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All That We’ve Lost, All That We’ll Win
Thriving Hero Consulting | 28 September 2023
I believe it was Welsh politician and NHS advocate, Aneurin Bevan, who first stated that politics is a “blood sport.”[i] Bevan passed in 1960[ii] but I am certain he would be shocked to see just how ruthless politics has become in the new millennium.
The divisiveness, twisted semantics, and outright lies of many in today’s political landscape are particularly cruel for those of us in the pro-life movement. We know that our political victories and losses mean the difference between life and death for the most innocent.
When I became the executive director of Illinois Right to Life in 2020, I knew the evil of abortion was much more pervasive in Illinois than in my home state, Wisconsin. I really had no idea how bad it really was.
I quickly discovered many pro-lifers in Illinois felt completely defeated. It was easy to see why. Illinois is home to the powerful political action committee, Personal PAC. Their motto? “Pro-Choice, No Exceptions, No Compromise.”[iii] With their take-no-prisoners approach, Personal PAC has successfully populated the Illinois legislature with elected officials afraid to take anything other than the most radical stance on abortion.[iv] There’s our governor, J.B. Pritzker, who is proudly working to make Illinois the most pro-abortion state in the union.[v] Then there’s the bevy of milquetoast, “pro-life” Republicans who have begun insisting that abortion is a losing issue for them.[vi]
When I came to Illinois, the state’s “Reproductive Health Act” had just been enacted, allowing abortion for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy and stripping most safety protections for women by allowing abortion providers to operate with little regulatory interference. During my time in Illinois, the legislature voted to repeal the state’s already-weak Parental Notice of Abortion law, removing parents’ basic right to be involved in their daughters’ healthcare and opening the door for sexual predators from every state in the nation to cover their crimes with abortion in Illinois.[vii]
Perhaps my colleagues in other pro-abortion states can relate. When faced with an enemy that has seemingly unlimited funds, no qualms about using outright lies to advance their cause, and has successfully duped an entire population, it’s not difficult, at times, to lose sight of your goals and begin to see politics as a “blood sport” yourself. For me, the love that must be at the center of pro-life work took a backseat to my desire to politically wipe the floor with our enemies.
God always has a way of hitting us over the head with His reality and whipping our priorities back into place. My huge dose of reality came earlier this summer, on July 12.
I woke up to find my husband, Jim, sitting on the edge of our bed in the dark, staring into space, with his robe draped over his body. He’s only 53 and appeared to be in great health. I asked him if something was wrong, and it was quickly apparent that he could not speak. I turned on the light to get a better look at him and his drooping face immediately gave me a clue as to what was wrong. I asked him to raise his hands, stick out his tongue and smile. It was obvious. My healthy husband had suffered a stroke.
The next few hours were a haze of paramedics, CT-Scans, and terrifying blood pressure numbers. The diagnosis? Jim had a major hemorrhagic stroke because of undiagnosed hypertension (Men – go to the doctor!).
Over the next ten days in the ICU Jim gradually regained his ability to speak and walk. Another two weeks in a rehab hospital proved that the old Jim was, indeed, returning. After over three weeks in various hospitals, Jim finally came home.
I, along with the rest of our friends and family were, of course, overjoyed that Jim had survived what appeared to have been a brush with death. We rejoiced when his voice and the movement on his right side returned. Over the next few weeks, I realized I’d been existing in a state of shock. As this shock wore off, I was able to see with fresh eyes the reality of what had happened, and what had almost been lost.
There were many seemingly insignificant firsts after the stroke: The first walk we took, the first inside joke we laughed at, the first trip to our favorite restaurant. I realized these things weren’t insignificant at all; that such moments were the threads that held the tapestry of our marriage together.
As the days have continued to roll by since the stroke, the mounting medical bills don’t matter considering Jim’s survival. The exhausting days at Jim’s bedside in the hospital are already a distant memory and are nothing compared to the grueling work Jim has done to recover. The initial terror Jim and I both felt have been replaced by the certain knowledge that God is caring for us. We saw this day after day as prayers we hadn’t even thought to say were answered.
We’ve realized the fear, worry, and seemingly impossible situations of this world are nothing compared to the grace of God. He is always there. He provides countless tiny mercies every day that are the bedrock of deep and lasting joy. They are the bedrock of LIFE.
A side-effect of 38 years in the pro-life movement is that my thoughts always, ALWAYS turn back to the life issues. I’ve reflected on a lot of things since Jim’s stroke.
I’ve thought a lot about how the abortion industry is robbing us. Not only are they robbing the most innocent of life, they’re also robbing families of a lifetime of God’s tiny, tender mercies: First smiles, first steps, first days of school, the list goes on and on. An unplanned pregnancy at first seems like a cataclysmic event but, once the shock wears off, there are so many blessings waiting to be had.
I’ve also thought about how, once again, God has shown that even in the darkest times, he is with us. This seems trite in everyday life but, when the foundations of your world seem to be crumbling, this fact becomes amazingly real. As I mentioned, Jim and I had so many prayers answered that we hadn’t even thought to pray. God was undoing knots and solving problems we didn’t know existed. Even if the absolute worst had happened and we had lost Jim, I know I eventually would have seen God was still with me.
For those of us in the pro-life movement, particularly those of us in states like Illinois, it is easy to lose hope when nothing goes your way and the abortion rate continues to soar. It’s easy to become very, very angry when the abortion industry sees victory after victory after victory. Even when it seems like there is no hope and that abortion zealots will always have the upper hand, we must remember that God is with us. He will not abandon us. The end of Roe v. Wade with last year’s Dobbs decision is proof positive that, with God, anything is possible.
The anger, the discouragement, and the desire to “mop the floor” with our opponents don’t come from God. Saving lives is not a blood sport. Pro-life work means trusting that God will answer the prayers we haven’t thought to say. It’s millions of us believing that God will use us to provide His tender mercies to the scared and vulnerable.
When we put our trust in God and work together in love, nothing we do is in vain. We must never forget that one day, without a doubt, we will win.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
[i] Kline, Jesse, “Jesse Kline: No pity for spineless politicians who don’t respect free speech,” National Post, last modified July 27, 2011, https://nationalpost.com/opinion/jesse-kline-no-pity-for-spineless-politicians-who-dont-respect-free-speech
[ii] “Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960),” BBC History, accessed September 19, 2023, https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/bevan_aneurin.shtml
[iii] “Summary of Positions,” Personal PAC, Pro-Choice, No Exceptions, accessed September 25, 2023, https://www.personalpac.org/about/summary-of-positions/
[iv] “A History of Stopping Dangerous, Illegal Abortions in Illinois,” Personal PAC, Pro-Choice, No Exceptions, accessed September 25, 2023, https://www.personalpac.org/about/history/
[v] “Gov. Pritzker Speaks Out Against Overturning of Roe v. Wade, Affirms Reproductive Rights,” Illinois.gov, May 3, 2022, https://www.illinois.gov/news/press-release.24841.html
[vi] Mary Ann Ahern, Illinois Republicans Say Issues of Safety, Economics Matter More to Voters Than Abortion, video, 2:20, August 18, 2022, https://www.nbcchicago.com/top-videos-home/illinois-republicans-say-issues-of-safety-economics-matter-more-to-voters-than-abortion/2918639/
[vii] “Facts About The Illinois Reproductive Health Act,” Illinois Right to Life Action, accessed September 25, 2023, https://illinoisrighttolifeaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/UPDATED-RHA-Factsheet.pdf