Learning How to be Pro-Life in the Philippines
By Susanna De A.
It was a normal day at our mission post in Malaybalay, Philippines. I was at our house when one of our close Filipina friends told my mission partner that she was feeling sick and nauseous. She looked like she was in a lot of pain. After some probing, she told her that she had taken some kind of abortifacient because she was afraid she was pregnant, and she had been pressured by her live-in partner and his family not to have another baby.
My mission partners came to me, looking worried and helpless. “Can you talk to her?” We all felt very ill-equipped. I had never really talked about contraception or abortion to anyone before, though I’ve read plenty of material on it. In India, nobody talks about contraception in the church, and I’ve never heard anyone verbally explain why it is wrong. In third world countries like India and the Philippines, there is an unspoken feeling that ‘It doesn’t apply to us.’ With women struggling with poverty and providing for their existing children, it just seems like we are adding another burden on their shoulders.
But this is what I believe—the truth is not a burden, but something that sets us free. I knew how hard these women’s lives were, and our missionaries were already doing all they could to lighten those burdens through taking them on hospital visits, giving some jobs, and giving them bags of food supplies whenever they needed it, and when we could afford it. We wanted to love them, and I knew that love meant telling them the truth. But that meant actually spelling out why contraception and abortion were wrong.
“I don’t know what I’m doing! How can a single girl who has all she needs talk to a poor, pregnant, mother of one about such a sensitive issue?”
I was spurred on by the fact that some of the contraceptives that these women used were medically unsafe, and proved to have very harmful effects on women. I did not want our friend to get hurt, and I did not want the (possible) baby in her womb to be hurt.
I grabbed one of Jason Evert’s leaflets, and whispered a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit. I sat down with her and began to share with her why contraception and abortion were wrong. I knew that it was not something easy to hear, especially in her situation.
I told her “Even if they tell you that you have to do this, you are the one who must protect that baby. It is a real baby inside you, a real life.” She wouldn’t look me in the eye, but we could see the pain she was suffering as she cried. We prayed for her, and told her that we would be there to support her if she really was pregnant. When she left that day, we were not sure whether anything we said had really convinced her.
The next day she came back and said “I was planning to go home yesterday and take three of those pills, but because you talked to me I changed my mind. Susanna told me ‘Even if no one else supports you, YOU have to protect your baby.’ So I stood up to my husband, and I am going to protect my baby.”
Alleluia! We shuddered to think what would have happened to HER, if she had taken those three pills, let alone the poor baby. We took her for a pregnancy test and found out that she WAS pregnant! My mission partner bought a chocolate cake and prenatal pills to celebrate, to remind her that a baby was ALWAYS a cause for celebration no matter how bleak the circumstances. We assured her that we were her friends and would help her with this pregnancy.
Over the next few months, the pregnancy progressed. We took her for ultrasounds and check-ups. She confided to me that she was really afraid that the baby would be affected by the pills she had already taken. What if the baby was deformed? I reminded her that the baby would still be a precious human being. But we often laid our hands on her big tummy and prayed for protection and healing. Our friend’s faith fluctuated, but her baby continued to grow in her womb. Slowly the baby’s father’s heart changed towards the baby.
I left the Philippines in November, to return to my own country, and it was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to my friend. The baby was due in January, and I was sad that I couldn’t be there for the birth. But God took care of it! On January 27th, our friend gave birth to a healthy little girl, and two of the Malaybalay missionaries, Lora and Abi Eckstine were at her side the whole time, helping with the birth.
God cared enough about that little Filipino baby that he sent missionaries across the world to make sure she would be born safely. ‘Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.’ Isaiah 49:15
This was the first time I have been directly involved in speaking against contraception and abortion, but I know it will not be the last, especially now that I am back in India.
Will you pray for the world-wide pro-life movement and for all the women and children at risk because of the pressure to use harmful contraceptives, or to be sterilized, to undergo abortions and in many horrific cases even to kill their own baby girls? We’re counting on you!