Thursday, August 27, 2015

10 practical ways to respond to the Planned Parenthood videos

In light of the continuing release of videos about Planned Parenthood, so many people I know are very concerned but feel helpless and keep asking, "What in the world can I do?" I have been thinking about the answers to this question.

1. Promote Adoption and Fostering: 
This one is obvious. We need to be sure that women who find themselves pregnant know that their children will be cared for by others if they can't do it themselves. On one of the first from-the-left articles I read about Planned Parenthood I read a comment saying, "I don't see anyone lining up to take these kids that they supposedly don't want aborted." To which I say, you must be walking in the wrong community. On the day I first wrote this blog, two personal friends of mine publicly stated that they themselves would be happy to either support a woman that was afraid to have a baby, or to take the baby themselves.  Just today I read a post in Chicago from a foster care organization about an emergency case, and in the two days since posting the comments were flowing in of licensed families offering to take the child in. My church in the US gathered on stage all of the people in our community who were involved in adoption and the stage was packed to overflowing with families and children. They said from stage that the church would gladly facilitate the care, and if desired also adoption, of any child or baby. The outpouring of people that I have seen (including my own sister) get involved in fostering and adopting kids, all kinds of kids (brothers and sisters together, special needs kids, kids of all ages and ethnicity's, kids who just needed a family to care for them but could never actually be adopted, you name it) is super cool. 

2. Support young women: 
It's important not just to offer adoption but to also offer support for young women. This means we offer to support women who are pregnant and want to keep a child but need help. We pay medical bills. We walk with them through the process. It also means we teach girls how valued and strong they are, so that they aren't vulnerable to abuse or looking to some some teenage guy for stability, affirmation, or fulfillment. I'll link here to my own cousin and popular instagram mommy, who chose to keep her own baby, and who recently told the story of her own birth mother carrying her and giving her up for adoption. My cousin made her choices partly because she was raised strong and confident. I'm super proud of her.

3. Raise men, not boys:
I call for men who are strong and self-controlled, who see a woman as a valued person rather than something that can be used to fulfill his desires. I call for men whose first instinct is to protect and defend women and children and the vulnerable around them. I call for men who choose the difficult path when it is right, not the path of least resistance. I call for men that women can respect. I call for men who encourage strong women and women who use their gifts. We have an epidemic in the world and in the US and in the church of men who use women and simply act on whatever their desires are. Men, be different, and teach your boys to be different too.

4. Stop overvaluing external success
We should carefully examine the life we are teaching our children to seek out. Do young women in your church or community think that a woman pregnant outside of marriage has lost her future, her goodness, and her life opportunities? If so, what do you think they will do if they find themselves young, unmarried, and pregnant? Are we so emphasizing the "right path" that our children do not see grace and Jesus and life as greater and bigger than the importance of their own identity, future and self-righteousness? Do we so pressure our children to maximize their potential that they have to hide all mistakes that might hinder the best education and career? Do children know that you would be just as proud of them if they were 20 with a baby than if they were 20 with a fantastic scholarship and boyfriend at a great college? Ponder what we're saying to our kids at school, youth group, and in the home, and what we present as the goal of their lives. Make sure your kids and the kids around you know that you will fiercely love them and walk them through any situation they find themselves in.

5. Educate:
Sex education is super important. We all know the public education on sexuality is confused and contradictory, but are we stepping up to be on the front lines of educating kids about sexuality? We also need to teach about pregnancy. That means our own kids, the kids in our communities and churches, and outside of that. Girls and boys. Too often people feel awkward and so avoid thoroughly educating their kids on sex, sexuality, pregnancy, birth control, etc. They need to not only know what you believe, but also what is going on around them. We need to foster open conversation about when life and personhood begin. It wasn't until I had asked a lot of hard questions and thought through the beginning of life for myself that I settled into my own view of abortion, birth control, and the ethics of it all. Don't just say, "life begins at conception". You have to have reasons why you believe what you believe.

6. Research and support alternative local health care: 
Another thing we must do is to provide health care. One of the primary arguments being made in the media right now is that Planned Parenthood can't be defunded because they are the primary provider of basic women's health care services. I would agree with Ross Douthat that this is a flawed argument, but I think it's really important that we SHOW that it's a flawed argument. The question that we each must look into locally is whether or not there are clinics or doctors locally who provide women's health services, accept all insurance, and do not encourage abortions. I am in the midst of this for my area in DFW. I have found clinics but am trying to confirm that they provide gynecological services. This is key - we need to provide not just crisis pregnancy services but also gynecological services. If you find a good clinic, support it personally.  Also, even if they are supported, if people don't know about the clinics they can't take advantage of the services. You help them advertise to various communities and schools? Can you help people get to the clinic if they need rides? What about helping OBGYNs that want to extend their services to those who can't pay as much? Generally it's the middle and upper classes that go to personal OBGYNs. 

7. Defund Planned Parenthood
There are political methods too, and I absolutely believe we should stop funding Planned Parenthood in any way with tax dollars, because they not only provide a large number of abortions but they teach society that women's health, contraceptive services, and abortion must be intertwined, which is not true. Contact your representatives.

8. Live out a life that exhibits the beauty of sacrifice over success
Then there's the fact that many abortions happen not to people who are particularly vulnerable but to people who are doing well and a baby would change their plans, change their trajectory, perhaps be a burden in an already busy life. This is the result of  the general ethic of our society and what we value. Unexpected pregnancy is usually not convenient or comfortable, and those are the idols of our society.  How can we show to the world with our own lives that success and comfort are not the be all and end all? How can we show that there is life and beauty and love in sacrificing for others, in building families and choosing life even when it means delaying a degree or a dream or making less money?

9. Live in relationship to at-risk and vulnerable communities and sections of society
This is something I am so passionate about. We so often want to help people after they are already in tough situations, but it's pretty obvious people in tough spots rarely reach out beyond the people they already know and trust? It is so important that we be living incarnationally - the daily presence of Jesus within the broader community. The Christian communities of America often live very insularly, surrounding themselves primarily with people that are like them and are deemed safe and healthy people. Instead, why don't we identify areas of need or brokenness in our society and live and work and build relationships there now. Then, when hard things happen, we will be there and available for those who already know and trust us.

10.  Live out the gospel of grace
And - are we showing love and grace? Do we see that the baby on the table, the woman in the clinic, and the tech handling the baby parts are all equally made in the very image of God, deeply loved by God, and offered His grace through Jesus? We want abortion to end, yes, but deeper than that we want all things redeemed, all wrongs to be made right and all people made new and righteous in God.


Hans said...

Kacie - did you read Sister Joan Chittester's comments on the issue? I found them pretty powerful:

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

(Also hello - long time no read- assuming you remember me! My blog - loveteaalien- is private now, but if you'd like to read I can add you to the list, just let me know your gmail address.)

Kacie said...

Would love to! But how do I contact you? You have no email listed.