Building a Culture of Life: Steps the LCA and its members can take to help reduce the number of abortions in Australia
Did you know that approximately 70–80,000 abortions take place in Australia each year? This means that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion.
Research tells us that the typical women seeking abortion is 20–29, single, childless, well-educated and employed.
Reasons women give for having an abortion tend to be psycho-social. They include: timing, feelings of un-readiness to be a mother, existing children, influence of others (family/partner), and inadequate financial resources or housing.
As Christians, we are called to care for our neighbour, especially those who are most vulnerable. This includes advocating for the lives of the unborn. One of the best ways we can do this is by caring for expectant mothers!
While we understand that the tragedy of abortion can’t be addressed with a simple 10-step solution, we offer the following suggestions about how the LCA and its members can help create a culture that values all human life, including life in the womb and the lives of women facing difficult or unexpected pregnancies.
If you would to read more general information about abortion in Australia see Fact Sheet: General information about abortion in Australia, and if you would like to read more information about the reasons women give for having an abortion, see Fact Sheet: Why do women have abortions?
What can we do/how can we help?
1. Encourage a culture of life in the home
Promoting a culture that values life starts within the home. It starts with how we treat our own children, spouse, and also members of our extended family. Do we treat them respectfully, as people who have been made in the image of God? Do we love and serve them? Do we make time to listen to them and encourage them? When we serve one another as Christ serves us, we create a culture that values and affirms life as a gift, and not something to fear.
2. Encourage a culture of life in our local churches
Promoting a culture that values life also starts in our local churches. Do we welcome children and single parents into the church? Do we congratulate those who announce they are expecting a baby? Do we offer them love and support? As a church we are here to support all sisters and brothers in difficulty, including helping carry the load of a new baby. Some practical suggestions include:
- Encouraging one another to lend a hand and/or offer a world of encouragement to new parents, single parents and parents with multiple children.
- Arranging meal rosters for parents with new babies, and additional support for single parents or parents who have children with special needs.
- Taking steps to make our church a baby and child friendly environment. For example, ensuring change table facilities in both male and female toilets (it’s not always mum who changes the baby’s nappy!).
- Offering activities during the week like play groups or bible studies with child-minding facilities.
- Ensuring that people with disabilities are able to get to church (e.g. offering them lifts), and supporting them in church and home life (e.g. through home visits, inviting them out or providing meals).
Initiatives such as these are important because they show that children are welcome in the church, and that the church is a place that supports those in need.
3. Promote an annual Life Sunday
LCA congregations might like to host an annual “Life Sunday” and use this opportunity to promote the value of human life, share stories that are life-affirming and suggest practical ways that we can assist those who are vulnerable. The festival of the Annunciation on March 25 (or the closest Sunday) would be especially appropriate for this. This could also provide an opportunity to pray as a church for babies in the womb, for their mothers and fathers (especially those facing “crisis” pregnancies), and those lives lost or affected by abortion. Mother’s and Father’s Day can also be times when prayers like these could be timely. See also point 8.
4. Acknowledge miscarriages and abortions
Many couples suffer the grief of miscarriages, which involves the loss a child. As Christians we can offer pastoral care in private, and where appropriate public acknowledgement in worship services to honour the life which has been lost.
This is another aspect of cultivating a culture which values life in the womb, and so can offer encouragement for couples not to choose abortion.
Those who have had an abortion or have been involved in an abortion decision may also seek pastoral care. They may appreciate being offered private confession and absolution so that they can receive Christ’s word of forgiveness. They might also appreciate being involved in a rite of prayer and remembrance for the unborn child that died.
5. Draw attention to the existence of the church’s public teaching on abortion
Many people within our church are unaware that the LCA has public teaching on life issues, including the Doctrinal Statement and Theological Opinion (“DSTO”) on abortion. The bishops and/or pastors may like to draw attention to this teaching from time to time, and suggest practical and life-affirming ways of bringing this teaching to life in the church.
6. Develop or support educational opportunities for youth and young adults
We live in a culture that regularly outsources many of the teaching areas that once were the domain of parents. This is often the case in Christian families too, with a tendency to leave instruction to schools and other institutions. In light of this, the church can encourage or support educational initiatives for youth and young adults that affirm the value of human life. This might include:
- Celebrating the miracle of life by looking at the development of life in the womb and biblical teaching about the value of the human from conception.
- Sharing pre-existing resources on various life issues. For example, Lutherans for Life has developed some group discussion/bible study resources which are available on their website. See: lutheransforlife.lca.org.au
- Offering values-based sex and relationship education which explores God’s design for sex within the context of marriage, and connects the reality of sex and babies.
Many secular sex education organisations promote contraception as the answer to reducing abortion. However, no contraception is 100% effective and young people need to be taught that pregnancy is always a possible result of sex between a man and a woman. Some Australian organisations which teach a more values-based approach to sex education include the following:
- SA: beREADY – http://www.beready.net.au/org/programs/
- ACT/NSW: Choicez Media – https://www.choicez.com.au/
- NSW/National: Your Choicez – http://yourchoicez.com.au/
7. Support pregnancy and post-birth support agencies
Around Australia there are numerous agencies who extend care, compassion and material assistance to women and children in need. Other pregnancy and post-birth counselling and support organisations are listed on Lutherans for Life’s website. These organisations are most worthy of our attention, promotion and financial support.
Our own Lutheran Community Care (mostly in Adelaide) lists on their website: Assistance to Families/Parenting Support, Playgroups, Counselling, Support and Information for Teenage Mothers, New Parent Support Groups.
8. Advocate for the unborn and the vulnerable
The LCA can continue to encourage and equip its members and Assistant to the Bishop in Public Theology to:
- Engage in parliamentary inquiries and other processes with respect to abortion law and other issues.
- Speak to MPs about pregnancy counselling that truly explores all options for pregnant women.
- Speak to MPs and encourage all State and Territory governments to keep complete data, and report on abortion numbers.
9. Pray as a Church and as individuals
As Christians we are called to pray for those in need, including babies in the womb and their mothers and fathers, especially those in crisis. We also need to pray that we will serve one another at these times in Christian love. See also the comments above under point 3.
1 John 5: 14-15 says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him”.
10. Preach the Gospel, make disciples and teach our true identity as Christians
We can also pray that as we preach the Good News the Holy Spirit will bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. As Christians we are given a new identity – an identity that embraces a culture of life rather than a culture of death. In our Baptism, Jesus Christ restored our identity as “heirs” of eternal life and through Christ’s sacrifice we are declared holy and equipped by the Holy Spirit to love and care for the most vulnerable, including the unborn and those facing crisis pregnancies.
Abortion is common in Australia, and no doubt affects people within our pews. This is not just a women’s issue. For every woman that has an abortion there is a father and two wider families that are potentially affected.
The LCA and its members can help reduce the incidence of abortion by taking steps to create a culture that values life in all its stages, and by bringing Christ’s life-giving word into pastoral situations.
For more general information about abortion in Australia see Fact Sheet: General information about abortion in Australia
For more information about the reasons women give for having an abortion, see Fact Sheet: Why do women have abortions?
-  http://notbornyet.com/real-information/
-  Abortion or Termination of Pregnancy Facts, Abortion FAQ Australia: http://abortion-faq.com.au/abortion-faqs/pregnancy-termination-facts/.
-  Kirkman, M., Rowe, H., Hardiman, A., Mallett, S., & Rosenthal, D. (2009). Reasons women give for abortion: a review of the literature. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 12(6), 365-378.
-  https://lca.box.net/shared/static/nt26xftbhk0uz7gxicom.pdf
-  http://www.lutheransforlife.lca.org.au/public-resources/pregnancy-support/
-  https://www.lccare.org.au/about-us/where-to-find-us/