Leaving Bumper Stickers Behind PDF Print E-mail

What would happen if God's people were to leave their bumper stickers behind, break the silence on abortion, and get busy providing practical, tangible care for women in pregnancy?

by Marie Bowen

If you had told me in the beginning that four women with four differing positions on abortion would make a four-month commitment to study abortion together and the results would be excitement, common vision, and real sisterhood in Christ--I probably would not have believed you. In fact, the Pittsburgh Presbytery Council Task Force to Study Abortion found their dialogue, prayer, and study together to be so valuable, they stretched their 4 month commitment to 8 months in order to offer something substantial and meaningful to the church. I was privileged to be a part of this Task Force. 

How were women holding opposing views on abortion able to have a positive outcome? We listened to one another heart to heart, seeking understanding rather than compromise. As the introduction to the report states, we left our bumper stickers behind. We found a common concern that the church may have moved too far toward endorsing abortion while not doing enough to make alternatives to abortion a realistic and accessible choice for women. We agreed that abortion hurts women, that at times the church has not placed enough value on life in the womb, and that there are too many abortions. We agreed that our dialogue was tremendously valuable and we found a common desire to see the whole church break the silence surrounding abortion.

Is the end result a "solidly pro-life statement"? No, it is not all that Presbyterians Pro-Life would wish it to be. But, neither is it a "reproductive rights" mantra. It is a statement about our common concerns and our common recommendations to the church. We did not try to say those things which we could not say wholeheartedly together.

I encourage you to read the report, "Leaving the Bumper Stickers Behind", posted on the Pittsburgh Presbytery Website. The task force makes two recommendations: 1) Engage in conversation about abortion in your own church and presbytery, and 2) Take action in your congregation to make alternatives to abortion practical and tangible for women and to support and love those whose lives are touched by abortion. The appendices contain guidelines for starting a group discussion of abortion and ideas for offering practical care ministry to pregnant women. Also provided is a sample memorial service for those grieving the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.

We received a joyful surprise at the conclusion of our last meeting that served as a poignant reminder of the reason the church must engage the issue of abortion. We learned there had been a silent participant in our final meetings known only to one of us---a brand new mother. She joyfully shared with us an ultrasound picture of her son whose birth is anticipated in August.



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