Edited speech given by Michelle Macormic at the 20th Annual Rally for Life
While many argue about whose life matters more—the woman or the unborn—perhaps we need to refuse to engage in this battle and instead, choose a third option: to love them both.
The problem of unsupported pregnancy does not originate within the body of a woman, but in a society that is not willing to provide for the children it creates.
If we are going to see less abortions, we need to work hard to understand the pressures that push women towards abortion so that we can compassionately, generously and creatively offer to meet those needs.
What does that look like – to respond to the needs of women struggling because of pregnancy in difficult circumstances?
It is a movement of LOVE. It is hard work. It is expensive—it takes time, money and vulnerability. It takes a society who are willing to stop arguing and start listening.
So when a friend, neighbour or family member comes to you, pregnant, frightened and confused, what can you do?
You can show her LOVE. I mean that literally—please love her—your motive for helping her must be love, not self.
And while our motive must be love, our method is also L-O-V-E. Use the word “LOVE” to remind yourself of four important steps to providing hope to the woman in crisis.
L is for Listen and Learn
Please give her the gift of a listening heart. Invite her to share about her situation and how she feels about it. Put on the kettle, put your phone in silent mode, grab a box of tissues and give her your full attention.
The less you know her, the more you need to listen. Keep your body language open and relaxed but attentive. Lean in and give her reassuring eye contact.
Please resist telling her what you think she should do, or what you did or would have done in a similar situation. Keep it about her. Even if she asks you for advice, hold back until you have truly heard her. Chances are, anyone else she has already talked to has told her what to do. Be the first person to ask what she wants to do and give her a safe space to wrestle and to be honest without fear of judgement or manipulation.
Be gentle, but ask good questions. What is she most worried about? Let her make a list of as many concerns as she needs to.
She may have concerns that are physical, emotional, practical or spiritual. She may have issues in her past that are shaping her reaction to her present situation.
She will probably want to talk to you first about her problems, but don’t stop there. Ask her about her strengths, and listen for them as she tells her story. She is so brave for talking to you, and by admitting she needs help, she has shown she is humble and wise. These are signs of her strengths. …
Keep listening, and figure out her areas of awareness. Observe what she knows, and what information she may be missing. What are her beliefs, her values, her dreams and plans? If she is very upset, it may help her if you suggest she think outside her current predicament. How did she feel about her future before she was in this situation? If she was helping a friend in a similar situation, what would she advise her to do? By helping her step outside her distress and panic, you are helping her to think clearly and feel safe to keep working through her tears.
O is for Open Options
Use what you have learned about her and her situation in the “L” step and share information about her option she needs to consider to make a life-giving decision. … Share in a loving and caring, non-judge-mental way about her different options—find out what she knows, offer factual information and correct misunderstandings.
Be objective rather than emotional: avoid shocking her, respect her boundaries. Suggest she consider the immediate and long term benefits and consequences of each choice. Focus on her life—you cannot help her or her baby without her permission, and if you help her, you are helping both!
V is for Vision and Value
Help her to see herself differently: that she is beautiful, valuable, unique, strong, worth fighting for, deserving of hope, peace, joy and love, created in the image of our wise and loving Father who sent His Son to redeem her (but wait to share about Him until she asks!)
Awaken a vision in her for a healthier, healed, whole life. Help her to see that she deserves better than abortion, abuse, abandonment, being used, coercion etc. Demonstrate that she is capable of making choices that honour herself and the little life that she carries.
E is for Extend and Empower
Explain that you will be there for her as long as she needs your help. Offer personal and additional support available through services that you are aware of that are relevant to her needs.
Help her to find support through her family, friends and community. Empower her to start solving her own problems. Remind her that she is never alone. Come up with a plan—what does she need to do next?
What do you need to do next for her? It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers as long as you admit you’re unsure but offer to find out so you can learn together. Arrange follow up care. Would she like to meet again? Would she like a follow up call or email? … Only make promises you can keep, and make sure you keep them. Because when you love the woman, you love them both!