“Out of the Darkness of Death, come Hope, Mercy and Grace”

By Dave Andrusko

Ashley Bratcher, star of “Unplanned” [center], Melissa Coles, featured in the video, “I Lived on Parker Avenue ” [right], with Lynda Bell, chair of the National Right to Life Board of Directors.

General Sessions, even at the pro-life educational event of the year, don’t get much better than “Out of the Darkness of Death, come Hope, Mercy and Grace” which completed the first day of NRLC 2019.

There was Ashley Bratcher, star of “Unplanned,” the opinion-changing story of a Planned Parenthood employee of the year whose own heart was changed when she saw an ultrasound-guided abortion. Bratcher’s own story was riveting enough on its own.

Having experienced a rocky childhood, Bratcher spoke of how her grandparents “planted the seeds of faith” in her. After a devastating experience in New York trying to break into film, she found out she was pregnant. The father was the boyfriend she had just broken up with! She told him (he would later become her husband) and they decided to have their baby. When she held him, Bratcher told her audience, she dedicated her life to Christ.

Flash forward several years and she gets the part playing Abby Johnson. Then…the rest of the story.

Her mother had been open about having an abortion when she was 16. When she called her mom from the set of “Unplanned,” she began telling her about Abby Johnson’s testimony.

Her mother became increasingly emotional, Bratcher said. “Mom, what’s wrong?”

And she said, “I need to tell you something I’ve never told you before — the timing was never right. When I was pregnant with you, I actually went to the clinic. They called my name, and they took me back and examined me — the woman who examined me was very pregnant. I was seconds away from having an abortion when I told the abortionist that I couldn’t do it. I got up off the table and walked out of the clinic.”

Truth truly is stranger than fiction.

But there so much more to “Out of the Darkness of Death, come Hope, Mercy and Grace.” The audience got to see “Wanted,” the winner of the National Right to Life Video Contest. Then a clip from “I Lived on Parker Avenue,” a documentary about David Scotton’s journey from Louisiana to Indiana to meet the woman who gave birth to him and put him up for adoption after almost aborting him in 1993.

Melissa Coles was David’s birth mother and her story of how they got together was spell-binding. She told the general session audience of approaching the abortion clinic and hearing a woman say, “That baby has 10 fingers and 10 toes and you’re going to kill it.” Melissa went into the abortion clinic, but while she was on the table, she told the doctor, “I can’t do this.”

Justin Butterfield, Senior Advisor on Conscience and Religious Freedom, HHS Office for Civil Rights, and Holly Gatling, Executive Director, South Carolina Citizens for Life

Intensely personal stories complemented by a terrific speech by Justin Butterfield, Senior Advisor on Conscience and Religious Freedom, HHS Office for Civil Rights. He spoke of how the Trump Administration is “dedicated to protecting religious liberties” and rights of conscience.

As we’ve discussed in posts at National Right to Life News Today, there are protections on the books going back decades. However the Obama administration had zero interest in enforcement. That all changed when Donald Trump became president.

A wonderful general session which a huge audience greatly appreciated.