It can be very easy, especially now-a-days, to immediately get defensive when somebody thinks differently than you. Sometimes the words somebody says do not make us feel safe. The natural reaction is then to have a fight or flight response. When receiving backlash while being a sidewalk advocate, the flight response can come in the form of a disturbed face and mute mouth. The fight response can come in the form of condemning responses. However, we do not have to limit ourselves to these responses. Just because these are the typical responses to perceived threats does not mean they are the only responses. When someone expresses disagreement, we can respond by creating a safe place for them to change their mind. This involves asking charitable questions, using a friendly tone, knowing your stuff, and having hope.
Outside of Planned Parenthood, I recently had a conversation with a man whose wife was getting an abortion inside Planned Parenthood. I did not catch the wife when she went in, but I was able to speak with the man when he came out. He listened to my logical reasons why abortion is not okay, and then as the conversation progressed, he Iistened to me as I told him my testimony of why I am a Christian. He responded very positively, told me I was nice, asked to be Facebook friends, and said he respects my response to God’s call to sidewalk advocacy. However, unfortunately, it did seem as though his wife still went through with the abortion. At the end of the discussion, he went back inside. As tragic as it is to lose an innocent life, he now knows there are people who can help him should he ever find himself in this situation again. When the inevitable grief occurs as a result of losing his child, he will now know of God who can provide healing and forgiveness.
How is it possible that this conversation came about the way it did? It was through charity and preparation. Pro-choicers give many reasons to justify abortion, but no reason makes sense if the life inside the womb matters just as much as a life outside the womb. The reasons to choose abortion usually include finances, bodily autonomy, consciousness, the preborn not having a bright future, overpopulation, and the mom’s life being in danger. So when they give these reasons, I charitably apply their reasoning to a human who has been born. For example, if somebody says, “some people do not have enough money to take on another kid”, I would respond “So if a family was on the verge of being homeless, I’m guessing you wouldn’t think it’d be okay to kill one of their children would you?” They would most likely respond, “No”. I would then follow up with asking, “Why does that person’s life matter more than a child who has not been born?” It is always about bringing back the conversation to whether the life inside the womb matters. Regardless where the conversation goes, we need to steer it back to this point. We do this by asking charitable questions that apply their logic to already born humans. If we phrase the question in a charitable way and use a kind voice while doing so, they will feel relatively safe keeping an open mind to what we say.
When abortion vulnerable woman merely feel safe in a place that was created by pro-life people, then they have already taken one step closer towards life. For some women, they are completely on the fence, and it is that one step that makes all the difference between keeping their baby or killing it. That safe place can be a physical place such as a pregnancy center, or a spiritual place such as a conversation. Unfortunately, the man I mentioned earlier needed to take more than one step. While I have been able to help people completely change their minds within a small time frame, I must admit that I had no idea what I was doing and was completely relying on God’s grace. Looking back, I know that I did provide information and a safe place spiritually for them to change their minds. Going forward, we do not know if the people we talk to will decide to choose life, but we hope that the conversations will allow them to see a new perspective. Whether someone takes a step, or goes full speed in the right direction, a positive change is always worth the effort.