January 22, 2013 marked the memorial of the 40th year of legalized abortion in the United States since the Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton court decisions. In that time, there have been over 55 million1 abortions – that we know of. Countless souls have been crushed, mothers of those 55 million have suffered the emotional, psychological and physical side effects of not only the procedure but of the life-long loss of their child. The father of each child, if he knew about the abortion, has suffered a lifetime of regret and lost fatherhood.
55 million. That’s a huge number. Russian communist Joseph Stalin who was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in the “Great Purge” alone, once said that “when one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it’s statistics.”2 This is the mentality we often take as a society in the United States towards abortion. Similar to the national debt, the number is so large that we can’t compute it. After tragedies like the recent mass shootings, our country reacts in mourning, yet when one third of the post Roe v. Wade generation is missing, it is not newsworthy. When 23% of pregnancies end in abortion in San Antonio, there isn’t a single story.
This memorial could be devastating considering how many lives, formed so intricately in their mother’s wombs by our Lord, have been lost. However, as faithful and hopeful Christians trusting in God’s plan, we must look for God’s story unfolding amidst the 40 years of destruction. Just as Jesus’ passion seemed like the ultimate defeat for the Christian movement, we have to look at what has come from the prolife movement in recent years leading up to this 40 year mark. Just as he defeated death by his resurrection, we must defeat the death by abortion through our own resurrection of the faithful.
The uprising of prolife organizations
Never before have we seen so many champions of the prolife movement speaking up, sharing their experiences and taking charge.
Carol Everett, who worked with Planned Parenthood and several other abortion clinics in Texas, had a conversion experience in 1983. Since that moment, she has founded The Heidi Group (heidigroup.org), which assists women in crisis pregnancy and has been a strategist in defunding Planned Parenthood in Texas.
Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood employee of the year in 2008, also turned avidly prolife, after watching an ultrasound-guided abortion. She too has founded an organization, And Then There Were None (attwn.org), which enables abortion clinic workers to find jobs outside of the abortion industry. As of February 16th, ATTWN has reached 43 workers, doctors and nurses. We are honored to have Abby as our keynote speaker at the annual SACFL banquet on April 26th.
Rebecca Kiessling, an abortion survivor of two back-alley abortion attempts has recently started Save the One (savethe1.com). Save the One finds their namesake in the one lost sheep of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18:12-14 and advocates eliminating rape as an exception for abortion.
Similarly, Ryan Bomberger is now speaking about his adoption after being conceived when his mother was raped. He has started the Radiance Foundation (theradiancefoundation.org), as well as, toomanyaborted.com, which strives to expose the eugenic and racist past of Planned Parenthood.
Sue Thayer, former director of Planned Parenthood in Storm Lake, Iowa is now battling in court with the abortion giant seeking over $5 billion in damages for their misuse of government funds. Sue was the keynote speaker at our banquet in April 2012.
Ramona Trevino managed the Planned Parenthood in Sherman, Texas, but had a conversion for life. Immediately following her conversion, she ran a 40 Days for Life campaign outside her former workplace that resulted in its closure in August of 2011. We will have Ramona as our keynote speaker at the San Antonio 40 Days for Life closing rally on Monday, March 25th.
Though she has not directly experienced the evil of abortion, Lila Rose started Live Action (liveaction.org) in 2004 to expose Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. Since then, she has conducted video sting operations that revealed Planned Parenthood’s concealment of illegal prostitution, sex-selective abortions, statutory rape, sexual slavery and many more state and federal violations. Live Action also produces a publication, The Advocate, for college and high school campuses on abortion and the abortion industry.
While the death toll is staggering, the number of organizations joining the fight strengthens the fiber of the prolife movement, making us more effective than ever. While these grassroots organizations and leaders inspire hundreds of thousands to get active, recent and proposed legislation in the courts of Texas and the United States also give us great hope.
Legislative successes in Texas
While there have been many legislative successes around the nation in recent years, no state has passed more prolife legislation or removed more tax dollars from funding Planned Parenthood than Texas. Organizations such as Texas Right to Life and Texas Alliance for Life have worked hard to cut revenue to the abortion industry as part of the state’s budget in the recent Legislative Sessions. As a direct result, six Planned Parenthood affiliated clinics have closed or are in the process of closing in North Texas.
In 1999, the Parental Notification bill finally passed requiring parents be notified of their minor daughter’s intent to seek and undergo an abortion. The teen abortion rate has dropped noticeably since Texas enacted parental involvement laws strengthening Texas families and protecting the rights of parents.
In 2003, the Texas Legislature passed Texas’ version of informed consent before an abortion, the Woman’s Right to Know law. The bill established a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and that the woman seeking an abortion be given information about potential complications of the procedure as well as a comprehensive list of alternatives.
Also in 2003, the Prenatal Protection act passed which assured that unborn children would be considered victims of state crimes if they died or were injured during the commission of crimes against their pregnant mothers. As a result, Texas penal code recognizes unborn children at the moment of fertilization.3
This past 82nd Legislative Session was perhaps the most historic and successful for the prolife movement in Texas. The Ultrasound Bill (SB182), though hindered by legal obstacles at times, has been written into law closing the many loop holes of the 2003 Woman’s Right to Know law requiring abortion doctors to make available the ultrasound image of the unborn child and the audible sound of the unborn child’s heartbeat to the mother to give her voluntary and informed consent before an abortion.
After a few unsuccessful attempts, the Texas Alliance for Life was able to get the new “Choose Life!” vehicle license plate passed which promotes adoption and raises funds for adoption agencies in Texas.
For the most part, those involved in prolife legislation have been in fighting for years, even decades. Yet, it is the wave of young people storming the prolife movement on behalf of their missing generational brothers and sisters that encourages and strengthens these prolife veterans.
A prolife youth generation
This past January I attended the sixth Students for Life of America (SFLA) National Conference, in which over 2,000 high school and college students heard from national prolife leaders, attended “how to” workshops on campus programs and increasing membership, found potential prolife jobs and internships and met other student prolife leaders from across the U.S. This was the day after they were inspired by the estimated 650,000 participants at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. which was largely dominated by their peers. I first attended the powerful conference as a student three years ago and there is nothing more powerful than knowing that the prolife movement is thriving among young people of future generations.
But, there is still much work to be done.
In a May 2012 survey with 805 respondents, SFLA found that 48% of those surveyed did not know whether Planned Parenthood offered abortions to pregnant women.4 Such results highlight why peer education among young people, conferences like the one hosted by SFLA and our own Get Real conference are so important. The upcoming youth leaders need to know about Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, so that we can end abortion in our lifetime.
A new generation is rising. A new group of abolishionists – abortion abolishionists. The best part? You can be one too.
40 Days for Life transforming grassroots efforts
Yet another reason to be joyful despite the lives lost in the past 40 years is the great successes of 40 Days for Life. These campaigns have been effective in literally saving lives and encouraging participation in the prolife movement.
40 Days for Life started in Bryan, Texas in the fall of 2004 and is a “focused pro-life campaign with a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion.”5 “The 40-day campaign tracks biblical history, where God used 40-day periods to transform individuals, communities…the entire world. From Noah in the flood to Moses on the mountain to the disciples after Christ’s resurrection, it is clear that God sees the transformative value of His people accepting and meeting a 40-day challenge.”4
As of February 2013, over 550,000 people have participated in the peaceful vigil, 6,749 lives have been saved from abortion (that we know of), 76 clinic workers have left the industry and 28 abortion facilities have closed in 481 cities in 15 countries around the world.6 As of the spring of 2013, we have participated in 11 campaigns in San Antonio.
As a result of your participation in the local 40 Days for Life campaigns and our other events, as well as your financial contributions, we too have had some great local successes.
As of February 2013, we have had over 100 lives spared from abortion that we know of. It is important that we say “that we know of” because we are not always told of each case in which women changed their mind or the turned their blinker off once seeing us out on the sidewalk.
In 2009 our founder and President Amy Voorhees uncovered four of San Antonio’s seven Planned Parenthood locations were performing abortions without a license. This discovery resulted in over $200,000 in fines and well over $500,000 in lost revenue and fees for our local Planned Parenthood affiliate.
We have mobilized over 1,900 volunteers in the past five years to peacefully and prayerfully be present in front of the leading abortion provider in San Antonio for each abortion day since December of 2008.
We have personally witnessed a young woman being forced into an abortion by her parent and were able to be there to help her.
With the prolife movement thriving among young people we have established five Get Real prolife clubs in local high schools with many more soon to start.
Your efforts standing peacefully and prayerfully and sidewalk counseling in front of Reproductive Services abortion facility over the past few years (decades for some) have brought about huge results. In late 2012 this clinic, one of the leading abortion providers, closed down. The abortionist, Dr. Alan Braid, was one of the leading voices in opposition to the sonogram law. Today, this closed facility is now Grace Church, a Korean Bible church. What was once a place of destruction and despair is now a place full of worship and praise for God!
When I visited their service one Sunday, my legs were shaking in nervousness as I approached the door. After spending so many hours outside the gate praying for the unborn, mothers, fathers and for the conversion of the clinic workers and doctor in that building, it was almost overwhelming to finally walk inside. When I entered and saw the cross of our Lord and heard the music of praise, I felt an immediate peace.
The message that day was entitled “God rejoicing.” The pastor spoke on Luke 15:1-10, the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. In both cases it was probably more costly to search after the sheep or for the woman who lost her coin to invite her friends over to celebrate and rejoice. Jesus says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (verse 7).” God rejoices over the men and women who repent of destroying His tiny masterpieces. So too God rejoices over a building now reclaimed from destruction to one where souls seek Him.
These past 40 years have brought about pain and loss, but their darkness has also allowed for little lights of hope to shine. These lights shine a message of truth, that the life God has created in the womb is precious. We are ready for these lights to overcome the darkness in the hopes that when we meet our Lord face to face we can hear the great words of the Master to His servant, “well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master’s happiness!” Matt25:21.
1 - http://www.nrlc.org/Factsheets/FS03_AbortionInTheUS.pdf
2 - "The Time of Stalin: Portrait of Tyranny", by Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, page 278
3 – from Texas Right to Life website