So I kind of feel like God is sending me through a crash course to pro-life activism. I'll tell you what I mean in a minute.
I started volunteering with 40 Days for Life, a prayer vigil in front of Planned Parenthood. The first day I was there volunteering, I was asked by one of the mentors at Fresno Right to Life if I'd like to become a vigil leader. Basically I'm there to make sure no one gets out of line, to make sure nothing happens to the equipment, and to answer questions if anyone has any. Of course I jumped at the chance and I was basically trained there on the spot. Forty Days for Life is almost over; it ends on Sunday (Halloween), then there's a rally next Monday where we can give testimonies of what we've experienced while we were out there.
So about the crash course thing. Last week I had quite a few interesting experiences, most of which were pretty advanced for someone like myself with not much training. First, a week ago Saturday (it was the 16th), I went through Justice for All's training program. That Saturday we spent about six hours in training, then the following Monday I went with them to Fresno State University to get some "in the field" training. We had a poll table set up (Should abortion remain legal? Yes, no, or undecided) where people could sign their names to give their opinion. We were able to use this as a springboard to get discussions started. There were even large posters set up showing the course of human development through all stages of life (from conception to elderly adult). This could be used as an additional tool for discussion.
I mostly talked to people who signed "no" (it was my first day so I wanted to start off kind of easy), that abortion should not remain legal. Most of the people had common answers to why they don't believe abortion should remain legal (it's murder, it's killing a child, etc.), but none of them could really articulate why they believed that. One girl just believed abortion should not remain legal because she's Catholic, and her parents are pro-life. So I was able to help them see why, exactly, abortion is wrong (we're alive because we're growing, we're human because we're the product of human parents, and all living humans are valuable, aren't we?). However, I got to talk to a girl who had miscarried. She believed that abortion was a selfish act because there are many women who miscarry or can't even conceive children and by aborting a child, you're taking away a potential child that could make some other couple very happy. I thought that was an interesting perspective.
I talked to one person whom I knew from Fresno City College (from music theory class). He at least believed abortions should not be legal for reasons of birth control, but should be legal for the harder cases, such as rape or the mother's life being in jeopardy. Now, I would be very happy if abortions for socio-economic reasons were outlawed. That would do away with over 90% of abortions and save a lot of lives. But of course we shouldn't stop there, because killing a child because he/she is the product of rape, incest, etc. is just wrong, as wrong as killing a one- or two-year-old child because he/she is the product of rape, incest, etc.
And by the way, I agree that if the mother's life is in jeopardy (such as due to an ectopic pregnancy), then as per any triage situation the one with the greatest chance of survival (the mother) must be saved. It's better to lose one life than two. But abortions are rarely ever necessary. They're never necessary in the late-term, because a C-section can be done to remove the child from the womb and be saved. After all, a child can be born a little less than five months premature and still have a chance of survival.
Then I got what is called in the industry a "steamroller," someone who is not interested in civil discussion; he just wants to blow off steam and tell you how wrong you are without giving you a chance to respond. He assumed that because we're out there supporting the pro-life side that we're all religious Republicans. First of all, I told him that I'm not a Republican, so he started using the word "conservatives" instead. (Upon retrospect, I don't remember if I'm technically a Republican or not -- when I first registered to vote, I registered as a Democrat but I think I may have switched to Republican a few years ago. I honestly don't remember now.) He started off by asking me a question I have never really considered before. Am I in favor of less government in our lives? (Remember, he's assuming I'm a Republican.) I had to think on my feet, but I gave him an honest answer: I believe there should be enough government to ensure that the "little guy" doesn't get taken advantage of, but not so much government that they invade our personal liberties. He was trying to trap me, to say if I believe in less government then why do I want the government to step in and abolish (or regulate) abortion? But why would having less government mean killing is suddenly okay? I don't get his reasoning. One of our mentors, a guy named Trent, stepped in to try and smooth the situation over but he wasn't listening. I remained very respectful and tried not to interrupt him. Afterward, Trent said I handled the situation well.
Later on that week while I was volunteering at 40 Days for Life, I met a woman who had her children taken away and was attending classes to become a better mother (I think that's what the classes were for). About an hour later, a young woman came up to our anonymous prayer board and was looking at it. I was alone, so I approached her and told her about the prayer board, and that she can leave it anonymously. The note she left broke my heart: "God, please forgive me. I pray that I will be. I wish I could have kept you." Please keep this girl in prayer, that she would come to learn that God can forgive any sin (save blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, of course), even the sin of abortion. And like David, she can be confident that she will one day see her child again.
So there you have it. A lot of has gone on since I've started volunteering. I think it will all work out well in the end. Let's keep fighting for ending the atrocious practice of abortion.