This past Saturday morning was wonderfully encouraging: IRD staff joined with over 850 people in Falls Church, Virginia in order to draw attention to the unfolding scandal of Planned Parenthood trafficking the organs of aborted children.
Spread out across sidewalks lining Lee Highway and Maple Street, the two roads around our local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, we quietly prayed, cheerfully chatted with our neighbors and waved a hodgepodge of creative homemade signs.
People took notice of our ad-hoc demonstration on Saturday: several local news stations covered protests that morning, and even the Washington Post had coverage. According to World Magazine, we were among 40,000 who showed up nationwide.
I am under no illusion that we somehow made massive strides for the sanctity of life with our gathering, but it was an encouraging beginning as we called for our community to push back against a culture that all too often is willfully blind to abuse of the vulnerable.
It can be easy to fall into despair when we see legislative efforts to end federal funding of the Planned Parenthood organization stymied by a powerful and well-connected abortion lobby. But change does happen: in 2013 the largest abortion clinic in Virginia, responsible for 3,000 abortions a year, closed in Fairfax, Virginia. The clinic was the only abortion mill in Fairfax County, the largest jurisdiction in the commonwealth. Pregnancy resource centers now outnumber abortion clinics by more than 2-1 in the United States.
My own local parish, which is heavily engaged in opposing human trafficking and slavery, is not mobilized on confronting abortion. But at Saturday’s protest, I met up with half a dozen others from my congregation, plus my diocesan bishop, who has been tireless in his advocacy for the sanctity of human life. As one of my friends shared, “I’ve never protested anything before now” – but this scandal had raised her awareness of the issue and brought her out onto the sidewalk with us that morning.
This Sunday during the prayers of the people, my parish prayed for “all of those who are abused, trafficked and aborted” – the first time in six years that I have heard the “A” word uttered there.
I’m grateful for our parish work at the food bank, the shelter for abused women and partnering to end unjust incarceration or human slavery abroad. Every part of the body of Christ works to advance the Gospel in the world. Assisting women and children endangered by the practice of abortion is one part of this.
We may not see an end to federal funding of this abortion giant this year — but there are now more people protesting for the first time, gathering resources for their local pregnancy center, and considering adoption. I’m grateful.
Please mark your calendar for January 21, 2016. The Falls Church Anglican will be hosting “Mobilizing the Church for Life” a summit on sanctity of life issues. Timed to coincide with the annual March for Life, the summit is a new effort to raise the profile of these issues in our church communities.