I met Debbie last summer. She was a newly minted grandma who almost wasn't. Her granddaughter nearly became a statistic, one of the million abortions that happen every year. And her daughter – well, she also almost became one of the 73% of women who report a religious affiliation who have had an abortion.
As Christians, it's easy to say we are pro-life, that we are against the taking of innocent life and that we want to support women in crisis pregnancies. It's not difficult to donate time or baby clothes to pregnancy resource centers. It's usually not a huge deal to stash away coins in baby bottles for fundraising drives to help pregnant women.
So why do nearly two-thirds of all women who have abortions claim to have a religious affiliation? Are they not receiving the support they need from their families, churches, schools and communities? Are they ashamed of becoming pregnant not under ideal circumstances and want to "get rid of" the problem so no one finds out?
I think it's a mixture of many emotions but the shame they feel is a large contributor.
Christianity rightly teaches that intimate relations between couples should only take place within the bounds of marriage. But even Christians mess up and some do end up pregnant outside of wedlock. While this is not ideal, no woman who is facing an unplanned pregnancy, even those who grew up within the moral guidelines of Christianity, should feel pressure to have an abortion because she made a mistake.
All of us make mistakes. Every single one of us.
What she needs is support, love, and compassion.
Debbie told me that her daughter, Ashley, felt shame and horror at the mere idea of having to tell her parents that she was pregnant. Her dad was a pastor and she was still in college. What would her parents think? What would her neighborhood think? What would her church think?
Because of this fear, Ashley made an appointment at an abortion facility and let her boyfriend drag her in. But at the last moment, Ashley walked out, thanked the pro-life Christians who were praying outside of the facility, and called her parents. She was courageous! She had a difficult road in front of her but she started out making the right decision.
But many other women like Ashley don't walk out of the abortion facility with their babies. They leave empty and that's our fault.
For too long, our churches have allowed this to happen. We've been quiet because we haven't wanted to make it seem like we condoned out-of-wedlock sexual relations. Our fear of having too many un-married pregnant mothers in our congregations has kept us from saving lives.
But this pro-life generation is going to change that. Students for Life of America works with over 900 college and high school groups on campuses in all 50 states. Our rusty old van filled with pro-life resources and swag pulled out of our headquarters this week and headed out for our Rock for Life summer road trip, traveling more than 14,120 miles in the next two months to stop at 17 Christian music festivals.
At these festivals, our team will reach out to hundreds of thousands of Christian teens and young adults who may have never heard the pro-life message, have never thought about abortion more than a couple of moments, or who may be struggling with unplanned pregnancies themselves.
Last summer, it was at one of the Christian music festivals where I met Debbie.
The truth is that ending abortion begins with Christians - getting those on board who already know that human life has intrinsic value, that forgiveness is real, and compassion is commanded. We cannot allow vulnerable young women to continue choosing destruction over a perceived lack of resources or a fear of judgement.
This is our calling as Christians, to show Christ's light whenever it's most dark. We all make mistakes. Let's commit to not letting another young woman walk into an abortion facility because she is afraid of how her Christian brothers and sisters will receive her. Let's not allow one mistake be turned into two.