Ministry in a Post-Roe World by Steve Bezner

Just hours ago, the Supreme Court officially handed down a ruling that effectively overturns the legal precedent set by Roe v. Wade, meaning that abortion laws must be determined by individual states, barring a law passed by Congress. Christians and churches historically have opposed abortion, focusing the bulk of their legal and political energies on Roe. (I wrote about that historical and theological belief here, if you are interested.) Now that Roe is officially overturned, Christians have an even greater responsibility to minister within their communities, particularly in states where abortions will be highly restricted.

Why do we have this responsibility? Because we are pro-life. We cannot be part of the group advocating for the end of Roe without also advocating for a way for women with unwanted and crisis pregnancies to receive care, assistance, and support. Additionally, we must work to build support systems for the increasing number of babies (and, thereby, preschoolers) we will soon have.

The church must continue to work and advocate in a way that renders abortions essentially unnecessary. The church must work to ensure that every woman feels loved and that every child will have its needs met. This decision is fresh, and I am still thinking through implications, but I know this:

If we call ourselves pro-life, we must work to build an even stronger culture of life.

I hope we will resist the impulse to speak flippantly and that we will instead think of ways that we might concretely work to support those in our communities struggling with crisis pregnancies and the women wondering how they will raise children without a family or other relational support structures.

Where might Christians place their energies today?

A few thoughts and a few reminders:

Value pregnant women, no matter their story. Abortion disproportionately affects the impoverished. Abortion disproportionately affects minorities. Abortion disproportionately affects unwed women. Abortion disproportionately affects women from unstable home situations. And each of those women are created in the image of God. Churches should begin thinking immediately about a way to publicly demonstrate their openness to helping pregnant mothers looking for assistance, and they should hand those resources out, no matter the story behind the pregnancy. If a woman is pregnant, the church cannot stand in judgment, but must spring into compassionate action, working to connect that mother with the services and assistance needed. I suspect that churches will need someone within the congregation who will be willing to mentor and guide (particularly young) mothers through their pregnancy and assist them in assessing their options post-birth.

Support domestic fostering and adoption. If abortion is not an option, the number of children within the foster care system and in need of adoption will increase rapidly in the coming years. Christians should look for ways to encourage their members to foster children and to consider adopting children from within the foster system. Additionally, Christians should partner with adoption agencies, helping pregnant mothers to place their child in a loving home, if that is desired. Joy and I have long been fans of New Life Adoptions, a Christian open-adoption agency started by our church almost 40 years ago. I would recommend financially supporting New Life or similar organizations so that they are able to support the sure-to-increase number of mothers.

I obviously support international adoption and will continue to do so. At the same time, the overturning of Roe means that Christians must put specific energies towards domestic fostering and adoption.

Support local pregnancy centers. Beyond adoption and fostering organizations, pregnancy centers provide women with prenatal care, nutrition information, connection to medical experts, and can serve as a bridge to mentors, adoptions agencies, the fostering system, and churches who will assist pregnant mothers.

Support financial assistance for pregnant women in need. One of the most common reasons pregnant mothers choose abortion is the lack of financial support. Pregnancy, birth, and child raising are all very costly. Our church has long supported those in our community in financial need, and I anticipate that this ruling will push us to examine this particular aspect of our generosity even more closely. Some individuals may have the financial bandwidth to assist a pregnant woman and might choose to exercise generosity in providing for her care and the care of her child. Bottom line: we must work to insure that those who are pregnant have the financial wherewithal to have a healthy pregnancy, to receive proper care, and to raise the child in a supportive environment.

Advocate for legislation. As generous as some people, churches, and organizations might be, the church will now need to ask her elected officials to propose, craft, and pass legislation that will help women with crisis pregnancies and the costs of child rearing. I need to think further about what laws ought to be proposed, but beyond financial support, we ought to consider ways that medical costs, childcare, mentoring, counseling, parenting classes, and the like might be made available to those who would previously have chosen abortion. In coming days I’ll be asking those in my sphere what steps the church ought to take to help advocate for appropriate pro-life legislation in a post-Roe world.

After initial publication, one of my friends reached out via Twitter and pointed out that we should also be certain to advocate for legislation that protects women who are undergoing a miscarriage so that they are able to receive life-saving medical treatment. I appreciate her sharing that perspective and completely agree.

We are entering a new era in the history of our nation. It is an era for which many Christians have long hoped and prayed. But a legal victory is not the finish line. It is the beginning of increased ministry. May we work faithfully to serve the women and children in our communities in the name of Jesus. And may we work to build a stronger culture of life.

Image: Subsplash, Ian Hutchinson