Since February 13th, patients at our Augusta health center have had to pass the gauntlet of protesters just to get their health care needs met.
The 40 Days website claims the protests are dedicated to “prayer and fasting… peaceful vigil… community outreach.” As someone who was raised in a church-going family, those words appeal to me. I have family members who continue to profess their Christian faith by attending church regularly and doing things like visiting nursing home patients and donating money to charity. They live good, solid lives of faith and truth and mercy. They have my utmost respect.
At no time has any one of my family members tried to harass another person into following their beliefs, wielding their religion like a weapon to hurt others.
Because of the way they live their faith, my family members and I have been able to have conversations about abortion and the work of the FPA. These have been respectful sharing experiences — opportunities for us to learn more about each other and where we stand on issues that matter to us. We don’t agree in our stance on abortion. But we have agreed to respect each others’ experiences, opinions and value systems. We do not stand in judgment of each other. We leave that to whatever greater power each of us believes in. I’m not alone in this experience. Other FPA staff members have found ways to communicate about their work with their families.
My experience of what it means to be Christian differs greatly from what I see the 40 Days protesters doing outside our gates.
In my opinion, Christians do not yell, “Baby killer!” at people who work in health centers, even if they don’t like the services being provided.
Also, Christians do not purposefully put their own small children in harm’s way, as we saw some of the 40 Days protesters doing last week. The Augusta police had to be called to make them move their toddlers away from the entrance to our parking lot, where they were dangerously close to approaching cars.
Lastly, in my mind, Christians leave the act of passing judgment to the Higher Power of their faith.
I much prefer the approach of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an organization whose aim is to “lift the national dialogue over abortion and birth control, from blame and judgment to understanding and wholeness.”
I’d love to hear about the experience of other families that have respectfully, successfully broached the subject of abortion and reproductive rights from differing perspectives. Do you have a story to share?