Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Reluctant Pro-life Journey

Writing about Notre Dame reminded me of a post I written here 5 years ago about how I became pro-life. I went back and read it and decided it might be a good time to post it again. Warning though! It has actual religious content! If that offends you, look away.

When I went to college my goal was to become a trained actress. Growing up in politics, I was sick of it. All I wanted to do was be a movie star one day. I never wanted to even hear the word politics again. When I was 18 my dad made me drive 6 hours from Florida to vote in my 1st Presidential election. MADE ME. And like a good democrat, I voted for Carter.

I had been a Christian for a long time (thank goodness, looking back) by the time I entered college. During my college years I began to be bothered by the abortions my friends were having. Their pain was hard to see. I didn't see relief afterwards. But I told myself that was their decision and had nothing to do with me. Luckily for me, I had decided many years before that I was going to wait until marriage for sex, so I didn't have any worries in the department of pregnancy and abortion. In the late 70's and early 80's the common belief was abortion was performed when the baby was still a clump of cells, not even a fetus. Totally untrue, but everyone believed it. Sonograms were just beginning to be in use in OBGYN offices.

A lot of things happened with friends during those years regarding abortion and none of them good. I finally realized God was trying to tell me something. Now for those of you with faith the following will be probably be something similar that you have been through. For those of you without faith I suppose it will sound silly, but here it is nonetheless.

During my senior year after doing some study into fetal development and other things I finally did decide that abortion was the taking of a life and morally wrong. "There," I said to God, "You have convinced me, thanks for making see the reality of this. I really appreciate it. If I have more friends going through it I will do whatever I can to get them to have the baby. You can count on me. Later."But God wasn't through with me yet. That Hound of Heaven has always done this to me. I want to go one way, He wants me to go the other. We have argued all my life. Seriously. Most of the time I went His way because I'm smart that way, and He was always right. In fact, all the best things in my life now are a result of having gone into pro-life work. My best friends and my children. But I fought going into it the whole way. The very few times I went my way, I always screwed up.

In my early 20's when it became clear that God wanted me to go into pro-life work, I simply refused. "God," I said, "look, I don't want anything to do with politics and this is political now. Isn't this a woman's choice to sin? Just like anything else? Plus, everyone thinks anyone in pro-life is a fanatic. I don't want to do this. Nope. No way. Let's move on, shall we?"

He would NOT leave me alone so I made a deal with him. I told God I would go do ANYTHING else to help his children. In fact, I will do the hardest thing for me. I will go volunteer in a nursing home. There I will be doing good, and politics is totally out of it. So I did. Many days I came home crying. I told my husband how hard it was to see these old people so lost and alone. Some so sick. Why do they have to live that way? It was so much harder than I ever thought it would be, but I had a deal with God and I kept going back.

One day one of my favorite old ladies, Emily, asked me for a glass of water. I got it for her and was sitting there watching her drink it when I felt God speak to my heart. (for ya'll who are rolling your eyes right now, NO, it isn't an actual voice, ok?, but it is clear just the same) First He spoke of the verse in the Bible where Christ says "For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water...." Christ goes on to say "When you refused to help the least of these my brothers, you were refusing to help me." (Matthew 25:35-45) "Don't you see?" I heard God say to my heart. "These people you help are a burden and unwanted by the world, but I love them. They are my children. The same is true for my unborn children. They may be unwanted, but they are loved and wanted by me. You can be my hands, you can be my voice. Go and help the least of these."

As I sat there with tears rolling down my face, I knew that I was going to do exactly what I did not want to do. Get involved in a controversial political issue. One that I didn't feel have anything to do with me. I was an actress and that is what I wanted to do. Not this. But God had always been my strength, my guide. I sounded like a petulant child, but I said to God, "Oh, alright...."And I did.

It was never easy to watch girls walk out of the pregnancy crisis center I worked in and know they were going to have an abortion no matter what I said. A boyfriend was usually urging them to, or a parent. It was never easy to see people think you were some sort of fanatic for being in this work. And it was NEVER easy to explain why. My family came around. They are all pro-life now. But there were years when I know they wanted to put duct tape over my mouth to make me shutup about it. President Reagan wrote an essay while in office called "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation." It was beautiful and expressed perfectly why we should fight for the rights of the unborn. The media largely ignored it and I'm betting you here, all politically aware, have not even heard of it. The media hoped that a blackout of what we were trying to do would make us go away. But we didn't.

Although abortion laws didn't change, abortion rates lowered or stayed steady. Considering that in the last 30 yrs all other societal ills like drug abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse, suicide rates, ect. have increased, I think we have had an impact and that is with NO help from the media or funding.

One night a few years ago, upset at a woman I knew who was pregnant with twins who happened not to be her husband's (who she was separated from but planning on getting back together), was having an abortion that day. I had offered to keep her from her husband until the twins were born and then adopt them ourselves. I cried and cried for those two little ones who would never feel the breeze in their hair, or swing on swing sets. Ones I would never get to hold. In my pain, I asked God what was the purpose here if nothing in the law had changed??? Once again I heard Him speak to my heart. "I never asked you to do anything but what you have done. Men will make and change laws. I wanted you to change hearts and let them know the truth."

You see, God does not care about politics. He cares only for us. Is it just and right that we allow unborn children to be destroyed? No. Of course not. We may never win, but we should never stop being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. The truth about abortion was never getting out there and it still isn't in so many ways. I truly don't expect a President to change this law (although I would wish for them to) But I do want a President who understands as I do that what defines who we are is how we treat "the least of these."