Last October I celebrated my 25th year with Missouri Right to Life. When I was at Mizzou getting my MBA, primarily so I could make lots of money and travel the world, who knew that I would give much of that up to spend so many years fighting for the right to life of all vulnerable people. All I can say is, it’s been quite a journey and be careful what you pray for.
With a Catholic grade school education, but little opportunity for a strong faith, I have to admit that in the late sixties and early seventies I was a pretty morally messed-up individual. During those years, as I was becoming an adult, I watched as my mom struggled with a failing marriage and being left with many burdens from my father’s irresponsibility. As a result, I came to the conclusion that we women have to take care of ourselves!
So began my many years as a women’s rights advocate. At that time abortion was not yet talked about in the general public as a pillar of the feminist philosophy.
I still remember when Roe vs. Wade was decided. I was 19 years old and I thought, “The U.S. Supreme Court says its ok to do an abortion. That can’t be right, can it? Oh well, I’ve got to get back to studying for this test…” In other words, life just sort of crowded out any thoughts I had about the issue. I put it on a back burner, on a very large and busy stove.
Throughout my twenties, I continued to be concerned about the rights of women, which eventually lead me to accept what was called the “pro-choice” position. Through most of this, I had little help in filtering out all the “pro-choice” rhetoric.
In the late eighties, after marriage, the birth of two children and witnessing the arguments and beliefs of pro-life friends and family, and understanding that abortion is not good for women, I was converted to the pro-life position. I prayed for God to show me what he wanted me to do with this new vision for my life. He sent me to Missouri Right to Life.
Dedicated people have come to pro-life work for many reasons — anguish, outrage, stunned disbelief, compassion, dedication. Regardless of the reason, they make many sacrifices in family time, personal time, relationships, employment income (either because they work for the pro-life cause or because they are pro-life volunteers and lose clients and opportunities because of their pro-life work), sleep, peace of mind, ridicule from friends and sometimes even their fellow parishioners and pastors.
The sacrifices only strengthen our commitment, zeal, and dedication. And, when pro-life work is thwarted by those who claim to be our pro-life friends, it also causes frustration and anger. As happened today in our nation’s capital when the vote on HR 36, the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act was delayed.
When I came to work for Missouri Right to Life in 1989 I had no idea how an abortion was done. I had no idea what it looked like. I had no knowledge of the huge numbers of abortions. I had no idea that babies 20 weeks and earlier in the womb can feel intense pain. When I saw photographs of aborted unborn babies for the first time I was horrified and physically ill.
I remember objecting strongly to how these babies had been unfairly violated. Here was the aftermath of a procedure that I had spent years passively supporting. What kind of a society would allow this to go on? I vowed to be a person that would no longer sit on the sidelines and look the other way.
In this very short life that God gives us we have these defining moments that change our lives forever. Think back on your life. Did you also have one of those defining moments? How did you handle it? How will you handle the ones in the future? Be resolved to be a person of action and purpose?