On Thursday, October 14, NRB hosted its monthly Live at Lunch panel discussion. This month’s conversation featured a panel of pro-life experts who gave updates and insights on the pro-life movement.
NRB policy strategist Noelle Garnier hosted the panel of guests including Robyn Chambers, executive director of Advocacy for Children at Focus on the Family; Brad Mattes, president and co-founder of Life Issues Institute; and Abby Johnson, founder and director of And Then There Were None.
Each of these guests have been powerful and effective in driving the pro-life movement forward, and in this webinar, they unpacked the latest legislative updates, discussed challenges to the movement, and gave Christian communicators tools to improve their engagement on this issue.
“Discussion about abortion never changes, but the tactics certainly do,” Chambers said.
Johnson spent eight years rising through the ranks at Planned Parenthood, motivated by a desire to help women in crisis, but her convictions changed when she was asked to assist with an ultrasound abortion in 2009. Johnson realized that the abortion industry hurt rather than helped women, children, and families, and she took up the fight against the abortion industry. Today, Johnson leads And Then There Were None, an organization that supports abortion clinic workers in leaving their jobs in abortion clinics and developing their faith. Like Johnson, many of these workers once believed they were serving people in need by facilitating abortions.
“Because we believe that lie, we have in turn, sold that lie to thousands of women who come into our facilities,” Johnson said.
But true help begins when abortion workers walk out of the clinic. And Then There Were None has helped over 600 abortion industry workers leave their jobs and find hope and healing in Jesus Christ.
Each of the panelists, veterans of the pro-life movement, weighed in on recent wins for the pro-life movement.
“Pro-abortion advocates have good reason for the heartburn that they’re experiencing right now because it’s becoming increasingly clear that Roe v. Wade is living on borrowed time,” Mattes said.
On December 1, Mississippi’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch, will appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and return decision-making authority on abortion to state lawmakers. But ultimately, Johnson said, the pro-life movement makes the most headway at the grassroots level.
“No matter who is in the White House, no matter who is in the majority in the Senate, we have a responsibility to be out in front of abortion clinics, to be supporting our pregnancy centers, and to be doing whatever we have to do at that grassroots level because that’s how we end abortion,” Johnson said.
For Chambers, standing for life is first and foremost a heart issue rather than a policy issue. When she experienced her own unplanned pregnancy, she was able to choose life because she had a strong network of support. Chambers believes that “pro-love” action must accompany a pro-life stance.
“Abortion is not healthcare,” Chambers said. “Healthcare is serving that young woman and her child when she’s in her most vulnerable state.”
In May 2021, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed the Texas Heartbeat Act, a law that would prohibit abortions in Texas as early as six weeks. The law went into effect on Sept. 1, but on Oct. 2, a U.S. District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction, banning the law from being enforced in Texas. Two days later, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the injunction.
Johnson said that they estimate that this bill is saving about 130 babies every day. She added that many young adults and adolescents in Texas are now needing to seriously contemplate the consequences of their sexual relationships for the first time.
“The best decision is life, but it starts way back before she’s even in that situation,” Chambers said.
That’s why the parenting team at Focus on the Family is creating an entire curriculum called “Biblical Sexual Intelligence”—a science-based curriculum that teaches about sexual risk avoidance.
Also on the policy front, the Biden administration recently revoked and replaced the Trump administration’s 2019 Title X rule that prevented recipients of Title X funds from promoting abortion as a form of family planning and required them to keep abortion services separate from non-abortion services.
Johnson explained the role of these Title X cash grants in the strategy of Planned Parenthood. While Planned Parenthood doesn’t directly use Title X funds for abortions, those funds are invested in teen clinics where Planned Parenthood staff consult and advise teens, often without parental knowledge or consent. Planned Parenthood uses Title X funds to cultivate young girls as clients for the product they sell—abortions—and view parents as a barrier to service.
Abortion affects many people every day—mothers, babies, clinic workers—but perhaps its most forgotten victims are fathers who have lost a child to abortion. Mattes told the story of a letter that changed his life in 1995, where a man shared how his brother took his own life after losing two babies to abortions. Abortion laws give fathers no voice in the decision over whether their unborn children live or die, and there are millions of men suffering in the aftermath.
To support this group, Mattes and several others formed the Men and Abortion Network where men can connect with a free mentor counselor as they walk through challenges after an abortion takes place. The network provides resources to help men recover and grow spiritually as they walk through post-abortive grief.
“The best way to do that is through Scripture,” Mattes said. “Scripture is fertile ground for helping men heal after an abortion.”
Over the years, there have been many language shifts in the pro-abortion movement, but the pro-life message has stayed the same.
“Our story has never changed. It’s [the pro-abortion movement] that has to continue to modify their story because they don’t have truth on their side,” Johnson said. “When you don’t have truth on your side, it’s hard to keep up with your lie.”
The panelists closed out the webinar with encouragement and resources for Christian communicators as they engage on this issue.
“We’re enticingly close to reversing Roe v. Wade, and prayer is a tool,” Mattes said.
Mattes has a daily radio commentary called “Life Issues” on over 1,270 outlets, and he encouraged station managers to be proactive in asking for interviews from pro-life advocates. He also encouraged radio stations to partner with their local, crisis pregnancy care centers to provide support.
“Getting involved and not sitting on the sideline is the key to really changing hearts and minds,” Chambers said.
One way that Focus on the Family encourages people to get involved is by being deliberate in the social media space. Focus on the Family’s Facebook page I Am Pro-Life is a great place to engage. Focus on the Family also has resources on their website to equip the layperson for dialogue on this issue.
Johnson urged Christian communicators to use their platforms to share the message of life and hope.
“You have the ears of people who need to hear this message,” Johnson said. “God does amazing things through the work that you guys are doing, and he uses all kinds of media.”
Watch the full replay of the event here.