Kristen Hatten

Atheists, agnostics, pagans, and more: do they have a place in the pro-life movement?

Kristen Hatten
By Kristen Hatten
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August 13, 2013 (LiveActionNews) - Lately I’ve been noticing a new pro-life trend. Quite active on Facebook are groups and individuals who condemn any attempt to convert an abortion advocate without taking a religious approach.

What I can glean of their message from social media and blog posts is that unless you lead with Jesus, you are denying His power to change that person’s mind. In other words, taking any approach other than “here’s what the Bible has to say about abortion” is irreligious folly.

I have several issues with this, but let’s start with my own personal experience.

I’ve shared my conversion story with Live Action readers and in The American Feminist, the magazine of Feminists for Life of America, so I won’t rehash it again. But allow me to reiterate that had my lovely friend, with whom I chose to debate abortion one fateful night, used religion as a basis for her argument, I not only would not have been convinced, I would have dismissed her entire thesis outright and probably ended the conversation.

Would I have been, frankly, an idiot for doing so? That is debatable. (By which I mean: yeah, kind of.) But I would also not have become, that very night, a pro-life advocate.

I was converted on the basis of human rights, science, and reason. Was God behind it? In my opinion, yes, He was. He is always behind Truth. I believe God created human rights, science, and reason. So using these to argue is not terribly different from mentioning Him by name.

Because my friend was, to get Biblical, “wise as serpents,” I became pro-life that night. A year later, I was no longer an agnostic but a Catholic. Coincidence? I guess. If you believe in that sort of thing.

I spent the first few months of my uncomfortable pro-lifeness (after initially trying desperately to become pro-choice again, and failing) splashing around in the shallow but welcoming online pool of the non-religious pro-life. There were pro-life pagans, agnostics, atheists, humanists, homosexuals, and so on. They, like I, had found the argument for the sanctity of unborn human life compelling enough without believing in a Christian God.

For me, this new belief in the unborn led me directly – eventually – to that same Christian God. I doubt I am the only one for whom this has been the case. It has given me an even deeper love for the fetal among us: they saved my soul.

So not only does a Bible-first approach to explaining the evil of abortion not work on everyone, it outright excludes a small but important faction of the pro-life community, whom I believe we should welcome.

Craig Gross, pastor of XXXchurch, devotes his ministry to helping porn stars leave the sex industry. In explaining his controversial personal friendship with porno legend Ron Jeremy, he explained to “Nightline:” “To me, the message of Jesus unites and doesn’t divide. You know what we’re all against, but you never know what we’re all for. Like, to me, I’m for Ron.”

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There might be a very profound message in that simple statement.

If I care deeply about the soul of a pro-life pagan – and I do! – is it for me to tell her she has no place in our movement? Will that endear her to my religion? Will it go any way at all towards bringing her to understand the love of Christ?

No, of course not.

My goal as a Christian should be to bring Christ to everyone I meet. How best should I do that? By yelling Bible verses through a megaphone? By handing out pamphlets? By excluding them from the Godly work of protecting Life?

I recall encountering, for the first time, the priest who would become my first pastor. I attended a tragic funeral for a young man at his parish. It was the second time in my life I had been in a Catholic church, and this happened one month after I became pro-life. (Again, “coincidence.”) Normally quite hostile to Christianity, I felt peace and – indeed – holiness in the sanctuary. I also felt what I would later come to know as the Holy Spirit emanating from Monsignor Donald Fischer. I would feel it every time I was in his presence. I would feel it in that same sanctuary when he confirmed me a Catholic, one year later.

All this – all this Godliness – because my friend didn’t mention God.

God has His ways. I believe they have been called “mysterious.” Perhaps we should be humble enough to accept they don’t always involve us being loudly right at everyone’s face. Are you right to say God is the number one reason to oppose abortion? In my opinion, yes. But being right is not always how you win an advocate for Life – or a soul for Jesus.

It is a difficult thing to humbly submit to the will of God when nothing makes sense. Maybe pro-life paganism or agnosticism or atheism or homosexuality don’t make sense to you. Maybe they are an affront to you. But just like Craig Gross and his friend Ron Jeremy are both “for Ron,” aren’t we all working towards the same goal? Don’t we all want to protect life in the womb? Does God frown on you when you embrace a pro-life atheist or does He say, in the immortal words of Dire Straits, “That’s the way you do it”?

I’m thinking it’s (something like) the latter, and I personally welcome – and rejoice in – all the pro-lifers. We may disagree about graphic signs, the death penalty, politics, and more, but any friend of the unborn deserves a seat at our table.

Kristen is Vice President of New Wave Feminists. She tweets as @walkertxkristen and can be found on Facebook if you know where to look.

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews


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Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

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Abortion group targets pro-life doctors, nurses with new website: New Zealand

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Pro-life health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres in New Zealand are the target of a new website designed to intimidate those who choose not to refer for abortion or prescribe contraception.

The website, My Decision, is created by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ). 

The site lists health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres which they believe women should avoid.  The incomplete list includes the names of individuals or organisations, the region and town, and whether they are a doctor, nurse or other provider. 

Women are asked to submit their stories of “hostile or unhelpful health professionals.”  The stories are non-identifying and can be edited for length or clarity.  At the time of writing only two stories had been posted.

In an earlier blog post, ALRANZ mentioned that the new website, which was still under construction at the time, is “aimed at shining the light on ‘conscientious objectors’… who deny people the reproductive healthcare they want or need.”

Right to Life NZ says they believe the site is “denigrating the good name and reputations of health professionals who believe that abortion is a harmful choice.”

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Under New Zealand law, health practitioners can object to providing reproductive health services according to their conscience.  However, there is one caveat – they “must inform the person who requests the service that he or she can obtain the service from another health practitioner or from a family planning clinic.”

 “Sonscientious objection is a fundamental right and one that must be preserved if we are to continue to live in a free and civil society,” said Chris O’Brien, Vice President of Right to Life NZ. “We risk tyranny if this right is taken away.”

“There are very good doctors that appear on that website” said Dame Colleen Bayer, whose Dunedin Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centre is also named.  “These doctors speak truthfully and have real care and concern for their patients.  Women do themselves a disservice to discount them based on this information.”

The resource section on the My Decision website links to ALRANZ, Family Planning (an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation and an abortion provider), and the website Abortion Services in New Zealand. 

The Abortion Services website is sponsored by ISTAR Ltd, a registered Charitable Trust which is the sole importer of mifepristone into New Zealand.  ISTAR also provides Manual Vacuum Aspiration equipment for early surgical abortions.

ALRANZ, was instrumental in the writing of the Greens abortion policy, which was unveiled earlier this year.  That policy aims to take abortion out of the Crimes Act making it more accessible.  The policy also targets health professionals who may conscientiously object to ensure they refer patients on to a “neutral practitioner”.

More information about freedom of conscience in healthcare 


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The government is proposing allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.
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Northern Ireland considers allowing killing disabled unborn babies: pro-lifers condemn

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Precious Life, has condemned this week's announcement by Justice Minister David Ford that a consultation on changing the abortion law will be "ready by autumn." The government is considering allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.

“Abortion is a serious criminal offence in Northern Ireland,” said the director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth. “The law here protects unborn babies, and David Ford as Minister for Justice must ensure that all children are legally protected."

Last December, Ford revealed he would be undertaking a consultation to consider changes to the law after he heard the stories of two women, who complained that they had not been allowed to abort their babies who had been diagnosed with anencephaly. Instead, they said, they had traveled to Britain for abortions.

Abortion was refused under Northern Ireland’s laws because the diagnosis of anencephaly for the child poses no medical threat to the mother.

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On Monday Ford told the BBC that the Department of Justice would bring forward its consultation paper on changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws by the fall.

However, Smyth warned that “the core ethical principle which must underpin this discussion is that every child deserves the right to life regardless of how short their life may be, and regardless of the circumstances of their conception."

She vowed that Precious Life will launch a public campaign in support of the life of all unborn babies.

“We all feel enormous sympathy for parents in these traumatic and distressing cases," Precious Life stressed in a statement. "But parents in these difficult situations deserve much more than our sympathy – they need a professional support system in place, which will provide them with help, support and resources.

"Precious Life are resolved to work towards a solution that loves and protects both mother and baby. Once again we call on the Health Minister to immediately establish perinatal hospice services for parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis for their baby,” said Smyth.

 

Contact:

Justice Minister David Ford
Department of Justice
Stormont Estate
Belfast, Northern Ireland
BT4 3SG
Phone:(028) 9076 3000
Email: via website (http://www.dojni.gov.uk/contact-us.htm)


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80% of parents who have an unborn child with spina bifida choose abortion. But Chad Judice (pictured with Eli) knows that life is worth it.
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Abortion? No way. Dad says son with spina bifida is a ‘gift’ to the family.

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By Dustin Siggins

What is the most pro-life, pro-God influence in your life? According to Catholic author and speaker Chad Judice, his five-year old, disabled son has been a tremendous source of happiness and faith for even the hardest of hearts.

In an op-ed published in The New York Post, Judice writes that when he and his wife found out their unborn son Elijah had spina bifida, they were offered the option of abortion. While they chose life, it didn't stop them from fearing the worst for their careers, eldest child, and Eli.

"That evening...Ashley cried as she read to me from the literature we’d been given," writes Judice. "It said 80 percent of parents who receive a spina bifida diagnosis choose abortion."

"And it told us that our son might have learning disabilities and be paralyzed from the waist down, unable to ever walk."

According to WemMD.com, the two most common forms of spina bifida have few, if any effects, on those who have them. However, the most rare and most aggressive form of the disability can result in significant problems for life:

  • Little or no feeling in their legs, feet, or arms, so they may not be able to move those parts of the body.
  • Bladder or bowel problems, such as leaking urine or having a hard time passing stools.
  • Fluid buildup in the brain (hydrocephalus). Even when it is treated, this may cause seizures, learning problems, or vision problems.
  • A curve in their spine, such as scoliosis.

Eli's form of spina bifida was severe, but -- as it turned out -- manageable, writes Judice. Despite surgeries and "medical challenges," he was out of the hospital within thirty days, though seizures and surgeries would continue to challenge the family. At five-and-a-half, he is entering kindergarten, learning to walk with modern technology, and "his intelligence is at or above average, and he's very talkative."

But perhaps the greatest miracle of all, Judice says, is the effect Eli has had on those who are outside of the family. His story has helped "some pregnant mothers...to reject abortion," and "rekindle the dormant faith of some...drawing them into a life with more room for God and family."

One of those rekindled Christians was a man who, after years in prison, prayed for Eli "as he recited The Lord's Prayer." According to Judice, "it was the first time he’d prayed in 30 years."

Since Eli's birth, Judice has written two books about his son and their family. "Waiting for Eli: A Father's Journey from Fear to Faith" was the first, and has received praise from Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. According to Pavone, it is "an inspiring story of faith, hope, love, and the power of prayer."

"The world judges the value of human life by physical perfection, but God sees things differently. To Him, we are perfectly lovable in our imperfection. Uplifting in its reverence for human life in its most fragile stages, WAITING FOR ELI will encourage pro-life activists everywhere, from the most seasoned to the newly initiated."

Also unstinting in praise was the Chair of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Daniel Cardinal Dinardo, who writes for Judice's website that the book "chronicles [Judice's] spiritual journey from fear of one’s personal limitations to self-abandonment to the divine mercy of God’s providence."

The second book, "Eli's Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer," received the "Best Book by Small Publisher" award in 2013 by the Catholic Press Association.

"I think of Eli as God’s special gift to my family," Judice wrote in the Post. "And as I share about him, Eli’s story softens hearts and brings people to a greater appreciation of the beauty and sacredness of life."


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