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For Resolutions Committee member, perceptions changed at a crisis pregnancy center

SBC Resolutions Committee member Dana Hall McCain speaks against an amendment to a resolution that would, in effect, have regarded women who obtain abortions as "murderers." Photo by Adam Covington

NASHVILLE (BP) – Dana Hall McCain’s introduction to Southern Baptists has a direct tie to the ones she has encountered in her years as a volunteer for a pregnancy resource center in Dothan, Ala.

As a member of the Resolutions Committee, McCain’s impassioned response Tuesday (June 15) evening to a proposed amendment for a resolution on abortion connected with messengers. The amendment, in effect, would have regarded women who obtain abortions as “murderers.”

“I share your passion for ending the scourge of abortion. Pardon me if I get emotional about this,” said McCain, her voice wavering as she explained how conversations with women at Wiregrass Hope Group had impacted her.

Before volunteering with the center, McCain admitted, she would have been in line with adopting the proposed amendment. “However, what the Lord has shown me sitting in those rooms across from broken women is so many of them have been victimized by the sin of others,” she said. Such actions included not only generational sin, but having parents “who never took them to church and preached the Gospel to them the way mine did to me.

“Yes,” she continued, “abortion is sin, and one of the things we impart to those women when we love them, care for them, and minister to them is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth about the sin of abortion, and we do call them to repentance. But I’m also telling you that when we take a punitive and hard-hearted position toward women who are at a crossroads – that usually a whole lot of people’s sin brought them to – we’re not having the mind of Christ toward those women.”

Loud applause met McCain’s testimony. The amendment failed and the resolution passed. The next day, a resolution calling abortion the “murder [of] a preborn image-bearer” passed after being presented from the floor. That resolution, however, did not call women who seek abortions murderers.

McCain, a member of First Baptist Church in Dothan, explained separately to Baptist Press how volunteering in the center was “life-altering.”

“I had always been a person of deep convictions and deep passions,” she said. “For me, the abortion issue had always been extraordinarily black-and-white. But once I started interacting with the average woman who seeks an abortion, the Lord humbled me in a lot of my assumptions about their lives and the amount of agency they possess to make a good decision.”

A list of characteristics took shape among her clients. The woman lived in poverty. She didn’t have access to quality education or health care. She had not grown up in a nuclear family and was often raised by a grandmother.

Another common factor appeared, one for which McCain admitted she wasn’t prepared.

“It emerged as a theme over and over again that many of these vulnerable women were also victims of sexual abuse and molestation,” she said. “In these unstable family structures and within the poverty community, children are so vulnerable. Time and time again stories [of abuse] included mom’s boyfriend, a shady uncle or this guy living with grandma.”

The picture of a healthy, biblically-orthodox understanding of sex and God’s design for family was essentially destroyed for these girls at a young age, she added. “It became very difficult for me to look at the woman in front of me with a story like that and have anything other than deep compassion for her.

“That pregnancy was often the result of abuse and the guy would be waiting outside in the car. These girls would practically sneak in to talk to us while he was trying to get her in the car and go to Tallahassee ‘to take care of it.’”

McCain, a writer with bylines in publications including al.com, the Birmingham News and the Montgomery Advertiser, had to step away from volunteering a year ago to help with her husband’s business. She stressed that the sin of abortion must be addressed, but so must seeing these women for who God created them to be.

“We need to help them learn to be a good Christian parents, but also to know about the salvation offered in Christ,” she said. “So many are starving for that. Those conversations radically changed my perception on how to view women who stand at the crossroads. Their unborn child is loved and created in the image of God, and so is she.”