This is a video I put together of a protest we held in Cedar Rapids Iowa when Planned Parenthood Federation of America CEO Cecile Richards came to speak at Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa’s 30th anniversary celebration.
Activism is what got me into the pro-life movement and continues to be the part of the job that excites me the most. I thought I’d share a bit about it, especially about the parts of my job that rub a lot of people the wrong way.
I started going to Church with Eric Scheidler, the executive director of the Pro-Life Action League and now my boss, when Erin and I became Catholic. I remember the first time I asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a pro-life activist.
People Do That?
I was unaware that that was a job choice. Nobody ever mentioned it in any of the career-path conversations one inevitably has in high school. I was impressed and intrigued. It really excited me that there were people actually doing something about abortion, something I abhorred but never gave much thought to actually fighting.
I told Eric at the time that I’d love to get involved in some activism activities and he dropped a few opportunities here and there that I wasn’t able to take advantage of.
Nearly a year later, he offered me the opportunity to come on for the League’s 10 day summer “Face the Truth” Tour, a public education initiative where volunteers hold 3′ x 5′ pictures of aborted babies along busy streets to remind the public of the reality of abortion.
It was brash, daring, controversial and pretty much everything I hoped would be involved when I first heard about the job of pro-life activist. Fortunately, the construction work I was doing at the time was a little slow so I was able to take the time off to do it.
A Picture Worth 10,000 Words
I was changed from the first day. Though I’d always been pro-life in theory, I’d never really done anything about it. I don’t think I’d ever seen the pictures of aborted babies. The reaction when we pulled the first placards out of the truck was visceral. I was particularly moved by the picture of a baby aborted in a late-term abortion. Erin had just given birth to Ambrose, our first baby, and I was blown away by how much this baby looked like him when he came out of his mother. The gut-wrenching turn is that this picture is of a baby’s head severed from his jaw held up by forceps.
It was work to force back tears and continue with the job, but I did. I was equally impressed over the course of the tour with how incredibly effective these pictures are. They elicit visceral reactions from everyone who sees them. Some are angry, often because of prior involvement with abortion. Some are concerned about their children seeing the pictures. But many are brought to stunned silence by the reality they’re presented with and often come away with a totally new perspective on abortion.
Putting the Lie to the “Clump of Cells” Myth
Planned Parenthood and the rest of their cohorts are zealous to portray abortion as doing away with a useless and obnoxious clump of cells—like removing a tumor or clipping a fingernail. They have to be. Because when people see what’s actually happening in an abortion—a doctor tearing a human being limb from limb—nobody can argue that it’s some benign choice.
Let’s Face It: People Don’t Like Me
There are, of course, many objections to Face the Truth efforts and God knows I’ve heard them all. People frequently pull over their cars to yell at us or just honk angrily and give the finger when we’re using the graphic images. We’ve even put together a document answering the most common of these objections. But when it comes down to it, I’ve come to believe that nobody has a right to not see these pictures.
This is the collective choice our society has made: to allow the destruction of human life in the one place that God designed especially to nurture and protect it. Nobody gets to live in blissful ignorance. As long this is happening and our society is condoning it, we will continue to expose it.
And the solid fact remains that Face the Truth campaigns work. There have been many instances, some I’ve been privileged to witness, when women look at the pictures and come tell us that they have an abortion scheduled but they can’t go through with it. We’ve even had people stop and introduce us to their children who got to live instead of being aborting because they saw these images on the roadside.
Don’t Like It? Go Tell Ethan.
Just last year a man stopped and told me, between tears, of how 8 years previous he and his wife had gone to an abortion clinic to kill their child. But some faithful pro-lifers were outside the clinic with these pictures. They went into the clinic but, just as her name was called to go have the abortion, they got up and left because of the seed the pictures had planted. He told me his son Ethan was the light of his life and he couldn’t imagine living without him.
If just one baby was saved, it would be worth it. But countless hearts and minds have been changed by activism like this and human beings made in God’s image have been given life because of the work of pro-life activists showing the truth about abortion. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t like it, you can go tell Ethan.
I’m reminded of my dear friend Sandy who, when she got involved in pro-life activism a few years ago, told me how grieved she was that she hadn’t gotten involved earlier. I was in the same position and I’ve met many people who felt the same way.
My boss Eric likes to tell people like that that God calls people when they’re ready. Don’t be sorry about what didn’t happen, be glad that God’s awakened your heart now and act on it. There are so many people who would get involved if only someone would give them an opportunity.
Well, if you’re not involved in some way in fighting the greatest evil taking place in our society right now, here’s your invitation. There are numerous ways of getting involved.
You can check out the Clinic Witness Map on the Pro-Life Action League’s website where we’ve cataloged all the groups we’re aware of that are involved in praying and sidewalk counseling across the country and find a group to get involved with. You can volunteer at a Pregnancy Resource Center or maternity home in your area. You can get involved with 40 Days for Life, a group that organizes prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. You can help people you know in difficult situations with unplanned pregnancies. You can donate to the Pro-Life Action League or other pro-life groups to help them fight abortion. But whatever you do, don’t be complacent.