I write this reluctantly. I know so many incredible, loving, compassionate, selfless pro-lifers who work very hard and receive little thanks. Men and women who give up much of their time because they care passionately about life, all life, unborn children, their mothers and fathers too as well as those who work in the abortion industry. But I believe there is a serious problem with some pro-lifers and this needs to be addressed if we wish to cure it. We want to be rid of the culture of death but the replacement is not just a culture of life but a culture of love.
We want to be rid of the culture of death but the replacement is not just a culture of life but a culture of love.
Recently I shared on social media some testimonies from post-abortive women. They were harrowing stories. Both women had been badly let down by the father of their child, heavily coerced and emotionally manipulated. You could tell that their feelings were still raw, that the women were traumatised and that even just recounting details was taking them back to a place they didn’t want to be.
I had the privilege to meet these women and sit with them as their testimonies were recorded. Their reasons for doing this were completely selfless – they didn’t want others to suffer as they had done. We warned them that to share their stories so publicly would leave them in a vulnerable position. We offered to hide their faces or have an actor read their words but both women felt this was a way to honour the life of their baby and were prepared to accept the consequences.
Looking back to that day I’m so glad we gave these women one key piece of advice: whatever you do, don’t read any comments on social media surrounding your story. Who were we trying to protect these women from? Were we worried that aggressive abortion supporters would be angry that there were women speaking up and exposing the dirty secrets of the abortion industry? Yes, but something else too, something closer to home. We were warning them against the name-calling and hurtful comments that so-called prolifers would throw at them . . . and sadly we were right to do so.
Now of course most social media pages have their trolls, that’s nothing new, and certainly not unexpected when we are talking about an issue as contentious as abortion. But I’m not talking about the odd troll or the occasional abortion supporter who might stumble across our page and attempt to stir up trouble. Neither am I talking about a random unbalanced individual who might be on the fringe of any movement. One prolifer after another made disgraceful, judgemental comments asking if these women had never heard of birth control (over 50% of women presenting themselves for abortion have been using contraception – contraception can and does fail). Others dished out charges like ‘murderer’ (an incorrect term since murder is the unlawful killing of a human being. Sadly, abortion is not unlawful). Worse still were the unprintable, foul accusations that were nothing short of hate-filled rants from people who had probably never lifted a finger to ease the burden of a pregnant woman as they appeared to have zero understanding of how and why women end up in a situation like this. Matt 23:4 comes to mind.
Even strong women who have been through much healing couldn’t help but feel the knife go in when seeing statements such as these. Bearing in mind 1 in 3 women have had an abortion, how many post-abortive women are likely to see these words and any peace they have tried to find is likely to be immediately swept away so they are knocked back to square one with their self loathing, racking guilt and feelings of worthlessness. Remember when Jesus meets the woman caught in adultery He doesn’t shove her shame in her face, He tells her He doesn’t condemn her and requests that she changes her way of life (sin no more). Do we as Christians do the same?
When she had finished, a ‘pro-lifer’ came up to her, looked her in the eye and spat out the words ‘Baby killer!’.
I know a woman who is brave enough to speak publicly about her abortion experience and has done so on many occasions. One such time was when she went to Ireland prior to the abortion referendum. She wanted the Irish to know what legalised abortion would mean for their country. She recounted her story, speaking clearly of her deep regret over the abortion of her children. When she had finished, a ‘pro-lifer’ came up to her, looked her in the eye and spat out the words ‘Baby killer!’. What hate and anger must be in someone’s heart to respond like that to a person who has just finished recounting one of the most harrowing experiences of their life?
Maybe there needs to be greater awareness of how if women/teenagers don’t find healing after their abortion they will frequently repeat the procedure. In 2018 140 women had at least their 8th abortion. In 2019 40% of women undergoing an abortion had had one or more prvious abortion. Most of these women will know all about shame. Yes, they might put on a bold face and spout brash words but we don’t see them when they are in their own rooms on the anniversary of the baby’s due date. This is so important as we need to show these women love not just because they are sorry but before they utter a word of regret and even if they never do. Our love can’t be contingent on whether someone is remorseful, to be a Christian is to love unconditionally. And that is what will change hearts.
A friend of mine once told me how important it was for her to know she was loved before she said she regretted her abortion. If we don’t remember this we will become the stumbling block to potential conversions. One only has to read (or watch) Abby Johnson’s story to see how the friendly ‘hello’ cheerfully called each morning from one of the prolifers waiting outside her abortion centre had so much more transformative power than an anger-fuelled yell of ‘you have blood on your hands’.
One of the women who died in Auschwitz, a nun by the name of Edith Stein, spoke passionately about the need for truth and love. Neither being given at the other’s expense. Interestingly, and tragically, she too lived at a time when certain groups of the population were labelled non-human, or subhuman, yet she never gave way to hate. She reminded us that love without truth is a counterfeit love and truth without love is a counterfeit truth. How sorely some pro-lifers need to interiorise these words themselves today.
So next time you hear someone share about their abortion whether they are sorry for it or not, think before you respond. Ask yourself whether you want your words to be truthful and whether you want that truth to be loving. Until you can answer yes to both then you aren’t part of the cure but part of the problem.