Weekend Reading: when a 14-year-old fears losing abortion access

You may have seen this post from TheFederalist.com already, since it has (quite rightly) been shared far and wide since it went up on December 14. Read and ponder If George Stephanopoulos’s Daughter Wants An Abortion, Can I Have Her Baby?

You may think that an odd title. Joy Pullman, author of the post, explains it.

On “The View” Tuesday, George Stephanopoulos’ wife Ali Wentworth claimed the couple’s 14-year-old daughter reacted to Donald Trump’s win by “screaming ‘no abortions’ really loudly”….Wentworth said both their daughters were terrified by Hillary Clinton’s loss.

Pullman continues:

Well, I can’t get inside this child’s head or this family’s atmosphere. But it sure sounds like someone has been frightening this young lady, and that someone is not Donald Trump. Somewhere this child got the ideas that a) women should vote according to whatever politician most supports their power to evacuate their uteruses at will, and b) Trump can ban abortion.

Pullman could have taken several directions after this. She chooses to write a message to the frightened 14-year-old, who according to her mother “hasn’t kissed a boy yet” and is thus dealing with abortion only on a what-if level.

With the help of the many people everywhere in this country and world who are waiting to surround and support you, you can go through pregnancy and birth and raise your child. If you are really young or in really terrible circumstances, that might be exceedingly difficult. So you have another option to give your child a happy life with a mother and father who will read him or her picture books, take your child on walks, hold your child’s hand during an emergency room visit, and wake up a dozen times a night when that sweet baby has a fever.

It’s called adoption. Thirty-six vetted, loving, wonderful families are on waitlists to adopt every single available baby in this country.

Don’t settle for the excerpts I’ve provided here. The full post is worth your time.  Joy Pullman could have spent 500 words on a political approach or on criticizing the young woman’s parents – and how many of us would have been unable to resist doing that, if the post had been ours to write? Instead, she deals with politics and parenting as briefly as possible before turning her attention to the fearful 14-year-old.

Maybe the information and encouragement Joy Pullman offers the young woman can reach her parents as well.

Surprised by “The Drop Box”

Did you miss the film The Drop Box when it was first released? I did. I thought that the documentary about a Korean pastor’s work saving abandoned children was a good idea, and I figured I’d watch it eventually – and then other things crowded it out. This week, in the middle of a free trial of Netflix, I finally watched it.

I recommend that you do the same. It was far more powerful than I expected.

Pastor Lee, who created a “drop box” in South Korea. Photo courtesy thedropboxfilm.com.

I guess I expected a feel-good movie, dripping with sentimentality. What I saw instead had an edge that was unsettlingly hard. Pastor Lee and his extended family, the people at the core of the film, are caring for one another in the midst of some grim conditions. Disabilities are not glossed over or prettified. The area government is not supportive of the pastor’s “drop box” – a safe haven for abandoned children – with the result that some social-service resources are denied to the children cared for by Pastor Lee and his wife. Needs abound, while solutions are scarce. The Lees respond with loving hearts and faith in God, taking care of as many children as they can.

It’s amazing and essential work. It’s not easy. The Lees are draining themselves in every respect, devoting their lives to the children they’ve rescued. The film is candid about the power of the ministry as well as its costs.

If you find yourself sampling a streaming service, see if The Drop Box is on the menu, tucked in between the travelogues and the sports documentaries. As tough as it is inspiring, The Drop Box is worth your undivided attention.


An adoption fact sheet from The Radiance Foundation

See more at adoptedandloved.com.

Graphic from The Radiance Foundation.
Graphic from The Radiance Foundation.

I think the text at the bottom is interesting, touching as it does on a New Hampshire public policy issue, abortion stats: “Sadly, there are no comprehensive federal statistics on adoption since 1992, when the National Center for Social Statistics was dissolved. To this day, states provide information only on a voluntary basis. We need federal legislation that makes both abortion and adoption reporting mandatory so we have an accurate picture of what is happening to the most vulnerable among us: our children.”

Ryan Bomberger at Values Voter Summit 2014
Ryan Bomberger of the Radiance Foundation, adoptive father and adopted son, speaking at the Values Voter conference in Washington, DC. (Ellen Kolb photo)

The To-Do list from the Pro-Life Women’s Conference

(This is a follow-up to my earlier report on the Pro-Life Women’s Conference held in Dallas, Texas in June.)

Serrin Foster speaking at conference, in front of sign saying Women Deserve Better Than Abortion
Serrin Foster of Feminists for Life speaking at the first Pro-Life Women’s Conference.. All photos by Ellen Kolb.

Six weeks after the first-but-not-last Pro-Life Women’s Conference bringing together pro-life women from all over the U.S.A., I’ve had time to digest what I heard from the people I met there. I’ve had time to read the bagful of material I picked up from various groups at the event. How can I summarize it all?

I think a to-do list is the way to go. Here are some of the calls to action I heard, from some of the amazing and challenging people I met in Dallas at PLWC.

Get out there

Not every sidewalk counseling or sidewalk witness organization was represented at the conference, but those that were agreed on this much: peaceful pro-life presence outside abortion facilities is essential.

I’m partial to 40 Days for Life, as longtime readers know. It was great to shake hands with a 40DFL leader from Dallas who was handing out flyers for the next campaign, beginning September 28. For New Hampshire information, go to 40daysforlife.com/manchester.

Expose clinic abuses: the #NotOver Campaign

Put women’s health ahead of politics by scrutinizing every inspection report available from abortion facilities – and if there’s no public health oversight, work to change that.

Even as abortion providers in Texas were challenging the state law calling for abortion facilities to improve their safety standards, concerned Texas citizens led by Abby Johnson were investigating inspection records from abortion facilities. At PLWC, Johnson revealed the first of several records indicating various violations that put women’s health at risk.

The inspection record’s campaign got its name just a day after the conference, when the Supreme Court struck down portions of the Texas law on safety standards for abortion facilities. It’s not over, replied Johnson – and so the #NotOver Campaign got its name.

Read the Texas reports.  Do the abortion facilities in your area get this kind of scrutiny?

Support and expand pro-life women’s health care options

Representatives of The Guiding Star Project shared their ministry of partnering with pregnancy care centers and medical practices to provide abortion-free health care. Other speakers referred to the thousands of federally-funded community clinics where abortions aren’t performed or funded.

Through whatever mechanism is available, reach toward the goal of more abortion-free options for women seeking authentic health care for themselves and their families.

Speakers at Pro-Life Women's Conference
Pro-Life Women’s Conference 2016: panel on abortion’s “hard cases.” Panelists include d Darlene Pawlik and Rebecca Kiessling of Save the 1 (second and third from left) and Melissa Ohden, abortion survivor (speaking, at center).

Expand your definition of pro-life

Many speakers at the conference came at this point from different angles. Respecting the right to life means respecting it for the unborn, the elderly, the medically vulnerable, the convicted criminal. There’s something to prompt prayer and discernment.

Protect and expand the Hyde Amendment

Members of Secular Pro-Life at PLWC 2016. Here are some of the champions of the #HelloHyde campaign.

I reported on the #HelloHyde campaign in my earlier post on the conference. Since then, one of the two major American political parties has made repeal of the Hyde Amendment a plank in the party platform. This would change the 40-year-old policy, known as the Hyde Amendment, that prevents Medicaid dollars from funding most abortions.

Ask candidates about this – particularly federal candidates. Will you protect Hyde? Will you expand it so that it protects children conceived in violence? Or do  you want taxpayers to pay for abortions?

Listen to birth mothers

“These are the bravest women I know,” said Abby Johnson as she introduced a panel of women who chose life for their children and then placed them for adoption.

Each woman had a different story regarding circumstances of pregnancy and adoption. It’s impossible to be indifferent when listening to them.

Listen more. Learn more. Help build a culture that honors adoption and birth parents. Start here: bravelove.org and talkaboutadoption.com.

Look for allies in unlikely places

The pro-life movement is much broader than its detractors would have you believe. Break a barrier by listening to someone who took a different path from yours to the truth about the value of human life.

In Texas, I met people from way outside my day-to-day experience: Democrats for Life of America. Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. Pro-Life Humanists.

They made me wonder how many pro-life allies I haven’t met simply because I haven’t looked.

I was pleased to see at the conference that Pro-Life Humanists were handing out a brochure that included quotes from the late Nat Hentoff, a journalist whose work influenced my early activism.

“Being without theology isn’t the slightest hindrance to being pro-life. As any obstetrics manual – Williams Obstetrics, for example – points out, there are two patients involved, and the one not yet born ‘should be given the same meticulous care by the physician that we long have given the pregnant woman.’…It misses a crucial point to say that the extermination can take place because the brain has not yet functioned or because the thing is not yet a ‘person.’ Whether the life is cut off in the fourth week or the fourteenth, the victim is one of our species, and has been from the start.”

I could go on. What I’ll remember about this conference, and the reasons I’ll come back if there’s another, are the women with different beliefs but a common respect for life.