In the midst of the rising tide of hostility that pro-life activists are experiencing, it's important to remember that some of the most vociferous abortion advocates of the past have become prominent pro-life champions. It's a scenario that is sure to repeat itself again.
According to a Jan. 31 report from Students for Life of America, there was so much hatred and antagonism expressed toward them at a recent demonstration that the "police officers had to form a human shield around [them] as [they] stood to represent the preborn and their mothers."
In the midst of the outpouring of anger and profanity, one of the abortion activists held up a homemade sign identifying herself as a "fetus slayer" while she tried to jump on Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.
This is reminiscent of the protests at the Texas Senate last year where pro-abortion activists chanted "Hail Satan," "F**k the church," and "Bro-choice" while holding signs that said "Hoes before embryos."
But is it possible that some of these very protestors, including the young woman holding up the "fetus slayer" sign, could have a radical change of heart? Absolutely.
Just think of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, "an obstetrician who oversaw the performance of about 75,000 abortions before becoming a leading pro-life advocate and a convert to the Catholic faith."
As the National Catholic Register reported upon announcement of his death in 2011, "After performing his last abortion in 1979 and declaring himself to be pro-life, Nathanson produced the 1985 film The Silent Scream, which shows sonogram images of a child in the womb shrinking from an abortionist's instruments, and the documentary film Eclipse of Reason, which displays and explains various abortion procedures in graphic detail. Both films had a significant impact on the abortion debate, solidified his credentials among pro-life advocates and earned him the scorn of his former pro-abortion friends and colleagues."
And then there is Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade infamy (for those who still don't know the story, the whole 1973 ruling was based on a nonexistent case, as McCorvey never had an abortion). She too had a change of heart and a conversion to the Christian faith, and today she is a pro-life champion.
As she explains in a one-minute pro-life video, "Back in 1973, I was a very confused 21-year old-with one child and facing an unplanned pregnancy.
"At the time I fought to obtain a legal abortion, but truth be told, I have three daughters and never had an abortion."
She continues, "I think it's safe to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie. ... I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name."
She ended the video with these words: "You read about me in history books, but now I am dedicated to spreading the truth about preserving the dignity of all human life from natural conception to natural death."
These are two prominent examples—there is a countless number of less prominent "converts" whose stories are little known—but if God could change the heart of Bernard Nathanson, a man who helped found NARAL and who once operated one of the nation's largest abortion clinics, and if He could change the heart of the "Roe" in Roe v. Wade, why couldn't He change the heart of the angry young lady who identified herself as a "fetus slayer"?
And let's remember that Dr. Nathanson had his pro-life conversion while still identifying himself as a Jewish atheist, which is all the more striking.
And speaking of the Scriptures, let's remember that the apostle Paul, the most influential leader in the Jesus movement outside of Jesus Himself, once was an archenemy of the faith. As he said in his own words, "Formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Timothy 1:13, ESV; he actually helped put followers of Jesus to death in those early days).
Perhaps some of the most vocal pro-life opponents are just like Paul once was, acting ignorantly and in unbelief. Perhaps they are simply blinded by the spirit of the age and, once their eyes are opened, they too will be changed.
Of course, they are fully accountable for their actions, but if we respond to their hostility with compassion and truth (as the pro-life side has faithfully sought to do, with rare exception), we will ultimately "overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:21).
The good news is that just as abortion rates in America continue to decline (although they are still monstrously high), some of those who identify today as "fetus slayers" will tomorrow be pro-life champions.
Watch and see.
Michael Brown is author of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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