January 22nd is the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. Why do you feel a burden for involvement in anti-abortion demonstrations, and what was your experience with arrest and imprisonment? Further, how should we think through civil disobedience and the defense of the unborn?
In the late 80s and early 90s, I was deeply moved by the rescue movement that originated in Atlanta. Noel and I watched from a Pizza Hut television monitor as people who were not doing anything but sitting in front of an abortion clinic were picked up by the police, put into buses, and dragged away. As I watched that happening, I said to Noel, “That is just right.” It came over me with such a strong conviction, and as it grew, we became very much a part of the rescue movement in the Twin Cities.
We would get up early, pile into buses, and sit in front of an abortion clinic so that nobody could get in or open the door without stepping on us. Eventually, we’d be accused of trespassing, and they would tell us to leave. But we wouldn’t, because we believed that we were there trying to rescue children from being aborted. So the police would come haul us down, tell us not to do it anymore, and let us go. That happened maybe half a dozen times, and one of those times we were sentenced to a night or two in jail.
Hold Back Those Stumbling to the Slaughter
A fellow church member named Rod spent the night in the cell next to me, and as we were talking he said, “You know, there are other methods we could use.” And so the Micah Fund was born in his heart. The Micah Fund still exists to help people adopt minority infants who were rescued from abortion.
The principle behind this was Proverbs 24:11-12, which says, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'Behold, we did not know this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?” That was a powerful text for me. These children are being led away to slaughter, and if the power to resist is there, we must use it.
The Pro-Life Movement and Civil Disobedience
With regard to civil disobedience, submission to the state according to Romans 13:1-4 is right. I try to keep the speed limit. I drive on the right hand side of the road. I pay my taxes. I cut my grass. I don’t shoot squirrels in the city limits. I obey 100 laws, and I think I should submit.
However, submitting to God’s law takes precedence over that. In Acts 5:29, the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men.” In light of that text, I thought that in this situation, at this time, the rescue movement method was right. I thought of the midwives who were saving babies by breaking the law of Pharaoh, or Esther, who said, “I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). And she saved her people. To me, that seemed like a parallel to go against the king’s ordinary laws.
One last principle is that our own laws are being undercut. The principles of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all our people. The laws that protect abortionists to kill children are laws that are contradicted by other laws. Our country has already given a green light to those who would say, “No, you can’t do this.”
I think the rescue movement was a good strategy that made a significant impact, and I don’t regret being involved in it. The reason it didn’t continue, I think, is partly because the price became very high. People lost their possessions and got sued. Mainly, I think it is because we, the Christians, could not maintain the kind of suffering, humble, quiet attitude that would win the day as in the civil rights movement. There were just too many loud-mouth, feisty pro-life people that couldn’t keep their mouths shut when we were mistreated by the police or those who were pro-abortion. Since the spirit was lacking in so many, it backfired and ceased to be an effective tool in the rescue. I don’t know whether God may raise up some other means like that along the way, but for now I think everybody should obey Proverbs 24:11 in some way or other. We should rescue those who are being led away to death and hold them back from the slaughter. Do something for the sake of life.