I was born in the USA smack dab in the middle of the sexual revolution in 1970 amidst the second wave of feminism. Freedom is something I value deeply but we must ask ourselves, freedom at what cost? Being patriotic was a part of my DNA as a Girl Scout, 4Her and later in my teen years donning pom-poms and my blue and gold pleated skirt as a peppy high school hockey cheerleader. Yes, I was a church goer with ideal childhood memories including many seeds of faith planted in my life throughout my formative years. I am utterly grateful to my parents for those roots. I tried hard to embrace the motto “In God We Trust” to the extent my faith afforded me in my youth. My limited understanding of our constitution and Biblical values in which the country was founded on, I sought to understand and emulate our countries anthems which honoured the land of the free and the home of the brave. As I grew up and became more aware of our broken world, 'I’d begin to question how could God bless America when such heinous acts of evil was being tolerated in our midst. I was not exempt as I too compromised my own values and failed to live up to the ideal. One area of regret that I suffered the consequences for was being sexually promiscuous in my teen years which led to my own “Unplanned” pregnancy at the tender age of 16.
(*Photos courtesy of the film “Unplanned”)
Fast forward to 1988, I met my Canadian husband and we dated long distance and married in 1990. I moved up to Saskatoon Saskatchewan where 29 years later, we have made a life together as parents to 4 incredible daughters (with sons in laws and a grand baby being added to the crew). In 1996 I had a dramatic faith encounter with my Creator which brought healing to my wounded heart that I carried into my marriage from those tumultuous teens years. A journey to restoration began to take root in my heart involving profound grace, deliverance from many fears, eternal assurance of heaven and the gift of Love that keeps on giving. I began to speak and share my story soon after which included the experience of having an abortion. When I’ve had the opportunity to do so, it is such an honour to be a voice for the 1 in 4 women who have had an abortion in their lifetime. Even though there are various sides to the issue, I’ve tangibly felt those with who hold strong to their pro-life and pro-choice stances in the room. From those who may want to literally stone me with their glaring stares of hatred and disgust, to others who are weeping with tears of joy knowing that they too can receive grace as I had. I’ve tried not to allow the tension in the room to throw me and I’ve sought to share authentically my experience and leave the results to God to touch one’s heart. Ultimately, I pray that people come away from hearing my full story that there is hope no matter what circumstances they find themselves in.
Public speaking engagements are one platform to talk about ethics and morality issues, but those opportunities are far and few between. We are not all called to be speakers! (In fact, they say speaking is penned as the #1 fear of most people!. Go figure?) We all can connect with others through interactions at work, home, coffee shops, neighbourhood BBQ’s etc providing ample opportunities to encourage, inspire and challenge the status quo. Sadly, we often turn to silence as it is just tooooooo uncomfortable!
Silence is Deafening
Sex, Religion, War, Politics, Racism, Sexism, i.e. so called “taboo” topics that the typical Canadian wants to avoid to keep the ‘peace’ in our emergent yet flailing culture. But where does that get us? Our moral compass as a family, community, nation begins to weaken when we aren’t open to a respectful, intellectual dialogue that is intended to awaken our full selves, the one that is on a quest for truth and justice. A truth that sears our God given conscience both individually and at a corporate/ communal level. How do we adhere to the greatest commandment to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12) or the “Golden Rule” of ‘treating others the way you want to be treated’ , when we are so divided on so many issues of our time? Feathers are ruffled and in our humanity, we can become easily angered. As such, we tend to gravitate to one of two extremes- argumentative discord or deafening silence. The topic of abortion is one example of this great divide.
Unplanned Movie Release
The movie "Unplanned" had a delayed showing this month as compared to the earlier USA release March 29th, 2019. The laws are very different in Canada vs the USA, so no wonder there were some pending protests and the odd death threats to theatres for showing it. It is crazy that our world comes to this. Click here to read about US Canada Abortion Laws and Policy from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC).
I am grateful for freedom of speech. Personally, when I see films that disgust me (like blatantly evil horror films), I make the choice to not attend. I am saddened that people go to see them and are influenced by them, but I understand the (sometimes warped) laws to protect certain freedoms to create or watch such filth. There is forced tolerance that addresses cultural insanity.
So what is it about the abortion topic that stirs such anger or passion on the various sides of this debate? Personal experience-political agendas-religious convictions-faith perspectives-etc? We need healthy dialogues on topics pertaining to human rights and issues of morality to truly get anywhere of lasting value. As difficult of a topic it is to face (and the various perspectives surrounding it), I chose to watch it. on the opening day with a friend who works in the health field and we spent some time in healthy dialogue after to debrief.
Here is the Unplanned Official Trailer:
In sensing the emotions and reaction of the crowd at the theatre, I would ascertain that there was a mix of Pro-life and Pro-Choice. To which percentage, I do not know. My conversation afterwards with my friend reminded me that there are broader descriptions/terms on top of being Pro-Life or Pro-Choice which includes Anti-Choice, Anti-Abortion or Pro-Abortion. This be confusing-so I found this article helpful from the ARCC. (Posting their articles doesn't mean I fully affirm them as an organization or ascribe to their stance). As close friends, allies or adversaries, we should arrive at a place in this country where we’re free to share our own thoughts, beliefs, opinions with freedom without the retribution of persecution.
Sidenote: I took me 20 years to take the step of becoming a Canadian in 2010 (That is a whole other story altogether why it took so long!) But as I prepared for taking my oath of citizenship, I had to review the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which has been in existence as it is for now 37 years. This includes Section 2 on Fundamental Freedoms:
freedom of conscience and religion;
freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
freedom of peaceful assembly; and
freedom of association.
I appreciated the freedom to talk with my friend after the movie (and also to have her check in to assure I am not triggered or re-traumatized as a result of the scenes, for which I can say I am AOK.) I’ve experienced much healing on my journey and I also have learned great coping mechanisms through spiritual disciplines like prayer along with meditative apps and support through counselling and pastors throughout the years. Likewise, I appreciate the platform of writing, speaking and dialoguing one on one to exercise my fundamental freedoms. I have found that it is a part of my healing journey to share my story but it also has been fulfilling helping others through the process. So for those who know me and that part of me, many have asked what my takeaways from the film Unplanned are?
My Takeaway from Unplanned
Regardless of where you are at on the topic of abortion, what is most important is reflecting on how we can live within the tension of differing opinions and convictions. Personally, where I am at on this issue is that love can cast out all fear, even the fear of having a simple conversation with our families, our community members and government officials. We cannot stay silent as we were created to communicate and dialogue. But doing so without love is like a clanging symbol. (1 Corinthians 13). No matter what ‘side’ or view you have, I pray that you will seek to respond with love, have an open heart and mind and will respectfully listen. It’s not easy to do, but it is the best way. Fighting, name calling, heated arguments only adds fuel to the fire. Where does that get us? For Pro-Lifers and the Pro-Choice community, we must see the dignity and worth of all people. We are not just focusing on the rights of the unborn and the rights of the mother (and father), we must also respect the rights of people who hold convictions and beliefs are also to be treated with dignity and respect to the best of our ability. In my experience, it is the love of God that softens my heart and allows me to be filled with the Holy Spirit when I am at the end of myself and desperately need to fill myself up with a supernatural love that comes from above to find the unconditional love for myself in order to love others. You don’t have to share my same spiritual beliefs in order to have a peaceful conversation amidst our world of opinions. Here is a helpful article and video from Light Workers called “How to have a respectful dialogue” .
“We all have strong opinions, how do you talk about them without getting upset? …Listen, Listen, Listen. Give each other room to share each side. No interrupting. Keep it face to face whenever you can. Have it in person or over the phone. Avoid using social media or texting. Watch your body language. Sitting and talking allows you both to remain level with the person you are talking to. A height difference will feel intimidating. Give up being “Right”, if you head into a discussion thinking you are the only one who is right, you miss the point of the dialogue. Avoid harsh words. Words such as “always” and “never” can make the person feel defensive. Keep your voice calm. By keeping an even tone, you allow tempers to remain calm, which makes for better discussion. Agree to disagree. You don’t have to change each others minds. This is just about hearing another persons opinion that is different from yours. What makes you feel respected when talking to someone who has a different opinion than you do?” - LightWorkers
Below are some statistics and resources links on the topic of abortion. By listing each one, I am not endorsing any one fully but simply providing a framework for awareness on this topic but also give context to the great debate.
Worldwide since 1980, there are been documented over 1.5 Billion abortions performed. To review global stats, click here
In The USA, there are approximately 1.4 million abortions performed each year. To view the active count of the number of abortions in the US and the numbers of abortions worldwide click here )
(The above stats are considered conservative given the lack of consistent reporting measures and policies in place for some nations as well as the lack of data for the numerous unreported/ unsafe abortions as well.)
Pro Life Resources:
50 Years of Abortion in Canada- (Faytene TV). Faytene Interviews Ryan Stockart, the film producer of the Missing Project
Missing Project Documentary (Released Summer 2019 . A 75 Minute documentary for online download on legal abortion in Canada- the only democracy/ country among industrialized nations with no laws on abortion.’)
40’s Day for Life” (Prayer movement as featured in the Unplanned movie)
Planned From the Start devotional
I’ll Hold You in Heaven (Book by Jack Hayford mentioned in my Vimeo video blog post)
Missing Project Documentary (Released Summer 2019 . A 75 Minute documentary for online download on legal abortion in Canada- the only democracy/ country among industrialized nations with no laws on abortion.)