The word “protest” is a touchy one in the pro-life world. It can conjure up images of angry mobs with torches and pitchforks, so some pro-life people prefer terms like “witness” or “sidewalk counselor,” or simply a faithful person at a prayer vigil.
But for many in the U.S. pro-life movement, it is dialogue and prayer - not protest - that are at the heart of what they do.
Mary Fisher is one of those people.
Fisher had an abortion herself, that caused her deep regret, anger and pain for years. After she found healing through a Bible study, Fisher now works as a regional coordinator for Silent No More, an organization that gives women who regret their abortions a platform from which to tell their stories, and connects women who have had abortions to healing ministries.
While Fisher participates in pro-life activism, she is opposed to the term “protest.”
“Protesting is kind of an anger thing. That's the way it's perceived,” Fisher told CNA. “This makes me mad, so I'm going to go out and protest, because it makes me so mad.”
But there is already so much anger from people who are pro-choice or who have had an abortion, that the only way to win them over is with love, Fisher said.
“Our world is so full of anger, and it's like, ‘Oh my gosh, I've got this baby inside me that I don't want, and everybody says it's just a bunch of cells. So I'm just going to flush it down the toilet.’ And we do it in anger.”
Fisher herself experienced that anger after her own abortion.
“I lived as an angry woman for so many years, that one of my daughters actually moved from Colorado...to New York to get as far away from me as possible, because I was just so angry at everything.”
Fisher said the only thing that will win over those who are pro-abortion is to love them.
That doesn’t mean Fisher does not participate in the pro-life movement. She’s planning on attending her local March for Life, with a sign that says: “I regret my abortion. Ask me why.”
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She also participates in 40 Days for Life prayer vigils, she shares her story through talks, and she helps connect women in need of healing from abortion to bible studies or retreats that can help them.
But ultimately, she says, abortion will never change through political protest, because abortion is not fundamentally a political issue.
“Abortion is not a political issue. Abortion is a heart issue. And until we get to the heart, nothing's going to change,” she said.
“Protest is how we create friction. Just the word protest... just the thought of a protest is angry people, angry people with knives and swords and forks out to fight. This is a fight against principalities. It is not against flesh and blood.”
Shawn Carney is the president and CEO of 40 Days for Life, a popular form of pro-life activism that holds prayer vigils outside of local abortion clinics throughout the United States. The 40-day long campaigns of “prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism” have the goal of “repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion,” according to their mission statement.
It’s not a protest, it’s a prayer vigil, Carney told CNA.