Angelica Vecchiato, Review:

Help Her Be Brave
by Amy Ford
(Moody Publishers, $7.90, 201 pages)

Panic, fear and shame gripped 19-year-old Amy Ford. Young and in-love, she found herself facing an unplanned pregnancy. Although a steadfast Christian and pro-lifer, feeling pressured, Ford seriously considered an abortion. Too distressed at the doctor’s office to go through with the procedure, she was sent home by the nurse. Ford chose life. She married her then-boyfriend Ryan and gave birth to her son Jess. Now compassionate and understanding of countless other young, pregnant, and unmarried women in a similar situation, Ford became the president of Embrace Grace, a non-profit organisation that works on the grassroots level with churches to help save babies and help the “momma.” In Help Her Be Brave, Ford draws both from her personal and professional experiences with abortion-minded women to highlight the importance of rallying a community in support of mothers facing unplanned pregnancies.

Each chapter concludes with common sense, practical suggestions, varying in levels of commitment, for the everyday passionate pro-lifer looking to become actively involved within the movement and craft a discernible difference in the lives of pregnant mothers considering abortion. While many pro-lifers know the theoretical reasons to support life, Ford offers practical solutions on how to advocate for life on the ground. An overwhelming sense of responsibility is presented to the reader, a forceful urging that it’s up to us to “empower every woman to choose life for her unborn baby,” something which can only be facilitated when the pro-lifer finds his place in the movement, premised upon individual skill sets and passions.

Given the extraordinary statistic that around four in 10 women were attending church regularly at the time of their abortion, Ford believes that abortion, and ministering to its victims, should become more of a parochial prerogative. A theological and pastoral presence is needed. The church, as an institution which must protect the vulnerable, plays an integral role in supporting expectant mothers. It cannot – and mustn’t – reject anybody in need of assistance, regardless of the fact that around 40 per cent of all births are to unmarried women (who are more likely to consider an abortion in comparison to their married counterparts). This assistance stipulates support in all aspects and in all cases, including financial help and emotional support, encompassing instances of adoption. If pro-lifers make the claim that all life has inherent dignity, they should be ready to deliver on that.

Oftentimes single, young pregnant women meet with judgement or feel they will face social ostracization, so they easily cede to the external pressures to have an abortion, applied by their parents, boyfriend, or spouse. Under the church’s guidance, these women need to be accepted with unconditional love, instead of harsh judgement and censure.

Ford, now a mother of four, advances the idea that the “pro-life movement is pro-love.” Embrace Grace, working with local churches, typifies this with “Princess Day” where they treat the pregnant mother to a nice dinner, gifts, and a ceremony to reinforce the idea that she is brave and tremendously courageous for choosing life. Embrace Grace also hosts baby showers, where makeup artists are hired to make the mother feel pretty and delivers love boxes (packed with a onesie, a journal, a book, and a hand-written letter of encouragement) to crisis pregnancy centres in the area. The idea of celebration is enforced in Embrace Grace’s programming because every life is worth rejoicing in. Each momma is welcomed and made to feel loved as a “daughter of God.”

The pro-life movement is expansive and multi-faceted; the skills and abilities of many passionately life-loving people are needed to fill diverse needs. With her “pro-love” acumen, Ford revitalizes the idea of what it means to be pro-life. In name and deed, premised on love, hearts and minds can be won when “we join together, using all the strengths and gifts God put inside each of us.”