Culture challenge of the week: When pro-life lacks love
As the director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, Abby Johnson oversaw the abortions of thousands of pre-born babies. She poured her energy into counseling the mothers who faced difficult pregnancies, believing that abortion was often the right solution.
Abby truly believed she was helping the women. Daily, she drove past ardent pro-lifers who deplored the deadly business Abby directed. They, too, believed in their mission. A high, ugly fence divided the clinic staff and the pro-lifers — starkly symbolic.
As we mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion continues to be highly "divisive" — and will always remain so — because of the high stakes of life or death. And the "divide" between people on each side is a chasm because there is no middle ground between life and death.
The gruesome reality of abortion becomes more difficult to hide — Exhibit A: the "house of horrors" run by abortionist Kermit Gosnell, where babies born alive were murdered, a mother was killed and scores of others injured — so it's more important than ever that pro-life advocates (note to self), show that what motivates us is our love for the mothers in trouble and the helpless lives they carry.
From Abby's side of the fence, angry protesters were worrisome. She and her colleagues received death threats regularly. Stories of clinic violence in other parts of the country kept her on edge. Unbridled anger and the violence of a "crazy few" convinced the workers that the "enemy" is driven by hate.
How to save your family — and others — from the tragedy of abortion
Today, Abby stands as a powerful example of how, when we allow Christ's love to direct our attitudes and actions, hearts can change. The Coalition for Life, which began organizing sidewalk counselors outside Abby's clinic, offered compassion and practical help to desperate women. They became the faces and helping hands of Christ and offered love that permeated the fence in ways that angry words never could. Abby began to feel that they cared about the women as much as she did.
And they cared about her. Always sincerely reaching out in warmth, they were approachable, and held their hearts open for Abby. Years later, she felt comfortable opening her heart to them too.
In her compelling new book, "Unplanned," Abby recounts the painful path that led to her dramatic conversion of heart. As a college intern, Abby believed the mantra that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare." But Planned Parenthood's push to raise its quota of abortions each month began to shatter her illusions. No matter how much she cared about the women, at the end of the day, Planned Parenthood was a business. And abortion was its moneymaker.
But Abby's real awakening came the day she watched a pre-born baby as he was killed — while she herself held the sonogram wand for the abortionist. When reality hit, Abby turned for help to the pro-life counselors who had befriended her from the other side of the fence.
The supernatural love those pro-life advocates gave to Abby has been multiplied many times over as she has shared it with others — and women and their little babies have been saved. Oh, that our own lives would be marked by such pure, unconditional love.
After 38 years of legal abortion, nearly every family has, in some way, been wounded by this tragedy. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, "At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion."
Mothers who have had abortions — and the fathers involved — need us to reach through the fence to deliver the message of God's forgiveness and love. And to the desperate mother headed for the entrance of her baby's death chamber, as well as to those working inside, may we have enough faith in Jesus and in his life-changing power to boldly speak and show His truth, in His love.
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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