40 Days for Life, an absolutely amazing campaign that has accomplished things that have astonished even its founders. Sean reviews these accomplishments:
- 550,000 people have participated.
- Over 25% of those people had never been active in prolife work before.
- 75 abortion clinic workers have converted from abortion advocacy to prolife.
- Nearly 7,000 babies have been saved from abortion.
- A high school student got Planned Parenthood evicted from a business strip.
- 261 cities are now participating.
- There is currently a 40 Days for Life campaign going on in Moscow.
Shawn pointed out the vital nature of local activism. There is a lot of disappointment and frustration on the Washington front, but on the grassroots, local front, over half of all dedicated abortion facilities have closed in the past 20 years and the number of pregnancy help centers has grown to where it is triple the number of abortion facilities. I find this encouraging because this means that women can have access locally to the resources they need, and abortion businesses need to work harder to try to attract customers.
The Search for an Abortionist, found that the single greatest predictor of how a woman would respond to a difficult pregnancy was her perception of how her peers would handle the situation. If her peer group adjusted and made room for a new baby, she was likely to do so as well. If abortion was common among her peer group, she would arrange an abortion. Establishing our communities as places where women embrace surprise children will significantly reduce abortion vulnerability among the women who live there.
Josh and Shawn talked about the vast difference between the peaceful 40 Days for Life participants and the stereotypical ambulatory embodiments of anger and condemnation.The loving attitude, Josh noted, drew Abby Johnson to the 40 Days for Life activists when she experienced her change of heart. Sean stressed that the activists' presence outside an abortion clinic might be the only contact with loving life activists that that woman ever has. He talked about the longing and loneliness that many women feel as they approach the abortion clinic, and the fact that many of them are actually aching for somebody to be there for them to offer a better way. He doesn't articulate it directly, but it truly is about coming across as willing to help, not just wanting to shame and humiliate her.
Shawn stressed as well being there for the workers as well. Shawn stressed how the meekness and humility dissipates the anger of abortion clinic staff toward the people praying outside. That's why workers quit and women leave.
sidewalk counseling. Shawn stressed that the conversation between a sidewalk counselor and the woman about to walk into an abortion facility is "the most important conversation in the world." A lot of people, Shawn said, are overwhelmed by the idea and wonder, "What am I gonna say?" Shawn noted that it doesn't have to be anything profound. Say hello to the woman. Tell her that you understand that she's not having a good day today, that this is a difficult day. That you recognize that she doesn't want to be there. Once workers get started in sidewalk counseling, Shawn noted, they want to do it again. The power of sidewalk counseling is so great that many abortion clinics install blinds in their waiting rooms to keep their customers from seeing that hope and love wait on the other side of that window.
Shawn pointed out as well that we are a movement of sinners. I disagree with his assessment, though, that the prolife movement isn't comprised of the self-righteous. I've seen a lot of evidence that people become active -- or at least vocal -- in the prolife movement because abortion is such a spectacular sin, so readily visible as evil, that for some people live activism stokes their egos the way watching The Jerry Springer Show stokes other people's egos. You can look at abortionists the way people look at Jerry Springer guests and think, "I may do bad things, but I'm nowhere near as bad as THAT!" But God is not fooled by externals, as C.S. Lewis eloquently pointed out. The greatest sin, after all, is the sin of Pride. It was the sin of Pride that caused the fall of Lucifer. It's easier to gloss over ones' own sins by congratulating yourself that at you're not killing babies.
Josh asked what the prolife movement's greatest weakness or failing has been.Shawn named division. That's one of my pet peeves as well. People aren't willing to set their hand to the plow that's been set before them, but they feel compelled to throw stones at people plowing other rows. I think that there are multiple needs for people doing very different things, and that there is no one right way to approach life activism.
Shawn spoke about how many converts say that if only people knew about the reality of abortion and the humanity of the unborn baby, they would never be able to support abortion. He spoke of the need for educational outreach that shows how horrific abortion is to encourage more people to become active in opposing it. He is perhaps a bit more optimistic about that than I am. Women -- and abortion workers -- are becoming more and more aware that what abortion does is kill a baby. I'm not sure that the occasional horrified convert can overcome the callousness and hardness of heart that has developed.
So there's a great deal of hardness of heart, but in with that hardness of heart is a recognition that the abortion business would lose a lot of support if many of their supporters saw what abortion really is. How does that balance play out? I don't know.
Josh asked, "What single thing should prolifers be doing that they're not doing right now?" Shawn said "Voting for the right people." I think it's less a matter of voting in prolife politicians than it is voting out the ones that clearly belong to the abortion lobby. There is too much of an edge in the polls for a prolife candidate, and I'm cynical enough to believe that they're not about to lose that edge by being too effective against abortion.
Shawn speaks of how history will judge us, and how uncomfortable it makes people to think of abortion. They have to dismiss us because, "If what we're saying is true, then, it's so alarming and so overwhelming that most people don't want admit we live in a culture that has killed 55 million children. Babies. And so to avoid admitting that, we say, 'Well, we'll just discredit the people that are saying that.'" He points out that "science proves our point, and yet people just reject it." He stresses that the abortion mentality dismisses the two most powerful institutions in Western civilization: religion and science.
It's pretty overwhelming. I'm not sure if I feel more encouraged or discouraged. But I'm not giving up.