On Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, Jan. 21, Southern Baptists will turn their attention to the value of human beings, including unborn children. While Sylvia Boothe welcomes the attention, she challenges Southern Baptists to be actively involved in such issues throughout the year.
As director of the Home Mission Board's Alternatives to Abortion Ministries office, Boothe advocates involvement blended with compassion. "We have a powerful message," she says. "We need to tender our message with love and compassion and forgiveness and restoration."
About 1.5 million babies — one in every 2.8 babies conceived — are aborted each year in the United States, Boothe says.
Southern Baptist churches and associations are involved in hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers, Boothe says. Crisis pregnancy centers are locally funded and locally staffed. Consequently, their affiliation and procedures vary but typically a woman comes to a crisis pregnancy center for the free pregnancy test.
How the woman responds to the results of the pregnancy test helps volunteers know how to proceed.
"Usually she's scared to death and it takes the last ounce of her energy to open the door and come in," says Boothe who directed the crisis pregnancy center in Oklahoma City before joining the HMB staff in 1988. Women are counseled about alternatives to abortion and ways the center can help, such as assistance with housing, medical care and maternity clothing. Centers seek to minister to physical, emotional and spiritual needs, she says.
Boothe travels across the country encouraging churches to develop a crisis pregnancy ministry. For new crisis pregnancy centers, Boothe offers 18 hours of training for volunteers. In other settings, 12-hour conferences are provided to teach people how to minister to everyone involved in the pregnancy and how to pool resources in the community.
What can you do?
• Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center.
• Call people to sexual abstinence outside of marriage and to purity in thought, word and deed.
• Preach on the sanctity of life.
• Become educated about the issues and educate others. For example, Sylvia Boothe says many people are not aware that abortions are legal during all nine months of pregnancy.
• Ask your doctor if he performs abortions or refers people for abortions. Find a doctor who doesn't.
• Learn how your state and national government representatives vote on abortion and family issues. Write them, asking them to initiate or support legislation on life issues.
• Write a courteous, factual letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
• Provide public, school and church libraries with the best books available on related subjects.
• Prepare yourself or provide someone who can speak to local school students on the subjects of abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases and dating.
• Run for a position on the school board.
Resources on Abortion Alternatives
• "Help I'm Pregnant," a 14-minute video that introduces the concept of a crisis pregnancy center. $9.50. Available through local Baptist associations.
• A 24-minute video, "Heart of the Matter," presents ultra-sound pictures of a developing baby, explains abortion procedures and addresses post abortion trauma. Hosted by actress Lisa Whelchel, the video includes testimonies from women who have chosen abortion, adoption and single parenting. $19.95.
• No Easy Choices, a book written by Sylvia Boothe, helps Christians know how to minister to women in crisis pregnancies. $3.95.
• Not An Easy Time, also by Boothe, is intended for young women who are pregnant. The book includes information on how to take care of themselves and where to find help they need. The message of God's love and forgiveness is included. $1.25.
• To order these materials, call HMB customer services at 1-800-634-2462 or fax the order to 1-800-253-2823.
• For more information on alternatives to abortion ministries, call Boothe's office at 1-800-962-0851.
Reported abortions since the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973 are equal to the combined populations of the states shaded below.