There were a lot of moments that were turning points for me, but two of them were particularly defining for me. They had to do with heartbreak and moral clarity. I talk about this a lot in Fighting for Life because anybody who sees injustice in the world, or who sees our culture or politics and they’re concerned, has to allow themselves to really be heartbroken. Real social change requires heartbreak.
For me, I learned that lesson really early on by having my heart broken when I was reading a book on abortion. The book included an insert that had images of children in the womb, beautiful embryology, and it also had images of children who were abortion victims. I saw for the first time a child who had been ripped apart by powerful first-trimester suction abortion, which is 30 to 50 times more powerful than a household vacuum cleaner. Looking at that image, I was heartbroken over it—that this was still happening—that it was socially accepted and legal.
Then, I went to an abortion clinic at age 14 to pray outside Planned Parenthood with some friends. That was another deeper moment of heartbreak and helplessness, looking at all the young women and girls, some of whom visibly pregnant, going into this brick building that killed babies up to six months old, 24 weeks. I remember thinking, “I’m within yards of these children being torn into pieces, and there’s no recourse, society is accepting this.”
Those feelings of heartbreak and helplessness and anger over what was being done would inspire me to just start trying to do things to educate others and save lives, ultimately leading to starting Live Action. The key was to just keep trying, keep experimenting, keep learning, and to not give up because this was a calling I couldn’t opt out of. I couldn’t ignore the crisis. I had to do something.
In today’s secular culture, we see a lot of push-back against the pro-life movement. What keeps you going?
Heartbreak is an inspiration because if you allow yourself to be affected by the plight of those we are fighting for, the pushback is put into perspective. Having perspective on the obstacles I’m facing has been essential to not letting them get me down, and I talk about that a lot in the book.
There are also very practical things that have helped me, which I also share in Fighting for Life—things like having heroes in my heart as examples of what I aspire to, and having mentors who I meet with regularly to help me grow as a person, so that I am stronger and have more grit to handle obstacles.
One other key is the mindset of, “Everything that is worth fighting for will require a willingness to make mistakes and get back up again.” Many times we opt ourselves out of trying because we think we’re not qualified or we don’t have what it takes. The way to grow as human beings—and I talk a lot about personal transformation in the book—starts with changing ourselves and allowing ourselves to be changed.
What have you found to be hopeful or optimistic about in the pro-life movement in the last several months?
There are huge reasons to be, not just optimistic, but to see that our movement is more successful than ever. The abortion rate has declined in the last 10 years and is at the lowest level in decades. There has been unprecedented pro-life legislation at the state level in the last two years with over 600 bills introduced and dozens that have passed. The Supreme Court has the most potential in decades to actually make a ruling that would acknowledge what science reveals—that life begins before birth and holds to the principle that all humans have human rights, and the first right is life.
There has been tremendous energy, enthusiasm and growth of the pro-life movement in the last decade or two. More people are educated than ever, more people are connected than ever and activated than ever. Success is possible. It is possible to abolish abortion.
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We will see a swell of articles, campaigns, events from pro-abortion activists, led by Planned Parenthood, over the next several months because they are worried. The pro-life movement is stronger than ever.
What is something you wish everyone understood about abortion and the pro-life movement?
Everyone has the opportunity to think about abortion without the political hot takes that often color our mindsets around it. Take a moment to think about when life begins—which is a scientific fact, not a religious belief—at the moment of fertilization, when an egg is fertilized by a sperm and you have a unique human life that comes into existence with its own unique DNA and its own unique ability to grow.
I wish everyone had an opportunity to look at what an abortion does to that child. We’ve sanitized abortion in our culture so much. We’ve set it aside as some medical procedure that’s necessary and even a positive without ever confronting what it does. Abortion is ugly and not just because it’s gory, and it is gory. Abortion is ugly because it’s a proceedure designed to slaughter a human being and to kill a living human being.
I wish people had an opportunity to see that if they believe in human rights, which I think most people do, and they believe that no innocent human should ever be intentionally killed, then they could see that that is what abortion does.
The pro-life movement is invested daily in caring for children, born and pre-born, and their mothers. The thousands of pregnancy centers that exist today don’t make money on saving lives. They spend money to save lives and then they spend more money to help young moms, and to provide material and financial care to connect them to job opportunities and to shelter them. There are thousands of us who are adopting and fostering, and supporting families that are adopting and fostering.