Unwanted and Unplanned Pregnancies are Hard Enough

Young black woman being upset and taking abortion pill while sitting on chair at home
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It’s Your Moment, It’s Your Choice. What Will You Without the Noise?

Joel is a high school Junior. He likes sports and music, and he enjoys spending time with his friends. He’s a business major, planning to go on to grad school for an MBA, though he knows he’ll have to work hard to make the money. Joel’s mom is a single parent, and money has always been scarce. Joel’s mom is just thirty-seven. She can’t believe she has a son already in college. When she was fifteen, she got pregnant. She was going to get an abortion, but a friend talked her out of it at the last minute. Raising Joel alone has been difficult sometimes, but she’s proud of her son. A few years ago, she told him the story of how he was born. Joel’s grateful to his mom for giving him a chance to live. Joel calls himself an “abortion survivor.”

Sara is a twenty-one year old college sophomore. Friends think of her as a pleasant, successful college student, but she’s a little quiet and reserved. She doesn’t have a boyfriend and doesn’t seem interested in dating. None of her friends knows that when Sara was sixteen, she got pregnant and had an abortion. She was desperate, and it seemed like the only way out.

Five years later, she still thinks about the baby she might have had. She can’t imagine being a single mother at her age, and she’s relieved the she’s been able to get on with her life. But she still wonders about that child and still feels guilty about ending its life.

Sara has had a difficult time with her relationship with God. For a long time she felt shame and sadness and felt that God was angry with her for what she did. She thought that God didn’t want anything to do with her, that He would never forgive her for what she did. Though things are much better between her and God these days, she’s still not ready to get emotionally close or have sex with anyone else again. She says she doesn’t want to disappoint God, that she’s afraid of getting pregnant. But, in addition to that she doesn’t want to let anyone into her private, painful world. In a different way, Sara, too, is a survivor of abortion.

Both Joel and Sara will carry around life-long wounds related to their experiences with abortion.

What’s the Problem?

Few issues are more emotionally intense than the issue of abortion. For a woman who chooses to have an abortion, the decision is almost always a difficult one. She is facing an unwanted pregnancy; she may have little family support; she is often troubled about whether her choice is morally right or not. No doubt about it: an abortion is a traumatic event. The question of abortion raises hot debates and high emotions whenever it’s brought up–maybe even in your family, friends, church, school, or community.

By The Numbers

“In the 46 states that reported data to the CDC in 2020, the majority of women who had abortions (57%) were in their 20s, while about three-in-ten (31%) were in their 30s. Teens ages 13 to 19 accounted for 8% of those who had abortions, while women in their 40s accounted for 4%. In the District of Columbia, and 29 states that reported racial and ethnic data on abortion to the CDC, 39% of all women who had abortions in 2020 were non-Hispanic Black, while 33% were non-Hispanic White, 21% were Hispanic, and 7% were of other races or ethnicities.”

“Adolescent pregnancies account for approximately 80% of unplanned pregnancies. Nearly 45% of teen pregnancies end in abortion.”

What You Need to Know

Abortion has always been part of human society. Before modern times and modern medicine, women who were faced with an unwanted pregnancy often used drugs or other means to try to bring on a miscarriage–a self-induced abortion. In the United States, the rate of abortions has risen since abortion became legal in 1973, but worldwide, women continue to seek abortions whether they’re legal or not.

The vast majority of abortions are performed because a woman faces a pregnancy she does not want. She may feel she is too young, too poor, or too immature to raise a child. Her parents, husband or boyfriend, or friends may have pressured her into having an abortion. Or she may already have more children than she can cope with and feels unable to raise another. In some cases, abortion is performed because the mother is the victim of a rape or incest, or the unborn baby is known to be severely deformed. These cases, however, represent a very small percentage of all abortions.

What the Bible Says

The Bible does not directly address the issue of abortion at all. However, Christians who are pro-life point to many Bible texts, which show that God places great value on all human life– even the life of the unborn:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16, NIV).

The fact that God said that we shouldn’t murder (Ex. 20: 13) is a vital commandment that you are breaking if you choose to have an abortion. Also, choosing to end the life of an unborn child can cause feelings of separation from God and feelings of guilt and shame.

God showed that He had plans for some of His people, such as Samson, John the Baptist, and Jesus Himself, before they were ever born. Knowing this, it’s hard to believe that the unborn child is a “non-person,” an insignificant piece of human tissue. God’s Word supports the idea that human beings are precious and valuable to God even before they are born.

What One Church Says

“Abortion, the intentional termination of an established pregnancy, is not morally acceptable for purposes of birth control” reads a statement by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs). Seventh-day Adventists have traditionally not been as outspoken as other conservative Christians in supporting the pro-life position. However, it teaches that “prenatal life must not be thoughtlessly destroyed. Abortion should be performed only for the most serious reasons.”

These reasons include:
• a threat to the pregnant woman’s life
• serious danger to the woman’s health
• severe defects diagnosed in the unborn child
• a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest

On the other hand, the church does not condone abortions for reasons of:
• birth control (getting rid of an unwanted accidental pregnancy)
• gender selection (aborting a baby because you wanted a boy instead of a girl)
• convenience (it’s simply the easiest way out of the situation)

A critical factor in this discussion remains, however.  Seventh-day Adventists consider personal freedom of individuals worthy of the utmost respect.  Forcing a woman to have a child or to forcing a woman to have an abortion is a threat to her personal freedom either way. This is why the denomination has traditionally not been involved in calls to make abortion illegal. Individual Seventh-day Adventists can, of course, study the pro-life/pro-choice arguments for themselves and become involved in the issue according to their own conscience. What is clear is that human life, including prenatal human life, is something that God places great value on.

As you consider the issues around abortion and decide what your view is, be aware that both pro-life and pro-choice forces agree that the best solution to the abortion problem is prevention. If there were no unwanted pregnancies, there would be no abortions. Some people will tell you that birth control is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. In fact, every birth-control method has some rate of failure—except abstinence.

Choosing to follow God’s plan for sex has a 100% success rate! God’s plan is for both men and women to wait until they’re married before having sex—and part of the reason for that is so babies will be born into committed families that are ready to care for them. Yes, having sex with protection is safer than having sex with no protection. But the best plan is God’s plan—a lifelong commitment to a family in the form of marriage—a family you can love and care for. When God says “Don’t!” What He’s really saying is “Don’t hurt yourself!”

It’s My Problem!

So far, we’ve been talking about abortion as an abstract, political and moral issue–something you might debate in a middle-school, high-school, or a college classroom. But what if the issue is real and personal for you? What if you are faced with an unplanned pregnancy? Or what if a good friend is pregnant and comes to you for advice? How do you know what to choose?
We’ve seen the biblical evidence: the unborn human life is valuable to God. Unless you’re in one of those rare situations where your life or your child’s life would be seriously endangered by continuing the pregnancy, abortion is not God’s best for you.
Let’s look at three better choices:

Single Parenting

In many cultures, raising a child alone is becoming a more-and-more acceptable option. However, there is still a price to pay for choosing to raise your child alone–statistically, your family is more likely to live in poverty, and your children may face social and emotional difficulties. Also, the task of raising a child alone is tremendously difficult and exhausting for the parent who chooses to do so.

Still, this may be a good choice for you, if you have a strong network of family and community support to back you up. Be sure to seek counseling from your pastor, your doctor, or a professional counselor if you choose the challenging task of being a single parent.

Marriage

It’s usually not a good idea to rush into marriage just because a baby has been conceived. The reality is that if you’ve already made one mistake (getting pregnant before you’re married), it’s not wise to complicate matters with another mistake (getting married too young and before you’re ready). A stable, two-parent home is the best place to raise a child, but a hasty, poorly planned marriage will not create a stable home. However, if you are in a serious, committed relationship and have made the mistake of becoming sexually involved before you were ready to get married, you may want to think about marriage, now that a baby is on the way.

If marriage seems like it may be an option in your case, counsel carefully with your parents/legal guardians, pastor, and with a professional counselor. An unplanned pregnancy is not the ideal start to a marriage, but with God’s guidance and blessing, you can grow a strong Christian home.

Adoption

Adoption, once a common choice for a mother whose baby was born out of wedlock, has now become much less frequent. As single parenting is more accepted in society, fewer mothers want to lose all contact with their children. But there are still thousands of loving, caring Christian couples wanting to adopt children–often because they are unable to have their own children. If you choose to have your child adopted, he or she has a better chance of being raised in a stable environment with parents who can support him or her financially, emotionally and spiritually.

If adoption seems like an attractive prospect to you, discuss the option carefully with your partner, your own family, your pastor, a professional counselor and your doctor. If you are interested in finding a Christian home for your child, contact: Christian Adoptions Alliance.

Even if you’re facing an unwanted pregnancy and struggling with whether or not to have an abortion, remember that God hasn’t abandoned you. He still loves and cares about you deeply. He will not leave you to make this important decision alone, nor will He abandon you to deal with the consequences. Look for support from loving, nonjudgmental Christian family, friends, pastors and counselors. God brings caring people into our lives to help us through our difficulties.

Considering abortion

For many women and men facing an unplanned pregnancy, abortion can seem like an easy solution – quick and confidential. But, you have time to slow down, take a breath, and get information. Before you make any decision about the outcome of your pregnancy, find out what your options really are and what each option can mean for you and your child, now and in the future. You [always] have the time to find out.

If abortion is your choice, you will want to ask your health provider about risks and side effects that you may experience. Having that information can help you make an informed decision.

Emotional and psychological side effects are more common after an abortion than physical side effects. No one can predict what any one person will experience. Some women report a sense of relief where others report grief and sadness. Emotions after the fact can be related to an individual history of emotional, relational, or religious beliefs or experiences. For some women, they report being surprised by how much an abortion affected them.

So, slow down and get the answers that you need before you make any decision.
We recommend that you:

Talk with trained professionals, your health care provider and a counselor who can answer your questions and talk with you about your circumstances and choices.

Avoid isolating yourself so that you don’t live with a secret or try to face this alone. Stay connected to family and friends who can provide support to you.

Consider how you thought about abortion before you found yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy. Having someone to talk to can really help you sort through your feelings.

Avoid anyone who is pressuring you or trying to coerce you to do what they think is best, not what you want to do. The decision about your pregnancy is yours to make and you will have to live with that choice.

Find someone who has also gone through an unplanned pregnancy or through the options that you are considering. Although your circumstances are different, it can help to hear about someone else’s experience and decision-making.

The ugly reality is that abortions come with lots of other potential unintended emotional consequences that are:
• Regret
• Anger
• Guilty feelings
• Shame
• Sense of loneliness or isolation
• Loss of self confidence
• Insomnia or nightmares
• Relationship issues
• Suicidal thoughts and feelings
• Eating disorders
• Depression
• Anxiety

Abortions can also be very dangerous for the mother and can lead to further physical problems in both her short and long-term future. These can include:
• Death
• Cervical, ovarian and liver cancer
• Uterine perforations
• Cervical lacerations
• Subsequent pre-term deliveries (not being able to have a baby until it’s ready to naturally be born)
• Handicapped newborns in later deliveries
• Ectopic pregnancies
• Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
• Long-term reproductive damage

Already Had an Abortion?

What if you’ve already had an abortion? While some young women are able to continue on as if nothing had happened after an abortion, many are tormented by guilt, shame and regret and feel that they have committed an unpardonable sin, and God can never forgive them! This is completely untrue!

God has promised to forgive any and all sin if the person asking sincerely confesses their sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV).

Joel and Sara’s Story Comes Together

Joel and Sara met in the spring semester before Joel’s graduation. When a group of mutual friends at a cafeteria table got started discussing the subject of abortion, Joel was pretty opinionated. He didn’t explain why he thought abortion was so wrong, but he made his views clear. Sara didn’t say much—but near the end of the discussion she turned to Joel.

“You can’t say that,” she said. “Your mother made one choice, and you’re glad for that, but you don’t know what it’s like for a woman who makes a different choice. You have no idea what she might be going through.”

After dinner, Joel and Sara ended up walking across campus together. They barely knew each other, but Joel was intrigued by this quiet girl and the emotion she’d showed in their brief conversation. He asked her out, and somewhat to her own surprise, Sara accepted.

Joel and Sara dated awhile before he finally asked her what lay behind that statement she’d made about abortion. Eventually, they both shared their stories and talked through their different viewpoints. By that time, they were serious about each other. But when the subject of sex came up, they knew that even though they were adults, the answer was “No”—for now. Sara never wanted to be hurt again like she’d been before, or to feel as if she was disappointing God. And Joel could never risk leaving the woman he loved alone with a baby, as his father had done to his mom.

A year later, Joel and Sara were married. They struggled at first, with both of them in university, but the struggle was worth it once they were both out of school, earning money and ready to start a family. On the day Joel and Sara first held Baby Elizabeth in their arms, they were overwhelmed with gratitude to God. “This is what having a baby was meant to be like,” Sara whispered, “All of us together—depending on God. I know we’ll make it.”

Hmmm…

If you want to make an informed decision on this issue, think about some of the questions below:

  •  Do I truly believe what God has to say about the value of life?
    • Do I truly want to respect God’s opinion and obey His views on the value of life?
    • When do I believe life begins: at conception, at birth, or at the point where a fetus (unborn baby) could live outside the womb if it were born?
    • Which is more important—a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, or the right of the unborn baby to live?
  • What can we do when these rights conflict with each other?
    • If the government outlaws abortion, is it interfering in people’s right to make moral decisions?
    • If you had a friend who came to you and told you that she was pregnant or that he had gotten someone pregnant, what would you do? What should you do? Is this the kind of secret that it’s ever OK to keep?
    • If you or your girlfriend or your sister was pregnant before they got married, what would you do?

 

Additional Resources

  1. Pastor Chip Ingram, presentation on Abortion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXW3U2EY0F8
  2. Bethany Christian Services: Toll-free Crisis Line: 1-800-BETHANY http://www.bethany.org/main/pregnancy-resources/abortion
  3. Focus on the Family’s Pregnancy Centers Initiative: http://www.heartlink.org
  4. Focus on the Family’s Adoption Initiative: http://icareaboutorphans.org
  5. Family Life Podcast: Childbirth Joy, Abortion Pain: http://www.familylife.com/audio/topics/life-issues/relationships/women/fltw-20130119-childbirth-joy–abortion-pain#.VNPhm1bfxoE
  6. Family Life Podcast: October Baby: http://www.familylife.com/audio/series/series-featured-in-2012/october-baby
  7. Movie: October Baby: http://octoberbabymovie.net/themovie
  8. Movie: Sarah’s Choice: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392996/
  9. Book: Healing After Abortion http://astore.amazon.com/cceforg-20/detail/1934885517

 

 

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[1] Downloaded on July 20, 2023 from http://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/birth-control/42/

2 Downloaded on July 20, 2023 from http://www.adventist.org/fileadmin/adventist.org/files/articles/official-statements/Statements-2010-english.pdf, pp. 134, 135.

3 Downloaded on July 20, 2023 from http://www.bethany.org/main/pregnancy-resources/abortion

4 Downloaded on July 20, 2023 from http://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/abortion-emotional-effects/

5 Downloaded on July 20, 2023 from https://afterabortion.org/abortion-risks-a-list-of-major-physical-complications-related-to-abortion/

6 Downloaded on July 20, 2023 from https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/01/11/what-the-data-says-about-abortion-in-the-u-s-2/

7 Downloaded on July 20, 2023 from https://blackdoctor.org/black-teen-pregnancy-facts__trashed/

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