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40 days to pray for pro-choice | Sex in the Suburbs
The other day, I was talking with a friend about parenting. We were connecting over the idea that we instilled in our children that they have choices, hoping to empower them to make mostly responsible and life-giving ones.
Then, at some point, they inevitably make a choice we wouldn’t make — but it is their choice, and we have taught them to do that. We need then to decide how to help them live with that choice, to stand with them, but not in their way as they move forward.
And then, I drove down 348th Street in Federal Way. There, on the sidewalk outside where our local Planned Parenthood is located, were several folks with large posters with scripture on them. It’s Lent, and the “40 Days of Life” campaign has people on the sidewalk praying and opposing abortion, until Easter.
Even if you are aware of the “40 Days of Life” campaign, you may not know about the “40 Days of Prayer” alternative. Started by an organization called Faith Aloud (www.faithaloud.org/faith/), “40 Days of Prayer” was developed to support people in their reproductive decision-making without shame.
These are not people who are pro-abortion. They are pro-choice. And this choice is legal in the United States, even if it’s one we would never make nor want our children to make. The fact is, one in three women in our country will make this challenging choice by the time they reach age 45. I don’t know all of their reasons, but I do know that some of them include sexual assault, incest, lack of access to contraception, and ignorance about how pregnancy occurs.
Even so, the only time it’s my decision about what a woman does with her body - is when it’s my body.
Here is a sampling of the Faith Aloud belief statements (reprinted with permission):
• That all persons desiring to be parents should have the right and opportunity to do so.
• That no one should be forced into pregnancy, parenthood or narrowly defined parenting roles.
• That abortion, adoption, and parenting can all be good moral decisions.
• That God’s love is available in all life’s complex decisions.” (More can be viewed at www.faithaloud.org/faith/index.php).
I know there are those of you who think this is blasphemy. But I also know there are those of you who might find a sense of peace or comfort to know this organization exists. You might even want to pray along with these folks for each of the remaining 40 days of Lent with prayers like:
• Today we pray for women, for whom pregnancy is not good news, that they know they have choices.
• Today we pray for compassionate religious voices to speak out for the dignity and autonomy of women.
• Today we pray for our daughters and granddaughters, that they will always know the power of making their own good decisions.
• Today we ask for blessings upon the women who pass through hostile protesters on their way into an abortion clinic. May they be shielded from physical and emotional harm from those who do not know them.
• Today we pray for women who were joyfully expecting a child, but have learned that the pregnancy was not sustainable. (Prayers courtesy of Faith Aloud. More at www.faithaloud.org).
I hope none of you are ever in a place where you have to make a choice about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. But if you are, or if you have been, I hope this information will help you to know there are people of faith who stand with you instead of in your way.
Amy Johnson, MSW, is a trainer, educator and coach in the Pacific Northwest. She is co-author of the books, “Parenting by Strengths: A Parent’s Guide for Challenging Situations” and “Homegrown Faith and Justice.” Amy facilitates classes and workshops in the Puget Sound area and online. She specializes in working with parents and in sexuality education. Amy can be reached at email@example.com.