As the health care debate heats up in Washington and pro-life and abortion advocacy groups take their sides, another story has been developing on the west coast - a story that may transcend what's taking place on Capitol Hill.
In fact, many in the media might be missing the forest despite the trees. And here's why.
Over the last several years, without the help or prompting of anyone in Washington, a new crop of pro-life films have emerged from Hollywood. Films that range in style and genre - from the off-beat comedy of "Juno" to the artfully-depicted drama of "Bella." Some intentionally and explicitly pro-life and others more incidental.
On November 17th, a new pro-life film, "Sarah's Choice," featuring Grammy Award winning artist Rebecca St. James, was officially released onto DVD and sales are already off the charts.
What does all this tell us?
Something exciting and positive is happening as more and more artists with pro-life values are seeking to have an impact in our culture through story-telling and film. They are recognizing the truth in the saying, "Give me the songs of a nation and it does not matter who writes its laws" (Damon of Athens).
Yes, what is happening in Washington with the health care bill is historically significant, but we can't lose sight of Who is in control and that nothing can trump His amazing work in other sectors of our society.
According to producer Jason Jones of "Bella" (2007), at least 90 babies have been saved after their parents watched his film. For those good souls investing in films like "Sarah's Choice" and "Bella," this has to be very gratifying.
And it isn't just the pro-life films that change lives. Every one of us can likely name a movie that has had a profound impact on our lives. In my life, the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy has encouraged me to continue to serve in the pro-life movement, even when times grow dark. Movies have a lasting impact and cannot be discounted by those of us in the pro-life movement.
Care Net has caught this vision and understands that in order to promote a culture a life in America we must reach out through art, entertainment and creative story-telling in film, radio, and TV. As an organization, we desire to encourage and celebrate the creation of positive, pro-life entertainment, particularly in film.
This is why we are so inspired by the new movie "Sarah's Choice", a film we wrote about here in September when Rebecca St. James made a special appearance at the Care Net National Pregnancy Center Conference. The film received a standing ovation from ministry leaders attending the conference from across the country. In fact, one pregnancy center director has said it's the best film he's seen since "The Passion of the Christ"!
On November 17th, I had the opportunity to attend the L.A. premiere of "Sarah's Choice" and share with those in attendance - actors, writers, directors, producers, songwriters and a host of other Hollywood types - about the work and ministry of Care Net and pregnancy centers across the country. There, in the heart of Hollywood at Warner Brother Studios, we bowed our heads and prayed for the message of Life and the Gospel to go out in the culture. Imagine that!
(The pic is of Rebecca St. James and me before the premier in Hollywood. She's a wonderful woman with a heart for God!)
"Sarah's Choice" promotes the compassionate message of Care Net's Inspire Life campaign in a powerful way. Rebecca St. James plays "Sarah," a professional working woman facing an unplanned pregnancy and wrestling with the thought of abortion. I won't spoil the movie for you, but I will say that as this movie is shared across the country, more people will understand that individuals in this situation need love, compassion, and support - the type of ministry freely given at pregnancy centers. In addition, many will see that abortion is not without its lifelong consequences but healing and forgiveness is possible.
[For individuals needing help with an unplanned pregnancy or healing from a past abortion, please contact the Option Line at 1-800-395-HELP.]
Many associated with this film, like actress Rebecca St. James, desire to see the film support ministries like Care Net and our network of 1,180 pregnancy centers across North America. Screening this film in local churches with the support of radio stations could be a great fundraising opportunity for pregnancy centers! Interested in finding out how? Stay tuned for more from Care Net. In the meantime, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the film screening in L.A., a number of filmmakers shared that they too were working on pro-life films and eager for Care Net and the pregnancy center movement at large, with our unique outlook on the abortion issue, to screen their films. Just think of the potential for impact in our culture with all these films coming out! And what a beautiful partnership between artists and filmmakers and ministry leaders for the good of our nation.
So, to wrap this up I say support this film and films like it. Buy it for your local pregnancy center and for Christmas gifts. Host a local screening!
And when you watch and worry about what may be going on in Washington, also remember that there is a bigger picture and a greater plan at work and it's all in His hands!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
by Cindy Hopkins
I couldn’t believe my eyes. On Friday, October 23rd NBC aired an episode of Law and Order, entitled “Dignity” on the subject of late-term abortion. NBC “borrowed” the story line from Spring headlines in their episode when a late-term abortion doctor is shot dead while in church praying.
“Dignity” is a show of improbabilities - first in that pro-life characters are depicted not as a band of brainless activists but instead as an intelligent community of people with worthy convictions and sensitivities. And secondly, in that it portrays abortion supporters, (“I grew up thinking Roe v. Wade was gospel,” says one female district attorney), grappling with their firmly held views on women’s reproductive rights.
The poignant testimony of a nurse describing how a baby born alive dies after having scissors plunged into its skull by the abortion doctor visibly affects the aforementioned female district attorney.
Another tender testimony from a mother who chooses not to abort her terminally ill baby but instead opts to “let her die with dignity” beautifully builds a case for life. One district attorney even concedes, “Cats and dogs have more rights than the unborn” and “Roe v. Wade wasn’t written in stone; it could use another look.”
Yes, all this and more on primetime television!
I won’t give away the rest of the plot but the episode is definitely worth watching (available on Amazon.com) and can be considered a cultural victory in the battle to shape the hearts of America towards life. Contact NBC today and thank them for airing this episode!
Cindy Hopkins is Vice President of Center Services at Care Net.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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.