When it comes to abortion, Acho described the church as being “either extremely insensitive, or worse, they’ve been awfully quiet.”
“I can tell you why I’ve been quiet. I feel very humbled,” Smith replied. “I don’t know sometimes the fine line between humbled and humiliated. I’m a person who follows the teachings of Jesus, and one of those teachings says that we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. And in this moment, I feel completely humbled and do not know how to follow that teaching. It just seems impossible to be able to do that in this moment. And I am embarrassed by some of the rejoicing at the at the cost of somebody’s pain.”
Smith shared the New Testament story of the woman who was about to be executed after being caught in an adulteress affair. Much like a woman being left alone in an unwanted pregnancy, the adulteress woman also was alone, the pastor explained.
“In this moment, Jesus didn’t say anything. It’s one of the beautiful silent moments of Jesus. He just got down and wrote in the dirt and then he’s just said this incredible statement. He said, ‘Let him who is without sin throw the first stone,’” Smith said.
“I think, as Christians, as faith leaders, as community leaders, we need to be really in touch with our own shortcomings and our own weaknesses, so that we aren’t prone to just chucking those stones because it feels good,” Smith argued.
Richards-Ross shared about the guilt she felt after experiencing difficulty conceiving, believing that she was being punished by God for her abortion. While her now-husband was supportive of her decision to get an abortion, he never told her to “do it.” Richard-Ross feels that this was his way of unburdening himself of the decision, which made Richard-Ross feel unsupported.
Acosta-Ruiz shared that her partner had told her to get an abortion but that she also felt unsupported, just in a different way. She felt pressured to end the pregnancy.
As the only man in the room, Acho asked the women if a man should “shut-up” or “speak-up” when it comes to abortion.
Abraham said she wants men to be informed and speak up. Currently, she witnesses a “high level of ignorance and assumptions” from men regarding abortion.
“The person who was involved should speak up, and the ones who aren’t should shut up,” Richards-Ross voiced. “It should be a conversation or decision with the two people who are involved…We are autonomous. We are intelligent. We are smart. And I think it is unfair for somebody who I have never met, who cares nothing about me, to make a decision about my body.”
Smith told Acho that he is modeling how men in church leadership can make educated decisions and comments and support women in these moments. Smith called what Acho does during his podcasts “refreshing,” because he stops, listens, and asks questions. The pastor called it a lost art, due to the nature of social media discourse. She further thanked Acho for admitting “that you are a man who does not have a clue what it’s like to be pregnant.”
Speaking to his own conviction regarding role of men in light of the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe, Acho said, “I firmly believe that justice will not be served until those that are unaffected are as outraged as those that are affected. And so after we identify what justice looks like, I think those men that are unaffected need to be as outraged as those women that are affected by it.”
“The second thing I always think about is: you have to be slow to speak and quick to listen,” Acho continued. “That’s why I’m honored to share this space with you all, because as a man, this, for me, is just a time of listening. This is a time of trying to broadcast you all’s stories. This is a time of shining and shedding light on ignorance. Because there are so many different reasons that a woman is faced with that decision of having an abortion. And, like Sanya said, no woman wants to have an abortion. You are just faced with a decision. So I think my position has always listen first, digest, and then with competence, open up and speak.”
Acho asked Abraham to explain the nuance of the pro-choice versus pro-life debate. Pro-choice advocates are labeled as anti-life, but Abraham’s pro-choice decision saved her life, Acho stated.