March for Life in a Blizzard of Love
WASHINGTON — As I write, the annual March for Life is about to happen on the National Mall, despite the massive snowstorm descending on the East Coast.
People from across the country are gathered around a table, hosted by the National Review Institute, to discuss the value of human life and the dangers to it. The conversations are intense and overflowing with gratitude. Gratitude for lessons learned and gifts received, for opportunities to help people in their most painful moments and throughout their lives. Despite the frequently painful circumstances being described, there is hope here.
Karen talks about her past so others might not repeat it, knowing the pain it has brought her family. She talks about it, too, because of the choice she didn’t really fully have when she was young and scared, her mother driving her to the abortion appointment. Lizanne talks about her daughter with Down syndrome because her daughter is her gift of joy and she doesn’t want scared parents to be deprived of a similar gift.
Earlier in the day, former Cosmopolitan magazine writer Sue Ellen Browder talked about the freedom that comes in disassociating oneself from abortion advocacy and the cultural warfare that accompanies it. The hashtag on Twitter for those marching in protest of the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion is “#WhyWeMarch.” Browder marches against a dehumanizing relativism, a cultural indifference that devalues the wondrous possibility and endless miracle of life.
Abby Johnson is sitting across from me. If you’re looking for something radical in the world, she’s it. Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who now runs a ministry dedicated to helping people leave the abortion industry.
A few months back, when shocking undercover videos involving Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue harvesting were being released, I asked Johnson what she thought people might need to hear. “I want women and men to know that there is healing from aborting your own child or participating in the abortion industry. We aren’t meant to suffer in silence or suffer alone. We are meant to voice our burdens to others so that they can accompany us on our healing journey.”
She continued: “In this country, we are currently seeing a lot of outrage regarding abortion and the abortion industry. And that’s fine. But we need to remember that there are real people inside those clinics who are worthy of healing and redemption … they deserve a new and better life than the one they are currently living. We don’t need rage in this movement. We need action that is bathed in compassion and mercy … that is what brings about true conversion. We don’t need anger. There is enough anger and hurt inside those abortion clinic walls. Ours needs to be the voice of hope.”
Her hope extends to those who work in abortion clinics. She doesn’t demonize them. She will not dehumanize anyone. She knows that people who work in abortion clinics are often parents. They need to make a living and put food on the table. She doesn’t agree with their cause, but she was once in their shoes. She’s happy to help them if they want to get out of this ugly business. And she wants them to know that pro-life love extends to them.
In the midst of pain and suffering, there is light and hope. One speaker at the conference described the annual March for Life and the pro-life movement itself as an “army of love.” May it ever be so, and may that love spread throughout a fallen world.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COPYRIGHT 2016 United Feature Syndicate