Support often plays a key factor in a woman’s decision whether to abort her unborn baby. Studies have shown that women who have had abortions often link their decision to a lack of support, whether financial or emotional, or from a partner or family members.
That is why thousands of pro-life pregnancy centers offer free materials and financial and emotional support to pregnant and parenting moms. And it is one of the reasons why many states require that abortion centers inform women about all their options, including financial assistance to parenting moms, before having an abortion.
Unfortunately, many abortion supporters fail to offer the support that women and their babies really need, and instead promote abortion as a solution to their problems. This week, Bustle published an advice article “How to Help a Friend Who’s Having an Abortion” that suggested just that.
Abortion support is not, fundamentally, about how you as a person feel about abortions and what you’d do in that situation; it’s about supporting your friend through a potentially tumultuous period. We don’t have a lot of public conversations about what abortion looks like or feels like emotionally and physically, so it can be hard to know what to expect or how to navigate it.
The good news is that there are very easy ways to help friends when they’re making this choice for their own health and wellbeing. You can offer real, substantive practical help, alongside emotional support.
The author then shares 11 points of advice for helping a pregnant or post-abortive friend. Some are good, most are not. The author encourages friends to listen to the woman’s concerns and be a sounding board for her anxieties; but when it comes to offering advice, pro-life friends should “keep their opinions out of it.” And friends should never use the word “baby” – it could be “insensitive.”
If your friend has made her decision, do not attempt to talk or shame her out of it; respect her body and her choices, even if they don’t correspond to your own. (I know this is very hard for some people, but it’s possible to love and support somebody even if you don’t approve of their decisions.)
… “Use the words that your friend is using to describe their pregnancy; that way, instead of correcting them, you’re reflecting their own perspective,” Everyday Feminism suggests. “When discussing options, it can be difficult to know how to word them. ‘Are you going to carry your pregnancy to term?’ can be a great way to ask this question, as opposed to ‘Are you going to have the baby?'”
The article also advises friends to help the woman find an abortion clinic and offer her a ride to her abortion appointment. It makes no mention of talking about the irreversible and often painful decision that abortion is, or offering to take her to a pregnancy center and help her if she chooses to keep her baby.
If a friend truly cares, it would seem obvious that they would want to help the woman avoid a decision that could hurt her even more. But the painful, irreversible decision to kill her unborn child is exactly what the article advises. The author admits that an abortion is a “grieving process” and can be painful – but promotes it nonetheless.
Abortions can be a big emotional deal no matter what age you are, where you are in your life plan, whether you’re single or coupled, whatever. Some women are able to move forward rapidly and come to terms with it; others need more time and space to express grief, anger, or misery. (It is, after all, a grieving process.) Both are normal and acceptable reactions; abortions create serious hormonal shifts, which will intensify emotional reactions. If she’s really struggling in the aftermath or during the decision process, though, you’re allowed to gently suggest a therapist might be a good addition to her support network.
The last piece of advice, at least, is a good one. Women who have had abortions and are hurting can find healing through programs like Rachel’s Vineyard or Surrendering The Secret. These confidential, caring programs allow women to grieve their aborted babies and find forgiveness and healing.
It is programs like these that demonstrate how abortion never helps women or their unborn babies. It damages one life and kills another. Women and their babies both deserve support and reassurance from their friends, not abortion.