This morning I was one of several thousand people who gathered in St. Paul, Minnesota, to say to Planned Parenthood that killing children is not an acceptable response to crisis pregnancies. And to say to our government that killing children should not be funded by tax dollars. Among other things.
Here are seven short reflections on the morning.
Christian and Ecumenical
The gathering this morning was explicitly Christian. The name of Jesus and his Lordship were on the lips of the leaders. We sang praises to God and to the Victor, Jesus Christ. This is a beautiful thing — that the public stand for justice for the weakest in our society would be carried by the followers of Christ. We have a great salvation, and that this would be one of the fruits is wonderful.
It is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church has been the religious backbone of the pro-life movement for forty years. I thank God for this persevering clarity on the reality and dignity of unborn human life. I am not a Roman Catholic, but happily stood with them in this common cause of justice for the unborn. When the time comes, we will have our knock-down, drag-out arguments over the sacrificial Mass, baptismal regeneration, and the precious doctrine of justification by faith alone. But each thing in its own season. This morning the issue was this: God is weaving human life in the womb in his image; don’t kill what he is creating.
My sense is that the Catholics were outnumbered this morning. But maybe they will let us have that little tribute since we are playing catch-up.
I have been to dozens of public, outdoor, pro-life demonstrations over the years. I often feel emotionally out of sync with the cheerleading atmosphere that regularly happens. Resisting murder and a rah-rah spirit don’t go together in my heart. But I have learned to be careful in my judgments. People are wired so differently. Hey-hey-ho-ho chanting might not signify for others the superficiality it does for me.
But I was pleased that this morning’s demonstration in St. Paul was more sober than usual. There was ample cheering. But compared to some I have been at, there seemed to me to be a greater gravity than usual. I am deeply thankful for this. My own sense is that hyped-up rallies accomplish little and don’t last. Serious, earnest, passionate gatherings that deliver a thunderclap of “No!” might.
Freedom on Public Property
“America! America! God shed his grace on thee . . .” I felt a wave of patriotism go over me this morning as I saw policemen helping us gather thousands of people on a cordoned-off public street. Amazing. Think of it. The police closed a street so we could gather to freely tell the governor of this state to stop obstructing justice. Is that not astonishing? We take such liberties for granted. But around the world this is rare. It is precious. I thank God for it. And I love the land that makes room for that kind of freedom.
Legislators and Pro-Life Leaders
The demonstration this morning was well-planned and ended on time. Brian Gibson — bless his heart — has done this before! He’s the leader of Pro-Life Action Ministries, and was leading the troops back when he and I were being arrested together in the late eighties.
About a dozen state legislators greeted us and expressed their hopes to defund Planned Parenthood, so that our tax dollars are not supporting the killing of unborn human beings. After the legislators, there were about half a dozen leaders of different pro-life organizations who exposed the deep darkness of this industry. Perhaps the most riveting speaker was the representative of Silent No More, as she told the story of her own abortion and its devastating aftermath — and healing through the mercies of God.
I come away with the renewed impression that the protection of unborn life is a cause that will not let go of this nation, and that now, more than ever, leaders are rising across the age-range in such a way that it may be the time for some remarkable changes.
There was no significant counter-demonstration at the St. Paul event. There were a handful of quietly held pink signs reading, “Don’t take away our care.” The answer to that sign is: We want to take away your killing, not your care.
I saw a few harsher encounters in Louisville. One slogan shouted was: “Pro-life is a lie. You don’t care if women die.” One of the problems with that slogan is this: Today there are about 2,500 Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC) in the United States, compared to 1,800 abortion clinics. About three-fourths of those CPCs serve under the banners of Care Net and Heartbeat International. They are explicitly Christian. Most of the others are as well.
The mission of these clinics is to help women who are pregnant in difficult circumstances. To say that these 2,500 centers have risen up because pro-life people don’t care if women die is grasping desperately at words that have no meaning. The aim is life — for the women, for the children, for the fathers, both now and in the years to come.
Planned Parenthood Responds
Planned Parenthood posted their response to the demonstration online. It included these words:
The more we learn about this, the clearer it is that it’s part of a much bigger pattern of harassment by extremists whose real goal is to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. The people behind this attack will stop at nothing in their quest — including breaking the law themselves and willfully misrepresenting the facts to the public. The protesters here today are simply an extension of that effort.
No. There were just too many strollers and baby-packs for me to think that group was made up of “extremists” ready to break the law. But yes, the goal is to eliminate child-killing and defund Planned Parenthood.
We were asked to raise our hands if this was the first ever pro-life demonstration we had attended. The number was huge. So these are not just the old die-hards. This is a new wave.
May the Lord Jesus breathe on this wave with broken-hearted gospel boldness, and make it an unstoppable tidal wave of truth and righteousness and hope.
Listen to John Piper’s five-minute prayer at the protest. Also read his recent article Planned Parenthood: Invitation, Explanation, Indignation.