Editor’s note. This appeared today at Life Issues Forum which is a bi-weekly column written by staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat . It was adapted and shortened from the 2017-2018 USCCB Respect Life Program brochure by the same name: www.usccb.org/l-o-v-e.
If someone shared with you that she was pregnant and hadn’t ruled out having an abortion, would you know how to respond? Although the first instinct may be to convince her that abortion ends a baby’s life, hearing facts is not the first thing she needs. Research shows that many women in a pregnancy crisis think, “This is the end of my life as I know it.” To face the challenges before her, your friend needs to know you care about her for her own sake and she is not alone.
First listening to your friend will help build trust and facilitate openness. Eventually, when she knows you truly care about her and she trusts you, you can share the truth in love. You can share facts about abortion, her own intrinsic worth, and the practical help and support available so she can choose life for herself and her baby.
Consider the four steps of the L.O.V.E. Approach™*: Listen and Learn, Open Options, Vision and Value, and Extend and Empower.
L Listen and Learn
First, prioritize listening over speaking. You don’t have to worry about whether you may say something “wrong,” and you don’t need to have all the answers. Start by listening to her story.
Ask her about her feelings, thoughts, values, beliefs, and wants. Do not interrupt, except to ask her to expound, when appropriate. Ask open-ended questions, and confirm what you think you are hearing.
O Open Options
When her story is fully shared, it is your turn to provide factual information, always in a loving and caring way. You might share about the reality of abortion and the wounds that typically result. As they relate to her life, you might share experiences about having a baby, adoption, and marriage. It’s most helpful to keep the focus on her.
V Vision and Value
Awaken a vision in her for a healthier life (a vision she may never have had, or that may have dimmed). Help her value herself differently. She is a special creation, worthy of love. Reassure her there is always hope and she is not alone. She can make positive, life-giving choices. She can do it.
E Extend and Empower
Provide practical help and support. Her local pregnancy help center (heartbeatinternational.org/worldwide-directory) can offer consultation, lists of community resources, and ultrasound services. Consider keeping such lists of resources in your car, purse, or wallet. Help her plan next steps.
The L.O.V.E. Approach™ is a way to bring Christ’s love at a crucial life-saving and life-defining moment. We are created to walk with and support one another. May we not hesitate to reach out in love.