How Christians Are Winning the Fight to Protect the Unborn
The abortion rate is dropping as Christians stand up for the right to life.
1973 the U.S. Supreme Court created legal protections for abortion and set a
debate in motion that has lasted more than four decades. Up until the early
1990’s, abortion increased throughout much of America, while laws protecting
the sanctity of human life languished in state legislatures and in Congress.
Today abortion in the U.S. has dropped to new lows, and by some estimates state
legislatures have passed more anti-abortion laws in the past ten years than in
the previous thirty combined. This turnaround is due in large part to the work
of Christians fighting to protect human life through education, legislation,
ministry, and prayer.
Abortion’s decline has been nothing short of drastic in many instances. For example, in 1990, some 31,443 abortions were performed in the state of Washington according to the Center for Disease Control. By 2013 that number had fallen to 17,592. Abortions performed in New York dropped from a little over 159,000 to 98,046 during that same time. In other parts of the country, the decline was even more pronounced. Alabama and Arkansas saw their abortion rates cut nearly in half, and Kentucky’s abortion rate fell by more than two-thirds.
Some argue abortion is declining due to increased access to contraceptives — that fewer women are having abortions because fewer women are becoming pregnant in the first place. While it is true America’s birth rates have been in decline for a number of years, it is important to note birth rates have not fallen as steeply as abortion rates. From 1990 to 2013 Washington’s birth rate fell by approximately seven percent, but Washington’s abortion rate fell by roughly half. The birth rate may be decreasing, but the abortion rate is plummeting.
The decline in abortion likely is the result of many factors — including that out-of-wedlock birth arguably is no longer as taboo and unusual as it once was. However, it is important to note the many ways Christians are protecting the unborn. In particular, Christian organizations, ministries, and individuals have worked extensively to provide resources for women with unplanned pregnancies and pass laws regulating abortion practices.
In many states, pregnancy resource centers — also known as crisis pregnancy centers — assist women with unplanned pregnancies. Many offer services ranging from free maternity clothing to ultrasound screenings. While some states offer public assistance to pregnancy resource centers, these centers typically are not for profit; they are privately-funded and operated by Christians who want to offer women alternatives to abortion.
Likewise, faith-based adoption agencies help some women place their children up for adoption. This empowers women to choose an option besides abortion. In February of 1985, President Ronald Reagan told Congress, “It is a terrible irony that while some turn to abortion, so many others who cannot become parents cry out for children to adopt. We have room for these children. We can fill the cradles of those who want a child to love.” Adoption agencies help do exactly that.
Many churches and Christian organizations are involved in efforts to regulate abortion and enact laws and policies protecting human life. Groups like National Right to Life have led successful efforts to prohibit certain forms of abortion in many states. Americans United for Life offers more than a dozen pieces of model legislation for states seeking to regulate or prohibit abortion practices.
Some of these laws focus on educating women about abortion. In 2015 pro-life organizations in Arkansas successfully worked for passage of a law requiring women to be given comprehensive information about abortion — including its risks, consequences, and alternatives — at least forty-eight hours before having an abortion. Based on state reports, approximately four hundred eighty-seven women chose not to have abortions after being given this information in 2016.
Finally, Christians in the United States and across the globe are combating abortion through prayer. For example, 40 Days for Life organizes prayer vigils each spring and autumn. These vigils are not protests or rallies. Rather, for forty days ordinary Christians gather daily on sidewalks outside abortion facilities to pray abortion will end. In the spring of 2017 alone, 40 Days for Life estimated thirteen abortion clinic workers experienced conversions and nine abortion facilities closed at locations where these vigils occurred.
While there are likely many reasons abortion is in decline, Christians are having a major impact through ministry to pregnant women and their families, through work in public policy, and through prayer. Because human beings are made in the image of God, innocent human life is sacred from the very moment of conception. Christians are spreading that message from the streets outside abortion clinics to the halls of government and beyond. Abortion is still rampant in America, and there is still much left to do. However, if the numbers are any indicator, Christians are winning the fight to protect the unborn.
David Cox is a freelance writer. He resides with his wife and children in southeast Kansas.