Having been a 'pro-lifer' for almost 3 years now (involved in action rather than just attitude), I attended my first March for Life in Birmingham at the weekend. In all honesty I went to 'work' to promote our upcoming training programs to a target market of 'hot-lead' pro-lifers. (Yes my background is sales!) I have wanted to be more united as a pro-life movement, but had felt that we (Abort67) were side-lined in the past by some pro-life groups for being 'too controversial' mainly due to our prime strategy of using so-called 'graphic images' or as I prefer to call them 'abortion-victim images'. Having said that, I have made some great allies from within many of the major groups. So on one hand I was pleased that we were invited to have a stall and share about our work, but on the other hand I was dubious if it would be any more than a party for like-minded people who are against abortion. However, what I experienced at the March for Life, I was deeply encouraged, and above all, humbled.
Leaving aside the great music, wonderful worship, engaging host, inspiring speakers, top sound system, necessary security, smooth programme and organisation of the day, it may sound cliché, but the peace, love and unity in that place is what stood out. Many there having been actively working in different ways to advocate for the pre-born and women, others new and seeking how they can get involved. Young, old and of different cultures – united as a clear voice standing for “Life from conception without exception” the slogan of the day. We listened as Ryan Bomberger shared his powerful story of having been conceived in rape, being adopted into a loving family and now also adopting children himself, and of the amazing work he and his wife are doing with The Radiance Foundation.
The love and peace in that place was worlds apart from how the media portrays pro-lifers as angry and aggressive, (I have yet to meet one of those!) and was contrasted against the anger and hate of those abortion supporters who had come to protest the March for Life. Chanting the usual “Shame on you!” “Not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate” and the most amusing of them all: “Get your rosaries off my ovaries!” They shouted and jeered as a woman got on stage to share how, as a passer-by, she had witnessed and joined the March for life last year, and went on to cancel an abortion appointment she had booked for the following week – she had her son in her arms as she emotionally thanked everyone in the crowd who had been there last year. I tried to engage some of the protestors peacefully on their views, but it became clear that many of them were not willing to partake in logical debate but were much more accustomed to spewing out slogans such as “women’s choice” yet not prepared to break down and talk about exactly what is that choice. When I turned to a hired security guard to ask his views on abortion he said he was not entirely sure, but he was “definitely not with them”, pointing to the pro-aborts.
The most humbling of moments came when Stephanie Gray, founder of CCBR, stood on stage and spoke, through tears, of the darkness covering the land due to the blood being shed; whilst also challenging us to love those who are shedding this blood – the abortionists and lobby promoting this evil. Giving examples of how she had decided to get to know her opponents in debates by meeting them for coffee beforehand – many of whom were those who performed and promoted abortions. This challenged me immensely to remember to love my enemy and pray for those who persecute me, as Jesus calls His followers to do. It is no easy thing but as the late Dr Martin Luther King Jnr said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Whilst I do this work in love for women and their pre-born children, I was challenged as to how much I am actually loving those who deceive women into having abortions, and perform and promote them. So that is something I have come away to work on. Yes, they are still the enemy in this battle, but I am still called to love them. And in loving them, I do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth, and work and pray that they too will not hide themselves to the truth but come out from the darkness deceiving them. So Ms Furedi, if you are reading this, do you want to go for coffee?.
I now see the necessity of the March for Life. Whilst some of us may not agree on strategy, it is important to have that place where those who are pro-life can come together and be challenged to do more, and have presented to them all the different initiatives that are happening, that they can decide for themselves what to get involved in. We need the crisis pregnancy centres. We need those engaging government and those fighting in the courts of justice. We need those offering help at the abortion clinics. We need those exposing the injustice to the people so that public opinion may be changed. We need the big gathering of the March for Life to encourage passive pro-lifers to be activated and to encourage active pro-lifers that for the areas in this battle that they are NOT engaging in – there is another group doing it that they can work with or refer to. One army - many regiments. United we are stronger.
I was inspired to write this article after reading a post from a man on the other side (pro-abortion) basically saying that the 'pro-choicers' need to step up their game as the 'pro-lifers' are well organised, many in number and are having an impact. So thanks for the encouragement Graeme! This is just the beginning.
Ruth Rawlins, Abort67