Magazine article The Christian Century

Women Don't Often Turn to Churches or Pastors for Advice on Abortion

Magazine article The Christian Century

Women Don't Often Turn to Churches or Pastors for Advice on Abortion

Article excerpt

Churchgoing women who are considering an abortion often don't seek the counsel of pastors or others in their congregation, according to a recent survey by a Baptist polling group.

The survey was conducted by Life Way Research, associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and sponsored by the Care Net network of antiabortion pregnancy centers. California recently passed a law, following a campaign by abortion rights groups, to regulate such centers, which seek to prevent abortions.

The survey of 1,038 women who have had abortions asked respondents about their church attendance, who they talked to before they made a decision, and their perceptions about church attitudes concerning abortion.

The survey found that 36 percent of the women were attending a Christian church once a month or more at the time of their first abortion.

More than three out of four told Life Way that their church had no influence at all in their decision to terminate pregnancy, and 65 percent said they felt church members are judgmental about single women who are pregnant.

Catherine Walker, who runs Life After Decision, a church-based outreach to women after abortion, recognizes such sentiment as she thinks about women she has counseled.

"None of them ever mentioned talking directly to any church staff or minister," said Walker, who has had four abortions herself. "Their shame and guilt is so strong."

Scott McConnell, vice president at LifeWay Research, said that the numbers of church-attending women who have had the procedure is "sobering."

At the same time, he said, if pastors "can change the culture in the church to make it safe, six times more women will have that conversation at church before they make the call."

In the United States, there are about 1 million elective abortions per year and 85 percent of women who have abortions are unmarried, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …

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