With the recent striking down by the US Supreme Court of pro-life laws, the timing of the National Right to Life Convention (NRLC) in Herndon, VA, July 7-9, couldn’t have been better – and, as a member of RTL-LIFESPAN, I couldn’t have been more pleased to attend the event in person.
Does that mean the NRLC was an entirely feel-good event? To be honest, no. After all, we were there to talk about some of the most difficult issues of our time: abortion; the growing trend of euthanasia; and the healthcare rationing inherent in “Obamacare” – to name just a few.
These are hardly happy topics. But they’re topics we need to address -- courageously, unabashedly, truthfully -- if we’re to be worthy witnesses to life. In fact, it is in that commitment to truth that we find hope of turning things around in favor of a culture of life.
So how do we share that hope, especially with those hurting from the aftermath of abortion? First, in this particular area, we need to share the truth about how abortion harms women - physically and emotionally. Denying the consequences doesn't diminish the harm, it only forces women to suppress their own trauma. By acknowledging a woman's suffering we can then offer her compassion and information on how and where she - and men, for that matter who are also affected by abortion - can find healing.
Unfortunately, one thing we hear very little about in the “mainstream” culture is that abortion does indeed harm women. But if abortion is no big deal, like the abortion industry would have us believe, then why was one of the most common themes at the NRLC centered on the emotional and physical consequences of abortion? Why is there such a disconnection between truth and society’s willingness to admit it?
HUSH, a documentary shown at the NRLC (www.hushfilm.com) does an incredible job of exposing this. Not only does it reveal the alarming link between abortion and breast cancer, premature birth and other risks, it exposes the astonishing silence of the abortion industry and others regarding these risks.
As HUSH details, it took only seven studies establishing the link between tobacco and cancer to get the federal government to mandate warnings on all tobacco products. Yet despite over 120 studies concluding that abortion greatly increases breast cancer risks, the National Cancer Institute and other prominent organizations refuse to even acknowledge these findings, let alone push for government mandates to warn women of the risks.
In other words, politics, not science, seems to be steering the issue right now. Denial like this makes it increasingly appalling to hear abortion advocates refer to any of this as women’s healthcare, when clearly women’s health and well-being are not the primary concerns of this billion dollar industry. Then again, to what extent can we genuinely expect those who don’t value pre-born life to value any life?
This devaluing of human life is especially evident today toward the elderly and otherwise medically challenged. Addressing this, speakers at the NRLC gave extraordinary testimonies about the need to be stalwart advocates for our and our loved ones’ healthcare. From one mother’s experience with a hospital encouraging her to stop treatment for her son’s Trisomy 18 condition, to a brother dealing with a hospital’s stonewalling to administer food and water to his elderly brother, it was chillingly clear that just because someone is in the healthcare field, it isn’t a guarantee he or she will do everything possible to save a life.
With government policy like Obamacare increasingly demanding cuts in health spending, coupled with our throwaway culture of death, we may find ourselves at the mercy of faceless bureaucrats who will decide which of our lives are worthy of the cost to preserve them.
Even worse, we may find ourselves at the mercy of health professionals under pressure to keep costs down, the same professionals who may also share in today's rising attitude that healthcare should be less about restoring health and preserving life, and more about eliminating suffering at all costs through things like euthanasia. That’s why, by the way, it’s critical to have pro-life Will to Live documents, and even carry them with us in our wallets (e.g., in the form of a mini-card you can attach to your insurance card). Even then, you or your loved ones better keep an eye on the medical facility treating you to make sure they’re adhering to your wishes.
Despite the hard issues addressed at NRLC, the prevailing attitude was assuredly one of hope. As mentioned before, fundamental to that hope is that we have truth on our side: simply put, the value of every human life is not up for debate. But how do we present the truth of the prolife movement in the most effective way to change hearts? That is the million dollar question indeed.
Of course it starts with being witnesses ourselves to the joy and value of life. But one other thing we must continue doing is acknowledge that while facts are necessary to share, simply bombarding others with nothing but statistics, judgments, and atrocities may just further harden the hearts we want to change. To the best of our ability, we need to share the truth we know, but must share it with calmness, compassion, and love to a society desperately in need of these things.
The bottom line is, whatever your job, whatever your vocation, whatever your place in life, you have it in you to change hearts because you have the key ingredient already in you: the truth that every life matters, from conception to natural death. It is in sharing that truth that we can ultimately make ours a Culture of Life, one heart at a time!