By: Fr. Chris Walsh, Chair, Pro-Life Union Board of Directors
As I watched the film Unplanned, like so many I was inspired by the gradual conversion of Abby Johnson who escaped the horror of her employment at Planned Parenthood and has wonderfully become an advocate for the unborn and a great advocate for others escaping the abortion industry. The creators of the film did a wonderful job developing the various characters who played diverse roles in Abby’s story. For me, the most inspiring were the portrayals of Marilisa and Shawn Carney, the founders of the 40 Days for Life Campaign who befriended Abby “thru the fence” of the Planned Parenthood in Texas. This couple was a source of encouragement and kindness in her gradual conversion.
As I drove home from the theater that evening, I reflected on the many wonderful roles played by people in the pro-life movement today. I thought of the civically minded people who advocate with our elected officials. I thought of the wise who fight legal battles on behalf of the vulnerable citizens of our nation. I thought of the courageous people who pray, advocate and witness on sidewalks outside abortion facilities. I thought of the brave who encounter the culture head-on in education settings at every level. I thought of the compassionate who serve in pregnancy centers and homes for moms in need. Each area of the pro-life advocacy is crucial. Each has its challenges. Each has its rewards.
As I thought of Marilisa and Shawn and the way they accompanied Abby Johnson through the years, I began to imagine how beautiful it will be when we all embrace their approach more readily. It is not easy to be patient. It is not easy to love another when they are doing something that you find so abhorrent. It is not easy to smile and have conversations with people who you see as the enemy. Yet, if we want more victories of the kind we celebrate in Abby Johnson, we can all learn from the example that Marilisa and Shawn, and imitate the way they loved Abby.
I know that I have been loved by so many in this way, but especially my own mother. I hope that each of us have been blessed by a mother’s love that has accompanied us at both our best and our worst. A love that is always faithful and kind and filled with the hope that eventually we will “come around” and do the right thing. Let’s bring that love into every aspect of our pro-life work so more and more will walk away from places like Planned Parenthood because of a friend they made “thru the fence.”
(Article from the Pro-Life Union’s May 2019 newsletter update.)