If you have a friend who confides in you that she is pregnant, she may think that getting an abortion will easily solve her problem and that there's nothing wrong with it.
She probably doesn't know that abortion isn't just a fast, easy procedure with no long-term complications. Rather, research and personal testimonies of millions of women show that abortion can have emotional and medical repercussions that last a lifetime.
What can you do to help guide your friend away from abortion and toward choosing life for her baby? More than you might think.
Begin with love, care, acceptance and emotional support.
Your friend may have the false view that anyone who is pro-life is mean, uncaring, judgmental or a religious fanatic. However, with love and care, you can help change her perspective and lead her to safer and wiser options than abortion.
You will probably not be successful in steering your friend away from abortion unless you genuinely care about her — and not just because you are trying to stop her from getting an abortion. If you are perceived as only caring about not wanting her to do it because abortion is killing a baby, your friend may be tempted to run to someone who is more emotionally supportive.
The first way you show that you care is by not judging her.
When one of my friends came to high school pregnant the fall after our junior year, I was relieved that she didn't choose abortion. I was also certain that given the right circumstances and temptations, any girl in our class could've ended up in a similar situation. This perspective helped me to accept her.
I thought Jennifer probably already struggled with shame, so rather than judge her by asking, "What were you thinking?" or "You shouldn't have had sex with your boyfriend," I told her that I would still be her friend no matter what. The result? She asked me to be her bridesmaid at her wedding, and 20 years later at our high school reunion she said, "You were one of the only friends who didn't judge me."
Judging can show up in our body language, the condemning things we say and when we come across with a prideful, “correcting” attitude.
An important thing to remember is that your friend is experiencing grief. She may feel like she's losing many things: her youth and a good relationship with her boyfriend and parents. You can be a safe place by listening without correcting and not talking behind her back.
Tell her the truth when she asks if you think she should get an abortion.
It may be very difficult to tell your friend not to have an abortion because you might feel that it's her decision. However, because abortion will negatively affect both her and her baby, the best way to be a genuine friend is to tell her the truth.
When she asks you for your opinion or advice, you'll have an open opportunity to say, "Please don't have an abortion." Give her a hug, tell her that you know she's afraid and reassure her that you won't abandon her. Let her know there are other options. If she's comfortable with it, you can also hold her hands and pray for her.
Take her to a pregnancy resource center.
Think back to the last time when something in your life devastated, confused and hurt you. No matter how hard you tried, you simply couldn't go through your tough time alone. Neither can your friend. Most likely, she's feeling myriad emotions: fear, anger, disappointment, self-hatred, anxiety and confusion. These emotions can keep her from thinking clearly. This is where you come in.
Tell your friend that you would like to support her by taking her to a pregnancy resource center where she can receive free confirmation of her pregnancy, along with confidential, non-judgmental counseling regarding her options. You can find one in your area by visiting OptionLine.org, or by looking in your local listings under "Abortion Alternatives." Make every effort to accompany your friend rather than just give her the center's telephone number.
Encourage her that the visit will be a chance for her to gather the information she needs to make a good decision, and that the counselors at the center have no financial interest in what she chooses, unlike an abortion clinic.
If she is reluctant to go, remind her again that she's not alone, and that she doesn't have to make any decisions right away. This way, she won't have to make a rash choice in a panic that could negatively affect her for the rest of her life.
The center will provide the support that you need, too, because you won't be able to walk her through her crisis alone. Many pregnancy resource centers offer free ultrasound services, prenatal care, low- and no-cost baby supplies, adoption referrals and plenty of other services. Staff members are often women who have experienced unplanned pregnancies and abortions themselves, so they can provide comfort, an understanding ear and reassurance.
Remember that this is a process.
Once you've encouraged your friend, told her the truth about abortion and taken her to a pregnancy resource center, remember that she'll continue to need you as she walks through her pregnancy. It will be a process of listening and supporting as she shares many emotions over the months ahead.
Who knows? Maybe she will be like my high school friend, and 20 years from now she may recall that you were a true friend in the midst of her crisis.