As I pulled into the parking garage something felt familiar. I walked into the front door of the hotel and received my name tag. I stared at the large doors that shielded the entrance to the ballroom. It was familiar, too. I walked to my assigned table and looked around the large room full of votive candles and white table linens, all familiar to me.
I sat down at my table and heard the excited chatter around the room. Hugs are exchanged, people reminisce about their families, and they’re talking about work. Yes, that is familiar. The event begins and dinner is served, chicken. Unfortunately, that is very familiar. It’s time for me to give my keynote speech.
I stand on the stage and look out at the crowd. This room… I have been here before. Just four years ago, I sat in this room. I was listening to keynote speeches for the Planned Parenthood Annual Conference. I listened and cheered as we were given strategies to increase our abortion numbers. I cried as I listened to Dr. George Tiller recount story after story of how he had been threatened by “anti-choicers.” I clapped as awards were given. I felt a sense of pride as I watched abortion doctors present their strategies on abortion techniques. I participated in this. I was a fighter, a fighter for women’s rights, a defender of women.
Now, I sit here in this same room and listen as women stand and talk about how their lives were ruined by abortion. I look at the faces of babies whose lives were saved because these “anti-choicers” cared about them and wanted the very best for their lives. Their lives, the very thing I worked to take away. I am still a defender of women, but now, I also defend their children.
I left Planned Parenthood on October 6, 2009. It’s an important day for me. It’s the day my life changed, the day I became new again.
I have noticed many familiar things on this side “of the fence.” I attend pro-life events and see the familiar pro-choice protestors. However, this time, I am inside the building, instead of outside with a homemade sign. I see women going into abortion clinics with the same, familiar burdensome look on their faces.
Now, instead of counseling them on the reason they should have an abortion, I am counseling them from the sidewalk on the reason abortion is not the best choice for them. There are so many familiar things, except for one. That thing is unity.
When I worked at Planned Parenthood, I was subscribed to most of the pro-life national group listserv’s. Every day, emails would flood in stating things like, “this idea was going to be the one to take down the abortion industry.” Then another would come, “No, this is the best idea!”
All of would just sit back and laugh. “These pro-lifers will never get it together,” we would say. “They expect to take down our industry when they can’t even all get on the same page!” We would read these emails and feel very secure in our employment. We will never be taken down, we are too big, we are everywhere, we are in their schools, in their churches, and in their communities. They can’t stop us. We would giggle with pride. We were united in our common cause. We would keep abortion legal at any cost.
This is how it was for eight years of my life. I loved my co-workers. I loved the cause I stood for. I’ve never known that type of unity. To be a part of something like that was exhilarating. We fought together, supported each other, stood together… always.
When I left Planned Parenthood, I was honestly worried about leaving that sense of community behind. Would I ever fit into a group like that again? Surely I would. We are talking about the pro-life movement, the “Christian” movement. Christians love each other! They support each other! We will now work together to support women and their children. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how wonderful it was going to be. Well, I’m still imagining.
I have to sit back and laugh. When I worked at Planned Parenthood I would receive death threats from "pro-lifers." Now, that I am out I still receive death threats from "pro-lifers." I'm not sure what they want from me. They didn't like it when I was in, they don't like it now that I am out.
I watch groups bicker over which legislation is the "best." I have seen pro-life groups and initiatives be sabotaged by other pro-life groups. If one pro-life person doesn't agree with another pro-lifer's opinion, then they have "lost respect for you." I see an incredible amount of division within the Protestant/Catholic pro-life community.
I have been uninvited from pro-life events as a speaker because I am now Catholic. Today, I witnessed a pro-life person on Facebook ridiculing those who call themselves "abortion abolitionists" simply because he doesn't believe some of us are worthy of the title. I hear constant condescension because I am "so new" to the movement and obviously don't know what I am talking about, unless they agree with me, then I know SO MUCH about what we should be doing.
Why all the infighting? Aren’t we all fighting for a common cause? It seems like we aren’t. It seems like we are fighting against each other. And, at whose expense? The unborn.
I have always been a love me or hate me kind of gal. I am overly passionate. I was overly passionate about abortion rights… and now, I am even more so about the unborn and their mothers. I spent eight years of my life deceiving myself and allowing myself to be deceived, and more devastating, deceiving others.
I know I am sometimes hard to handle. My mom would say that I’ve been like that since I was born. While I appreciate the fact that many do not agree with me and others on many issues, does that mean that it’s necessary to tear each other down? Why do we do this so often in the pro-life movement?
Please understand that I am not talking about accountability. Accountability is very important. Romans 16:17-18 talks about this. There will be false prophets, those that come to destroy. We must divide from them. There are certainly those in the pro-life movement. There are organizations that seem to have no real desire to end abortion. We must divide from them.
There are organizations who promote violence as a means to end abortion. We must divide from them. There are organizations that seek to destroy anyone who doesn’t agree with their ideas. We must divide from them.
All of the pieces of our pro-life puzzle have come together. We have solid legislative efforts to end abortion. We have thousands of pregnancy centers to help women and families who are experiencing a crisis pregnancy. We have peaceful activists out on the sidewalks witnessing to women walking into abortion clinics. We now have an outreach to abortion clinic workers. The pieces are there, but can we work together to end this atrocity?
You may not like my approach, and I may not like yours, but I will support you if you are trying to save the unborn through peaceful means. We don’t always have to agree, but we should always pray for each other, we should always build one another up. We should always unite for the unborn.
I look forward to the day when I can look upon the pro-life movement and say joyfully, “Yes, this unity feels familiar.”