Pro-Choice … Choose Life

I had the privilege of attending the annual fund raising banquet for Care Net Pregnancy Care Center of the Finger Lakes last night. And it was an honor to meet and talk with the guest speaker, Kristan Hawkins, pro-life speaker and president of Students for Life of America (SFLA).

Kristan, 37 weeks pregnant with her third son, was hired in 2006 as the first executive director of SFLA. During that span, she has helped to more than triple the number of campus pro-life groups in the United States — from 181 loosely organized chapters to almost 700 well-organized chapters in 49 states. Last year, the SFLA National Conference drew 2,000 attendees — up from 450 in 2007. It was the largest pro-life conference in the nation.

She could have spent the evening heralding the remarkable uptick in numbers. But those are just statistics.

Instead, she made a couple of relevant points. First, her generation is decidedly anti-abortion — with a much higher percentage than my generation. Second, her generation does not know nor remember life without virtual abortion on demand.

Then she segued into what I felt was the meat of the evening — building relationships with clients.

It got me to thinking about approaches we take, not only on pro-life issues {I don’t like that phrase, but I’ll get to that in a minute}, but in our Christian outreach as well. Armed with the “truth” we’re blinded by the fact others aren’t as enlightened. We want to go out into the world, stick out our hand, say “Hi, I’m … Here’s a bible tract for you” and then can’t understand why the reception is cool — or frozen. “What’s wrong with these people,” we mull to ourself. “How can they not see the truth?”

Well, maybe we didn’t take the time to listen. We’re projecting our beliefs on others … without knowing — or sometimes caring — what their circumstances are, what hurts they have, what baggage they are carrying. We believe so we believe they should believe as well.

It reminded me of my time in Toledo. There was a pastor at a deteriorating downtown parish, Fr. Bob. To put it mildly, Fr. Bob was a, uh, character. He often “embarrassed” the hierarchy. His language was, to be nice, coarse and salty. Expletives were a constant part of his vocabulary. Only once did I ever see him with his Roman collar on — under his vestments at a Mass I attended to pitch the value of the Catholic press to a sparse congregation. The collar came off with his vestments as he donned his hole-ly, weather-beaten sweater as we went downstairs  to a basement filled with homeless, street people, addicts, prostitutes and others no one wanted to talk about. He knew each one of them by name and circumstance and gave me — decked in my suit and tie — a recap as I helped dish out eggs and bacon and coffee.

“Upstairs are my parishioners,” he told me. “Here is my congregation. If I don’t do what I can to help them, who will?”

In subsequent conversations — Karen and I went there a number of times to help out and Karen was part of Angie’s Ministry, an outreach to bring sandwiches and, during the winter, blankets to the street people of Toledo who huddled under bridges and otherwise out of public sight — Fr. Bob told me he doubted he would ever “convert” any of them, but they needed “know they were loved.”

Fast forward to last night. During a client testimony, we were told about a woman who had visited the center a number of times for services. She was anti-God and wanted no part of the gospel sharing or bible study offered … until she found herself pregnant again. A staff member casually suggested she had to break free from the cycle and was willing to help. A couple of weeks later she returned to the clinic, but had decided to keep the child and her heart was softened to at least consider the “God thing.” She stopped in a couple of weeks ago with her son and told the staff she was now working and some of the women there had asked her to attend church with them.

She needed to know she was loved, I thought.

Kristan drove home the same point. Her examples weren’t about statistics or slick flyers or planned events. It was about a college coed at a Christian college, a popular cheerleader, who was contemplating abortion until a band geek heard her crying in her dorm room and took the time to tell her she was there to listen, talk and help. It was about using women who went through the trauma of abortion as spokeswomen for the pro-life cause {there we go again with that descriptor}. They have one-on-one stories to tell that will have much impact on others in similar situations.

I don’t think the movement should be called pro-life. I think we should proudly proclaim we are pro-choice … only we choose life.

I can’t presume to know another’s walk. I, as a man, will never know the emotional side of an unwanted or unintended pregnancy. I can’t tell a woman — or man — what to do. They have to make their own choices. I can’t “save” them; I can only be a conduit to allow the Lord to do His thing … in His time.

I think we should de-emphasize abortion as part of our platform. Instead, I think we should emphasize education … one-on-one interpersonal skills … offering options … meeting these women (and men) where they are, not where we are … restoring self-esteem.

Somehow we have to break this cycle of thinking abortion is a birth control method. We can’t peddle abstinence when young men and women have easy access to condoms and are under constant media pressure. We can’t preach just say no to a woman or young girl who has already said yes. We have to be sensitive to women who are victims of rape or incest.

No one wants to go back to back alley abortions. But our job is to promote consistent laws (you can be charged with murder if an unborn child is killed, but not if the child is terminated) … stand for parental notification for minors (you can’t get an aspirin in school, but you can get a condom or abortion referral) … push for waiting periods (you can bring back items you purchased, but you can’t reverse an abortion) … insist on full disclosure before abortions are performed (what the procedure is and how it affects the child and mother) … lobby for sonograms prior to abortion (they show a living fetus) … assure follow-up is part of any procedure (just as there is post partum depression, there is post abortion depression that needs to be addressed) … eliminate barbaric late-term abortion procedures … educate, educate, educate … build self esteem for our girls.

I think we should proudly proclaim we are pro-choice … and we choose life! What do you think?

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER:  Well-timed silence has more eloquence than speech.

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About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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6 Responses to Pro-Choice … Choose Life

  1. Joe Nozzolio says:

    Right on, Joe. We had our son at a little over 5 months pregnacy. He stayed in the hospital for two weeks, but became a viable, intelligent, loving, and healthy son. So for certain folks in Texas to say that outlawing abortions past 20 weeks is a “war on women”, they are heartless and extremely selfish, and stupid people. Thankfully that law passed, though it is being appealed.

  2. Thanks for this Joe. I was also at the Banquet and was impressed by the progress Kirsten has made with Life groups on Campus. I like your point about listening to people who don’t agree with an opposition to abortion. Considering the “pro-abortion” marketing to women has been so heavy over the past 4 decades, we can only listen and then meet them where they are now.

  3. randee says:

    I like your idea of calling it Pro-Choice instead of Pro-Life and choosing life, just as many Pro-Choicers choose life, even though they believe that the choice must be an option.

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