Churches should be proactive in addressing their congregations about abortion, as well as providing counseling to women who have had them, urged a leading pro-family group.
With Sanctity of Human Life Week approaching from Jan. 15 - 22, 2006, Focus on the Family is placing an emphasis on the role that pastors can take in comforting but also confronting their flocks with the realities of abortion.
"Every post-abortive woman sitting in our churches needs to know that there is help and forgiveness availableand it's our hope during this Sanctity Week that pastors and other clergy will extend that to her, said Kim Conroy, Sanctity of Human Life Director for Focus.
There were more than 850,000 abortions in 2002 across the United States according to a Nov. 25, 2005 report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, one of five women who had abortions described themselves as evangelical Christians, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
Christian denominations including the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican and Southern Baptist Convention have a clear pro-life stance, according to official statements. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America strongly discourages the practice, calling it an "option of last resort." The Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Methodist Church discourage but accept abortion.
Conroy said that although abortion may be a difficult topic to discuss, especially with those who have experienced it firsthand, churches should deal with the problem.
"Justice, mercy and compassion must be at the forefront of the conversation if we truly desire to extend healing to the women in our churches affected by abortionboth those who've already experienced it and those who are right now contemplating it," said Conroy.