In college, a group of students and I would pray outside an abortion clinic early Saturday mornings. After several weeks of praying outside on my knees in the cold, I had an itch to do more, so I trained to be a sidewalk counselor to try and convince women, between the distance of the parking lot and the door of the clinic, to turn around.
My first morning as a counselor, a car parked in front of me, and a woman got out and began walking toward the clinic. The moment I got close enough to talk to her, a Pro-Choice Escort put herself between the two of us. I kept walking as closely as I could, trying to speak to the girl, but every sound I made was drowned out by the heckling of the escort trying to block my access to the girl.
Right outside the clinic door, the girl stopped and looked at me.
“Please. Come talk to me?,” I asked her.
“What do you want to tell me?” She answered. She looked kind. She looked like she could have been one of my friends.
Hearing my words escape without protest, a Pro-Choice Escort immediately stepped in front of me, so close that I could feel her breath. She carried a gun, and was a head taller than me. I was scared, and my words choked, as I tried to dodge the escort to get another view of the woman who was still looking at me.
“What do you want to tell me?” She asked again.
“Please don’t go in! Please come and talk to me!” And with that, the doors of the locked and barred clinic were opened, and the girl went inside.
I never went back to the abortion clinic.
Ten years later, with a family of my own, I don’t live anywhere near an abortion clinic. I’m busy with my house and kids, and while I’m pro-life, it is easy for me to think that because I’m off the front lines, that my stance on life issues labels me “Pro-Life In Name Only.”
Am I a PLINO?
It’s not a difficult conclusion to make, if you think that to be pro-life means only to lobby, protest, and counsel women.
But maybe you’re like me and have a young family, or are a busy college student trying to keep your grades up and prepare for a career. You might not know anyone who’s had an abortion, considered an abortion, or live near any abortion facilities. Are you a PLINO then, too?
You don’t have to be.
There is a quote by Mother Teresa that says, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
That I can do. That you can do.
You can be Pro-Life away from the front lines, too. I call it being Pro-Life in the trenches.
Being in trenches isn’t necessarily easier than on the frontlines. These might be women and families in your own community that you live next to, work with, or see at your child’s school. The intimacy can make it more challenging, and can blur the lines of what is appropriately Pro-Life.
In the trenches, the lines of what is Pro-Life and what is not, is not about what you do, but equally what you don’t do.
It is not Pro-Life to ask if a pregnancy is planned, if a woman can afford a baby (or another baby), or to press her to tell you what she’s going to “do” about it.
It is not Pro-Life to ask if this baby is going to be the last, or how many more a woman is planning on having.
It is not Pro-Life to comment on a woman’s weight during pregnancy, the size of her growing belly, or to act surprised that a woman’s due date seems further away than you expected.
It is not Pro-Life to brush off a pregnant woman’s complaints because you think that you, or someone else, had it worse.
It is not Pro-Life to stop congratulating a woman after she’s had more children than you find worthy of congratulation. Every new life deserves excitement.
On the flip side:
It is Pro-Life to smile at a pregnant woman to show your support and understanding.
It is Pro-Life to congratulate a pregnant woman on a pregnancy and birth no matter what.
It is Pro-Life to compliment a pregnant woman on how great she looks, to take joy in her growing form. She needs this.
It is Pro-Life to donate your unused diapers, bedding, clothing, and baby equipment, either to a pregnancy resource center available in most communities, or to anyone who might benefit from your unwanted things.
It is Pro-Life to watch a pregnant or new mother’s other children to give her time for rest and recovery.
It is Pro-Life to vacuum a pregnant or new mother’s floors and do the dishes, change the bedding, carpool her other children to activities, weed her garden, and drop off groceries.
Anything and everything will be appreciated. You can be Pro-Life in your community by showing support, love, and encouragement to pregnant women and new mothers in all things. Always.
And when we do this, when we show woman the kindness and respect their bodies, babies, and children deserve, little by little a culture of life can be transformed from the inside out.
We can do small things. We can support and love woman when they need it most. Let’s all do what we can in the trenches, and when it’s no longer necessary, retreat from the frontlines and remember the war that was fought on the battleground of the heart.
Note: Please use caution if you are sensitive to pictures of babies who have been delivered too early. This post contains such photos. Three years ago, this May, I experienced a second trimester loss of my monoamniotic (MoMo) twin sons. Before this, simply contemplating that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends