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Both Sides in the Abortion Battle See Changes Wrought by Coronavirus Pandemic

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The war over abortion hasn’t ceased because of the ongoing pandemic. While it's brought new challenges to abortion opponents, it’s also provided opportunities to save more babies.

The Heritage Foundation brought pro-life activists from very different worlds together for a webinar this week to see how the pandemic is either hurting or helping their cause.

Brian Fisher’s Human Coalition for the past decade has been working to change the minds of women planning to get abortions and has had growing success talking them out of it.

“In 2010, by God’s grace we rescued 15 children from abortion,” Fisher told the webinar. “Last year, we rescued 4,124 children from abortion.”

Human Coalition had ministered to almost 16,000 women in the six weeks before the COVID-19 lockdown forced the organization to close the doors of its seven brick-and-mortar pregnancy centers and just go to phones and internet via its call center and two telehealth pregnancy centers.

Maybe Face-to-Face One-on-One Isn’t as Necessary as Pro-Lifers Thought

“In the six weeks afterward, that call volume jumped almost 24,000, a 48 percent increase in calls from women who were in some sort of crisis,” Fisher stated. “And in that market that is high at risk to abort -- those women who have already made the decision to abort, who are attempting to find an abortion, and we want to intervene and have a loving, compassionate conversation – that population jumped 20 percent in the same timeframe.”

Those jumps really surprised Fisher and his colleagues, and he explained why.

“We had originally assumed that that relationship would have to be formed face-to-face in a traditional office setting," he said. "And we’ve discovered that with the millennial generation, which is typically the generation that is at risk to abort, that face-to-face interaction just doesn’t have the same priority that it probably does for you and me.”

But Fisher said it makes sense when you realize the faster you can get an abortion-minded woman help to move her from that decision, the more often she’ll decide to save her baby.

“In a traditional way of serving women, the time when a call comes in and she can visit with a nurse is in hours or in days," he explained. "If you’re in a virtual environment, a telehealth environment where your nurses are on phones or on chat literally right next to your call agents, then that time is measured in just seconds.   And so we’ve seen a drastic increase in the life decision rate.”

Melanie Israel, the Heritage Foundation’s moderator for the webinar, then said to Fisher of Human Coalition’s work, “Yesterday you tweeted that 12 babies were rescued from abortion, bringing that to a total of 16,414 babies rescued to date.”

Talking Women Into At-Home Abortions with No Doctor Involved

On another front, though, doing everything over the internet during these lockdown days is giving abortion activists a chance to push for abortion pills being mailed straight to women, bypassing doctors.

“And Planned Parenthood’s Acting CEO Alexis McGill Johnson calls this ‘the silver lining of the pandemic,’” said Katie Glenn of Americans United for Life, an organization opposing these kinds of abortions.

Glenn pointed out few doctors want to perform abortions, which puts abortion proponents in a bind.   

As Glenn put it, “If your position is abortion everywhere without delay, you’ve got to solve the problem of making that possible when most doctors won’t participate.   And so what they’re seeking is you and a stranger who you’re talking to through your iPhone.”

But if these pills-at-home abortions become commonplace and unregulated, Glenn insisted many more women will be harmed.

“Chemical abortion is completely unsafe at home," she said. "There’s no possible way to make this safe.”

“So it’s a clear case of abortionists prioritizing the convenience and cost-saving of at-home abortion over the safety and lives of women," Glenn concluded. 

First Amendment is Not on a Furlough

On the legal front, some pro-life sidewalk counselors outside abortion clinics have been arrested for breaking social distancing restrictions. Even as the religious rights legal group Alliance Defending Freedom has been fighting for the right of states to restrict abortions during the pandemic, it’s also been battling for the First Amendment rights of those pro-life counselors.   

ADF’s Ken Connelly said of the First Amendment, “That doesn’t go on a permanent furlough just because there’s a proclamation from the county related to COVID-19.”

He added, “If you’re going to tell people that they can’t leave their homes and they can’t assemble and they can’t speak, then you can certainly put reasonable restrictions on abortion.”

Law enforcement officers in Charlotte, NC, recently arrested one group of pro-life sidewalk counselors, but Connelly pointed out their outreach with an ultrasound unit still saved lives.

The Life-Saving Goes On

“They spent about three hours in jail that Saturday. And as far as the good news on that, one woman was seen in their mobile care unit, had an ultrasound and decided to keep the baby, and another woman as well – I don’t think she was in the mobile unit – she decided to keep the baby as well as a result of the people out there that day," he said.  

Fisher also spoke of a recent unborn life that Human Coalition had a part in helping save. Rachel had come to them saying she had to get an abortion because every single circumstance in her life was driving her to it.

“We were able to connect her to Medicaid, a doctor referral, other agencies to assist her with her current children, dental appointments, further housing resources, childcare,” Fisher said. “And because of the tangible care and outreach that the pro-life movement is providing, Rachel chose life for her child.”

So even as the pandemic goes on, so do pro-life efforts to save the unborn. 


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About The Author


As a freelance reporter for CBN's Jerusalem bureau and during 27 years as senior correspondent in CBN's Washington bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, government, and God’s providential involvement in our world. Strand began his tenure at CBN News in 1985 as an evening assignment editor in Washington, D.C. After a year, he worked with CBN Radio News for three years, returning to the television newsroom to accept a position as a senior editor in 1990. Strand moved back to the nation's capital in 1995 and then to