I recently had a conversation with a formerly avid pro-choicer and abortion clinic worker who has since, thankfully, after years of soul-searching and inner turmoil, come over to our side. She told me something I didn’t know and which blows my mind a little more every time I think about it.
“In the pro-choice movement,” she said, “there was no in-fighting.”
I have thought a lot about this in the past few days, and the more it bothers me, the more it also makes sense. Think about it this way: the pro-life movement is on the offensive. We’re attacking current law and trying to change it. Meanwhile, the pro-aborts are playing defense. All they have to do is hold the line.
There’s really only one way to hold a line. You hold it. But there are a million ways to attack, and everybody has their own idea about how it should be done.
Even the worthiest of causes is made up of regular old pants-wearing humans, and humans — as we are well aware — are not always great at being human. The pro-life movement is no exception. Well-meaning differences of opinion can unfortunately devolve into personality clashes and pettiness.
I was never what you would call a pro-choice activist, but in the time before my conversion I did little things here and there to attack pro-lifers. For example, I used to drive by a “women’s health center” regularly and see protesters gathered outside, usually praying. I would roll down my window and flip them the bird as I went by, and then laugh about it.
Because I used to do little stuff like that, when I came over to the pro-life side, I felt a lot of shame. I approached people who were already pro-life humbly, because I knew that while I was contributing, in my small way, to the deaths of innocents, they were on the right side, giving of their time and money and energy, to save women and children from torment and death.
I still feel a great deal of humility toward the people I know who have been in this movement longer than I have, some of them for decades, and for those who do the difficult, thankless work of sidewalk counseling, mentoring, volunteering… I know that whatever my opinion is for how we can change more hearts, win more court cases, and end abortion, it’s vital that I speak my mind with respect, always acknowledging the sacrifice of those who were helping women and children back when I was just some jerk with my middle finger out the window.
There are going to be differences of opinion. It is inevitable. But it is absolutely necessary that we lift this cause above all pettiness.
Think of a group of bridesmaids meticulously and vigorously keeping the train of a bride’s gown lifted off the dirt and pavement. Let’s run with this metaphor: the bride is the women and children and families we fight to protect, and the train, of course, is our cause, what we call the pro-life movement. We are the bridesmaids, and if we do our jobs correctly, the bride doesn’t have to worry about her train. But if we start to bicker among ourselves about how the job gets done, the train gets dropped and it gets filthy. When the bride realizes it, it won’t matter to her who dropped the dress. It will only matter that it’s dirty.
Similarly, if we allow our cause to be tarnished by pettiness, or if we fail to make progress because we’re too busy arguing about how to make progress, what happens is that lives are lost. It won’t matter one bit to the unborn child who dies by abortion who was right and who was wrong. She will be lost to us, regardless.
If you are active in the pro-life movement — and I hope you are — you are going to disagree with other pro-lifers, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is to ever, for one second, forget that we are on the same side. We have the same goal. We share a common cause and a common enemy.
Every couple years in the political world there’s some renewed call for civility in discourse, and every couple years I sort of roll my eyes because I know it’s not going to happen. I have no problem calling something what it is, but I reserve my snark and sarcasm for the other side. I don’t have any respect for the abortion advocate’s point of view. It is vile and murderous, and I’m going to say so as best I see fit.
But no matter how strongly I disagree with another pro-lifer, I’m going to do it with respect, humility, and the utmost tact and discretion, because I absolutely refuse to bring shame to this cause. I will not allow it to be besmirched by pettiness, not on my watch.
Not everyone is going to behave this way, unfortunately, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Make the decision today to treat other pro-lifers well. The integrity of this cause rests in your hands.