The work of a Pregnancy Care Centre is neither easy nor popular. The women with unexpected pregnancies who seek our assistance often face immense emotional, financial, social, and spiritual pressures to choose abortion. Supporting them and enabling them to face these pressures requires a tremendous investment of time and energy and emotion from highly dedicated staff and a large network of volunteers and supporters.
Society at large does not generally value this kind of service to women and some actively oppose it: PCCs are sometimes falsely accused of obstructing access to abortion and of misleading women with false information about abortion. Some opponents are actively seeking to undermine the work of PCCs through the removal of charitable organization status and through attacks on social media.
In the face of this opposition to very challenging work, the question arises, “Why do we do it?”
The Pregnancy Care Centre of Toronto holds three central convictions that compel us to this difficult and important work, convictions that derive from and align with the ethos of the Christan gospel.
First, we believe that while there are unexpected pregnancies, there are no unintended pregnancies
No matter how unplanned or unexpected a pregnancy, we are convinced that it has happened on purpose, that it is God’s intention. This is a bold claim: it suggests that there is nothing random or pointless about our existence, that each of us exists on purpose, that we are truly and objectively meaningful and significant.
To a culture awash in the assumption that human existence is, at root, without purpose or meaning, this claim sounds deeply implausible. We are indoctrinated into a fallacious philosophical interpretation of evolutionary theory as succinctly summarized by the American paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson: “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.”
We couldn’t disagree more.
The evidence that we exist on purpose and by intention is all around us. The very capacity of our minds to form purposes and designs (“intentional states”) requires that we originate from something that can imbue that capacity—a Personal Mind, not merely an impersonal mechanism.
The evidence of design in the natural world around us is overwhelming, whether one considers the fine-tuning of the cosmos for life, the massive volumes of information contained in biological molecules, or the finely balanced homeostatic mechanisms of mammalian physiology. Such design points unavoidably to a Designer and thence to deep purpose behind all things. Yet the clearest evidence of our deep individual purpose and significance comes from God’s self-disclosure in the words of Scripture:
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
In your book were written, every one of them
The days that were formed for me,
When as yet there was none of them.
This conviction propels us to treat every woman who enters our doors with the utmost respect and care and to serve her to the best of our abilities: she is there on purpose.
Second, we do this work because we are convinced that love is better than freedom
Our society prizes personal freedom as the highest good. Love is often regarded as nothing more than an expression of personal freedom and desire. But genuine love entails commitment and service, and this always comes at the cost of personal freedom.
An unexpected pregnancy presents us with a profound choice between freedom and love, between seeking an abortion to be liberated from the constraints of caring for a child or to accept those constraints and to choose not to abort. Indeed, this choice between love and freedom is precisely how the philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson represented abortion in her famous (and flawed) argument for the moral permissibility of abortion: we have no duty of love, and we have the right to freedom.
This choice is presented not only to the pregnant woman, but also to her partner or spouse, her parents, her friends, even her church: are we willing to choose love at the price of freedom in service of this woman and her child?
We say ‘yes’, because we believe that love is better than freedom. Why?
First: love is an end in itself—it is its own reward—but freedom is merely a means to other ends. The intimacy and communion of love is what we ultimately yearn for and seek after. Freedom, on the other hand, enables the pursuit of fulfillment but cannot in itself grant fulfillment.
Second: a life of selfless giving yields the reward of deep joy; sacrificial love engenders great love in return. By contrast, the pursuit of absolute freedom from all constraint leaves us profoundly isolated. Deep loneliness is the high price to pay for absolute freedom.
Jesus himself sets the example. In his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus was not concerned primarily with his own interests, but with ours. Philippians 2:7-8 highlights his example of selfless giving: “Jesus…emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” Jesus chose love over freedom. So we invite the Christian community to follow our Lord in choosing love over freedom, to manifest the selfless love of Christ through the sacrifice of time and money and comfort to support these women.
Finally, we believe that life is for living
Our goal is not merely to enable a woman to carry her pregnancy to term so that the baby is born. Rather, our goal is for her and her baby and her family to thrive and to flourish. Flourishing is a rich concept: it entails peace, harmony, joy, and fulfillment as one exercises one’s God-given gifts to their full potential. It signifies an abundant life, the kind of life that the gospel of Jesus aims at: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
We therefore concern ourselves with the well-being of the mother by striving to provide the security, support, community, and love that enable to her to flourish according to God’s intentions. We invite these women to enjoy the shalom offered in the good news of God’s love and grace shown to us through Jesus, an invitation that must be accompanied by efforts to meet practical needs.
It’s not enough merely to say, “Go in peace; be warmed and filled” (James 2:16). To this end, the community offered by our ministry partners is profoundly important and central to the care and support of these incredibly courageous women.
In sum, the way of self-sacrificial love can be much harder than the way of freedom, but we have consistently found that our clients experience very little regret in retrospect. They hold the fruits of self-giving love—God’s intentional and deliberate gift of life and joy—in their arms.