June 30, 2023

“Ma’am, can I please see it?” The young girl pleads as she sits forward to peer at the ultrasound screen. 

The woman swiftly turns the screen further away from the young girl’s wide eyes, trembling lips and tear brimmed countenance as she coldly retorts, “It’s just the size of a coffee bean, you can’t really see anything anyway,” without returning her wavering chocolate brown gaze. 

Taken back and downcast she replies, “Oh, okay. Will it be able to feel anything?”

“Just relax, miss. This is best. You are too young to care for it anyway.”

The girl once filled with dazzling sunshine, radiant smiles and confident afternoon jaunts stiffly sits back as one crystal tear slowly descends down her stunning brown skin. 

Despondent she lifts her eyes heavenward.

The Movement

The pro-life movement in America is experiencing an unprecedented turn of events. Since the genesis of Roe v Wade in 1973, there have been an estimated 63,459,781 total abortions in America. The overturning of Roe through the Dobbs decision, on June 24 2022, has given pro-life constituents at the state level the opportunity to pass life-giving legislation that will protect life in the womb. 

Unfortunately, not every state is taking an approach to protect life. Paving the way for radical abortion legislation, Minnesota is denying children in the womb any rights, per MN H1 Protect Reproductive Options Act. Stated in the bill, “Every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth, or obtain an abortion, and to make autonomous decisions about how to exercise this fundamental right.” The child in the womb is not recognized as having any right to life rather their life is on the balance of the mother’s whims. 

On the other hand, states including Texas and Florida are making moves to protect life in the womb and restrict abortion. Contrary to popular narratives, these new laws restricting abortion are intended to protect children in the womb while allowing proper ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage care. Abortion restriction laws are being instituted in light of the fact that one and four women in America will have an abortion by the time that they are forty five which is 23.7% of women in America. 

The time is now for the church to mobilize efforts to fight for the most vulnerable, the unborn. 

Personal Stories: Under Blaring Fluorescent Lights 

Many have fallen into the lie that is abortion. This is not without tremendous cost to the lives of babies and to the wellbeing of these babies mothers and fathers. But, there are many brave men and women who have come forward to share their stories in order to encourage, bring hope and to help men and women heal. One of those women is Paula Ellefson. 

She is a wonderful mother, minister, and is the Spiritual Care Manager of Rochester, MN Teen Challenge. Paula is passionate about Teen Challenge’s bible-based holistic care that brings freedom through Jesus Christ for those who are experiencing substance abuse addictions. Not only is Paula the mom of four wonderful boys but she has two beautiful babies who experienced their first breaths in the arms of Jesus Christ. 

Paula takes us back to the year 1994, when she was a senior in high school working as a waitress in a nightclub. Soon after she began this job, she became pregnant for the first time. After discovering her pregnancy, fear drove her to the abortion clinic with the father. Entering the stale abortion clinic, she was viciously yelled at by protesters outside the clinic calling her a “baby killer.”

Fearful of her identity being discovered, she quietly handed over her driver’s license to the front desk woman, then promptly sat among many other quiet women in the lobby under the blaring fluorescent lights. Some women sat alone staring straight ahead with their heads held high, others with wobbling lips with tear brimmed eyes, and others waited with their quiet, passive companions. When it was her turn for the procedure, she sat in the frigid chair with one tear rolling down her white cheek while those aiding with the abortion told her “Don’t worry, you are almost back to normal.”  Throughout the procedure, there was a painful tugging sensation – all she could remember from the traumatic experience.  

In her postabortion state, a long journey of alcohol abuse, addiction, fear and anger to cope with the loss of her precious child ensued. This period of substance abuse brought her to her second pregnancy one year later. She blocked most memories the second time from her conscious mind but remembers being much further along in her pregnancy. Paula had the abortion procedure and returned to work, where going to the bathroom she discovered the remains of her child that had not been completely extracted during the procedure. Paula’s heart broke as tremendous shame washed over her, wondering what she ought to do with the body parts she saw floating in the porcelain bowl. 

Years later, Paula reconciled with the first father, bringing closure to both. Years after hiding her abortions, she brought them to the light. Realizing that abortion was not an “unforgivable sin” brought her soul hope and restoration. Throughout her healing process, she has learned that each stage of grief looks different. Recalling the days her babies would have gone to kindergarten, graduated high school, married, and given her grandbabies brings to mind what could have been and tears to her eyes. Understanding this stage, Paula said, “There is always grief but at each stage it looks a little different.” 

Paula is passionate about sharing her story to bring hope and healing to women who have experienced abortions. These two precious babies “never breathed a breath on earth but they have helped other people.”  

Another brave woman who has come forward in order to share her story is Toni McFadden. She is a counselor through ProLove Ministries, an ambassador for a Christian speaker bureau, international speaker, pro-life activist and mom of four wonderful children. Before her current occupations and passion for pro-life activism, Toni found herself pregnant and in an abortion clinic her senior year of high school. 

Toni entered the sleek, impersonal and cold abortion facility with her boyfriend. He sat in the waiting room during her ultrasound and when she asked if she could see the baby, Toni recalls the ultrasound technician saying, “It’s only the size of a coffee bean you really can’t see anything,” pointedly keeping the ultrasound screen turned away. 

Throughout her appointment the clinic workers fed into her abundant fears; that there was no way for her to care for the child, that she was too young and that she wouldn’t be able to live the life she wanted to if she continued with the pregnancy. Their words were thickly coated in what Toni said was, “deception, greed and a false sense of compassion.” 

When Toni left the abortion clinic, she walked out with three white chemical abortion pills in a paper bag. Desperately clutching these mystery pills she wondered what they would do to her body and the “coffee bean” sized being. The clinic educated her on the function of the second and third pill, without mentioning the role of the first. 

The first pill was intended to detach the child from the lining of her uterine wall effectively killing the child. The second, if successful, would dispel the child from her uterus causing a heavy flow of blood from her vagina. If the second was unsuccessful the third pill was to be taken to ensure the baby’s expulsion. 

Toni took the first pill and several days later took the second pill expecting a heavy flow to begin. This was not the case for Toni who had to take the third pill which she recalled caused her “to hemorrhage in the middle of the school day with blood clots the size of fists coming out (of her vagina).” Rushing to the school nurse she complained of a “bad period” promptly contacting her mother to pick her up. Toni was afraid to reveal the truth about her abortion, fearful of dismantling her “good girl” reputation.

Post-abortion, Toni suffered tremendously in silence, falling into a reckless lifestyle of drinking and drifting from relationship to relationship. All-the-while hoping “there had to be more to life than just existing.” This seed of hope gave birth to life four years after her abortion when Toni gave her life to Jesus Christ and became a Christian. Despite her magnificent transformation she feared that having an abortion “was an unforgivable sin” and must remain in the dark. Confession of her sin eventually brought further healing, hope and restoration to her soul. 

A decade after her abortion, Toni’s high school boyfriend Kris, re-entered her life. Seeking her forgiveness, he explained he left the “relationship because I didn’t want to face the fact that we ended the life of our child.” His confession brought further hope and healing, eventually building trust leading to uniting in holy matrimony. “God always writes the best love stories,” said Toni. And He “definitely showed off with what He can do with our redemptive love story.” 

Toni tells her story to move the hearts of our nation to fight for life, promote abstinence and guard the nuclear family. Toni has great compassion for women who have had an abortion and reminds herself and others that the “regret [of abortion] will always be there but only Jesus can redeem” what has been lost. Continually, she reminds herself that one blessed and wondrous day she will be face to face with her Savior as well as her precious child in heaven.

Marching Orders for the Church

In addition to courageous men and women sharing their stories, is the incredible work of men and women in the Christian church fighting for life in the womb. One of those remarkable individuals is Pastor Rachelle Benard. She is the Community Outreach Pastor at Rochester Assembly of God Church (RA) in Rochester, MN. She is also heavily involved in RA’s women’s ministry, worship leading and is a chaplain for the Rochester Police Department. Rachelle has a heart for the lost, the hurting and for children in the womb. Pastor Rachelle’s heart is for our society to respect all life. “When we stop respecting life [in the womb] then we see the lack of respect for the living ripple through society. Working with the police, I see this all over our city,” she said. “If an unborn baby isn’t important, pretty soon life on earth isn’t important either.” Respect for all life regardless of socioeconomic status, location or mental development begins with respect for life in the womb. 

“Church community organizations should understand that we exist to share the creator of life with our community,” Rachelle said of the church’s role. “If we believe God gives life, then we must respect and honor the life that He gives.” As a Christian, Rachelle believes that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth and the author of life. Because of this, Christians ought to take a stand for life. She believes society must value the most basic form of human life in order to value everyone in our society more fully. 

One way that individual believers or churches, such as Rochester Assembly, are involved is by supporting pro-life pregnancy centers through their giving, donation drives and attending pro-life events. Other ways believers can stand for life is by learning to dialogue with those who do not hold the same view of life as you do. One way Rachelle recommends engaging in conversation is to, “Make a choice to be respectful and kind, no matter how that person responds. Listening isn’t agreeing. Listening is a gesture of respect.”

Boots On the Ground 

Not only is the work of the church vital, but another powerful force in our communities are people who advocate for life, provide ultrasounds to unexpected mothers, provide baby supplies and give financially to pregnancy centers. As Toni McFadden said, “We need boots on the ground locally serving in our pregnancy centers and to use our God-given gifts toward the movement.”

Someone who fights for life is Hannah Thompson, the Development Manager of New Life Family Services (NLFS), uses her God-given gifts serving women in the Minneapolis area experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. NLFS provides incredible care through its “life affirming and faith-based pregnancy care.” They desire to build relationships with the community, establish rapport and provide a non-judgemental place with up front integrity.

There are three main branches of care at NLFS, the first being First Care. This branch provides parenting classes, free pregnancy testing, abortion pill reversal, STD testing and more. They also provide material, household and personal care support through their ‘learn as you earn’ points program which provides dignified shopping experiences for new parents going through their programs. NLFS provides diapers, baby clothes, car seats, strollers and other supplies every year to families in need. According to Tammy Kocher, Executive Director for NLFS, their “licensed social workers support more than 2,000 women each year through the challenges of motherhood, including many who are experiencing homelessness, domestic violence or mental health crises.” 

The second branch of NLFS is their Adoption branch which began in 1980 as an open adoption agency with a dual social work model. This dual social work model provides a social worker for the birth mom and adoptive parents to eliminate bias in the adoption process. 

The third program is NLFS’ eight week Conquerors Program to aid women in healing from having an abortion. This program provides “a time to heal and process through a biblical lens,” said Hannah. At the end of the program the women have a memorial service for their aborted babies which aids the women in moving on in the freedom that they have in Christ Jesus. These women are reminded that “abortion is not an unforgivable sin” and that Christ’s sacrifice at the cross was enough to cover the forgiveness of their sins. Even abortion. 

Attacks Against Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

The work of these pregnancy centers are crucial to the pro-life movement. Although, there have been a succession of recent attacks against pro-life pregnancy centers across the country in the wake of the Dobbs decision and NLFS was not immune. On March 6, 2023, the Phillips Community First Care branch of NLFS was vandalized. This center experienced a targeted attack by pro-abortion activists who “broke windows and sprayed graffiti on the walls threatening, ‘If abortions aren’t safe neither r u’,” said Kocher. “This is the most recent of several coordinated attacks on pregnancy centers throughout the country the past year.” The damages were stated to exceed $20,000, and action is being taken by federal law enforcement to find and prosecute the perpetrators of the attacks. 

Even in the wake of such hatred, Hannah and those at NLFS pray that those needing care will not be deterred by the vandalism, rather this situation will be used by God. She said, “whatever Satan has intended for evil God will use for good.” 

The Endless Hope of Christ

As we can see, the pro-life movement in America is multifaceted. It requires the bravery of mothers who have had abortions to speak. It requires the financial sacrifice of Christians to provide for unexpected mothers. It requires the worker of pro-life facilities dedication day in and out. And it also requires Christians to stand for the voiceless.

Many women who have had abortions believe that they have committed the unforgivable sin but abortion is not the “unforgivable sin” as many men and women have perceived. Christ’s death on the cross has paid the way for all sin, even abortion, to be forgiven if one chooses to accept His tremendous gift of grace and mercy. Only Christ can redeem the death and destruction abortion leaves in its wake.

Despite the heartbreak of abortion, the merciful Creator of heaven and of earth brings forth life and beauty from the ashes. Breathing new life and hope into heartbroken people. His waves of mercy crash upon the shores of every heart that is open and willing to receive His mercy.

God’s people are called to stand for what is good, right and true to protect babies from death, to save mothers and fathers from trauma and to heal those who have walked the path of sin’s destruction. 

Waves of Mercy