Pro-life groups in Europe follow with attention the situation in the US after the decision that reversed “Roe v Wade”. Small organisations network to support women holistically.
The decision of the Unite States Supreme Court through which abortion is no longer a constitutional right in that country is “neither the triumph proclaimed by some nor the disaster that others announce”, an European pro-life worker says.
The derogation in 2022 of the Roe v Wade sentence (1973) returns the decision-making to each state. While some 22 states are expected to restrict or ban the termination of pregnancies, another 26 states will continue to allow abortions or even pass new and more liberal laws.
The “hopeful” fact on the other side of the Atlantic, says Chris Mathieson, member of Sifra, an association supporting pregnant women in Spain, is that “in contrast to other countries, the number of abortions in the US has been falling steadily since 1991”.
Responses outside the US
The decision in the US “has had very emotional responses” all around the world on both sides of the debate, Mathieson says in an interview with Protestante Digital. At least 50,000 people attended a pro-life march in Madrid in June lead mainly by Catholic groups, says Mathieson.
Only in Spain, 88,269 unborn babies were aborted in 2020, according to government statistics.
A law to allow girls aged 16 to abort without parental authorisation is expected to be passed by the national Congress soon. The public health system would be pushed to take the lead in performing abortions (instead of private clinics) and so-called ‘DIY abortions’ to be performed at home would be promoted.
As the pandemic restrictions eased in the last year, pro-life movements have also returned to the streets of other European capitals. On the other side, pro-choice activists and politicians everywhere have also voiced their agenda to make abortion a “human right”.
Chris Mathieson is not comfortable with the fact that pro-lifers are automatically linked to right-wing policies. “There are people with all kinds of backgrounds that are in favour of life”, he says. It may be true that around the world, conservative political parties tend to be clearer in the protection of the life of the unborn, but on a social level, the movement is “transversal”.
Supporting women in all stages
The evangelical organisation Sifra in Spain offers “practical help, as well and social and psychological support to women in situation of pregnancy or even after an abortion”. They network with other organisations to help these families in different stages.
Many women suffer a post-traumatic stress disorder which can come from the abortion but also from all the circumstances around the pregnancy that was finally terminated. At Sifra they have “offer a 60-hours introductory course of training with specialists”. But that should only be a starting point for those interested.
Abortion is also a reality in Christian contexts, Mathieson explains. “Many women in our churches have suffered an abortion. Some before they became Christians, others even being Christians in very, very difficult situations”. There is a “pastoral work to be done”. Being available for women in such difficult situations is also “a way of bringing the gospel beyond our doors”.
“There is no abortion without death”
“Abortion implies the death of one of the parts involved. There is no abortion without death”, and this sadly become “a boomerang that affects the women involved for months or for years”, says Mathieson.
In moments of crisis, there is a need to offer more and better support for women. The challenge for all pro-life organisations and churches is “to approach women who are facing a pregnancy that was not desired with compassion”.
The issues of life and death, including abortion, will be discussed in the once-in-a-decade Bioethics Congress organised by the Spanish Evangelical Alliance, the United Bible Groups (GBU) and supported by many other organisations in the field of bioethics. It will be held in Madrid, in December 2022. Read more about the topics that will be addressed.
Originally published on The Evangelical Focus
(c) Evangelical Focus, used with permission