I’ll never forget my five weeks at the NRLC Academy 

By Lauren Lapinski

Left to right: Lauren Shovlin (PA); Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, Academy Director; Lauren Lipinski (OH); and Amy Baker (SC).

I always go where I feel sent, and trust it will all work out. Of course I have a history in the pro-life movement, due to having a post-abortive mother and having gone through my own healing and making that sibling, Rachel, a part of my life as well. 

I did not know what to expect from the Academy. When my friend sent me the link and told me to look into it, I saw “pro-life” and “academy” and figured I would get something useful out of this. 

I grew up in the religious sphere of the pro-life movement and those whom I worked around always said abortion could not be ended through politics so I had stayed as far away as I could from the political side of things. NRL was my first exposure to people who had a deep love and care for each unique, individual life, and saw an opportunity to establish, teach, and defend that value by means of legislative action. 

Through this academy I was also exposed to the reality that if WE don’t lobby; if WE don’t join chapters and organize information booths or host events to educate at our churches and in our communities, those who desire abortion on demand WILL. I was faced with the question of what will happen if THEIR voices are the only voices in the ears of our government officials? I can’t let the leaders of this country believe all of its people desire abortion on demand through all 9 months. 

Many valuable lessons such as these were learned during my time at NRL headquarters. Practically day to day, my personal experience was very grueling but gratifying. 

Deeper than relationships with the other classmates was actually my relationship with myself. One day in class, through digging deeper into a specific persuasive column assignment, Dr. Randall O’Bannon helped me realize for myself that I can’t win every fight with logic alone. I had thought, “If I just show these women they have nothing to be afraid of, and that choosing the death of their child when in their lowest moment may seem like their only option but it isn’t,” I could end abortion for good. 

However I didn’t take into account the person. I did not take into account her feelings. I didn’t listen to her story about her parents threatening to kick her out. I painted with a broad stroke and said, “You have no reason to be afraid, don’t have an abortion.” 

Now I should know this doesn’t always work! I served as a camp counselor for 2 years. When I had my gal campers up on a 5 story high-ropes course ready to practically freefall off the edge, I told them as many comforting facts about the safety of the mechanism as I could but it did not erase their fear. Sometimes, we had to sit up there with her for hours letting her cry. We had to let her be in her process and ask her, “What can I do for you in this time of fear?” I told her, “The fact of the matter is you have to jump. There is no other way to get down. So how about you hold onto me and we go down together?” 

Sometimes I even had to grab onto her and we had to get a little push off, without her giving her approval. You better believe though, I never let go of her for a second and when she was safe on the ground I told her how proud of her I was. “You may not have liked it, it may have been so hard, but you DID IT. You did that, you are STRONG.”

To see these young women be affirmed that they are strong and capable in the face of adversity was my biggest honor. I want that to be my role for women worldwide facing crisis pregnancies. No matter how logical and sound my claims can be, what they need most is love and support. Not just women facing crisis pregnancies but all women who have been gripped by fear at the overturning of Roe v. Wade. They all believe if they were to be placed in that situation the fear of their capacity to get through that trying time would be crippling. 

“You are STRONGER than you think,” is my message to them. 

I learned that very message for myself. As much as I preach on not letting fear control you, I did not realize the comfort zone I was letting myself live in. The staff at NRL pushed me really hard. I wanted to avoid uncomfortable situations lobbying or in mock press conferences, but NRL taught me I am stronger than I thought!! At first it seemed sort of cruel and unforgiving to receive critique from the practicum but over time I came to see that it was fuel for me to get better, to become the best version of myself. 

I owe the person I am 5 weeks later to the NRL and the people there. It’s an experience I will never forget!