Why I Did Not Protest Planned Parenthood on August 22

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Last month thousands of people gathered in hundreds of cities around the country to protest federal funding of Planned Parenthood. 

De-funding Planned Parenthood would be a wonderful thing. As a former patient of one of their abortion mills I would love nothing more than to make business very, very difficult for them to conduct. 

I didn't protest, but I contemplated doing so. 

I saw the photos and newsreels and I felt the same outrage and passion protesters felt. But over the past few weeks I've read a couple of items which have shifted my views about where I belong in this discussion.

This, and This, and This are three of the articles I read regarding the issue. If you read nothing else today, including the remainder of this post, read these. 

I decided after careful deliberation that attending protests wasn't where I fit in.

One major reason? 

I have found some of the responses to the series of Planned Parenthood videos, from pro-life individuals {not organizations}, to be particularly disquieting. I have read a number of comments stating that women who have ended pregnancies should be given the death penalty. I've read posts referring {positively} to a major conservative reporter's past assertion that women should be hung if they have had an abortion. 

{I should clarify again, this is not happening in well established pro-life groups or on pages for large pro-life organizations. Most of them acknowledge the necessity to approach all people involved in an abortion with love. I see more contention in comment threads under viral articles, etc.}

We have come so far in the pro-life movement and a good deal of this has been because we now approach abortion from a humanitarian perspective, both in terms of the loss of a child and the depravity of the actions of those in a position to protect the child. This is the pro-life movement I want to be a part of.

Protesting is a political action and while I am politically pro-life, my pro-life convictions aren't {just} about politics. My ideas about pro-life actions center around changing the way people view one another on an individual basis. It's about encouraging people to understand their own inherent value. It's about me treating other people as if they are valuable.

My faith teaches me to love the least, which in this case isn't just the unborn children involved-- it's the clinic workers, abortionists, and women choosing to end the lives of their children. I don't see love in the words of many pro-life persons who have spent time remarking on the Planned Parenthood scandal.

My faith also teaches me that charity begins at home. It begins with me opening my heart and my home to potential single mothers {or fathers} who may feel compelled to have an abortion due to lack of support. It begins with me exhibiting an attitude of care and consideration towards those who may be suffering. 

Charity begins by praying for clinic workers, abortionists, and others involved in the abortion industry. Love means we look the post-abortive mother in the eye, and tell her that we hold no judgement. 

There is a difference between saying: 

"What you did was wrong, and there are consequences surrounding the choice you made. I'm sorry for your sorrow and your feelings of shame, but I believe those feelings are part of your experience. To pretend like they are a construct of some shaming ritual by religious leaders is disingenuous. It lessens society's acceptance of the grief you feel for the loss of your unborn child. Acknowledging the true nature of your actions and allowing yourself to feel the grief are the first steps towards healing."


"You are a cold, heartless woman. I can't believe you would, or could, do that to your baby. I could never do anything that evil. You should be hung."

When in a picket line with contention swirling all around it's easy for negative conversations to happen. It's easy for judgement and anger to take over. It's simple for some messages to get lost. 

I don't want my message to get lost. 

I don't want my contribution to the conversation to become a speaking point during political protest. I want my contribution to be love in my home. Love given freely to my acquaintances. Love towards my neighbors and strangers alike-- even though I may be violently opposed to the actions of those who I am loving.

So, I didn't protest Planned Parenthood last month. Instead I decided to protest against the entire fallen world:

A world where we have casual conversations about whether cutting open baby's faces is science or not. 

A world where I too was complicit in an action which placed inequitable value on a human being who was too weak to defend themselves.

My protest will be love-- the beginning of a conversation where the weary will be given rest. A conversation where the burdened will find relief from their misfortune. A conversation where no mother who I meet will be lacking in support no matter what the circumstances of her child's conception.

Too often we push change out of the realm of personal responsibility. We convince ourselves that someone else can do it better. But if each of us leaves personal responsibility to love one another to someone else.... If we go and trust that our job is finished because we've held up a sign outside a clinic, or written a letter to a legislator, then who are we leaving the real actions of love to?

Who will get their hands dirty with the real faith-work of catching people when they fall?

Someone else doesn't really exist. It's all on us. We each have a vocation in the spectrum of this world altering debate. Some will protest because it's what they have been called to do. Some will work as sidewalk counselors and pregnancy resource center volunteers, or as pro-life physicians helping women make life-affirming decisions when faced with a complicated pregnancy situation. I will continue to spread my sweet Beatrix's story in order to educated families who may be faced with making a difficult decision during pregnancy, but I will also work to help those who are in arms reach-- the young mom who is afraid she will never finish school if she has a baby, the young man who is afraid of what fatherhood means for him, or the older woman who already has children and didn't plan on another.

I invite you to look deeply within yourself and contemplate what your vocation is, in this regard. Protesting is a valuable tool  in a democratic society and it should be done-- but don't let your work end there. Because ultimately, we aren't protesting just the loss of life happening inside the clinics but the fact that evil is present in our world at all-- and the only way to overcome evil is through sacrificial love. 

Step out of your comfort zone and make a personal connection with someone who may be struggling. I promise {and this is coming from a former teen mom} your support will make a change in someone's life which may be the difference between life and death.

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