This week I’ll join a small group of concerned citizens to stand in quiet vigil in front of our local Planned Parenthood clinic on Hilby Ave in Seaside. This week marks the beginning of the national campaign called “40 Days for Life.” Sponsored by an organization by that same name, semi-annual campaigns of prayer, fasting and quiet presence have been ongoing since the group’s inception in 2004, and are taking place now in over 250 U.S. cities and in 25 other countries, all to see an end to abortion.
Admittedly, my primary calling is to pastor our local church family, and equipping believers and sharing the gospel will always be at the heart of our Sanctuary Bible Church ministry. I don’t go out of my way looking for opportunities to involve our congregation in what some might deem, “social activism,” but I continue to believe that legalized abortion is not only the greatest social travesty of our country, but it is a direct attack on our collective humanity for whom God sent His Son to save. So, this is one local “campaign for life” in which I’ll participate and ask you to join with me. I really believe it’s that important.
Someone might ask, “Why focus on the Planned Parenthood clinic in our community?” “Aren’t they actively engaged in providing good services for women’s health?” The reality is that while the national organization of Planned Parenthood claims to provide a broad range of women’s health services, they make the majority of their financial profit from taking the lives of unborn children and victimizing women by advocating abortion. When you consider that roughly half of the aborted unborn are girls and that many of the young women who abort their babies live with spiritual and emotional scars for years to come, it’s hard to argue that providing abortions is pro-women’s health.
Others might wonder what real difference can be made by pro-life participants standing in quiet vigil, singing or praying with a small group of others in front of a clinic. In 2009, Abby Johnson was the director of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas (the town where the 40 Days campaigns began). But after assisting in an abortion where by ultrasound she saw an in-utero child actively resisting the clinician's instruments (not her normal role), she quit her job and became a pro-life advocate, joining those who stood and prayed outside the very clinic where she had formerly worked. Through conversations that have taken place outside clinics and follow-up visits, 40 Days campaigners cited nearly 12,000 babies whose lives were saved according to reports collected by the spring of 2013. By God’s gracious working in the hearts of women and the ongoing witness of committed campaigners, that number has certainly grown over the last four years.
But what of those who maintain that an early abortion is not really taking the life of a child? Answer, there is literally no reputable embryologist who would suggest that the growing embryo in a women's womb is anything other than human. From the earliest moment of conception all the genetic material is present that will determine who that little person will be. While clearly dependent on his or her mother for life, all that is needed for this little guy or girl to one day be born is the safety of his or her mother’s womb, time and nourishment.
Other so called “pro-choice” arguments abound. What about the emotional health of a too-young, unmarried mother with an unwanted pregnancy? What about pregnant single mothers who can’t financially support a child? What about cases of rape or incest? What about cases where there are fetal abnormalities? Shouldn’t a mother then have a “right to choose?” Answers are often not easy. (I have walked with young mothers down those roads…some who kept their babies and some who didn’t.) But in every case the answer is clear. If a life in the womb is truly a human life, then that little guy or girl has every right to life, and that little person needs advocates who will do all they can to protect their very vulnerable lives. You and I must be those advocates. Although abortion has been politically reframed as solely a women's issue, the staggering reality of 58 million lives taken (since legalization in 1973) cries out for those who will take a stand for the unborn.
Our church family’s commitment in our local 40 Days for Life campaign is to gather in front of the clinic on Thursdays (usually afternoon or early evening). It’s not a combative environment. Others will be there to stand, sing, talk and pray. Some will hold signs. Come for a short time or stay for a while. Our witness is born by our presence and prayer. You can sign up to participate online at 40 Days for Life or in our church foyer. Little lives hang in the balance. Let your loving presence be a testimony to all who pass by.