Job One: Enlist your pastor’s support!
Year-round, but especially during Coerced Abortion Awareness Week
Making pastors and others aware of both unwanted abortions and post-abortion issues is important. This will help remove some of the misunderstandings and stereotypes about abortion and educate pastors so they can better educate and lead their flocks. It will also help let women, men and families individuals in our churches and communities know that they are not alone. They will know that their church or faith community is a place where they can find help for coerced abortion issues or post-abortion issues as they seek guidance, support, help and healing at any point in their journey.
If you haven’t already, join the Church Awareness Project and receive a free downloadable copy of our Church Leader’s Kit to share with your pastor and other church leaders. This includes a pdf copy of The Jericho Plan guide for pastors and preachers, along with supporting materials about unwanted, coerced and forced abortions, encourage your pastor to share this new evidence and preach about these issues.
If you have already signed up but need a copy of the Church Leader’s Kit, here’s a link to download it. Signing up is important because it means that you’ll get updated on other resources and projects throughout the year.
Use these ideas anytime.
You can use these ideas year-round, but also during Coerced Abortion Awareness Week. You can reach out to the public, too, by inviting them to your church for special talks, events and activities or just as a “welcome” message. You can also write letters to the editor and letters to educators, journalists, legislative representatives or leaders in other sectors of society.
Use this list to help plan other ideas and activities weeks, months or years in advance. Start a committee or join forces with like-minded churches, groups and organizations. Make it an annual event. Each idea has links to supporting resources from the Elliot Institute. (See our Resources page for a complete list of available materials.)
Coerced Abortions Happen in Our Churches and Communities
Remind others that most (not all) abortions are unwanted or coerced and about forced abortions in America and elsewhere before addressing “post-abortion” issues. Remind them that there are women, girls, men and families in our churches and communities who are facing this issue.
Most people don’t know this!
During Coerced Abortion Awareness Week — and always — preface abortion-related comments and outreach by first reminding people of new evidence that most (not all) abortions are unwanted or coerced, and that many are forced. For those who have been or are being coerced, or for those suffering aftereffects or even contemplating suicide (especially teens), this is an urgent task.
Activities and Ideas for Coerced Abortion Awareness Week or Anytime
1. Ask your pastor or other church leaders to preach about coercion and post-abortion issues. See our pastors and speaker page for supporting materials.
Encourage a focus on new evidence that most abortions are unwanted or coerced. This “pre-abortion” prelude is significant, yet seldom reported. It is an important part of the abortion story that defies stereotypes about “choice.” After setting this framework, which removes some of the stereotypes and stigma surrounding this issue, pastors can address abortion- and post-abortion issues, and offer help and healing to those in our faith communities who are affected by these issues.
2. Pray for those affected by these issues and invite others in your church or community to do so as well. Download, copy and distribute our list of prayer intentions to families, prayer groups, ministries, etc. Use these pro-woman/pro-life intentions at a prayer service, liturgy, Sunday service or other event. Consider joining others in a day of prayer and fasting (see number 5 below for a Lenten offering or 40 Days for Life project idea and these encouraging scripture verses.)
3. Plan an event such as a prayer breakfast, candlelight vigil, service or other event recognizing those exploited by or lost to abortion and pregnancy-related violence, etc.
- Consider inviting a speaker from a local pregnancy resource center or post-abortion healing ministry, an expert on these issues, or someone who can share their personal story of abortion.
- Invite a woman or man who has been involved in an abortion to share his or her story at a church service, prayer service, etc. Contact your local pregnancy resource center, post-abortion ministry or pro-life group for information about possible speakers.
- Read a personal testimony or testimonies (find more here) from those who have been there.* (Note: It should be clear that the speaker is reading someone else’s story.)
- Remember fathers, too. Many men have also been directly or indirectly involved in or affected by abortion or abortion-related injustices. Some have lost a child or grandchild and a daughter, sister or friend to such issues.
- Use our list of prayer intentions and scripture verses to pray for those who are at risk of abortion, those facing an unwanted or coerced abortion, those exploited by related issues, or individuals and families who are grieving a past abortion or who have a daughter, sister, friend or loved one because of abortion.
* When sharing personal testimonies, it’s good to remind people that individual experiences vary widely and that “big picture” research indicates that most (not all) abortions involve coercion in its many forms — including, but not limited to threats, abuse, blackmail or violence. Regardless of the circumstances, however, the community’s help and compassion and God’s infinite mercy offer authentic hope for anyone’s journey.
4. Share and pray about excerpts from the Elliot Institute’s Forced Abortion in America Special Report with others to raise awareness that there are women and girls in your church and community who might be at risk for abuse, discrimination or violence if they become pregnant. Commit to praying for those at risk of pregnancy- and abortion-related violence and for individuals and families who have already been hurt.
- Do this in small prayer circles, larger groups, or as part of other events.
- Encourage your pastor to incorporate some of this information or some examples into his sermons.
5. Have compassionate resources on hand, including resources for help, hope, healing and encouragement. These can include our Help & Healing Guide and scripture verses. Post or have information on hand in your church about local crisis pregnancy centers or others who might be able to help women who are victims of violence (be sure that these resources will not encourage or pressure the woman to abort if she is in a violent situation, but rather offer compassionate, safe and charitable assistance for the woman and her baby.) You can find a list of national resources here. See also the Center Against Forced Abortions, which can assist teens or women being coerced into unwanted abortions.
6. Run our bulletin ads and other small space ads in your bulletin, church or pro-life newsletter, or other publications to raise awareness of these issues.
- Post them on your church bulletin board, ministry table, church literature rack, etc.
- Make copies to use as inserts in your church bulletin or newsletter.
- Print contact information for your local pregnancy resource center/post-abortion healing ministry or other resources on the bottom of our co-op flyers and ads (the ones with the boxes), or post such information nearby.
8. Publish all or some of our education and outreach resources and materials on your church web site, social networking sites, blogs and other sites. Or send email them to friends and family, ministry leaders, etc.
9. Raise awareness by writing about these issues your church bulletin or newsletter, pastor’s column, church or faith community web site, etc. Use the fact sheets and flyers from our Resources page to educate readers about unwanted and coerced abortions, the harm abortion causes to all involved and the need for support for those in our churches and communities who are pregnant or have been involved in an abortion. If your church or faith group has a web site, Twitter feed, or Facebook page, post or link to these free documents to educate users.
10. Donate and keep books on hand (in your church library or elsewhere) that educate people about unwanted and coerced abortions, the pain and trauma caused by abortion, etc. Check with libraries in your community, including school and college libraries, to see what resources they have on hand. Donate copies of helpful books for their shelves. See our book list and reviews for a list of appropriate resources.
11. Conduct a letter-writing campaign to raise awareness of coerced and unwanted abortions, the impact of abortion on women, men and families and to offer resources, support and healing. Use our sample letters to the editor for ideas and information to create your own letters. Mention that readers can find more information about these issues at www.theunchoice.com.
12. Start a support group or offer practical services and moral support for parents or families facing a difficult or challenging pregnancy, or for single or struggling parents. Recruit volunteers to assist with things such as childcare, car or home repairs, shopping, running errands, etc. Talk with others in order to assess what needs there might be in your church or community and how best to help meet them. Work with a local pregnancy resource ministry to host a class for pregnant or parenting teens and their families to help them negotiate this difficult phase in their lives.
13. Donate to the Elliot Institute to support our research, education and outreach efforts, including the Church Awareness Project. For more than 20 years, the Elliot Institute has been a world leader in conducting research regarding abortion’s impact on women, men and society. This includes:
- published studies used in legislative, judicial, legal and medical arenas
- help for teens and women still at risk of coercion and aftereffects
- deterring abortions today, while ending abortion sooner and with respect and compassion
- raising awareness about the injustice of coercion and the psychological and physical impact of abortion on teens and women,
- educating the public about the risks of abortion, including evidence that most abortions are unwanted and coerced, and raising awareness of the need for support and healing.
If you have other ideas, feel free to share them below!