If there’s one question every Stand By Her advocate must be able to answer, it’s how to respond to the words “I’m pregnant.”
In this live AMA, Hope Women’s Center Executive Director Tammy Abernethy explains her practical approach to helping women in unplanned pregnancies to feel safe, heard, and cared for across the Phoenix-metro area and beyond.
Every year, at least 400,000 women in unplanned pregnancies choose abortion because of a lack of support from their partners, coworkers, friends, and parents. Changing that starts with us.
Whether you’re new to the Stand By Her movement or a seasoned expert, Tammy has something for you. Click the video below and hit start at the 7:30-mark to watch.
Here’s an overview of the show.
[11:25] How Tammy’s approach has changed: Tammy noticed that the language of the pro-life agenda formerly used in her pregnancy care clinics was forming a wall between her and the women walking through her doors. This recognition led her to develop a pro-grace approach, which is focused on listening more and talking less.
[14:32] The psychological challenges of unplanned pregnancy: Women in unplanned pregnancies are probably experiencing shame, panic, and isolation. She likely isn’t ready to think about her options, and the last thing she needs is people telling her what she should do. She needs someone to give her the space to process at her own pace.
[20:30] Providing trauma-informed care: Trauma causes a flight-or-freeze response. She needs to know that she’s physically and emotionally safe to process her situation in an agenda-free environment. That means not only providing a safe space to process, but also helping her identify people in her life that can offer support.
[23:13] The effect of shame: Guilt says “I made a mistake.” Shame says “I am a mistake.” Only empathy has the power to overcome her shame. We must give her a vision for her future. By doing so, we are ultimately caring for both her and her child.
[29:19] What it looks like to care for her on a personal level: Seek to understand her and her story, and recognize that the choice is hers. Make sure she knows that she can trust you no matter what she decides.
[33:26] Harmful responses from well-intentioned people: It may feel natural to congratulate her on her pregnancy, but recognize that she may not be excited about it. Ask her how she feels, and let her direct the conversation.
[38:14] Making her feel safe: Leave your agenda behind, and listen before you speak. She probably won’t remember 90% of what you say, but she will remember how you made her feel.
[40:44] Creating space for vulnerability in clinics and faith communities: Every day, Hope Women’s Center strives to make it clear to her that she will always be welcome through their doors no matter what decision she makes. It is ultimately her choice, and we should honor that. Churches tend to struggle with this. Four out of 10 women who choose abortion identify as church-going at the time, but only 7% of them turn to their faith communities for advice.
[51:46] Creating space for vulnerability at home: Even as parents present their wisdom in a loving way, they should affirm that there is nothing their kids could do to separate them from their love. Many women choose abortion because they don’t want to shame their parents.
[56:41] Ensuring long-term empowerment: Worry less about how long the relationship lasts, and just be open to being there for a season or a lifetime. Focus first and foremost on building a relationship with her and supporting her.
[1:00:42] Her choice is not your responsibility: Despite your best intentions, you can’t control another human being’s choices. Continue to embrace her and love her, extending the same kind of grace that you have been extended many times over.
Thank you for being part of this important conversation. We hope you feel better equipped to empower women in your community!
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