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Column: Being 'pro-life' does not end with the birth of a child

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Being “pro-life” means supporting programs that help families in crisis and children grow up healthy.

In May, our state Legislature passed House Bill 4327, which became the strictest abortion ban in the nation when Gov. Kevin Stitt signed it into law. I believe we are morally obligated to protect innocent life, and I was proud to vote in favor of this legislation.

I am truly honored and humbled to be allowed to represent the constituents of my district and to have the opportunity to support this bill. However, I do not write this article as a legislator. Instead, because I have been a church member much longer than I have been a legislator, I want to write today as a follower of Christ.

To be perfectly honest, I am worried.

I am worried that we will see this new law as a victory and not just one battle. I am worried that we will step away from the battle partway through.

The battle to support life does not end when a child is born; it’s not even the halfway point. Rather, being pro-life means being for all of life.

It means ensuring that a child not only has the chance to take their first breath, but also to grow and thrive and to be loved. Banning abortion does nothing to address the situation that a child will be born into.

If there are mental health issues, drug or alcohol addiction, abuse, violence, poverty or family dysfunction, those problems will all still be present. The only difference is that there will now be a newborn in the mix.

The church has been a strong leader in the fight for innocent lives, and I hope and pray that it continues that leadership. With HB 4327 now enacted and banning abortion in our state, I hope the army of volunteers who rallied and held up signs to protest abortion will cont- inue to rally and transition to holding sign-ups.

We need opportunities for volunteers to sign up as foster parents, to hold respite child care opportunities and to be mentors for struggling parents.

We need volunteers to host addiction recovery groups and to walk alongside those who are struggling on their road to recovery. And we need church members tithing so that our churches have the resources they need to help families in crisis.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, there are currently 6,798 children in foster care, but only 2,030 families have opened their homes to care for them.

That number of children is down from the 20-year high of over 11,000 in 2007, but the amount of foster homes is still not sufficient.

Coincidentally, if you believe in coincidence, according to ChurchAngel there are currently 6,870 churches in the state. So, if every church would identify and support just one family who is willing to foster, we would have a home for every child in foster care in Oklahoma.

Some churches are likely to find more than one willing family, which would help us prepare for the rise in foster cases we may see over the next several years.

State and local government agencies are important partners and will certainly have a role to play in this effort. However, it is clear that the church is called to lead in the area of meeting peoples’ needs.

The book of James tells us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Every child has a right to life. A life where they are loved, valued and cared for. I pray that we continue to strive to meet their needs and ensure those rights for them.

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Rep. Jeff Boatman, a Republican, represents Oklahoma House District 67.


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