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What We Learned From Paxton Smith

abortion debate grace prograce prograce news vision Jun 21, 2021

Recently the Texas state legislature passed the Heartbeat Bill, which bans abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected (usually about six weeks), regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. 

Many people on both sides have issued statements and posted opinions. Because ProGrace doesn’t take a political stand, I’m not going to comment on the law. I know from years of research and experience that women don’t have abortions simply because they are legal. They have abortions because of the narratives coming from the culture, their family, and even their church that cause intense panic, isolation, and shame when facing an unintended pregnancy.

One of the statements that has gotten the most attention is Paxton Smith’s Valedictorian speech. She set aside her approved script and instead delivered a speech about the new law because “in light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state.”

The part of her speech that impacts me the most is this:

“I have dreams and hopes and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does, and we have spent our entire lives working towards our future, and without our input and without our consent our control over that future has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter.”

We need to stop and really listen to Paxton’s fears. She is not exaggerating. We know from research that ProGrace has been conducting from 2008 through 2019 that many women facing an unintended pregnancy feel as though their life as they know it will be over if they continue the pregnancy. Their fears are even deeper than what Paxton is stating. They fear their very identity is at stake, that they will no longer be the person they thought they were.

This narrative, and the fears it creates, is the true enemy behind abortion and the reason I am committed to partnering with God to change this negative story. I believe He wants to do that through His Church, living out His radical grace. I vote my conscience when it comes to abortion and other social issues, but I don’t put my faith in politicians or policy to bring true, lasting change. For that, we need God to move.

So wherever you stand politically, if you are a Christian who believes that God has a better plan for every woman and every child than abortion, can you take a minute to sit and reflect on Paxton’s words? Ask God to give you more of His perspective on the root reasons why women have abortions, and how we can both empathize with them and support them.

And then, let’s dream together and start believing God that we can leave a better legacy to young women like Paxton than a collective narrative that their life will be over if they become pregnant unintentionally. It’s a huge task. But imagine if we go on this journey together, one person and one church at a time and work to:

  • Wrestle with our mental models around unintended pregnancy and abortion, asking the Spirit to show us any hidden judgments or perspectives that aren’t Christlike
  • Shift the conversation in our churches to always be through the lens of the Gospel and the grace of Christ
  • Intentionally create supportive communities where both women and children can thrive, during and after pregnancy

It’s what ProGrace is all about.

And I’m honored to be on this journey with you.


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