Pray Those Abortions Away

pray-to-end-abortionJust imagine if Christians prayed these prayers and God answered.

Every fall and spring, anti-abortion activists step up protests during a time that they call 40 Days for Life and clinic staff call 40 Days of Harassment—or simply 40 Days of Annoyance. The event this fall runs September 28 through November 6. During 40 Days, protesters often gather in public prayer before lining up with placards that mix images of the Virgin Mary, bloody tissue, and warnings of eternal damnation.

The most devout have been at it for a decade now, praying that God will turn women away from the health centers and trying to do so themselves. But their approach may turn more people away from Christianity than from abortion services. Some Christian abortion providers, appalled by the behavior of their co-religionists, even put up signs that say, Jesus never shamed women.

For those who would like to see fewer abortions, perhaps it’s time for prayers of a different sort, ones that focus on the reasons behind abortion and the complicated reality of women’s lives, and so display Christian compassion at its best instead of Christian judgment at its worst. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Pray that God will keep all women healthy during pregnancy, eliminating pregnancy conditions that maim and kill. Some abortions are provided to save a woman’s health or life—for example if her blood pressure spirals out of control in a condition known as eclampsia. Conditions like these affect only a small percent of pregnancies. Even so, in the U.S. alone, about 800 women each year die from complications of pregnancy or birthing, and many more are left with temporary or permanent disabilities.
    Of those who don’t survive, most die at the time of labor and delivery, when bleeding can be lethal, or afterwards, when blood-clot risk goes up; so, reducing these risks wouldn’t necessarily reduce abortion. But including them in your prayers would show that Prolife people care about female life as well as fetal life, which is open right now to question in many minds.
  2. Pray that God will stop fetus formation from going awry so that abortions for fetal defects become unnecessary. In addition to dropping the abortion rate, improvements in cell division and recombination would benefit the many aspiring mothers whose own bodies recognize and reject a defective fetus in the making. Biologists estimate that at minimum two thirds of human embryos either fail to implant or else spontaneously self-abort after implantation, many because of mutations and other flaws in embryo production. For young couples who want to become parents, these flaws—whether they lead to fertility problems, or miscarriages, or difficult abortion decisions, or disabled children—can be heartbreaking.
  3. Pray that God will stop impulsive young teens from ovulating or producing viable sperm. Close to 80 percent of teen pregnancies are unintended, and about a third of these end in abortion. That’s over 200,000 abortions a year caused by teens getting pregnant because they were curious about sex or hungry for intimacy. In general, almost a third of abortions occur because a young mother or father doesn’t believe she/he is ready to become a parent.
    The Bible says that God plays a hand in everything that happens. By him all things consist (Colossians 1:17). This means that God plays an active role in creating the pregnancies that teenagers and young adults so often abort. Without his help, the egg does not release and the sperm fails to swim.
    In Colorado, better access to better birth control—meaning “get it and forget it” methods like implants and IUDs—recently dropped teen pregnancy and abortion by almost half. But with God in charge, that number could go to zero. Most young people who abort will go on to have children later, so it’s simply a matter of timing. And, since God knows the secrets of the mind, he is in the perfect position to know when prospective parents have accumulated the knowledge, skills, and emotional resources that will allow them to be good parents.
  4. Pray that God will prevent parents who are financially strapped from getting pregnant when they don’t want to. In developing countries 18,000 children starve to death each day. Most of these children are born from unintended and unwanted pregnancies, and most die as infants and toddlers. In the U.S., few children die of malnutrition, but financial strains and pressures are one of the top reasons women choose to end a pregnancy. Sixty-one percent of abortions in the U.S. are performed for women who already are mothers and want to devote their love and resources to the children they already have.
  5. Pray that God will “shut that whole thing down” in cases of rape and when women are pressured or forced into pregnancy. Some Christians have suggested that a rape baby is a blessing. Others describe pregnancy after rape as a “silver lining.” Indeed, one might point to all of the rape babies in the Bible who are born from sexual slavery or other situations that lack free and full consent (including Jesus himself).
    But most people find the idea of forced pregnancy repugnant, and—however well- intended—they find Christian attempts to pressure women into keeping such pregnancies repugnant too. By contrast, praying that women won’t get pregnant as a consequence of sexual assault or coercion demonstrates real compassion for rape victims—especially if it works.
  6. Pray that God will end in utero transmission of Zika and Toxoplasmosis and German Measles. Many diseases don’t cross from a mother into her developing fetus, and some seem to have little effect on fetal development. But these terrible viruses literally eat the budding nervous system. In fact, why not pray that God make such pathogens go extinct? Many churches teach that he drowned the dinosaurs in a world-wide flood; surely making a virus or parasite go extinct is easier than doing the same to a tyrannosaurus rex.
  7. Pray that God will more fully exercise his own role as all knowing, all loving aborter-in-chief. God, as I said, already rejects or aborts over two thirds of budding embryos. Though sometimes sad, spontaneous abortion is often merciful and wise. Scientists now understand that this culling process weeds out many ill-fated pregnancies and helps to produce healthy babies. But as things stand today, sometimes an unhealthy fetus slips through or a woman stays pregnant even though her body and psyche aren’t prepared to grow a healthy child.
    Christians—including those who loathe induced abortion—tell us that God’s ways are perfect even if they are mysterious—but God also answers prayer. He might be willing to step things up a bit if Christians would pray in faith believing. Improving the miscarriage of mistimed and unhealthy pregnancies would reduce both the percent of pregnancies aborted by medical providers and the percent of children born under bad circumstances.

For the Love of God

Prayers like these would be a good start when it comes to showing that Christians care as much about the wellbeing of women and children as they care about sex rules or embryonic life.

Clinic protests with shouting and pleas and signs and tracts do the opposite. They earn Christianity a bad image. Protestors shame and threaten women facing hard circumstances. They presume to know what is best for families even when women have weighed their options, often with their partners, in light of their own spiritual values. They proclaim that their version of God’s will is the One True version, displaying an attitude of self-righteous arrogance.

Clinic protests turn hearts and minds against Bible believers. Indeed, the Bible itself gets tainted by association, even though it says almost nothing about abortion and can be interpreted either way.

By contrast, the prayers above show genuine compassion for the difficult circumstances of people’s lives. They are truly pro-woman, pro-child, and pro-family; and praying such prayers at the entrances to women’s health clinics—or (better yet) elsewhere–would show that those praying care deeply about real people. Critics like me who say that Christian protestors simply want to force women into gender roles from the Bible or punish young people for breaking sex rules from the Dark Ages might be struck dumb.

And just imagine if God answered these prayers with something other than silence.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.

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About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt and Deas and Other Imaginings. Founder - www.WisdomCommons.org.
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27 Responses to Pray Those Abortions Away

  1. Steven Young says:

    Thank you! Wise, thoughtful and well written. I wish a few million people would read it.

    Like

  2. Bill says:

    God always answers prayer, except when he doesn’t. That attitude keeps the delusion going.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gunther says:

      Or as George Carlin stated if you are praying for something or don’t want something, then you are interfering with God’s plan, his divine will.

      Like

  3. Helen Blake says:

    Spot on! Thank you x

    Like

  4. JD says:

    I want a bumper sticker that says “pray to end the ignorance of those who pray to end abortion.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent piece.

    The folks holding those signs are simply impervious to everything you’ve proposed. In fact, what you’re offering just pisses ’em off.

    Fortunately, however, there are many young, mindful people who will read this piece and fully comprehend the implications of your crystal clear thinking. Those are the readers that will ultimately join the “nones” to further marginalize the nutbags that think it’s their moral duty (from a “higher calling” no less) to parade around town with those signs, harassing people they don’t know all the while putting their ignorance and arrogance on full display.

    We can at least hope. Thanks for the gallant effort that you make toward this goal. It’s now time to send the link to your prayer pleas to many young, mindful people that I personally know.

    Like

    • madagascanlemur says:

      I congratulate you on your forward-thinking and decision to share these prayer pleas. I’d like to make them available to every religious young person I meet (especially Catholics, Evangelicals, and the Southern Baptist Convention).

      Like

  6. Nancy says:

    Bravo!, Valerie.

    Like

  7. John Pozzerle says:

    I think it’s a wonderful article, but there’s a little problem: Prayers don’t work.
    How come they are so concerned about babies and don’t worry about sending twenty years old to war? I never saw these Christian fanatics as a group raising cain against war. Go figure..!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gunther says:

      They also don’t worry about the babies once they leave the womb when it comes to helping to feed them, educate them, give them good paying jobs, affordable/free medical care, generous retirement system, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mark says:

    Well done. We people often prefer to feel superior and self-righteous instead of trying to ameliorate conditions. “Dear God, Thank you for making me morally superior so that I can look down my nose at those sinners. I’ll help You make them suffer even more.”

    Like

  9. mriana says:

    Unfortunately and sadly, many of these events lead to the murder of a very valuable doctor. Not all, but too many. One is too many, IMO.

    Like

    • mriana says:

      I just realized my comment may not have made sense in relationship to your article, Valerie, which is very good BTW. The problem with these groups is that they believe they are pro-life, pro-child, pro-family… except they are not and when their prayers do nothing, which it often does, they resort to other means, sometimes deadly means to force clinics to close. It is not pro-life or pro-family to become so vigilante that one or more members bomb the clinic- thereby killing pregnant women (thereby killing the fetuses they say they want to save, as well as women) or shooting the dr who performs the abortion for the rape victim or woman who may not survive childbirth or any other reason, leaving families to mourn a loss of life in their family. Shaming a woman, who has been raped or even a woman who could die from giving birth, or a teenager who has her whole life ahead of her, or a woman who chose to have an abortion for whatever reason, is also not pro-life. I could go on and on as to how they are not pro-life, pro-family, etc, but I’m sure you get my point. The only pro-life stance would be one that is Pro-choice allowing the woman and her doctor to decide what is best for her in her situation/case. These groups do not educate themselves about reproduction or even women’s health in general and refuse to understand that their “God Delusion” is the opposite what they say they are. As far as the religious go, the Lutheran doctor, who was shot and killed a few years ago, was more pro-life and pro-family than these groups ever were/are. As for the Catholic Church, they never were even pro-woman and often twist the meaning of pro-life into something it is not. IMO, Pro-life groups are often Anti-life groups, preferring that women with a deadly condition like eclampsia die, when her life could be saved (sometimes her child with her), and calling it their [vial] god’s will. Their very much human created god has killed more women and fetuses than humans ever have, even the Bible has listed the many ways too.

      Like

  10. madagascanlemur says:

    Valerie,

    You’re so good. Sometimes you make me laugh, and sometimes you make me cry. This post is a cry. I’m Catholic, and I’ve been pulled in two directions about “pro-life issues.” After I read your reasons that can be a positive thing, I was almost persuaded.

    Then I read the transcript of an interview with actor Martin Sheen in the “Hollywood Reporter.” Though he’s labeled a liberal activist, he’s very strongly Catholic. This is a small bit of what he said:

    Q: How does your Catholicism square with your liberal politics in terms of issues like abortion?

    Sheen: That’s my humanity. I can’t speak for a woman. I’m not a woman. I don’t know what it’s like to be pregnant and I will never know. So I cannot make a moral judgment on them. I would wish that everyone would respect life — I have tried to do such in my life, but that’s me. I can’t project that on another single human being and I will not.

    I am a woman. Between you and my favorite activist/actor, you have me convinced that: abortion is not a “sinful, unnecessary evil”; we must get off our butts and actually work to make abortion safer and less necessary, not just mouth empty prayers; and no one has the right to judge and condemn anyone else.

    If this means I’m a “bad Catholic,” WTH, I’m in good company. What you see on this comment is my username, but I’ll sign my thanks:
    — Angela Schweig

    Liked by 1 person

    • madagascanlemur says:

      That post should’ve said “After I read your reasons that ABORTION can be a positive thing . . .” Sorry, my bad.

      Like

    • Oh, Angela –
      You must be a very generous spirited person, because I know that sometimes my articles have a not-so-generous edge that comes from my immense frustration. I am humbled by your ability to keep yourself open both to growth and to gleaning what may fit when someone is speaking (writing) in a way that might put many people on the defensive.
      Thank you for taking the time to share your reaction and your journey. I didn’t know that about Martin Sheen.

      Like

  11. Here’s the truth.
    There is no such thing as “pro-life”. “Pro-life” is nothing but political rhetoric and I’ve actually heard a politician (a REPUBLICAN politician, no less) admit that.
    “Pro-life” politicians are perfectly willing to cut food stamps and make people starve.
    “Pro-life” politicians are perfectly willing to poison people’s drinking water for the sake of a dollar.
    “Pro-life” politicians are perfectly willing to cut healthcare out from under people and force them to die. (Over a quarter of a million in states refusing to expand Medicaid.)
    “Pro-life” politicians are perfectly willing to send troops to die in foreign countries for wars of profit. Not defense, PROFIT. (The last REAL war we fought for defense was WW II.) And it’s not just troops that die. Over 150 million civilians have died in the middle East since 2003.
    “Pro-life” politicians are perfectly willing to block thousands of refugees (children among them) from coming into the country, dooming them to certain death in South America and Syria.
    “Pro-life” politicians are perfectly willing to block any regulation of guns. According to Kids Count, the single biggest killer of children under the age of 12 in the US is gun violence.
    “Pro-life” politicians are perfectly willing to defund Planned Parenthood. As a result, in Texas, in a 2 year period, 22,000 extra unintended pregnancies occured. In Indiana, the largest outbreak of HIV in the country occured. In Kansas, the only clinic for poor women in the entire northwest part of the state was shut down. In all of the states that have defunded Planned Parenthood, STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and SYPHILIS are running rampant.
    “Pro-life” politicians are perfectly willing to outlaw abortion to the greatest extent they can. In the meantime, they cut or sweep into their general budgets WIC and TANF funds meant for prenatal care. The US now ranks 61st (down even lower from 57th in 2013) in the entire world for maternal and infant mortality. SIXTY FIRST. There are developing nations with half of the resources and technology of the US doing a better job at keeping their pregnant women and infants alive.
    Bottom line, it’s not just that they aren’t “pro-life”, they aren’t even pro-fetus, much less pro-pregnancy. They are anti-abortion and pro FORCED pregnancy. And that is ALL they are.

    Like

    • For Cait
      I’m afraid I’d have to agree with you comment that politicians are not pro-life and not even pro foetus, but then if these people are religiously motivated, I’m afraid their collection of bronze age myths and texts promote this anti-life, anti-foetus mantra. I wish I was making this stuff up but unfortunately I am not, as the following sample of Judeo-Christian texts clearly undermine any notion of the sanctity of life that these misguided individuals promote. According to their own texts, their god is allegedly the greatest cause of death, with no mercy for the unborn and children.

      If their god, (that is allegedly responsible for inspiring the texts that we call Christian bibles – note the plural) was really pro-foetus and valued the life of toddlers and children then:
      It had no problems murdering countless pregnant women along with their unborn children and babes in arms during the flood myth. (Genesis 6 and 7)
      It had no problem murdering first born children in Egypt. (Exodus 12: 29)
      It had no problem threatening the people of Israel that if they didn’t listen to it, then it would kill their children. (Leviticus 26:22)
      It had no problem causing the earth to open and swallow up rebellious men, their wives and children. (Numbers 16:27-33)
      It had no problem providing a test for a wife suspected of being unfaithful by telling the Israelites that the suspicious or jealous husband had to take her to the priest who shall make the woman drink “bitter water with a curse put on it” (poison) under oath. If she was guilty “her womb will miscarry” her unborn child when she drinks the “bitter water”. (Numbers 5:11-31) Yes you read that one right!
      It had no qualms giving the Canaanites over to Israel, who “completely destroyed them and their towns.” (Numbers 21:3)
      It had no qualms giving approval for the Israelites to go into the city of Og and slaughter everyone (leaving no survivors) and take over the land. (Numbers 21:35)
      It had no problem commanding Moses during the conquest of Canaan, to kill all of the male Midianite children and “kill every woman who has slept with a man (which would include pregnant women), but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” Numbers 31:17-18
      It had no qualms leading the Israelites who utterly destroyed the men, women and children of Sihon. “…we left no survivors.” (Deuteronomy 2:33-34)
      It had no qualms leading the Israelites against Og who “completely destroyed them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying every city — men, women and children.” (Deuteronomy 3:6)
      It had no qualms dictating the rules of engagement regarding the enemies of the Israelites, to “destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” (Deuteronomy 7:2)
      It had no qualms commanding the Israelites “…in the cities of the nations the Lord your god is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.” (Deuteronomy 20:16)
      It had no qualms when issuing punishment for disobedience that included eating “the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you.” (Deuteronomy 28:53)
      The book of Joshua (6:21-11:20) is a long litany of the it commanding the Israelites to leave no survivors in the numerous towns they attacked, so I’ll spare you all the gory details, but we are talking GENOCIDE here!
      It had no qualms killing the baby (2 Samuel 12:14-15, 18) resulting from the adulterous relationship between King David and the wife of Uriah The Hittite. (2 Samuel 11:1-12:24)
      It had no problems inspiring Isaiah to boast about enemies being made to watch as “Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes”. (Isaiah 13:15)
      It had no problems inspiring Isaiah to boast about divine punishment that “Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children.” (Isaiah 13:18)
      It had no qualms punishing Israel’s rebellion – “I let them become defiled through their gifts- the sacrifice of every first born – that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 20:26)
      It had no problems inspiring Hosea to boast about divine punishment for disobedience and delight in slitting pregnant women open and watching their unborn babies fall out. They “will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, and their pregnant women ripped open.” (Hosea 13:16)

      This is just a fraction of the atrocities commanded by god against women, children and the unborn.

      Does any of this seriously sound ‘Pro-Life’ to anyone?

      So why are we so surprised that the religious politicians only pay lip service to the ‘sanctity of life’, when their deity does the exactly same and sets such a poor, hypocritical example for them to follow?

      Like

  12. attn: Prayer Warriors….Make sure when you send God his instructions for the day you sign it and date it and give your current address and phone number. Many prayers go unanswered because of incomplete forms. With correct and updated information included, check the box of urgency between 1 and !0 . God will know when he received your form and he’ll have his secretary put your instructions on the to-do list. Remember : The sooner you pray ,sign and date it, the quicker you’ll get on the list. If you insist on including your political affiliation, be advised that non-republicans normally will have a much longer wait…..Thank you for your patience, signed: Heaven’s Staff

    Liked by 1 person

  13. David Miller says:

    If praying worked, I’d still have all my hair.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. nemesis says:

    Awesome article!

    Like

  15. The late George Carlin summed up prayer and the divine plane, “If god is going to do it anyway, why the f bother praying in the first place!”
    Wouldn’t Christians be better off doing something (hands on) to address the main causes for abortions instead of just talking about it (praying)?
    How many are keen to become geneticists to help find cures and solutions to prevent deformed embryos, congenital birth defects?
    How many are promoting contraception? Which is worse … people having protected sex, or, people having unprotected sex leading to an unwanted pregnancy leading to an abortion, and possibly the murder of medical staff?
    According to Sy Rogers, there is just as much sexual activity (maybe more so due to sexual repressive teachings of Christianity) inside the church as there is in the outside world, IT is high time the church as a whole recognised this and stopped trying to control normal human relations.
    How many are helping couples or the woman cope with the anxieties and trauma after abortion? Although these women may know they have done the right thing based upon their circumstances and have no regrets, that does not stop them wondering how their aborted kids would have turned out if they had proceeded with the pregnancy, especially on the anniversary of their estimated due date or the date of the abortion.

    To the Christians here who are the light of the world, please, please,stop hiding under a bush in rooms talking about the problems, get out there and get your hands dirty if you really care that much and be the salt and light that you claim you were sent here to be..

    Like

  16. Steve Ruis says:

    How about a sign for women entering abortion clinics “If prayers worked, I wouldn’t be here.”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I love it! Most embryos either fail to implant or spontaneously abort, but unfortunately prayer seems to play no role in the pattern.

    Like

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