Since I just finished reading Unplanned, Abby Johnson’s harrowing autobiographical account about her journey from Planned Parenthood clinic director to the pro-life movement, I am so inspired. For those of you who have not read it, you must. It is one of the best books I have ever read about what it takes to capture the hearts of those involved in the abortion industry. Since I read the book in day (I literally could not put it down), I am still basking in the wondrous grace of God that allowed this marvelous work to occur in this woman. I am glad to be able to share with you some of my reflections upon her story.
It has always been my belief that the pro-life movement was in need of a consistent, peaceful and loving voice. Not just because we need to win people over, but because we need to BE consistent, peaceful and loving before we are able to share that with others. The peaceful protesters (a.k.a. Coalition for Life) who eventually won over Abby Johnson did not just act a certain way in order to convince her to switch sides. Rather, they were completely genuine in their concern for the mothers, their children and even the clinic workers. Abortion hurts everyone. All are victims, even the ones who convince themselves that they are providing and performing abortions out of compassion.
Abby Johnson also recounted what the effects of negative protesting achieves...further division and hardening of the heart. I know that many of my friends still maintain that showing graphic pictures of aborted babies is effective. In my experience, however, I have had the same visceral reaction as Ms. Johnson. She said that the graphic pictures and name-calling simply made her dig in. She became more attached to her pro-choice stance because she thought she was protecting the women from people “like them.” I can say the same thing from a different perspective. My heart is not moved to fight any harder for the pro-life movement when I see crazed protesters. In fact, I think that these protesters have driven away many of us who have wanted to contribute peacefully, recognizing that love is more powerful than intimidation.
But a ray of hope has come to us. I have also seen many of my friends involved in the “Forty Days for Life” movement, and I have even participated peripherally, offering sacrifices and prayers on their behalf. But I must admit that before I read this book, I was not aware of its history or its widespread appeal, not to mention that its philosophy is completely in line with what I had always believed a pro-life movement should be. After reading this book, I am renewed in my commitment to pro-life efforts. It is a renewal that all of us need to experience who have been long-time supporters of the pro-life movement. Without renewal in our energy, in our faith, in our love for all who are deeply wounded by this terrible injustice, we can become complacent, simply going through the motions without thinking about what it is we are actually doing. We are opening our souls to God’s merciful love so that we can be His instruments of grace. That is no small task.
This weekend, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we should be doing everything we can to peacefully bring an end to the violence of abortion. It has claimed the lives of so many in my generation and younger and damaged women in a most horrendous treachery and violation of their dignity. We ask God to renew us and shine His merciful love through our hearts so that our country might see through the rhetoric to discover the beautiful gift of life.