You’ve just crossed paths with a woman who feels like abortion is her only option. Your concern for this woman and her preborn child means you do not want to see her go through with an abortion. As pro-life people, we want to do what we can to prevent more innocent lives from being harmed by such a violent procedure. But how can you inspire confidence in a woman to help her choose life?
“Please let me know if I’m misunderstanding you, but it sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed. I’m sorry you’re going through this.”
Try to remember a time when you might have felt panicked by a difficult situation. The anxiety you felt likely triggered a fight or flight response. Persistent worry about a stressful circumstance can affect your decision-making, and a sense of panic can prevent you from carefully thinking through your options. A woman facing an unexpected pregnancy often feels the same way.
You can help her by listening to her and validate her feelings. It’s possible that what she needs right now is for someone who will let her express herself and make her feel heard. If you have not personally experienced a challenging pregnancy, you may want to avoid saying “I know what it’s like.” Instead, try to ask her questions and assist her with identifying her greatest concerns.
“When thinking about your pregnancy decisions, can you tell me why it is you feel abortion is the choice you want?”
She may tell you that she’s thinking about abortion because of familial worries, a lack of support, or fears about how a pregnancy will impact her future. What this response likely means is she does not truly want an abortion. But she feels she must have one in order to address a problem. Try to assist her with exploring her options by continuing to ask questions. This can allow her to assess her emotions and reflect on her choices.
If she’s scared due to a lack of housing or other resources, ask her how she would feel about her situation if these things were no longer obstacles. Would she look at her situation any differently? If any of the challenges she’s currently facing were no longer present, ask her if she would still consider abortion?
Asking questions can be an important way to draw out any hidden revelations and lead her to think beyond the current scenario. If she makes it clear that she would not have an abortion if whatever stressors are leading her toward it now were no longer there, then you may be able to discuss her preborn child with her.
What does she think about the life she’s carrying? It’s possible the panic she’s experiencing has prevented her from thinking too much about the pregnancy itself. But allowing her to share may provide her with the comfortable space she needs to reflect on the humanity of her child.
“Have you had an ultrasound exam yet?”
Asking about her physical condition is a way that you can show her how much you care about her well-being. Women who learn they’re pregnant usually need to schedule an ultrasound exam as soon as they can. This is because an ultrasound can inform her of her pregnancy’s gestational age and alert her to any complications.
Some medical conditions women may be at risk for early in their pregnancies are miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. The sooner both of these health concerns can be ruled out, the better. If she has not had an ultrasound yet, you may want to suggest she have one. This can also be a good way for her to make a fully informed choice by being given honest information about her healthcare.
Ultrasounds serve as a valuable window into the womb. The opportunity to see her preborn child may help her bond with him or her, thereby making it a little easier to imagine carrying her baby to term.
“What information have you gathered about abortion?”
This is a chance for you to communicate the truth, but remember to do it with love. Be sensitive to her needs and continue to ask questions that encourage her to think carefully before she commits to an abortion decision. Some women who are considering abortion may not be aware of how developed their child is in the womb. Or, the growth of their baby may not be something they’ve had time to process yet.
Ask her if she knows how far along she is and is there a point in her pregnancy where she would be unlikely to have an abortion? This might help her start thinking about the humanity of her child. For example, if she says she would not have an abortion if she’s beyond 10-weeks, ask her why? What does she feel might be different about her child at 11-12 weeks verses earlier?
This may be an opportunity for you to chat with her about the rapid development the unborn undergo in the womb. While you’re on the subject, try to see what she knows about the different types of abortion procedures. How does she feel about each one? Walk her through what an abortion entails, but be as gentle as you can.
Tell her that you understand what you’re conveying to her about abortion may be shocking. But assure her that you’re doing this because you care about her and believe that she deserves to have access to reliable information.
“How can I support you during this time?”
If an abortion-minded woman knows she has someone willing to walk alongside her, she may feel less alone. Offer her a shoulder to cry on if she needs to talk about the pregnancy, her partner, or anything else that may be weighing on her. Abortion may have initially seemed like a way for her to overcome a crisis. Stepping away from an initial abortion decision to pursue other options can be stressful.
It’s possible a woman may feel confused about what to do if she does not have an abortion. Let her know that you’re there for her, and ask her if she’s heard about places that can provide her with the resources she needs. Make sure the places you recommend to her are pro-life and will not encourage her to abort.
Tell her you can go with her to the doctor or a pregnancy center if she needs someone to support her. There may be times where she begins to doubt if she can carry her pregnancy to term. Remind her that you’re there for her, and that she is far greater than the difficulties of her present circumstances.