Personal testimony plays a central role in public conversation about abortion. Christians — who have long recognized the power of testimony for evangelism — have wholeheartedly embraced voices of abortion survivors, women who regret abortions, and reformed abortion providers to promote the pro-life cause. These “faces” of abortion, and the transformed minds and healed spirits they represent, are indeed strongly persuasive in the cause to reverse Roe.
But what about the other faces? The less convenient ones? What about the men and women who currently and (sometimes passionately) provide abortions and the post-abortive women who have no regrets? They won’t help our cause politically; but they, too, are part of this conversation.
Recently, such voices have received exposure in several popular media forums. In Texas, Dr. Lester Minto — now barred by H.B. 2 from performing abortions — spoke about shifting his role to “miscarriage management consultant” for women obtaining misoprostol-induced abortions in Mexico. And Dr. Willie Parker, who travels from Chicago twice a month to perform abortions at Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, was profiled.
Around the same time, Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores, NPR host and jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater, an Irish woman on Twitter, and the “every-women” Anya, Dana, Yolanda, and Rachel from New York Magazine’s “My Abortion” series, shared their abortion stories with a common refrain: In the words of Flores, they “don’t regret it.”
These stories are uncomfortable for Christians. So we usually ignore, marginalize or even demonize them. But in the Bible, God intervenes in lives in different ways.
Sometimes people come to him, knowing he is the answer to their pain. Sometimes God visits people oblivious to sin, unaware of a need or, if aware, entirely off track on how to meet it: people trapped in worldviews to which they seek no alternative. He arrives and shows them a new vision: the Samaritan woman at the well, the sick man at the pool of Bethesda, Paul on the road to Damascus.
These are the people I’m talking about: people who may not be seeking, whose hearts may be hardened, but who desperately need our love. As Christians, we have an obligation to lend them an ear.
I will warn you how troubling this process will be. Conversations with pro-choice advocates among my own circle of friends revealed dozens of stories.
Two friends I’ve known for years shared about un-regretted abortions. I read 160 “positive” abortion experiences on NARAL ProChoice America’s website and more on The Daily Mail. I’ve read abortion providers defending their work on the Physicians for Reproductive Health website. And I’ve examined the testimonies of Drs. Susan Robinson and Shelley Sella, who passionately provide abortions despite daily fear for their own safety. As we open ourselves to these perspectives, we will find some grisly and emotionally-challenging statements:
”I provide abortions because it is the single most rewarding and gratifying field of medicine I have experienced.” – Susie Baldwin, MD, MPH
”Thank god the pregnancy was terminated. All this rubbish about guilt feelings is just that. Ask me if I would do it again knowing the risks — YES — absolutely.” –Anonymous post-abortive woman
”The clinic gave me copies of the ultrasound, and I keep them in a drawer. I never cried about it. I don’t feel guilty.” – Yolanda, 29
We need to listen anyway.
Here are two reasons:
1) These women and doctors are being used. They are being used to promote the pro-choice agenda, and pro-choice advocates have offered a safe haven among their ranks. If we ignore or demonize these people, assume they are rare or fringe, they will continue to feel this is their only home. As it is, they often feel rejected by Christians. This should change.
2) These women would have abortions anyway, no matter how many restrictions are legislated. And these doctors would help them, even risking arrest and personal safety. We must provide an alternate vision: a world where abortion is unappealing; where women can trust legislation, society and Christians to make carrying their child compatible with education, careers, and a full life; where doctors can quit their roles as abortionists without abandoning women.
There are ministries heading in this direction: former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson’s And Then There Were None outreach to abortion clinic workers is inspiring. But there are many simple steps we can take right now. In writing this article, for example, I watched After Tiller, followed pro-abortion Facebook groups and asked lots of questions, and talked with my pro-choice friends, some of whom have had abortions, some of whom have performed them. I was surprised how willing they were to talk, and how many sincere questions they had for me.
I see no clear political advantage to reaching out to these providers and women. But there is great spiritual advantage to sparking even the smallest light. The pro-life movement is making great legislative strides toward limiting abortion in America. And crisis pregnancy centers and Christian adoption agencies are wonderful steps toward providing the social, economic, spiritual, and practical support for women dealing with unplanned pregnancies. But we can do more.
Let’s not leave the most lost of the lost behind. There is good to be done in their hearts as well. And we have a duty to fearlessly, faithfully, go there.