When the negative stereotype of pro-lifers meets the reality of a kind and generous people the walls come tumbling down

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. Ladies and gentlemen it’s time to begin turning your attention to the National Right to Life convention which takes place in Pittsburgh June 23-24.  What could be better than spending the first anniversary of the Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade equipping and encouraging yourself to help unborn children and their mothers. You can sign up here to be kept informed as the list of confirmed speaks grows.

It occurred to me that this would be an appropriate time to re-run a post from a few years back. I hope you enjoy it.

One weakness common to most scribes is that we are prone to over-interpret every “sign.” On that score (as you will see momentarily), I plead guilty.  

For starters—don’t ask me how I knew– as we boarded the plane I just knew something special was in the air.

It was an ugly day; rain was already coming down at a brisk pace at Washington’s Reagan National airport.  In an attempt to get ahead of incoming inclement weather, the tower was giving priority takeoff to those planes headed toward the Midwest. As a result we cooled our jets, literally and figuratively, for over an hour.

Sitting next to me all this time was a woman who (one glance could have told me) clearly dreaded flying in the first place, hated the wait, and was already spooked at the prospect of trying to negotiate angry storm clouds at 30,000 feet.  However, I was initially oblivious to all this, for I had my head buried in a book about abortion.  As it happens, it was written by a group of pro-life Methodists, some of whom were identified as pastors on the dust jacket.

Looking anxiously around, my neighbor’s gaze eventually fell upon my book.  Operating, I guess, on the theory of any port in a storm, she cleared her throat to ask (in a voice that clearly was seeking an affirmative response), “Are you a theologian?”

I laughed, said no, and we began to talk. Did I then launch into a lengthy pro-life discourse? No. We made reassuring small talk, and in those few minutes it was easy to tell that she had unwound and was markedly less nervous not only when we took off but also throughout the occasionally bumpy flight.

As we prepared to deplane, she asked me where I was going.  To the National Right to Life Convention, I replied.  There was a slight pause.  You could almost hear the gears grinding as her brain shifted between stereotype and what her first-hand experience had just shown her.

Her face all but telegraphed the thought, “Hmm, he doesn’t seem so bad.”  An instant later, the decision made, she relaxed into an easy smile: “Have a good convention.”

Earth-shattering?  Hardly, but an awfully good omen, don’t you think?  Less than an hour later I was introduced to a reporter from a national publication at the hotel.  After we shook hands he mentioned that on the flight in, he had read the entire last issue of NRL News.  In a voice that combined sincerity with just a hint of amazement, he said, “You’re a very good writer.” 

Do I tell you this to stroke my ego? No, of course not. His comments were overly generous.  Rather, this is worth reporting as a foretaste—a sign, if you will—of what unexpectedly turned out to be pretty decent media coverage. For a moment in time, reporters would largely discard their usual strategy of fixating on some juicy diversionary morsel.

[What followed were three possible explanations why, at least for this one NRLC Convention, we received the coverage we did. Then…]

For those reporters who stayed around for the entire convention, they learned that pro-lifers are particularly sensitive, caring people, well acquainted with pain and sorrow yet unwilling to give in to despair. Only one day into the convention, one of the women who had an exhibition booth miscarried at 17 weeks – the second baby she’d lost in eight months.  

The fragility of life was there for all to see. Our hearts grieved for her, and we all prayed for her, her family, and her baby.  

This tragedy was night and day different than deliberately taking the life of an unborn child but still a reminder that we are driven by the knowledge that everything we do on our behalf of unborn children must be undertaken in a spirit of love and compassion.  Without these ingredients, our labors will be in vain for, as the late Dr. Jean Garton once told us, angry people don’t make converts.

We continue to attempt to be a vehicle of reconciliation to end the slaughter.