By Sammie Gallo, AFL Coordinator of Ministry & Youth Outreach
Have you ever wanted to feel equipped and well prepared to have conversations regarding difficult cultural topics, or prepare your kids to be able to do so? Conversations that are filled with the fruit of the Spirit should be marked by compassion and kindness. This is becoming increasingly difficult; in the past year, since the Dobbs decision marked the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there have been so many profound political, social, and personal testimonies regarding pro-life topics.
The complexity of these conversations about abortion and the pro-life movement can be intimidating for anyone, and that is why it’s so important to start with a solid education about the issue in an effort to combat the complicated cultural environment that we are living in!
Amid the steep learning curve of legislative jargon and American history regarding the abortion issue, the monumental act of overturning a landmark case demands much of the students in today’s world. In a world marked by divisive morality, a teenager’s friendships, popularity, and seemingly, his or her future, depends on opinions about deeply complex issues like abortion.
There’s an opportunity right now. One that places the future generations at the center of the conversation. It’s never been more important for our teens to take initiative and develop their worldview regarding the topic of abortion and protecting preborn children.
Pro-lifers and other pro-family activists must understand the legal protection of human life before entering into these conversations. What the Dobbs decision ultimately decided was that abortion was not a Constitutional right (if you missed our video focusing on this – head over to this page – link here). The argument that abortion falls under “privacy rights” opens the door to other unspeakable injustices, such as harvesting fetal tissues, transgenderism in minors, legalized prostitution, and other hideous sins and crimes. Those who are activists for the protection of life should not feel guilty for opposing these, and other injustices, and we should be proud that – as a nation – the highest court has chosen to uphold the Constitution’s original intent to protect human life.
. . .
I still remember the first time I learned about abortion as a middle schooler. I hadn’t really heard about it from my family, so I ended up hearing about it from peers at school. What started as a normal conversation with my friends quickly morphed into something unfamiliar. I didn’t know half the words that my friends did. I didn’t know what to say or how to respond. But, I quickly observed that I had to have an answer to one critical question.
Do you think abortion is right or wrong?
In that moment, when I had to answer, right or wrong, I felt the weight of my decision. Would I still be liked? Who would view me differently? Would I lose friends? What if I say the wrong thing? Is there more to this than simply right or wrong?
These are only some of the questions that teenagers will continue to face now that Roe v. Wade is overturned. As parents, you have the opportunity and responsibility to show your kids that there’s more to conversations about abortion and the pro-life movement than simply right or wrong.
If you’re a parent, here are some questions you can ask your teen as you walk through these life centered discussions with them.
- If a girl was pregnant at your school and wanted to keep the baby would you know how to help her? Is your school a place where a girl would feel safe to admit they were pregnant? When I’ve asked this question to teens before, I normally receive a loud “no!” The students shared with me that it would be hard for a teen to keep a baby at their schools and feel supported. Some teens making a pregnancy decision will consult a trusted adult, but others won’t, depending on their state’s parental consent laws. It’s easier for a teen to tell her friends than older adults, so it’s important for teens to know how to help their peers. You can utilize optionline.org to find an amazing pregnancy resource center in your area that offers free ultrasounds, parenting support classes and material resources for women and their children. If your teen wants to help girls in this way, equip him or her with pamphlets or resources from your local center.
- Do you ever talk about pro-life views or the issue of abortion on social media – if yes, why? If not, why? I know teens who use Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to share pro-life memes and articles. Although some young people are comfortable sharing their views in this way, others may be afraid to share because of backlash and judgment about the type of person they are.
- Is abortion just a “women’s issue” only or should men have a say? Should the father of a child have any legal rights? For this question, you can bring up common arguments men and women have regarding this topic. Many women argue that because a baby is inside of their body, they alone have the right to make a choice with their pregnancy. Some men argue that if a child is born against their wish they can be legally required to pay child support, so why don’t they have legal rights if they want to keep their baby? Again, this is an important conversation to have as a teenage boy or with your teenage boy; men should and can have a voice in these pro-life issues, especially if we are discipling them well to love their neighbors as themselves and to honor the women they are in relationship with.
- What are some ways you can engage in deeper conversations about abortion with your peers? This is a great place to recommend asking more questions than you do explaining your own position. It’s so important that as Christians we take notes as to what Jesus did on earth; He sought to understand people. In conversations with peers, Seek to understand. In conversations with peers, the newfound ability to debate and argue can be dangerous for the future of friendships as students enter the middle school and high school years. Opinions are developing and conversations can quickly turn into heated debates if we aren’t careful. When volatile topics like abortion are the center of the conversation, it’s important to help students understand how to keep conversations sprinkled with compassion, empathy, but also Truth. Aid your teen in reframing his or her view from a debate to a conversation. Your teen doesn’t have to win for the conversation to be a success – conversations should be thought-provoking and challenging, but they should leave room for God’s Holy Spirit to do the convicting and healing of people’s minds and hearts.
The most important thing that I have learned in having these conversations myself is that people usually speak from a place of hurt, knowledge, or personal experience. It’s important to acknowledge those feelings and recognize when someone is speaking from this place.
For teenagers, knowing how to engage in healthy conversations with peers about abortion and other life issues can lead to authentic care and compassion (not to mention opportunities to truly understand and love someone with a different point of view than you) that may just truly show others the type of love that a relationship with God can offer them.
The greatest command issued to humanity is this: that we love God and love others as He has loved us. This is the core of the pro-life movement, and it is our responsibility, as parents, to echo that in the way we live & teach our children.
Sammie graduated from Robert Morris University in 2017 with a background in biology and psychology and started working with Anglicans for Life (AFL) in 2017. In addition to her work with AFL, she spent 3 years going into public schools with the Women’s Choice Network, speaking to high schoolers about healthy relationships and sex education. She has a passion for making sure every teenager, parent, and youth leader is equipped, engaged, and encouraged to have Gospel-centered conversations regarding relationships, sexuality, and life issues.
Sammie married her best friend, Juan Gallo, in May 2019. During her free time, she and her husband invest in teenagers and young adults in their community, disciple their daughter, Ofie, and Sammie recently began a new career path as a registered nurse in emergency medicine.