Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In Essentials, Unity

By Julie Surface Johnson

For many years, Care Net and other national pregnancy center organizations primarily worked independently of each other. However, shortly after the new millennium, Care Net, through the leadership of its former president Mike Reid, sought ways for the various networks to forge alliances with one another—all the while retaining their individual distinctives. A joint partnership between Care Net and Heartbeat International, the Option Line website and call center, was only one result, albeit a huge one, of those efforts.

Since then, Care Net has been joined by visionaries from other sympathetic organizations, such as Christian Leadership Alliance, National Fatherhood Initiative, and Alliance Defense Fund to name a few, all coming together, wherever possible, to advance the pro-life message.

Not surprisingly, this cooperative effort has helped to strengthen and grow the pregnancy center movement, thereby capturing the attention of the media. TIME Magazine, among others, wrote a relatively favorable feature story about the work of pregnancy centers. Of course, there has been the expected backlash from those who oppose our work. Yet, the positive gains of working together has far outweighed the negative response from abortion advocates..

In our current political environment, we are facing new challenges—challenges with the potential to undermine the work we have accomplished thus far. As examples,

  • credible sources suggest that new healthcare programs will cover the cost of abortions,

  • medical professionals stand to lose their right to refuse to perform or refer for abortions, and

  • many pro-life gains made in individual states will be overturned.

Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973. For more than thirty-five years, pro-life groups at large have generally worked independently of each other—sometimes not understanding or appreciating the various approaches employed by our brothers and sisters. But now is the time for all good pro-lifers to unite and to stand together as one against the culture of death. Consider the following.

Some friends were discussing their various “calls” to ministry within the pro-life movement. One felt led to peacefully demonstrate outside abortion clinics. “We hold signs with pro-life messages, share information about local support, and pray as women approach the clinic. Some demonstrators even offer to raise the babies these women don’t want.”

Another tries to bring about societal change via the courts and legislation. “If we can influence people through voters’ guides and other educational publications, we’ll see a change in their attitudes and voting patterns.”

Yet another felt called to serve in pregnancy resource centers. “We offer abortion-vulnerable women free pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, and other services in a confidential and non-judgmental environment.”

The focus of the first group is to save the lives of babies in what may be the last opportunity to do so before the abortion. The second group focuses on saving the lives of babies by bringing about change through the political process with the ultimate goal of overturning Roe v. Wade. The third group’s focus is on saving the lives of babies by mercifully ministering to the perceived needs of their mothers.

Many different methods—many different points of view—many different sets of supporters and detractors—one goal: to save lives!

All such groups are committed and are convinced they are performing a critical life-saving work. All keep the sanctity of human life issue alive in a culture that is too often prone to choose death at all stages of life (for the unborn, the elderly, and those with disabilities).

And, for that reason, all such groups are needed. We form an enormous bloc. United, we can make our voices heard!

What can pro-life groups or individuals do to unite in defense of life?

  • Get to know each other by visiting organizational websites with a view to understanding each others’ missions

  • Open a dialogue through comments on those sites.

  • Network whenever and wherever possible.

  • Visit http://pro-lifetribe.blogspot.com/ the new blog established just for the purpose of networking and dialogue among those with a passion for life.

  • Concentrate on what unites us rather than on the distinctives that have divided us.

  • Pray for pro-life brothers and sisters as well as for their ministries.

Because of strong emotional involvement, there will always be tension and the potential for misunderstanding. But the time has come for all pro-life organizations to overcome our distinctives—as Care-Net, Heartbeat International, and so many other like-minded organizations have done over the years,—and to stand together in defense of life!

Julie Surface Johnson, formerly Care-Net’s Medical Services Consultant, lives in Portland, Oregon, and writes pro-life novels. Learn more at her website www.johnsonsforlife.com and her new blog, Pro-Life Tribe.


Michele Shoun said...

Well said, Julie. It's what Baptists for Life has long stood for (please see "Are You Baptist Right to Life?" http://bfl.org/documents/LifeMatters62print.pdf). We're happy to have a great working and fellowshipping relationship with these groups.