, it’s more convenient to abort than to carry the baby to term. I don’t mean to be overly simplistic and we know there’s a lot more to it than that but essentially that’s a major mindset.
In many late-term situations, the convenience factor is not really there. It is not very convenient nor cost effective to abort in the third trimester. Many of the late-term abortions take place because of health issues, normally with the baby. Of course, the mindset is still selfish but it’s a different kind of selfishness.
For many women who abort late term, they consider it a kind of a “mercy kill” (Proverbs 12:10b). They can’t really believe the lie that it’s just a blob of tissue anymore because they have likely already seen several ultrasounds as they dealt with the process of finding out their baby has health issues and diagnosing those issues. So you need to mention the humanity of their baby, but you also need to expound on the fact that even though their baby may have health issues, he/she is still precious in God’s sight.
Having ready testimonies of women who have brought babies with fetal abnormalities to term and the blessing their baby was in spite of those things is important. Graciously reminding them of their accountability to the Lord is important, too. You don’t want to kick them while they are down, but you also want to warn them of the consequences of the sin of killing an innocent child. A common phrase I would use might be: “Even if your baby has health issues, he or she is innocent and doesn’t deserve to be killed inside of that place!”
I would be intentional about helping them to see that God has a plan for their child even if they don’t see it. I would also be intentional to help them see their complicity in the death of their child. Again, you have to toe the line between grace and truth. We need to be intensely yielded to and in tune with the Holy Spirit to strike that balance.
Also having a high-risk doctor would be a huge advantage but having a doctor that has dealt with fetal abnormalities specifically would be even better.
After reading through both articles, I was struck by the power of the word to persuade. The Times writer is very good, and the agenda to portray the abortionist Hern as a hero is done skillfully. It shows the impact of a well-crafted story. Stories are powerful culture changers. So one thing it makes me desire to do more and more is write compelling true stories that demonstrate the devastation of abortion and the beauty of choosing life. Our stories can help a woman see the child with a different perspective.
An abortion center that does ONLY late-term abortions is a highly unusual situation and not what most sidewalk missionaries will face; however, I don’t think knowing this would change my language substantially. I would still focus on the three talking points: God, humanity of the baby and resources.
Additionally, I WOULD memorize and list the development milestones of a 24-40 week baby. I would talk about what happens in a late-trimester abortion in detail and the absolute horror to the baby and risks to the mom. I would find and highlight stories of doctors being wrong about potential issues with mom or baby. I would use Hern’s own words about the devastation to many abortion WORKERS! I would mention how he almost killed a woman leaving a baby skull in her. I would find and utilize a high-risk doctor. I would interview or find stories of moms who chose life in really rough situations and found the child to be the one blessing in the midst of sorrow. I would of course focus on the Gospel and the sanctity of all life and the dangers of rebelling against God.
As noted above, having a high-risk doctor willing to speak with moms who have medical concerns would be very useful. Another very valuable resource would be a doctor who specializes in fetal abnormalities. In both cases, be sure the physicians are pro-life. Sometimes, doctors take the least risky stance for potential lawsuits, and that sadly includes referral for abortion.
“You don’t want to kick them while they are down, but you also want to warn them of the consequences of the sin of killing an innocent child.” ~ Daniel Parks
While most of us in sidewalk outreach will not minister at a solely late-term abortion facility, we may well see second trimester women regularly. In every abortion, the women are in rebellion against God or in such deep fear and struggle that they have lost sight of God. The Gospel is the single most critical tool we have in stemming abortion.
Knowing the mindset of women in later term abortions, as well as the reasons, should help us tailor our approach to be more effective. Our help might be offering fewer resources and instead offering wise counsel from high-risk doctors or pediatric specialists. Help the women to see clearly the value of the child no matter how briefly he may survive outside the womb. Know fetal development at that stage. Finally, be intentional in exposing the danger of late-term abortions to the woman and the horror to the child.
The baby may have a condition that will lead to his death shortly after birth. I think we are called to remind women that we are NOT God and should not take matters of life or death into our own hands. Also, we should never discount God and the possibility of miracles, healing, or supernatural strength to us as we lean on Him in struggles with special needs’ babies.
I think it is VERY important to note that in 40% of the women choosing late-term abortion, they were having trouble DECIDING about abortion. The presence and admittance of conflict is always a positive sign. I ALWAYS use that to help them understand that God gave them a conscience and sense of guilt for a very good purpose. I remind them that there is a battle going on in their souls, and the battle lines are clear: good vs. evil. Who has dominion in their heart, God or Satan? I also point out that if they feel guilt and conflict now, imagine how they will feel if they go through with the abortion.
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,” Deuteronomy 30:19