How do we respond to those who have had an abortion and still remain pro-choice? This question was recently posed to me to answer by the Whole Life Committee, part of the And Campaign, as part of a series of responses or "talking points" for difficult conversations that are prone to pop up from time to time between Pro-Life people and folks in the "muddy middle." Often as people who stand for life in our hearts we are caught unaware and can fumble for compassionate yet accurate things to say to a particular query. While some prefer to argue, most of us would rather answer kindly and in humility and not degrade our witness.
I suspect that I was asked to contribute because folks on the Whole Life Committee know how my heart had been changed over the years from Pro-Choice to Pro-Life They know I could speak candidly about this particular question because 20 years ago, the Pro-Life convert was me. Even though I'd heartily identified as a "Christian " since age 12, growing up, I'd had no clue about what "sanctity of life" meant. I knew what "Civil rights" meant because it was the clarion call of my generation. When you long for rights that have been denied you then, you begin to see EVERYTHING as a "right" to be acquired. The "right" to bear arms, vote, have privacy, control your body etc. The quest for "rights" begins to define who you are in your own mind and can become equated with your worth in society. In my case, my abortion felt like a "right" that had been fought for by 'forward' thinking women and consequently extended to me by civil authority. As such, abortion was a "right" I now had access to that I could exercise without penalty.
But, what I didn't know was that "rights" didn't extend to taking human life in the womb.
The right to "choose" life or death was lumped in with other just rights when it shouldn't have been.
I'd often hear people argue for abortion by citing verses in the bible where God sanctioned the taking of life during times of war. Our supposed justification of what we do when we abort a child is predicated on the notion that we have the same "rights" as God. Said like this it's easy to see how logic can twist our weak morality. But, God was clear in His command not to murder which is what abortion does. We do not have that "right" because we do not have either the moral authority or the psychic ability to deal with the moral consequences. With that being said, we are still bound to have "The Conversation" with those in our spheres of influence so that hearts and minds can experience God's love and the possibility of change as mine did. For me, the conviction and conversion didn't come in the form of a good argument. It came by way of radical compassion and unconditional love; God sorted out the rest.
As you enter into these discussion spaces, whether online or in person, I gently offer a few tips that may help you stay open to what Holy Spirit would have you to share:
Often women try to defend their abortion by “doubling down” on their pro-abortion stance; I know I did. Allow yourself to see the defense mechanism for what it is and allow them a safe space to begin to lower their walls. Initially, don’t try to convince them that their stance is wrong but allow them to fully expound on why they think the way they do and then, why they feel the way they do. The Christian person may “double down” on their pro-abortion stance due to fear of condemnation from God or because of implicit support from the pulpit. Now would be a great time to share the Kingdom news that repented sins are forgiven. (Luke 5:32 reinforces that Jesus came to save the sinner, not the righteous). They may not hear this enough from the pulpit so, any biblical reinforcement can be helpful.
Have a listening ear first and foremost with a heart of radical compassion. (refer yourself to the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4). Understand the “why” for their abortion choice (gently guide them back from the abstract to the personal). What situations and circumstances led to their decision. Slowly, over time, peel back the layers and help them to see how each ”crisis” had a potential solution. Share stories of how other mothers in similar situations may have navigated differently-not as a way to condemn but to offer alternatives in case a second abortion is contemplated. Have helpful resources at the ready ( such as abortion healing programs) and offer your support in case she begins to see things differently.
Definitely let her know what you are doing in the pro-life arena: who you are connecting with, what projects are bearing fruit, how your network has blessed you and how you have grown. Your testimony matters! (refer yourself to Acts 26. Paul's account to Festus and Agrippa concerning his conversion as well as Revelation 12:11-12). Do not be afraid that sharing will create conflict-it may create an internal tension in her which is what you want and what God can use. Also, do not be afraid of being labelled a "hypocrite" for believing one way and now another (study the life of the Apostle Paul). The most important point is that you are now on God's side and what grieves His heart also grieves yours.
Recognize that everyone will not be ripe for the Good News. Speak it anyway so as to obey God (Ezekiel 3:19 NLT). The most important thing is that we obey: We obey the word of God to correct a fellow believer (Titus 2:15 NLT), we obey God's commandments (1 John 3:24 NLT), we obey the call to revere children in the womb (Psalm 127:3 NKJV) We obey the command to preach the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16 NKJV).
I pray that as these difficult but necessary conversations continue over Zoom, in text messages, around the dinner table etc. that we who were "one way and now we are the other" sacrifice our time and a piece of our heart for our brother or sister to, if nothing else, hear our testimony about our conversion. (Sylvia's LiveAction Testimony). May God bless you as you have, "The Conversation. "