Fear of parents is a factor in abortions

Last week the March for Life wound its way through downtown Ottawa. Thousands of people filled the streets carrying pro-life signs and banners. As I thought about the issue of the day, I couldn’t help but reflect on the two situations involving abortions I have been closely involved with in my life.

One was a friend years and years ago, when we were barely out of our teens, the other was more recently with another young woman. In both situations, but particularly the most recent one now that I’ve had children of my own and know more about the issue, I worked hard to try to present alternatives to abortion. Ultimately, I failed. I arranged a meeting between the young woman and a crisis pregnancy centre worker in my living room. I met with her myself whenever she’d let me, trying to listen and to gently persuade her to walk the path of courage and sacrifice and yes, what seemed to her to be the more difficult path, — and not have the abortion.

In the end, though, she did.

And the perhaps surprising thing that the two situations have in common, the one from years ago and the more recent one, is that of all the reasons someone might choose to have an abortion, the one that in the end propelled both young women to end their pregnancy was fear of the reaction of their parents.  Both young women were terrified of what their parents might think and how they would react to their daughter’s pregnancy.

The one thing they could not face was their own parents, and letting them down. They couldn’t imagine standing in front of them and telling them they were pregnant. So, instead, they chose abortion.

This is heartbreaking beyond imagining. If only those parents knew, their hearts would be broken too. I think that even as we hold our children to high expectations of following Christ in all their relationships and all their choices, we must also speak plainly to them, and say things like: I trust you. I love you. You will never be outside of that love, no matter what. No matter what you do or what trouble you get into, even if it’s all your fault and it’s one big mess, please, come and talk to me. I will always help you and stand by you. Probably we need to get really specific as parents, and name the things our kids might get into, so that they know we mean it. If you get pregnant, if you get drunk, if you cheat on a test, if you steal something, if you break all the rules..…I think sometimes we are afraid to name things, because we think they will then become possibilities in our kids’ lives, but the truth is, they already are possibilities, even for the most well-behaved of our children.

Expect a lot from your kids, yes, but give an equal and abundant measure  of love and reassurance that if they slip up and don’t meet those expectations, there is grace. That you are there for them. No matter what.

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. You might be interested in reading our May/Jun cover story that touches on related issues. And subscribe today. 


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