How Can Christians Join the Fight for Life? Randy Robison Interviews Steve Karlen on New Book: This is When We Begin to Fight
Steve Karlen, campaign director of 40 Days for Life, spoke on Wednesday with Randy Robison, host of LifeToday Live. They discussed his new book: This Is When We Begin to Fight: A Family’s Battle Against Late-Term Abortion, Academia and Miscarriage at Home.
Today Karlen helps lead an organization in 63 countries aiming to end abortion. Believers pray outside abortion facilities in all-day vigils. But he hasn’t always been active in the pro-life movement.
Karlen said he started out as a passive pro-lifer who didn’t know what to do to help end abortion besides voting. Then his wife’s coworker became unexpectedly pregnant and they sought to help her. The reality of abortion had suddenly became more personal.
In the book he discusses how he soon found himself leading an advocacy effort against his alma mater. The University of Wisconsin had secret plans to open a late-term abortion facility. The University halted its plans and credited Karlen, he said.
Conversations Marked by Grace and Truth
Karlen and Robison discussed the various aspects of and approaches to pro-life advocacy. It’s important to have conversations about abortion. But Robison said Christians must pursue grace and truth, with grace coming first. Karlen emphasized having conversations with “an understanding of goodwill.”
But arguing a point isn’t the first step when seeking to help women in difficult pregnancies. Karlen said the offer of support persuades many women to choose life. The realization that abortion is wrong comes later.
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Still, Christians should understand pro-life arguments. Dehumanizing preborn children doesn’t make sense. “I don’t think there’s anything magical about that birth canal that you suddenly gain the rights associated with personhood.” Karlen said humans have a long history of dehumanizing each other, such as through slavery and America’s history of abusing Native Americans. Abortion, he said, is one more instance of dehumanization.
The Leading Cause of Death in the World Has Affected Many
Karlen also highlighted the prevalence of abortion. “Abortion right now in our world is the leading cause of death. In fact, more lives [are] lost to abortion annually in our world than by all other causes of death combined.” Robison and Karlen discussed how that statistic was sourced. Karlen said it’s hard to estimate exactly how many abortions there are. He said globally between 42 and 56 million lives are lost to abortion annually. The statistics for all other causes of death are easier to gather: about 42 million lives lost annually.
One important aspect of grace is realizing that the people you speak to about abortion may have been personally impacted by it, Karlen said. The Church should discuss abortion and offer grace and forgiveness through Jesus to those who have chosen or been involved with abortion. Karlen said many 40 Days for Life leaders over the years have had personal abortion experience. “Oftentimes it’s between a quarter of our leaders and a third who have had an abortion in their past. And they’ve found healing and are looking to bring it to others.”
Ways to Get Involved
Robison asked Karlen how Christians can get more involved in the pro-life movement. Karlen emphasized being involved on a local level. This includes offering help to women who are experiencing a difficult pregnancy, offering help outside abortion clinics such as through 40 Days for Life, supporting local pregnancy centers and adoption centers, and having conversations about abortion with grace and truth. “In many cases it’s simply people don’t know the true reality. They don’t know what abortion is. They don’t know the facts about fetal development, how abortion works, that it’s as prevalent as it is. And I think it was Reagan that said that all meaningful change in America starts around the dinner table.”
Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow Aliya on Twitter @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.