Christians engaged in sanctity of human life ministries should prepare for intensified conflict following a potential “correction” of the Roe v Wade court ruling that struck down abortion restrictions across the United States, according to a speaker at a summit of pro-life Anglicans.
“While this is a necessary step to end abortion, it will not in itself do so,” stated Tom Glessner of the National Institute on Family and Advocates, who advised that pro-life advocates should speak of “correcting” rather than “reversing” Roe. “Any court changes on Roe will intensify conflict, not resolve it. We should be prepared for a post-Roe reality.”
Anglicans gathered January 23-24 at the Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia for the annual summit, jointly sponsored by Anglicans for Life and the Anglican Church in North America’s Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.
Timed with the National March for Life on January 24, the summit uniquely draws Anglican clergy, laity and bishops from the United States and Canada to discuss upholding the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death.
Speakers shared of vulnerability and redemption in the most sensitive of subjects, and participants were charged not to sit passively.
“The speakers and participants here may represent different political parties and ideals, but we all serve Jesus Christ and therefore we support life,” Deacon Georgette Forney of Anglicans for Life said in opening comments. “God calls every believer to serve as ministers of the Gospel of life through hands-on ministry and disciple making.”
Forney noted it is her organization’s primary mission “to equip the church” in addressing matters including abortion and euthanasia.
“Discussing the pros and cons of a heartbeat bill with someone who has had an abortion is not as important as sharing the Gospel, although both need to be done,” Forney stated. “We are here to help the next generation make better choices about life.”
Three busloads of Anglicans participated in the march, the first to be addressed in person by a U.S. president who brought increased coverage from national news media.
Summit presenters pushed back against an abortion rights movement that has in recent years emphasized “owning” an abortion, rather than a previous narrative of abortion as an undesirable but necessary action.
Twenty-seven percent of women who aborted reported experiencing suicidal thoughts. Among teenage girls that rate rises to 50 percent, reported Charmaine Yoest, Vice President of the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation.
“This brings us back to real women and the real abortion experience that they do not want to talk about. It is not a tonsillectomy. Abortion is a real death of a living human being and the woman has experienced this,” Yoest insisted. “Grief’s alter ego is defiance; the heart’s cry of the defiant soul is power.”
The central premise of abortion, Yoest identified, is that abortion in its guise as reproductive freedom is not merely healthcare, but “the irreducible minimum of feminine empowerment.”
Yoest said abortion proponents have framed the issue about the “all-American rhetoric of choice and privacy”. Pointing to the campaigns of former President Barack Obama, Yoest noted he characterized abortion not just as an issue of choice, but rather as one of “equality and opportunity for all women.”
In the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey ruling, the Supreme Court majority argued that women have come to rely on abortion to maintain their position and advancement in society, and because of this the earlier Roe ruling must be maintained for power, self-actualization, and career advancement. The Center for Reproductive Rights on its web site states that reproductive rights are critical “ensuring global progress to just and democratic societies” – elevating abortion even further as critical to democracy promotion.
Yoest maintained that it is the mission of pro-life advocates to hold out an alternate vision of feminine power.
“There’s no such thing as an unwanted child,” declared author Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation.
Abortion provider Planned Parenthood asserts “unplanned equals unwanted equals unloved,” Bomberger relayed. “They decide that certain human beings are unfit to live.” In contrast, Bomberger claimed “most of us are unplanned,” sharing his own story of conception in rape, and adoption into a multiracial family of 15.
Seventy-nine percent of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities are within walking distance (two miles) of majority African American or Latino neighborhoods, reported Catherine Davis, founder and president of the Restoration Project. Thirty-eight percent of U.S. abortions in 2016 were performed on black women according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Summit participants also heard from speakers at a series of workshops on local ministries.
Cindy Collins of Speak Hope shared about ministering amidst victims of sex trafficking, many of whom are coerced into unwanted abortions by traffickers who see children as a threat to profits.
This context can be challenging, Collins reported, but she shared of being drawn into the heart of Jesus.
“Is not the child of a prostitute worth saving? The Lord thought so: Rahab is in his lineage,” Collins noted.
“Sometimes we over-complicate loving people,” observed Amy Ford of Embrace Grace, a ministry that connects local churches with those facing unplanned pregnancy. “We equip churches with everything they need to do this.”
Ford recalled speaking briefly at a conference of 10,000 women in Texas.
“I know statistically that 2,500 of you have experienced abortion. This does not disqualify you from ministry, because the blood of the Lamb covers that,” Ford told conference participants. “That was thirty seconds but these women were free to tell their stories and our booth was flooded.”
“Someone might hear a woman speak and think ‘That story is way worse than mine, and if God did that for her then maybe God will love me too,’” Ford offered.