We know that abortion is wrong. We know we must defend the unborn. But when we’re face-to-face with a woman who is considering an abortion, we don’t always know what to say. Here are five ways to start a conversation with her:
1. “Your life isn’t over.”
This is an important place to start. To a woman with an unplanned pregnancy, an abortion seems like an act of self-preservation. Her education, career, relationship, or income may be in jeopardy. For her, the abortion is about an “either-or” choice: she can preserve herself or the life of her unborn baby, but not both.
This is why pro-life efforts that have focused on the mother were more effective than ads that affirmed the humanity of her unborn baby. She may agree that abortion is morally wrong and that her baby is a human being. She may even consider herself pro-life. But now, her life seems to hang in the balance. If we bypass her and focus only on her pre-born child, we risk pushing her away. In our zeal to advocate for the unborn, we can inadvertently communicate that we are unmoved by her situation.
2. “You need to know the risks of having an abortion.”
If she chooses to have an abortion, it will affect her. The question is how. Organizations like Planned Parenthood will not tell her about all of the risks of abortion procedures. In fact, they may tell her that aborting a pregnancy is actually better for her than giving birth. Some of the after-effects of abortion are physical: life-threatening complications from the procedure like torn cervix, permanent damage to the reproductive system like a perforated uterus, or future infertility. Other risks are beneath the surface, but just as devastating: difficulty concentrating at work, difficulty bonding with future children, anger, depression, insomnia, or vulnerability to self-destructive habits – such as self-harm, substance abuse, and eating disorders. Your friend needs to know that she is the only one who has to live with the full effects of her decision. Your local pro-life pregnancy center will have information about those risks.
3. “Your abortion will not give you what you’re looking for.”
Many women get an abortion hoping that it will somehow reverse the effects of pregnancy. But whether or not a woman chooses to give birth to her baby, she is still a mother. She was designed to nurture life, both physically and emotionally. Abortion procedures disrupt and distort how God created both her body and her soul to function. Abortion may eliminate the pregnancy, but it won’t make her “unpregnant.” As an article entitled, “Profile of a Woman with an Unplanned Pregnancy” explains: “A woman is never the same once she is pregnant, whether the child is kept, adopted, or killed. Abortion may be a kind of resolution, but it is not the one the woman most deeply longs for.”
Ask her why she is considering an abortion. Perhaps the reason is financial: One of the main reasons a woman chooses an abortion is because she can’t support a child. Your local pregnancy center will likely have information about medical care, financial support, and employment opportunities. Maybe you and members of your church can also help with her material needs (1 Jn 3:17). Perhaps the reason is personal: She doesn’t believe she’s ready to become a parent, but the idea of “giving the baby away” sounds unbearable. Yet, certainly, making an adoption plan is a selfless act of maternal love, one where she can give her child a new future (in some cases, even choosing the baby’s parents, with agencies like this one). Perhaps the reason is relational: The pain of telling her parents or loved ones seems too much to endure. Yet, an abortion won’t take away that fear – it’ll only add more weight to what she feels she must hide. Whatever the reason, help your friend see past the immediate concern and know that an abortion will not solve her crisis.
4. “Your baby is a distinct human being.”
Your friend needs to hear what she already knows: her baby is a person. At just six weeks old, she can hear her baby’s heartbeat. By eight weeks, the baby will start wiggling. By ten weeks, the baby has fingernails. At nineteen weeks, the baby will be able to hear her voice. And by 20 weeks, the baby can feel pain. John Ankerberg and John Weldon explain that a mother and her baby are genetically distinct human beings from the point of conception. So, while a woman does indeed have the right to control her own body, she does not have “the right to control the destiny of another human being – the baby in her womb.” Facts like these are causing women in the abortion industry to leave their jobs at abortion clinics.
5. “You can find hope.”
Finally, your friend needs hope that her situation can be redeemed. Tell her about the Creator who designed her in her mother’s womb and is shaping the baby in her own (Ps 139). Tell her about the Redeemer who can restore her life and make beauty from her ashes (Eph 1:7). Lastly, always remind her about the Savior whose sacrifice for sin is so complete that nothing – not even an abortion – is beyond His grace and forgiveness (Ps 51).
Katie McCoy serves as Assistant Professor of Theology in Women's Studies at the College at Southwestern. She holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Southwestern (2016). Her dissertation is on Old Testament laws about women's personhood and what they teach us about women's dignity and social justice.
 John Ankerberg and John Weldon, When Does Life Begin? (ATRI Publishing, 1989), 21.