Several years ago, someone I love very dearly had an abortion. A perfect storm of fear and shame and family pressure was louder and more forceful than the unrelenting but quieter voices of love, compassion, and mercy. It was in that season that this issue became ever more real and more personal to me.
In high school, my best friend and I sat in the back of theology class quietly listening as our teacher instructed us on the Church’s teaching on abortion.
Later, as we watched movies and ate popcorn on her basement couch, we — two very Catholic, rule-following teens — wondered aloud what we would do if we were actually faced with that choice. We knew that abortion was wrong, but the thought of actually facing the reality of an unplanned pregnancy shook us both to the core.
Raised by a pro-life dad and a pro-choice mom, I’ve heard the arguments on both sides. Now that I’m older, married, and have chosen the Catholic faith for myself as an adult, my pro-life stance has grown solid, unshakable roots.
Like most people probably are, I’m tired of childish arguments surrounding this important issue, tired of the mud slinging and name calling on both sides. It seems that the conclusion is this: If you’re pro-life, you hate women, and if you’re pro-choice, you hate babies.
Neither are true.
When it comes to being pro-life in a pro-choice world, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful to remember.
- Screaming isn’t helping anyone
- The same goes for post passive aggressive (and just plain aggressive) memes and links on social media.
- Be bold.
- Actually do something.
The fear and pain of a woman walking toward abortion is unimaginable, and I have a hard time believing it can be soothed by picket signs with pictures of dead babies. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for pro-life people at these places.
Holding a picket sign is not the same thing as peacefully praying for or counseling women in need outside of an abortion clinic. A peaceful presence there (no yelling involved) is a way to speak the truth. But the encounter is just as important.
I like to stop and think, where would Jesus be in this situation?
He is with that woman when she reads the test. He is consoling her through every tough conversation. He is sitting next to her in every waiting room at every doctor’s appointment, wiping away tears of pain and sadness and fear even as the same heartbroken tears stream down His own face. He is reminding her of His strength and His goodness when the world is telling her this thing called motherhood is too hard for her, that she’s too young, too addicted, too irresponsible to make another choice. He would never and will never leave her side.
The best part is, Jesus can be with her, through you and me. We can pray for her and look her in the eye. We can tell her she is loved and seen and known, even without saying a word. We can show her who Jesus says she is: chosen, beloved, adored. I think the command was pretty clear when Jesus simply said, “Love one another” (John 13:34).
When we demonize and dehumanize our hurting sisters, we can’t evangelize, we can’t love.
Listen, I get it. Abortion breaks your heart. It breaks my heart. There are some perfectly expressive infographics, memes, and quotes out there. Mother Teresa had some serious zingers that truly moved people.
As we share on social media, may we remember the person receiving the message on the other side of the screen. If we speak hate instead of love, we become part of the problem instead of the solution. Love and truth go hand-in-hand. When we blast-post on social media with judgment in our hearts, we make good-intentioned people look like angry morons.
Keep the fire in your soul roaring, but don’t stop there. Use that fire to consume everyone you meet with grace and mercy. Hug somebody. Tell them you love them and that you’re in their corner, and make yourself available to talk or listen or be a shoulder to cry on. Be Jesus to people in person, not just on Facebook.
Do not quietly, timidly say that you are pro-life. Be proud and defend your position clearly. If you feel unable to do so, spend some time getting educated so that you can. Share your heart and articulate your reason for your position. Instead of saying something like, “because the Catholic Church says so” or “because that’s how my parents raised me,” think about what might be most compelling to the person with whom you are speaking.
The more honest and authentic you are, the more people are going to be willing to listen.
Tell them why you are pro-life, not why they should be. Speak the truth in the way that makes the most sense to you, and be a powerful example of what it means to be a good listener.
It’s easy to write off another’s opinion, but it’s bold to engage in true dialogue.
Science is on your side! And the future of humanity flourishes when you stand on the side of life.
It’s nice to say you’re pro-life. You know what’s not nice? Homelessness, hungry children, the separation of families at the border, people being encouraged to end their life, seniors who are left in nursing homes like dogs left at the pound.
If you say you’re pro-life, be pro-life, pro-every life. Clothe the naked. Feed the hungry. Give shelter to the homeless. Take in the orphan and the widow. Care for the elderly. Visit the sick. If you claim to be pro-life, but turn away from these people right in front of you, are you really pro-life?
I invite you to speak the truth with love and conviction and act in a way that brings that truth into the world.
Let’s stop assuming the worst of each other and have a real conversation. Let’s stop speaking to be understood and start listening to understand.
If we are to be the generation that sees the end of abortion — not because it’s illegal but because it’s unthinkable — it will not be due to our logic or our picket signs.
It will be because we burn with a fire that is so bright it draws people to the truth. I have hope for a better world and believe that we can be the agents of change.
That change will happen because we are living examples of the truth lived out, not as a chore but as a gift. It will be because we are fierce in our fight for life, because we live our own lives with joy, gratitude, awe, wonder — and in service of others.