Last weekend I saw Unplanned. This past weekend I was privileged to hear Abby Johnson speak at a pro-life fundraiser. Both events were thought-provoking and eye-opening, and a few of the insights I’ve gained have little to do with the actual topic of abortion. One of the main concepts that struck me is the mentality of those on both sides of the issue. Those who fight for womens’ “reproductive rights” are clearly “all in.” They display a commitment that puts most pro-lifers to shame. And although my stance on abortion is quite different from theirs, I appreciate and admire their tenacity and the passion with which they defend their cause.
In Abby Johnson’s book The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories, one former worker says the following: “If there was one thing that I could make the pro-life camp understand about the people who are entrenched in the abortion movement, it would be this: we saw abortion as a civil rights issue. In our minds, we were fighting against a movement that wanted to rip away the rights of women—a battle similar to the ones fought to give women the right to vote or to end segregation. We were willing to sacrifice to an extent that I have unfortunately not seen in the pro-life movement” (p 145).
This former worker explains that threats to their physical safety and attempts to shame them in the community backfired. They saw themselves as martyrs for the cause, and the threats and rhetoric from the other side (the pro-life side) only solidified them more, convincing themselves that they were fighting for a noble cause. They cared enough to do and say things that made people uncomfortable, because of this “feminist holy war of sorts” (p 145).
So what would a pro-life “all in” approach look like? For one thing, it’s time to speak out. Yes, there are vocal pro-lifers out there, but many of us hesitate to speak too loudly because we’re afraid we might offend someone. Abby challenged us with, “Why? The other side certainly isn’t concerned with offending you, so why should you care what other people might think of your stance?” This goes for those in Abby’s shoes as well—women who have had abortions in the past or who have left the abortion industry. If you’re one of the 25% of women who have had an abortion, consider sharing your story with others. God may use your experience to reach someone who finds themselves in a similar desperate situation.
Next, do something. Abby encouraged us not to give “generously,” but to give “sacrificially.” What’s the difference? Generous giving is giving out of our excess; giving what we won’t miss anyhow. Sacrificial giving is going without so someone else can go with. In this case, that means giving of our own time, talents, and treasure so another woman can get the support and love she needs to help her through a difficult pregnancy. Find a local pregnancy center and volunteer. Abby’s mom runs a pregnancy center twenty minutes from my house, and they have a shortage of volunteers. There were 400 of us in attendance at the fundraiser, yet the pregnancy center begs for volunteers. Giving money is easy (but necessary!). Giving time and investing yourself is far more difficult. But it’s so worth it.
Lastly, show up. Those of you who have seen Unplanned might remember the scene where Abby is talking to the people from the Coalition for Life, and they wonder whether or not their presence and their prayers made any difference at all. She assured them that they did. When people showed up outside the clinic to pray, the no-show rate was as high as 75 percent. That’s a staggering number. And just think—all it takes is for you to show up. In her book, Abby encourages, “Your presence will matter. A seed of doubt will be planted in the minds of the women entering the clinic. I’ve never seen a protester holding a sign or praying outside of my dentist’s office. Why? Because there is nothing morally objectionable about filling a cavity. The physical presence outside of the clinic reminds people that there is something very wrong happening in those buildings” (p 149).
Yes, abortion is wrong. But if you’ve had an abortion, encouraged someone else to get an abortion, worked in the abortion industry, or even performed abortions as a doctor, please know that God’s grace covers all your sins. If you find yourself stuck working for an abortion clinic because you don’t know how else to provide for your family, please look into Abby’s organization And Then There Were None, which provides financial, legal, emotional, spiritual, and employment support for those who wish to leave the abortion industry. You are not alone.
Lest you think abortion doesn’t affect Christians all that much, Abby begs to differ. In her experience at the Planned Parenthood clinic, Christian women were the easiest demographic to convince, and they made up a significant percentage of their clients. She saw many women walk into the procedure room clutching a Bible or a rosary in their hands. Why is that? They felt they would be judged for getting pregnant in the first place, so they opted to take care of “the problem.” While this is not an excuse to condone sexual sins, it is a wake-up call that abortion does affect people in the Church and needs to be addressed with love and compassion.
The time to act is now, people. It’s time to go all in. Yes, abortion is a civil rights issue, but not for women’s reproductive rights; rather, we are fighting for the rights of unborn children. Do what you can to be a voice for them. Volunteer your time, talents, and treasure. Speak up. Show up. As Abby says (p 150), “This is how God will use us to end the evil of abortion. Put yourself out there and trust Him to do the rest.”