1. Transform outrage into prayerful action, devoid of hate.
Do not tire of contacting elected officials to remind them of their duty to protect innocent life and to hold the abortion industry accountable when they break existing laws. Specifically, right now, we are focusing on defunding Planned Parenthood. Ask your state and federal representatives to do whatever it takes, to stop the money stream of your tax dollars, from funding this unnecessary organization that commits violence against women and children through abortion, and which pushes a morally bankrupt view of sexuality upon our young people.
As I have read various news stories over the last few weeks, I cannot help but make a comparison. This comparison is between Planned Parenthood and ISIS, the radical Islamist terror group operating in the Middle East. Consider this for a moment, will you? Both are driven by an extreme ideology. For ISIS, it is Islamist supremacy enforced by violence. For Planned Parenthood, it is reproductive autonomy and sexual freedom, again, enforced by violence. Now the method and the location of this violence differs with these two groups. ISIS commits its atrocities in the public squares and on the street, with guns and bombs and swords. Planned Parenthood does their dirty work in a medical clinic, behind closed doors, with a vacuum aspirator and other medical instruments. Both Planned Parenthood and ISIS not only kill innocent people, but they desecrate the bodies and heap indignities upon them after they are dead. ISIS never ceases to come up with cruel and outrageous ways to torture, kill and then to desecrate bodies. They also traffic in the organs of their victims. Planned Parenthood and those who work with them, in the name of scientific advancement and medical research, also desecrate the bodies of those they kill, carving them up into parts to satisfy the researchers who are looking for specific organs. There is a big difference between ISIS and Planned Parenthood. ISIS is proud of what they do. They videotape their mass executions and their destruction of ancient sites. They advertise it without apology for the world to see. When other people videotape the work that Planned Parenthood does to the unborn child, Planned Parenthood threatens lawsuits, alleges dishonest editing and otherwise tries to discredit the videographers. In this, ISIS has more integrity. They are not afraid to let the world see what they do. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, cowardly tries to keep their dirty work secret and out of sight.
Each time one of these new undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s barbaric and callous practices is released, I feel anger and disgust and a sense of outrage. It breaks my heart. Still, I ask God to transform these feelings into something productive, something that honors Him and is based on love. Abortion is such a great evil, so pervasive and so entrenched in our society, that it takes a variety of approaches to combat it. A prayerful, peaceful presence on the streets in front of abortion clinics is one way. As I mentioned, communicating to your elected officials about the sanctity of unborn life is another way. Working with organizations such as Right to Life, Birthright, adoption agencies and, most especially, our own local Informed Choices Medical Clinic, are other good ways. Being supportive of friends who have had abortions, not supporting their choice to have had an abortion, but supporting them as human beings who are loved by God and who may be feeling guilty or depressed or angry about their abortions. There are wonderful groups like Project Rachel whose purpose is to emotionally and spiritually support post-abortive women. These women are in our churches. They are our sisters, friends, mothers, aunts, daughters, neighbors and co-workers. They need to know the forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers them.
2. Informed Choices I mentioned Informed Choices Medical Clinic. I hope you all know about them. They are over on Gilbert St. I cannot speak highly enough about this group and what they do. They are a medical clinic, equipped with ultrasound technology and trained medical professionals. They are a life-affirming alternative to the death and cynicism and hopelessness that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers offer. They provide emotional support for women who may feel trapped or out of options, regarding an unplanned or crisis pregnancy. This is the hard but so very vital work of the pro-life movement. It requires building relationships and showing love and respecting people.
If Planned Parenthood is defunded by our politicians, there will be an even greater need for the medical and emotional and spiritual support of abortion-minded women that Informed Choices can give. Informed Choices is ready to take on the challenge. They have a business model that they can replicate across the state of Iowa. Imagine some day, when, God-willing, they become the go-to, primary clinic for women who are not sure how to handle their pregnancy and are looking for support and care. May there be a day when there are a dozen or more Informed Choices clinics across Iowa, and few or no Planned Parenthood clinics. As people who support the unborn, we must also support the mothers of the unborn, and supporting Informed Choices through our prayers, our volunteer hours, and our finances, is, I think, one of the most effective ways to do so.
3. Prayer and Compassion Let us pray for Jill Meadows and for Tom Ross and others who work in the abortion industry in Iowa. They need our prayers. We cannot give in to hate or resort to violence. Jill and Tom are abortionists who work for Planned Parenthood in our state. Let us pray that God would convert their hearts, so that they could use their medical training to help and to heal, rather than to hurt and to kill. If we are going to say that abortion should be illegal and we are working hard to put these people who work in this building out of a job, then I believe we have an obligation to them of sorts. When abortionists and other workers quit working in that grisly business, sometimes, it is because pro-life people, Christians have showed them love and given them an opportunity to do something better with their lives. I am so grateful for Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director from Texas who is now pro-life and who runs an excellent ministry to help abortion workers transition out of that practice, into other lines of employment. Her ministry is called And Then There Were None. Abby and her group needs our support through prayer and finances. We must give these abortion workers every opportunity to get out of that business, and to use their skills in a much better and healthier way.
We must insist on avoiding language that dehumanizes unborn children. They are often referred to as an unwanted pregnancy, uterine contents, products of conception or fetal tissue. When we allow society to get away with using dehumanizing language toward the unborn, we make it all the easier for us all to justify the horror of abortion. Likewise, and this is important, we must avoid all shaming language and action directed toward unwed pregnant mothers. Yes, sex outside of marriage is a sin. But unwed pregnancy is not a sin. Let us, as Christians, always be on guard against gossip and shame directed at women who have made a mistake yes, but who now have the opportunity to cherish the life within them. If we cluck our tongues at them and shake our heads at them and ostracize them because they have gotten pregnant outside of marriage, we run the risk of pushing them toward abortion and we do not reflect God’s love and acceptance of them. Women in that situation do not need to be judged, they need to be loved.
Let me close with this. Let us always pray, as we think about and act against the great evil of abortion. Let us guard our hearts against anger that can lead to hatred. Let us not be cowards, but be bold and relentless. Let us repent of our society’s support and involvement in the horror of abortion. And let us always remember that God is in control, and no matter how evil our society may seem at times, He is stronger than that evil and there is always hope with Him.
Fr. Ignatius Valentine St. Raphael Orthodox Church
We wish to thank Fr. Ignatius for attending the Protest of Planned Parenthood in Iowa City, Aug 22 and offering his prayers and reflection.
Johnson County Right to Life 345 E. College St. Iowa City, IA 52240 (319) 855-8475