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No, Personal Experience With Abortion Is Not Disqualifying

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Ben Gray

I’ve worked in the pro-life movement for 32 years. I live in Georgia. I’m going to vote for the pro-life candidate, Herschel Walker. I’ll vote for him knowing full well that he has been accused of paying for an abortion in his past. And no, doing so as a Christian pro-life leader, is not “repugnant hypocrisy.”


My role in the pro-life movement has been to help pastors, and by extension, communities of churches, respond to the moral crisis of abortion by establishing pregnancy help medical clinics, that rescue the innocent, one mother at a time.

Like most people, my involvement in politics is limited to voting. Given the binary choice in our elections, the one who acknowledges that intentionally killing innocent babies in the womb is morally wrong, gets my vote.

Did Walker pay for an abortion in his distant past? Maybe he did and maybe he didn't. Either way, how does his behavior refute the pro-life argument that it’s wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings, regardless their stage of development or degree of dependency?

What’s more, to out Walker or anyone’s past personal experience with abortion, and to shame me into thinking that this ought to disqualify them from my support, is to fundamentally misunderstand me and most of the pro-life community.

The glory of the pro-life movement, the thing that makes me most proud to serve in it, is that it is full of people who testify, “I regret my abortion” or, “I regret paying for an abortion.” This does not make us a movement of hypocrites; it makes us a movement of converts.

After 50 years of legal abortion, it’s not shocking that abortion is a part of most people’s personal history. For many, the shame and regret are real and painful. The desire to keep it a secret is understandable. Our drive as a movement arises out of the biological truth that human life begins at conception. But our growth as a movement comes from helping those who’ve fallen on the battlefield of abortion, experience God’s forgiveness and stand for life going forward.


Scandalous? Not really. It was the former slaver, John Newton, converted by what he called the “Amazing Grace” of God, who helped expose the inhumanity of the slave trade. So today, it is people who humbly and tearfully say, “I regret my abortion,” who demonstrate the amazing grace and restorative power at work in our movement. We are full of people who say with Newton, “I once was lost, but now am found; I was blind but now I see.”

Such converts are not just members of the pro-life movement, they are leaders of it. Among them, till his passing, was Dr Bernard Nathanson. He performed an abortion on his own child. He founded what today is known as NARAL Pro-Choice America. But he rejected it all when he saw the humanity of the unborn child through ultrasound. Past became prologue. Welcomed into the pro-life movement, he dedicated himself to exposing the inhumanity of abortion. As he served beside us, he came to experience God’s forgiveness in Christ. If he had run for office as a pro-life candidate, some might say, “What a hypocrite!” I would say, “What a victory!”

Today’s emerging leaders include my co-worker, Jeanne Pernia. She helped start an abortion business in Miami 45 years ago. Today, her old abortion office operates as a pregnancy help clinic. She’s had a hand in helping over 15,000 mothers in a pregnancy-related crisis find life-affirming help.

If you want to persuade people like me not to vote for Walker, stop pointing out his alleged past involvement with abortion as disqualifying. It’s not. Stop trying to shame us as hypocrites for voting for flawed people who are seeking to defend the innocent. Understand that we are fundamentally a movement of converts. We did not always see things clearly. We were told that abortion means choice. Choice is another word for freedom. Who can be against freedom? That was as far as our thinking went. By painful experience, when not by clear moral reasoning, we came to grasp the moral evil of abortion. Not always, but now, we stand for life. Whatever is in Walker’s past, if his present life is committed to peacefully, winsomely, persuasively, and courageously speaking up for the unborn child until their full humanity is acknowledged and respected, he gets my vote.


John Ensor is president of PassionLife, where he trains Christian leaders in biblical bioethics and pregnancy crisis intervention in countries suffering the highest rates of abortion worldwide. He is the author of Innocent Blood: Challenging the Powers of Death with the Gospel of Life and lives in Roswell, GA.


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