Dear pro-choice advocates,
The other day I attended the funeral of a beautiful baby girl. I watched as the grieving family prepared to say goodbye to their tiny daughter, and I know that everyone present was weeping with them.
And yet, none of us, not even her own mother, had ever seen her alive. She had passed away inexplicably just a few hours before she was born. Yet somehow, we all felt her loss as keenly as though we had known her.
Later that day I attended a pro-life banquet, of all things. There was a special guest in attendance: a little girl who had been scheduled for termination by abortion and had been spared because her mother found the counselling and support she needed from the ministry across the street from the clinic. I burst into tears when they introduced her, and when I looked around the hall I could see that I wasn't the only one.
In both these cases, I saw not just a baby, a cluster of cells, or the "product of conception", but a story, a whole life meant to be lived. I felt the excruciating loss of the first and glimpsed the spectacular blossoming of the second.
And this... this is why I am pro-life.
I cannot speak for all pro-lifers, for I know that some are only pro-life for political reasons. Others may promote their message in hatred and violence. A great many are pro-life in creed but not in action.
But for myself, and for the many pro-life advocates that I personally know, we are not pro-life because we are somehow opposed to a woman's free choice. It is not even just because we believe that every person, regardless of age, environment, or ability, has the right to life—although that forms the core and foundation of our belief. We are pro-life because we see, long before it becomes obvious, that even the smallest human being has a life worth living. That no matter how bad a situation they have been conceived into, they deserve the opportunity to live their story. And more than that, we see that their story does not exist within a vacuum, but is inextricably connected to the stories of countless other people—not least of which is their mother and father. Abortion is not just the removal of inconvenient tissue but the tearing away of a million beautiful threads of an unrepeatable story.
So you may not understand our position, but I just want you to know... We truly do grieve the loss of every child, wanted or unwanted, and we truly do want to see all families blossom and grow into the very best kind of story.
I apologize on behalf of all my fellow pro-lifers for the ways that we have failed. For the lives we did not fight for, the support we have not given, the prayers we have not offered up. We are trying to do better. We must do better.
We live in a culture of memes and mic drops, where witty little quips are supposed to end the debate and silence the other side. That is not what this letter is. On the contrary, I pray that with real dialogue and a genuine desire to understand the other side, we can begin to build a world where women are free to choose but that choice never means a baby has to die. A world where "pro-choice" is synonymous with "pro-life", because, in the end, we ought to be pro-human: man, woman, and child.
With love and hope,
When a mutual friend contacted me about doing this painting for the family, there was no hesitation. Even though I had just a couple days to finish it before the funeral, there was such a flood of grace that the process was almost effortless. The short timeline meant that I had to surrender much of my usual perfectionism, and it was completed in less than 24 hours.
I would like to thank the family for allowing me to share this painting. I will never forget the moment I gave it to you. You have been in my prayers constantly since I heard the news. I ask my readers to please pray for them too.
If you would like to see the making of this painting, watch the time-lapse video embedded below. The beautiful piano music is an original composition by my brother, Levi Mallett. (He's ridiculously talented and I'm still trying to convince him to send me more.)
Watch the time-lapse video of “Johanna Grace”
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Thank you and God bless!