On abortion and birth control…a faith based perspective

This article I read on the Washington Post’s website is the catalyst for this post.  The author posed a question I would like to answer.

I would like to answer this question as a volunteer for a faith based ministry that provides support to pregnant and parenting teenagers. I would like to answer this question as a lay person that educates youth about the consequences of premarital and unprotected sex.   I would like to answer this question as a woman who was once a scared pregnant teenager and chose life for her baby. I would like to answer this question as a politically moderate citizen and most of all, I would like to answer this question as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is the question, you ask?

“Why aren’t faith leaders top advocates for birth control?

There is so much I would like to address about this article but I don’t want to split hairs and argue over semantics.  Here is the statement I MOST want to address:

“And in particular, why aren’t faith leaders who oppose abortion the leading advocates for birth control? I ask them: Isn’t your dislike of abortion greater than your dislike of contraception? Which is worse: sex with contraception, or sex with no contraception resulting in an unplanned pregnancy ending in abortion?”

Frustrated by the tone and attitude of this article does not even begin to describe how I feel.  Those feelings are compounded by the fact that it was written by the CEO of the National Campaign to End Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  It is disappointing to me that someone in a position to work with faith based organizations towards a common goal would instead resort to sarcastic vitriol, further alienating the demographic she supposedly wants to work with.

Here are my opinions as someone who works everyday with teenage girls:

  • Abstinence is the most effective form of birth control.  Condoms break, pills are missed or forgotten, the effectiveness of contraception is impacted by things like antibiotics and the list goes on.  I have a teen mom and her six month old baby living in my home and I personally take her to get her birth control shot every three months.  I am a realist. However, she and I have many discussions about abstinence, secondary virginity, God’s design for marriage and more.  During the time I spend with any of the girls in the program with which I volunteer, abstinence is our first and primary suggestion.  Does that mean we tell the girls NOT to take their birth control?  Absolutely not.  Does it mean that I will continue to advocate for the fail proof method?  Absolutely.
  • Neither is worse.  Sin is sin is sin.  And, grace covers all.  Therefore the answer to Sarah Brown’s question: “Which is worse: sex with contraception, or sex with no contraception resulting in an unplanned pregnancy ending in abortion?” the answer is neither is worse and neither is preferable.
  • This article neglects a major point in the teen pregnancy issue.   The reasons that teen girls get pregnant are much more complicated and deep seated than whether abortion is legal or if contraception is available.  Girls get pregnant because of absentee fathers, poverty,lack of parental supervision, a need for attention, poor self-esteem, a desire to be loved by someone.  Girls are more likely to get pregnant if they have spent time in the foster care system or were sexually abused during childhood {all of which are facts reported by Sarah Brown’s organization}.  These are all sociological and psycho-social issues that are not remedied by handing out condoms in health class.
  • Getting pregnant as a teenager has far reaching consequences, whether the pregnancy results in a live birth or not.  Abortion hurts people.  I have personally counseled women who live with regret and shame because of that decision.  Having a baby as a teenager hurts people.  More than 80% of girls that get pregnant as teens will not graduate from high school and less than 1.5% will go on to get a college degree.  Having a miscarriage or stillbirth at a young age can follow a girl for the rest of her life.  There is no easy answer other than avoiding pregnancy in the first place and the surefire way to do that is to abstain from sex.

The thing that probably upsets me the most about this article is that it does not focus on the plight of the girls I work with everyday. It places the focus on an age old divisive debate that muddies the waters rather than building a bridge towards working together.

Rather than focusing on whether or not abortion should be legal or whether or not faith based organizations should be promoting contraception, I would much rather focus on the hearts of girls.  Girls need love, attention, supervision and support. Let’s go meet those needs and see the impact on the teen pregnancy rate.

My prayer and hope is that women with a platform like Ms. Brown possesses will not continue to use their voice to condemn but rather to brainstorm and discover ways to work together to give teen girls what they need.

Comments

  1. Very well put , Melissa!!

  2. Thehappyhousewife says:

    Well said Melissa! I totally agree with you, and I am thankful for people like you who are in a position to help teenagers moms.
    If I were to say something to the faith based groups it would be to get off the picket line in front of abortion clinics and start doing what you are doing… caring for these girls!
    That makes the biggest impact, imo.

    Toni

  3. Brooke McGlothlin says:

    Well stated Melissa! As someone who has also worked with women in unplanned pregnancy for over 10 years I agree wholeheartedly that this question is a horribly simpleton response to a need that goes far beyond just prevention.

    I wrote an article sometime back entitled, “Should I put my Daughter on Birth Control?” By far one of my most well-read posts.

    http://www.brookemcglothlin.com/2010/05/should-i-put-my-daughter-on-birth-control/

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