An Open Letter to Planned Parenthood Protestors from a Pro-Life Pastor

An Open Letter to Planned Parenthood Protestors from a Pro-Life Pastor July 26, 2019

[This open letter is a guest post from my co-pastor, Carrie Badertscher. She writes this explanation about the circumstances of the letter: 

Over the last eight years I have had the privilege of hearing countless life stories from individuals I meet. Their stories are filled with struggle, but also great bravery in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories and their bravery have changed my life and the way I see the world. Oftentimes I’m at a loss on how to alleviate the pain or make the struggle go away. I often find myself walking with them on their journey, but not dealing with the systemic reason for why they are suffering.

Three weeks ago I sat at a table and heard a story that compelled me to try to do something, to try to change a system. Not knowing exactly what to do, I went home from that conversation and wrote a letter. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do believe we can do better. I have distributed this letter to as many organizations I could think of and now I leave it here, hoping that perhaps my experience may bring about some sort of change on behalf of my dear friend.]

Image © Mylene Bressan / openphoto.net

Dear Planned Parenthood protestors:

A few weeks ago, around a small round table in a dimly lit room, my dear friend Sandy (not her real name) bravely shared with me a story so drenched in pain that I can still feel the heaviness reverberate in my chest as I sit and reflect on it. I won’t soon forget the look in her eyes as they pooled with tears or the shake in her hands and lips as she spoke.

In late April, a pregnancy test confirmed Sandy’s feared suspicion that she was, in fact, pregnant. As a single mom of a toddler already, she was overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible idea of being able to care for another baby on her own. After she announced the pregnancy to the baby’s father, he made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with raising the child. With a small support system and the inability to financially provide for her family while pregnant and during the months after the birth of the baby, she felt as if she had but one choice: to end the pregnancy via abortion. So, after much internal turmoil, an ultrasound was conducted and an appointment was scheduled for an abortion to be performed.

Sandy arrived at the Planned Parenthood clinic at her scheduled time, joining a waiting room full of other women there for the same purpose. But as she approached the clinic, Sandy was first met by you. She described your shouts at her as loud and angry. Words like “baby killer” and “the wrath of God” filled the quiet space of the morning. From inside the clinic, she could here the muffled sounds of your yelling in the waiting room and on into the operating room. For several hours, she lay on a table enduring physical and psychological pain, all the while hearing your continued shouts from outside—shouts from those of you who made it known that you had come in the name of the Lord.

With steadied words Sandy recounted to me the details of that day. She spoke of the intense pain she felt in her soul as life left her body, of the deep physical pain she endured during the procedure, and of the feelings of shame and guilt that continuously rushed over her as she recapitulated her decision to end the pregnancy. With every word she spoke, the pain and grief intensified. This day forever changed her life.

It was clear to me in this sacred space and in these holy moments that Sandy did not need more shame heaped on her shoulders. Her heart needed mending. The trauma of ending a life and living beyond was much to bear in itself; she did not need yet another individual speaking the words “baby killer” over her fragile heart. Together we sat in the ashes of the pain, we recognized the trauma, and we talked of the possibility of a restored heart in the future. The pain ran deep and would take time to heal.

To each of you who protested the clinic that day, I understand your passion. I, too, am pro-life from conception to the grave. I desire life for all and am deeply saddened by the loss of life, regardless of age or reason of death. But I implore you, on behalf of my friend and countless others who have walked this path, please find another way. We cannot represent an omnibenevolent God as a God who does not bend his ear to the brokenhearted, regardless of the cause of the broken heart. We must not be willing to berate the soul of a mother in hopes of saving a child. Their lives are of equal worth.

Instead, what if we were to ask the hard questions, to seek understanding and provide support? What if, instead of placing our own assumptions on the back of the mother walking the long sidewalk up to the clinic, we took the time to ask the why behind her decision? What if, instead of screaming judgment and condemnation, we gave a mother a safe space to process the felt barriers of raising her child? What if, instead of yelling about the wrath of God, we volunteered to show God’s goodness by providing support for a mother and baby after delivery—making abortion not the only option?

As your sister in the Lord and partner in your pro-life cause, I implore you that there must be another way, another method of delivery, and another message to share. The life of the mother you encounter is of great worth, just as is the baby she carries in her womb. Being pro-life means pursuing wholeness and peace for both the mother and child. Let us not yell so loudly in judgment that the love of Christ no longer compels us to seek the shalom of our sisters.

The words of my dear friend have forever changed my heart. Because of her, I commit to supporting rather than judging, that a mother may have the opportunity to raise her child. I commit to listening rather than yelling, that a mother may feel safe to share her deepest fears and barriers. I commit to tending to the heart and seek the peace of my sister so she knows she’s not alone. Will you join me?

Yours in Christ,

Carrie

About Carrie Badertscher
Carrie Badertscher is community pastor at Keller Park Church and founder of Keller Park Ministries in South Bend, Indiana. You can read more about the author here.
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  • DoctorDJ
  • Jael Musicman

    I find this odd. I have stood on a number of protest lines with signs and with abortion photography trying to save lives. I have never encountered these types of words aimed at women entering a clinic and cannot believe it is “the way we do things.” Instead our approach is to reveal truth but always treat people with compassion. I believe a pregnant woman will always deliver a child, living or dead and we do not help matters pretending that a dead one is any kind of compassionate solution for anyone involved. The consequences of that choice will live forever. That this can occur is not in doubt, but that it is the normal pattern of behaviour of pro-life people who care enough to be visible on the issue is simply not true. The situation is not likely to change however because there are people in the other camp who sabotage the protesters with shouts like this to feed their own narrative. We continue to pray for victims of the abortion lie and opponents alike. They are victims of sin. It is how a loving God sees them and He wants them forgiven and free

  • Jael Musicman

    Way to go obfuscating the facts! …estimated… by all accounts a difficult and highly inaccurate number because it simply cannot be done… then using percentages instead of real numbers, comparing apples to oranges. How about comparing real numbers to the number of children actually murdered each year by the procedure? Then you can see where the belief in the sanctity of life really is. It’s time we looked at solutions to the problem. Killing anyone on purpose is not the answer.

  • Christian

    Abortion is a last-resort necessity available since Ancient Times. Without it humanity would have killed itself a very long time ago

  • Christian

    Without Abortion Humans would have killed themselves through overpopulation and economic collapse in Ancient Times

    More overpopulation reduces the value of human life

  • Maine_Skeptic

    “…that it (yelling ‘baby killer’ and ‘wrath of god’) is the normal pattern of behaviour of pro-life people …is simply not true…there are people in the other camp who sabotage the protesters with shouts like this to feed their own narrative…”

    I may understand how things look to you, because I was ‘pro-life’ for a long time. You probably also believe the “selling baby body parts” story. Am I right? Someone is getting rich off abortion, and that’s why abortion hasn’t been outlawed yet? Or you may even believe people just like abortion– maybe it’s a spirit of witchcraft or some other spiritual evil that grips them. Who knows, with the heathen. They don’t even know what real love is. They’re just completely wrapped up in their own wants and lusts, and they’re just trying to escape the consequences. Right?

    Wrong. The majority of women who have abortions are like the woman referenced in this story. They already have at least one child, and they know they don’t have the resources to take good care of another. Those who support the rights of such women to get an abortion are generally doing so out of compassion for people facing tough choices.

    When the pro-life movement refuses to fact-check its leaders and their bizarre claims, it undermines the credibility of your entire movement. For instance, you just said you believe the hateful shouts heard at abortion clinics are false-flag operations by pro-choice fanatics. That’s a ridiculous claim from any angle. These are not new things; the anti-abortion movement has been shouting those things and worse for decades now. Your denying those things is like me trying to deny that many pro-lifers believe they’re protecting the rights of people who can’t speak for themselves.

    Do I care if the anti-abortion movement has a shred of credibility left? Not that much, because I think you’re wrong, and I think the movement is hurting a lot of people. What I do care about is finding ways to live in peace. There can be no peace if no one ever is willing to consider that the other side might not be entirely wrong, even when the issue seems so black and white.

  • Joanne Lindstrand

    Actually, the vast majority of the people in that waiting room were there for health screening and contraception. I know. I was a client there for many years before I had health insurance.
    You can picket women’s clinics 24/7, but if you are not in favor of universal health care, sensible gun laws, and social safety nets for the poor, you are not pro-life.