Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Open Letter to My Friend, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, Regarding the Use of Graphic Images

Why this picture? Because why not?
Dear Troy,

Two weeks ago before filming our January episode of LifeTalk, a particular gauntlet was thrown down. In case you've forgotten, let me refresh your memory: Mark Crutcher said we might have time to discuss the use of graphic images on the show, at which point he looked over at me (seeing as I was the only person in the room against their use) and in true Mark Crutcher fashion smirked because he knew he'd basically just fed me to the wolves. You then replied by asking if I was indeed against their use, and when I responded "yes" you said, and I quote, "I'm going to make you cry like a little baby and beg everyone here for forgiveness for thinking that way."

While it was said in jest (mostly) I won't lie, I was rather intimidated. Which is why I then went on to completely bomb during our taping since the entire time rather than focusing on our round table topics I was preparing my points, oh, and picturing you, sir, crying like a little baby. And it was awesome. However, we ran out of time and it'll be two more months until we have the chance to discuss this on LifeTalk so I've decided to challenge you to an online debate.

Because, after all, everyone knows all the world's problems will be solved on the internet.

Here's how this will work- I'll go first, and then if you choose to accept this challenge I will post your reply unedited in this same blog post (get one of your grandkids to explain what that means if you don't understand).

If you choose not to reply, I can only assume it's because you've become so overwhelmed by tears you're unable to functionally operate a keyboard since your complete wrongness on this issue has crushed your spirit and you can no longer hold your head up to see what you are typing.

Okay, so enough yammering. Here is why I do not believe in using giant pictures of aborted babies outside of abortion clinics:

More than being anti-graphic images, I am pro what works and I do not believe these are the most effective weapons pro-lifers have in their arsenal. (note to NSA: that was just a metaphor.)

If you talk to the people who are out on the sidewalks, having multiple saves a week, you will find that one of the most powerful resources they have are mobile sonogram units. I don't know why, but when these women going in for abortions see "Malachi" or the other precious babies whose mothers chose abortion, they are not seeing what you and I are seeing. However, when they see sonograms of their own living, thriving babies inside their wombs they change their minds. And they're doing this at an insanely awesome rate.

In order to understand why that's the case, we must understand where these (often young) women are coming from, and I do. I've been sixteen and pregnant, and terrified out of my mind. You're running on pure emotion and a burst of hormones when facing a crisis pregnancy, and honestly you need real answers. Real resources. Real help. You need to know it is possible for you to have your child without your whole life being flip upside down. And if the sidewalk counselors standing out there offering those very resources cannot get that message across in the seconds they have while that woman is pulling into the parking lot and walking into the clinic, then odds are that young woman will feel like abortion is her only option.

Which brings me to my next point: You cannot fight fear with fear. What emotions women feel when seeing these images will likely shape her next steps. If they induce feelings of disgust and anger, she will contrast that with how she feels inside the clinic. I know most of the individuals who use graphic signs on the sidewalks are out there to let the women know exactly what they're doing and face the truth of abortion before they make a choice that cannot be undone. Unfortunately, what it comes across as to a majority of these women is condemnation. They have already been warned about the "mean and nasty pro-lifers" when they made their appointment on the phone, and so when they see you, they turn away. You've successfully made the most dangerous place in the world seem like a safe haven as they rush in the doors of that abortion clinic. 

To truly understand this, please, please, please talk to as many post abortive women as you can. The ones who are now pro-life are such a vital wealth of knowledge to us. They have spent countless hours thinking about the biggest mistake they've ever made; wondering what would've caused them to change their mind... knowing what didn't. I've talked to so many who have said they would not walk up to someone holding a sign in a million years. And I've also talked to others who desperately wished someone would've been out there offering them an alternative.

Now, this next part is going to sound harsh and I've really debated whether not to even include this in my argument but I truly believe some of the people out there with their bullhorns and grim reaper costumes need to hear it. I have been called a coward many times for not supporting the use of graphic images, as if this were all about placating the masses or winning popularity contests with pro-choicers. But to put it bluntly, I think many of the people (not all, but some) who are holding up these 8ft. signs of aborted babies are using them as a cop out, whether they know it or not. I'm not saying they aren't good people, but when you basically have a giant sign in front of you shielding you from the very women in crisis you're trying to help, I have to wonder if you care more about actually saving them and their children, or simply checking the "did pro-life work today" box. In my experience, it is much harder to engage an abortion minded woman in a life or death conversation (knowing she might still choose abortion) which will leave you tossing and turning at night wondering what you could've said differently, than it is to hold a sign up for a few hours on a sidewalk and deflect a few one finger salutes. That method is outdated and I firmly believe it costing us lives. Don't get me wrong, I admire the passion and willingness to be out there when so many others refuse to speak up for the unborn but it's time everyone steps it up a notch. Do you want to save babies or not? Do you want to help scared, confused women avoid one of the worst mistakes they'll ever make? If so, then it's time to work smarter. I'm sick of hearing, "Well, we saved 10 babies last year with graphic signs." What if you could've saves a thousand? It's time we join together and find out what works best, and what doesn't work at all and is driving women into these clinics.

Sidewalk counselors will tell you it is exponentially harder to get a woman to come over to the fence or sidewalk if there is someone standing nearby with a large graphic sign. And these same counselors employ smaller graphics themselves in their handouts, but when they are vulgarly displayed by someone pacing back and forth it completely obliterates that tool. See, sidewalk counselors realize one key thing that we all need to understand: The conversation that goes along with these images is VITAL. A precious child gave it's life for that image and we need to respect the power it holds.

When someone sees one of these pictures and it is not put into context, and it's not part of a discussion where a foundation of trust has already been laid, the viewer is left to figure out your motives all on their own. I can tell you, nine times out of ten, they assume you're only doing it out of judgement & condemnation. That is why people flip you off as they drive by... not because they hate "seeing the truth," but because they think you're a self-righteous a-hole.

Now Troy, I know that you yourself were converted by a graphic image in your twenties, so I look forward to your rebuttal. Also, please note I'm only discussing the use of graphic images outside of the abortion clinics here, not on college campuses or on trucks driving around town. Although you can bet I have pretty strong opinions about those too. ;)

P.S. Let me know if you need me to ship you some Kleenex. 

Your friend (who loves you enough to tell you when she thinks you're super wrong),


Troy's Response...
Updated 3:20pm 1/17/14

Dear Destiny,

I am going to accept your offer to ship me a box of Kleenex. I keep a box on my desk, and I regularly take them with me for outreaches at abortion clinics, colleges, and virtually every place we display the pictures of the victims of abortion. I use the Kleenex to wipe away the tears I shed for the millions of helpless children who have been violently murdered by a society that views abortion as a political topic to be callously debated at the polls.

I understand very well why you don't like the images, Destiny; because I don't like them either.  These victims’ photographs are heartbreaking. In fact, if anyone could view the photographic evidence of abortion and not feel emotionally pressed then I would suggest taking their pulse, because they obviously lack a heart.

So, please, send me a case of Kleenex. I need them. I need them because I’ve personally held the tiny remains of babies recovered from the trash cans of abortion mills. My heart is broken for those precious babies. I have also read the autopsy results and seen the autopsy photographs of mothers who died on the abortion table. More heartache and tears.

And I know that you know this.  You undoubtedly know that abortion is not an abstract idea without real consequences. It is more deadly than Fukushima; it has been more effective in genocide than Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini combined. You could add in the deaths of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and the Iraq war and still not get close to the 55 million corpses created by the Abortion Cartel.

And that Abortion Cartel – the bad guys in this fight – never had to flee the righteous indignation that once engulfed this country over slavery and the Axis powers.  Instead, these hired assassins just set up their death chambers on Main Street, USA, and started basking in the power of the White House, the political elite, and the mass media. The Abortion Cartel is defended by every enforcement agency with an acronym – FBI, ATF, NSA, SWAT, IRS…. And you and I?  Well, we fund the human carnage, as the United States Treasury (aka, your tax dollars) dumps truckloads of money into the coffers of the death dealers.

While the murder mills churn out dead children like a coal plant spits out carbon-dioxide, spineless politicians place abortion on the same level as a tax cut, building a school, or some other throwaway item to be debated in the next election cycle (if we are lucky enough for them to mention it at all).

Oh, and what about the people of faith and good conscience? You know, the ones who darken the halls of our local churches, synagogues, and houses of God? Yeah, those guys can't be troubled with "divisive issues.”  They don't have the stomach to talk about, let alone do anything about, the human carnage taking place just a few blocks from their houses of worship. They are too busy being nice, and liked, and not making waves. (I believe there is a special place in hell for those sorts of hypocrites.)  And, to make it worse, some of these so-called men and women of god actually "sanction," "bless," and "endorse" the inhuman act of tearing babies heads from their torsos. One such church, Presbyterian Church (USA), has a General Assembly that voted to "endorse" the grotesque act of partial birth abortion. Time and words will not permit me to tell of the apostasy of denominations like ELCA, United Methodists, and Episcopal “churches.” (The parable of the Good Samaritan hits directly on this point. How many leaders pass on the other side of the road as victims cry out for help?)

To recap, the majority of the people in the United States view abortion as just one issue of many. For them, abortion is just an abstract and theoretical idea with minimal consequences. Unfortunately, many pro-lifers have adopted a similar faulty concept – that somehow abortion ought to be fought but not defeated, that abortion, although bad, is not a ghoulish evil of unspeakable proportions.

Abortion is not an "issue.” It’s a baby that once had a beautiful beating heart, but was then hacked to death and tossed into our landfills – or sold to a death-starved medical research company to be used for Island of Dr. Moreau-like experiments.

My point, Destiny, is while the babies’ bodies stack up like cord wood and the enemies of the children surround us at every turn, how can we, as true advocates of these babies, fail to use every tool we have at our disposal to end the slaughter? We need all hands on deck, and every able-bodied person using all their gifts and abilities to fight this war to its conclusion.

Viewing the results of abortion is upsetting; it will make you nauseous. The images are so disturbing, in fact, that the purveyors of death who can debate "choice," or even the abstract idea, are immediately defeated every single time the objective images of the children physically paying for their "choice" are displayed.

Consequently, the death merchants and their minions go to extreme measures to silence their tiny voices that speak from the grave. I have been falsely arrested, sued and even had my Truth Trucks illegally impounded for displaying victim imagery.

Just this week, I was in Los Angles testifying at a trial over why we use such graphic pictures. A few years ago, the lighting crew of Jimmy Kimmel's show was doing an outside taping while we were on Hollywood Boulevard. The crew and the police decided they did not want to see the truth of abortion, so they turned their powerful spotlights on our youth group. Our kids suffered burns and one of our members was falsely arrested. But, this week the advocates of death were forced to re-see the truth and paid a dear price as they paid a huge sum of money to settle the case.  The sweetest point, however, wasn’t the win.  It was when the defendants openly wept for the babies and prayed with us, even after they lost the lawsuit. For them, the pictures took abortion from a political pawn to an objective horror and our defeated opponents vowed to cease their apathetic path.

You see, Destiny, the abortion victim images have the unique power to change hearts and minds with just a glance.  The reason polls reflect that pro-life sentiment is increasing is largely due to the widespread use of the imagery. My personal experience has been that thousands upon thousands of people have converted to our side simply by viewing these images. I have spent the better part of the last 20 years displaying and advocating for the use of such photography. Like Able, whose blood called to God from the ground, the abortion victims have something to say from the grave.

Using pictures of postnatal children, or cute sonogram pictures, simply do not have the same impact on people. Even the proaborts agree that a live baby is good. Equally true: a dead baby is bad.  However, with every photo of that dead child the hypocrisy of the death supporters is immediately exposed and crushed.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, these pictures are worth more than the countless words on countless reams of pro-life literature that have been written in the last 40 years. There is simply no better way to communicate the objective truth that abortion is a vile evil.

So, Destiny, don't join hands with those who advocate for death by silencing the cries of the victims. Let the victims speak, so that we can end the killing. Don't give in to the lie of being "nice" or not wanting to "hurt feelings." And, if you or anyone else is upset by the photos, then go ahead and grab some Kleenex and weep.  But then, stand up and renew your strength, and fight this battle to win it.  

My response: 
Updated 4:48pm 1/19/14

Brought to you by Kleenex.
...really wish we would've worked out a product placement deal with them.

Troy, I know you’re a very busy man and when you’re not getting arrested for something badass, you’re flying somewhere badass. So thanks for taking the time to engage in this debate.

That said, I want to make two things very clear right off the bat:

1.) This will be my last rebuttal. Blog posts are only meant to go on so long, and as I said, I know you have more important things to do with your time than argue with me on the internets. (…and oh yeah, I kinda have some childrens to be raise’n myself.)

2.) I adore you, Troy. You’re an amazing leader and embody everything that makes a dude rad: Charismatic, Charming, and fightin’ for the bebes. Nothing you do comes from a place of selfishness or malcontent. Your heart’s in the right place, and there is no bad blood between us.

That said, I’ve been dreading your rebuttal for weeks now, because before I begin any argument I flesh out all of my own weaknesses. “What are the best points they could be made against my argument”, “how will I respond to x, y, & z?” And so I was all ready for something addressing the issue of graphic images outside of abortion clinics, but instead you addressed their use in general and it kinda threw me off. I felt like it was somewhat emotional and rather abstract. And while I appreciate the lesson in graphic signs 101, I don't know that it actually addressed any of my true concerns. 

If I were you, I would’ve started with the reason why you, personally, support graphic signs. I hinted to your conversion story in my original post and I think that plays a key role.

I don’t have the audacity to claim I know the full story but I believe it went something like this- You were in your mid-twenties and someone showed you an image of an aborted child. Immediately the blinders came off and you saw abortion for what it truly was and from that day on you committed to putting an end to it.

That is noble. I commend the person who showed you that image. They’ve made an impact on the movement far more than they will probably even know. And so you rightly assume if it worked on you, why would it not work on others in the exact same way?

I think our own personal experiences (mine included) are what make this debate so emotional. I say that because you are not alone. Over the past few weeks I have been bombarded with (mostly) men and women who’ve disagreed with my initial post on this blog and claimed to have similar experiences. It’s as though they feel personally attacked, and like I’m saying I wish they never would’ve seen the light, or that I don’t think those babies they saved through this method are valuable.

That is absolutely not true.

I say, “Heck Yeah! That is awesome!” everytime I hear of anything working because I spend a pretty huge chunk of my time trying to open people’s eyes to the reality of abortion so I’m totally pumped whenever (and however) it happens. I merely want us to be as efficient as possible in our efforts.

These signs are basically the napalm of our movement. For all the good they do I feel they do just as much bad.

(I know a lot of you just tried to punch your computer. I’m very sorry. Please go get some ice for your fist then come back and try to hear what I’m actually saying. We accuse the people who blow past graphic signs without any consideration of being callous and closed minded, so we must be better than that ourselves. Truly attempt to hear what I’m saying. It is not a personal attack, as I know we are all on the same side. I just want you to consider a different perspective.)

I want what works. Bottom line. I want us to work smarter and not harder. While graphic images certainly have worked in the past, I think it’s time to take an honest account of the affect they are having now. We don’t have the luxury of using techniques that we “think” might…. probably…. sort of work… sometimes. That’s certainly not what Planned Parenthood is doing. They are researching what works and readapting constantly. We must be saving more women and children from abortion than we did last month, last year, and last decade. We have to be growing and reassessing just like our opposition.

Now Troy, since you opened the door to us discussing their use in general, and not just at the clinics, I will address that as well.

What was necessary in ’73 when we had subpar sonogram equipment and little access to fetal development information might have been these images. But now, I firmly believe they are turning more hearts against us than for us.

How do I know that? Because I know the men and women who drive by you and flip the bird or scream obscenities out their windows. I know the women who said they blew past such demonstrations at the clinic or snuck in a different way to avoid them all together. I study these women and because so many are friends of mine they allow me to pick their brains about exactly what those signs made them think and feel.

Last week I posed this question on my facebook. I’m blessed to be a writer here in Dallas, so my professional network is made up of vastly different opinions, and most are highly intelligent and thoughtful people. They have considered their stance on this issue thoroughly and so I knew they would be able to articulate their thoughts rather well.

Right off the bat this was brought up by a few of the women.

I found that very interesting, as I had not ever correlated our graphic images with theirs.

Just for fun, think about what you would do if you saw someone holding that infamous black and white picture of the woman folded over bleeding out on the floor from a DIY at-home abortion. Would your heart immediately break for her? Would you go up and ask the sign holder to tell you more about the image? Or would your first thought be, “That’s what she gets.” Be honest. Not with me, but with yourself. Images that abrasive and intense are too much for our brains to handle. They scare us, and rather than feeling fear which we deem a weakness, we get angry.

We must realize, when pro-choicers are seeing our signs, they’re having the exact same experience just in reverse. That’s why we get “F*** YOU!”’s rather than broken hearts coming to us for honest dialogue.  

I went on to ask what she would do if she saw one of these signs while driving with her daughter. (I often try to imagine the discussions that go on in cars as the truth trucks drive by since there is no opportunity for dialogue). Here was her response, because she had actually experienced such a situation.

The whole thread is still up on my facebook page if you feel like reading through 150+ pretty interesting comments, but I would encourage you to have your own discussions with the pro-choice friends. It’s so incredibly eye opening, and will ultimately help us fight this battle better.

So when it comes to images being used away from the clinic I will just say this- there’s a huge difference between “looking” and “seeing.” As Oswald Chambers so wisely said, “Eyes that look are common; eyes that see are rare.” You have a responsibility when showing victims of abortion to make sure people actually see their humanity, otherwise, like I said, it’s merely napalm scourging the hearts of many, rather than igniting change.

Finally, I want to focus specifically on images being used at the clinic again, by mentioning one of the fastest growing demographics when it comes to abortion: Women who already have children.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Women who already know exactly what that tiny little 8-week, 10-week, 12-week fetus will become in just a few months, are still choosing to abort. Women who know they are terminating not only a child but also a sibling, are still choosing to abort. Women who were at one point delighted and fascinated by their “What’s new with your baby this week” e-mails throughout their previous pregnancy are still choosing to abort. That means there’s a cold hard fact we need to face: They aren’t aborting because they do not know that child is a human being… they are aborting because even though they do, they are that desperate.

If we truly want to end abortion--and save babies--we need to do what works best, and most consistently by going after the root cause of it- fear. With help and resources for these women in need they will be able to consider other options. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is speak gently in love when all we want to do is scream out for justice. I know that. But it’s not about us, is it? It’s about them, and what we can do to keep those women from making the biggest mistake of their lives, and their precious children safe from harm.

Again, I admire all that you do Troy (as well as all of my other amazing pro-life friends who disagree with me here). I only ask you to consider what I’m saying and really take it to heart.

If you have anything else to say, the last word is yours.  Just send it to me when you get around to it and I’ll post it immediately.

For Life,

Troy's Response:
posted 1/30/14

Men talking about graphic images.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

We MUST Speak The Truth In Love...

Because calling a woman a "whore" will only drive her to abort, you guys. 

...And yes, I did pretend like I worked for the FBI while I was redacting the names in this screenshot.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Making A Case For Deadbeat Dads

Parenting is hard. Choosing to raise another human being for the next 18-years, to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate them is not something that can be done half heartedly, or at least it shouldn't be.

Since 1973, any time a woman in this country has found herself facing an unplanned pregnancy, she has been able to abort her child. She's had the right to cut all ties to her offspring. She's been legally able to terminate any responsibility that comes with motherhood.

We live in a very contradictory nation when radical feminists, who can often be heard demanding equality, support the unfair right of women to be able to opt out of parenthood. When a woman does "choose" not to become a parent we're told it's a liberating act, but when a man chooses the very same thing, somehow it's considered cowardly.

Now, of all the people making a case for deadbeat dads, it probably shouldn't be me considering I've had two. Let me explain. My mother became pregnant with me at the University of Texas in Austin a decade after Roe made it legal for her to kill me. Lord knows that would've been the easiest, and some might even say most "responsible" option. She had a promising future, and minister parents she was going to have to face with a less than an immaculate conception. But she knew whatever "choices" there were to be made up ahead, I was not one of them. I was very much alive and there was no taking that back.

My grandfather had one very brief conversation with my biological father while I was still no bigger than a lemon. "Either marry my daughter," he said, "or leave and let her get on with her life." He chose the latter, and for years I resented my grandfather for doing that. Who was he to force such a drastic ultimatum on the man who had helped to create me?

My biological father saw me one time when I was two weeks old, commented on how long my eyelashes were, and that was it. There were no birthday cards, or long distance phone calls. I never saw him again.

Growing up, I fantasizes about being a professional golfer, because my mother used to mention how much he liked golf. I remember thinking that maybe, just maybe, if I made it big in the LPGA he'd want to be my dad then. Since obviously the only reason he took off was because of my grandfather.

Then, 16 later I found myself in an almost identical situation, dashing all hopes of a professional golf career. I was pregnant with a child, while still very much a child myself. That's when my boyfriend became the second deadbeat dad in my life. For the first two years he was completely AWOL. I remember people would say, just wait until he sees this beautiful little boy, there’s no way he could not immediately fall in love him with. I knew better though. Unlike my biological father he kind of came around once our son was a toddler and popped in and out of our lives just enough to confuse him. Eventually I was able to get child support payments garnished from his paychecks, more out of spite than need though. I wanted him to know this child existed and was his responsibility, but the State made it insanely difficult to actually reinforce such a notion. Plus, all signs were pointing to the fact that his heart was truly not into parenting, and nothing was going to change that.

Finally I realized it was best to let him go... let him out of all responsibility, much like my biological father, and move on with my life. 

Most of the time when it comes to unplanned pregnancies, this is the case. Who knew sex could lead to the creation of a new life? Or my new favorite, "But I was on birth control, this isn't my fault!" And so often these scared, na├»ve, and unprepared men and women choose to abort. We’ve all heard the story of the guy who tells her "just now’s not really the right time," or the girl who wants to experience college without a baby to look after. For many, abortion is the perfect get-out-of-jail-free-card. In a world that seems to have consequences for everything, we've managed to find a loophole that only costs one innocent life.

Sometimes however, women choose not to abort, and that decision must be respected as well. However, thanks to a society that's been conveniently killing children for the last 40 years, that baby is still just as much a choice to some as it is a child to others. We’re seeing an increase in men who think this way. “How come she gets to decide whether or not I become a parent?”

So here's where I make my case for deadbeat dads. As someone who has suffered at the hands of their choices not once but twice, and watched my son suffer as well, I still believe they are not the ones who should fully be to blame for this mindset. They are making the exact same choice many women, 55 million to be exact, have made, in the US alone, since 1973. Except in their case, when they choose to leave their responsibilities behind, at least their child is still allowed to live.

As a nation, it baffles me how we can celebrate the woman’s choice but so completely demonize the man’s, when ultimately it’s one and the same. And then it hit me - it’s all about money. Because it always is, right? The woman who aborts because she’s not ready, and probably not financially stable, is paying a small amount up front that will potentially save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in social services in years to come. The male who abandons his pregnant counterpart is instead costing the taxpayer just that. In both cases, a child who was created by no fault of their own quickly becomes the bane of this nation’s existence worthy of death or destitution. But since children sleeping on cardboard mats in the streets would look bad on us, we simply root for them to be killed in their mother's womb.

Bottomline, until we learn to respect the humanity of ALL human beings- at every stage- we seldom respect the role of any human being. We will not view their struggles with compassion, we will only see what a burden they are on others and we will continue to dehumanize humans for our own selfish gain... men and women alike.