I had the privilege of attending the Evangelicals for Life Conference in Washington, DC last week. The conference was put on by Focus on the Family and our own Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The conference is a relatively new annual conference that is held each year on the days surrounding the annual March for Life. I was challenged and encouraged by the conference and hope to be able to attend again in the future. Below are a few brief observations from #EFL2018.
1. Progress is being made in the fight against abortion.
No, Roe vs. Wade has not been overturned. Abortion is still legal in America all the way up to the point of birth–a shameful reality that puts us in elite company with China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Canada. But progress is being made. Abortion numbers are down. Pregnancy care centers outnumber abortion clinics by more than 4-1. As abortion facilities continue to shut down, the number of pregnancy care centers continues to increase.
We see some positive things happening in state governments. Various states continue to pass measures intended to limit and restrict abortions. Perhaps you are aware of some of those things in your state and can mention them here in the comments.
We also see a couple of bills being considered at the national level. One is called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This bill amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime for any person to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 20 weeks or more. There is scientific evidence that unborn babies past 20 weeks gestation are capable of feeling pain in the womb. This bill passed the House by a 237-189 margin and has been passed along to the Senate.
The other bill is called the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This bill amends the federal criminal code to require any health care practitioner who is present when a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion to: (1) exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and (2) ensure that such child is immediately admitted to a hospital. This bill passed the House by a 241-183 margin and has been passed along to the Senate.
We clearly have a long way to go, but progress is being made.
2. Senators James Lankford and Ben Sasse are the real deal.
Lots of politicians say that they are opposed to abortion. But for many their opposition to abortion seems to be little more than a plank in their platform to appease their base. Not so for Senators James Lankford and Ben Sasse, both of whom spoke at the conference. You can tell when a person knows what he is talking about and means what he says. Both of these Senators demonstrated a clear understanding of the pro-life position and genuine desire to stand up for life in the United States Senate. Senator Lankford is a former youth pastor and Senator Sasse told about how his mom had him praying outside of abortion clinics as a child. Pro-life advocates can be sure that we have at least two firm allies in James Lankford and Ben Sasse.
3. Being pro-life is more than being anti-abortion.
There was a clear focus on abortion at the conference. The conference was planned around the annual March for Life. But the conference also took a much broader approach to what it means to be pro-life. The image of God in every human being means that we must value and defend all human life. Issues such as adoption and foster care, mental illness and disability, racial justice, and immigration were talked about both from the platform in the main sessions and during the breakout sessions.
There are some who are very passionate about justice but seemingly give very little attention to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies each year. There are others who are very passionate about defending the unborn but seem to have little concern for immigrants or the racially oppressed. We must guard ourselves against the tendency to care only about those justice issues that are most comfortable for us. We must care for and defend all human life.
4. Focus on the Family is doing some encouraging and important work.
I have always been aware of Focus on the Family. I used to listen to Adventures in Odyssey on the radio as a kid. I certainly knew about the ministry of Dr. James Dobson, but I had never really followed the work of Focus on the Family since Jim Daly became its president in 2005. In fact, I didn’t really realize until recently that Dr. Dobson was no longer president. From what I saw at the conference, Jim Daly is doing important work with Focus on the Family.
I was also challenged and encouraged by Kelly Rosati, Focus’ vice president of Advocacy for Children. She oversees some of the ministries that were highlighted at the conference such as their Adoption and Orphan Care Initiative and Operation Ultrasound. Operation Ultrasound helps place ultrasound machines in pregnancy care centers in areas with high abortion rates. Since 2004, Option Ultrasound has saved an estimated 390,000 precious lives! $336,000 was raised during the conference for this ministry. You can still give by clicking the link in the tweet below.
We are praising God for the news that $336,000 was raised for pregnancy centers and ultrasound machines today! #EFL2018
Give to the cause: https://t.co/crw94A7EdF
— ERLC (@ERLC) January 20, 2018
I had a great time at the conference and hope to attend again sometime. I hope to get a post up soon with some reflections on my first March for Life.
Videos from some of the sessions are still available on the ERLC Facebook page. If you are going to choose just one to watch, I recommend this testimony from Eric Brown. Make sure you have a box of tissues ready. Eric and his wife found out at 20 weeks that their baby was diagnosed with alobar holoprosencephaly (HPE), a neural disease with low chances of survival. Despite a grim prognosis and a doctor’s encouragement to induce labor and end the pregnancy, the Browns opted to embrace life and hope. They decided to carry Baby Pearl to term. Eric shares his testimony about how his daughter Pearl has changed his life.