What the Pro-Life Movement Needs to Remember


Today, hundreds of thousands of people will converge on Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life. The crowds will be larger and younger than the media will portray, and the atmosphere will be like that of a family reunion. I remember my first (of many) Marches when I was in high school. I was shocked by the joy I saw, as we gathered to commemorate the atrocious Supreme Court decision. The day is filled with hope, even after decades of defeat. To be honest, there was always an odd mix of emotions as I marched. You are celebrating life while simultaneously mourning the friends you were never able to meet. You are praying, you are protesting, you are trying to speak for those who cannot speak, you are trying to facilitate change.

One of the most important things we have to remember as workers for the pro-life cause is that behind every abortion is a woman and a man who are hurting—whether they know it or not. Each mother and father have a story that led them to that act, and each have a future after that act.

The answer to ending abortion is not a political one—it’s a personal one. It’s not a change of law—it’s a change of heart.

I think it’s fitting that the anniversary of Roe v. Wade is just a few days before we celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul. Before the road to Damascus, Paul believed he was doing what was right. He didn’t witness and approve of the stoning of Stephen because he was bloodthirsty, but because he thought that was the answer.

How many men and women choose abortion because they believe it is the right choice? They don’t seek the death of their child, they seek answers. They seek to set their world back on course. But abortion only causes more destruction.

Saul did not believe what he was doing was wrong—but that didn’t change the fact that it was. So as he was on his way to Damascus, Jesus Christ came to him. He didn’t come to him as a judge with accusations. He came to him as a Savior with a question—why are you persecuting Me?

Jesus didn’t give Saul a long list of things he had done wrong. He didn’t lecture him. He didn’t berate him. He didn’t even argue with him.

He came to Saul with mercy and compassion.

But that isn’t the end of the story. Saul had to accept Jesus. He not only had to admit what he was doing was wrong, he had to accept the mercy and forgiveness that Jesus was offering him. Often that can be the hardest part of our conversion.

Jesus is waiting for those men and women who are hurting after abortion. He is waiting to show them what they have done … but ultimately, He is waiting to show them mercy and compassion.

And so must we.

There are young women out there who need to hear the truth, who need to hear that they don’t deserve to suffer from abortion. There are alternatives to abortion here.

There are men and women out there who are suffering from the trauma of abortion, who are looking for answers. Help is available here.


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About the Author

Joannie Watson

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. After graduating from Christendom College with a B.A. in History and Franciscan University with a M.A. in Theology, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be part of the explosion of Catholic culture in the middle of the Bible Belt.

She has been blessed to work for Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Aquinas College. She is presently the Director of Adult Formation for the Diocese of Nashville. She also serves as the Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic Life.

When she’s not testing the culinary exploits of new restaurants or catching up on the latest BBC miniseries, she’s FaceTiming with her eight nephews and nieces and enjoying her role as coolest aunt. She likes gelato, bourbon, and the color orange.

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