Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
Sometimes the reasons people become pro-life can sound...flimsy? I bring this up because there was some questioning about Donald Trump's commitment to the pro-life cause. Personally I have no confidence in his pro-life credentials at all but I was thinking that sometimes when I'd heard others explain their pro-life conversion, they seemed a little...unimpressive.
Here's Trump's conversion a la The Weekly Standard:
In 1999, Tim Russert asked Trump if he would support a ban on "abortion in the third-trimester" or "partial-birth abortion." "No," Trump replied. "I am pro-choice in every respect." Trump explained his views may be the result of his "New York background." Now that Ted Cruz has attacked Trump's "New York values," Trump's views on abortion will be getting a second look by many Republican voters.
During the first Republican presidential debate, Trump explained that he "evolved" on the issue at some unknown point in the last 16 years. "Friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn't aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances," Trump said. "I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life."
When the Daily Caller's Jamie Weinstein asked Trump if he would have become pro-life if that child had been a loser instead of a "total superstar," Trump replied: "Probably not, but I've never thought of it. I would say no, but in this case it was an easy one because he's such an outstanding person."
Sounds flimsy, right? I mean, did he not understand that many potentially "total superstar" people had been aborted before? His lack of serious consideration to such a weighty issue doesn't inspire confidence.
But many stories of pro-life conversion aren't all that impressive. Many people have said that the reason for their conversion on this issue was because of seeing an ultrasound of their child. A good friend of mine became adamantly pro-life after seeing his unborn daughter in an ultrasound. I'm glad he realized the truth of the sanctity of life but I remember wondering if he'd never seen an ultrasound image before.
Former Governor Chris Christie said he was pro-choice until he heard his second daughter's heartbeat in a pre-natal scan in 1995. “My wife and I went for a doctor's appointment and they put the Doppler on my wife's abdomen, and she was not showing at all at that point. And I heard that heartbeat really strong,” Christie reportedly explained. “It turned it for me. On that ride home, I said my position is not justifiable. That's a life, and I cannot countenance the taking of that life."
Now, before that, did he not understand that the hearts of the unborn don't start beating upon birth? Did he somehow avoid seeing one of the millions of bumper stickers and signs that say "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart." Of course, he didn't. But I think it's one thing to understand that there's a heartbeat and another thing to hear it, especially when it's your child. It can seem like cognitive dissonance but it's the truth. Little things can change everything.
This isn't exactly the same but after considering aborting his own child, Whittaker Chambers, converted to Christianity because he looked at his child's ear. He wrote:
“My daughter was in her high chair. I was watching her eat. She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life. I liked to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the floor. My eyes came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear – those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: ‘No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design.’ The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion. I had to crowd it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.”
So while many conversion stories to Christianity or the pro-life cause can seem...even...silly to those on the outside looking in, the truth of them remains powerful. God works in mysterious and sometimes and seemingly trivial ways, it would seem. Sometimes God's miniscule miracles that have the largest impact. And yes, sometimes it's an ear.
In the end, its difficult to know the veracity of one's claims of pro-life conversions, especially when dealing with politicians until one sees the fruits. I'm not saying to believe or disbelieve those politicians. I'm just saying that the movements of grace are unpredictable. The cacophony of the Holy Spirit changing your life can seem like just a whisper to the rest of the world. It can even seem...silly.