What I Learned from Three Strangers at the First Friday Art Walk By Andrea Friedman

Last October, I coordinated a Voices for the Voiceless outreach event on RCC’s front lawn. That night, we posed the following question to over 200 Art Walk enthusiasts: “If your friend texted you ‘Hey, I’m pregnant,’ what would you say?”

We asked respondents to write their responses on a card and clip the card to a creative display for all the community to see.

The premise for this outreach was simple. In America, one in two pregnancies are unplanned, and 43%--almost half—of those pregnancies end in abortions. Statistics show isolation and shame are two of the main reasons that drive people get abortions in the U.S.But here’s the truth: isolation and shame don’t empower anyone to bring new life into this world. Community and hope do.

Our message was met with overwhelming support and understanding. Hundreds of stories were shared as friends, siblings, parents, and boyfriends resonated with the need to #standbyher.

I wanted to share with you three of the most telling responses to "Hey, I'm pregnant" we received that night.

1. "Your body. Your choice. <3"

In an eagerness to help — to remove the problem and make things right again — many are tempted to push the cheapest and seemingly easiest solution (abortion, predominantly). Such one-sided thinking doesn’t factor in the long-term implications that accompany every option she has to choose from.

This slogan was designed to encourage independence. In truth, it recommends isolation in the moment where knowledge of a supportive community is paramount.

2. "Abortion will be the biggest mistake of your life."

On the pro-life side, we often don't respond to unplanned pregnancy very well either.

In order to motivate healthy decision-making, the tendency is to forecast inevitable regret. This response also fails to offer support and is equally unhelpful.

I’ve heard many stories of church members responding to unplanned pregnancy with shaming and sexual moralism that punishes sinners instead of taking the opportunity to offer redemption and hope that overcomes every mistake (including abortion) in the power of the Gospel.

It's true: women often regret choosing abortion. But in that "Hey, I'm pregnant" moment, believers have a higher calling.

3. "Homegirl, can I be the gay uncle?"

Yes, my favorite response of the night was a joke. But let me explain why this response is so great.

First, this guy injects a bit of humor into a very dark situation. Psychologically, women facing unplanned pregnancies often go into survival mode. Dealing with the problem can become everything. Humor (or a simple "how are you feeling") can be tremendously life-giving.

Second, he looks forward to the future with excitement. Despite the overwhelming cultural narrative that unplanned pregnancy means the end of a college degree or career, he looks at her situation and sees a bright future ahead.

Lastly, he shows he isn't going anywhere. No matter what lies ahead, he's going to be right there, ready to listen and to walk with her.

There’s an old saying that goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I believe this is overwhelmingly true.

As community, we must do a better job of supporting and believing in women facing unplanned pregnancies in our city. We must show her that we believe she is capable of the extraordinary strength required to conquer this challenge and go get the bright future that awaits her.

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ABOUT VOICES FOR THE VOICELESS

Voices for the Voiceless is a 501(c)(3) based in Phoenix that helps students and young professionals advocate for life with creativity and compassion, while providing peer-to-peer support to women facing unplanned pregnancies.

Want to get involved? Email andrea@vftv.org or follow us on Instagram @_VFTV