USA (MNN) — More and more groups — political, religious, and otherwise — are squaring off around the abortion debate.
The National Abortion Federation recently announced an Episcopal priest as their new president and CEO. Meanwhile, a Catholic priest denied communion to former Vice President Joe Biden for his pro-abortion stance. And on the debate stage, Democratic presidential candidates almost unanimously advocated for unrestricted abortion access.
As pro-abortion and pro-life conversations continue in the national spotlight, there is one question that frames the rest of the discussion.
“We have to ask and get down to the root issue — when does life begin?” says Eric Verstraete, President and CEO of Life Matters Worldwide. “Science of embryology now tells us that life begins at conception. The human heart can even start beating as early as three to five weeks.
Gone are the days of “safe, legal, and rare” as the pro-abortion camp advocates for fewer and fewer restrictions on abortion. The extremist arguments of abortion advocates today have taken even moderates off-guard.
“It saddens us that the conversation has developed to this level,” Verstraete says. “We’re thankful in some ways that it’s gotten the national spotlight. It gives us an opportunity to really highlight the value of human life and what specific things we can do to help protect those innocent voices that aren’t heard because they’re snuffed out through abortion.”
Verstraete says he still runs into pastors and Christians who are hesitant to join the abortion conversation.
“So often, when I have the opportunity to talk to pastors and other community leaders, the reason that people are not talking about abortion is because they say, ‘Well, it’s a political issue.’ Especially in the religious settings, they say, ‘Well, it’s political. We don’t want to mix politics and religion.’
“We have to change the conversation. This is not a political issue. It’s a moral and spiritual issue that has been politicized. And frankly, the Church and the religious community, we need to step into that conversation because for so long the Church has been silent.”
Verstraete was personally impacted by the story of a friend who had two abortions and her experience in the Church.
“When she was pregnant for the third time, she was cared for by some people within the church that she was in. But before, she wasn’t. There was this shame culture that she felt that she had to deal with.”
The voices of post-abortive women in the Church can play a powerful role — both in showing the reality of abortion’s scars and in telling the stories of grace and forgiveness at the foot of the cross.
“It’s breaking down that shame culture that’s within the Church, which is so desperately needed if we’re really going to love these women.”
And for women currently facing unplanned pregnancies, what better opportunity for the Church to be the Church? What better time to love the most vulnerable in our communities like Jesus?
Verstraete says, “The stories that come out when churches actually step up are phenomenal because the culture around the Church surrounds these women. ‘We love you. You are not a mistake. Your baby is not a mistake.’”
There is so much beauty to be found when we foster a community of life by stepping up and advocating for the unborn and their parents.
With his oldest son now 18-years-old, Verstraete says he doesn’t remember everything from that first pregnancy journey with his wife. But he does remember one of the first moments with his unborn son.
“We were able to hear the heartbeat and I can tell you, I will never forget hearing that sound. I will never forget just at that moment falling in love with my boy for the first time because I heard that sound of the heartbeat and it’s such a memorable experience. When you see the ultrasound even early on and you see hands moving and you see that heart actually beating, it connects you.”
Pray for women and men in your community and your church who are facing unplanned pregnancies or struggling after an abortion. Ask God to surround them with loving believers who will support them, embrace them, and point them to Jesus. Pray for opportunities to model the Gospel to these women and men.
Life Matters Worldwide has more pro-life resources at their website here!
Header photo courtesy of Maria Oswalt via Unsplash.