I’d like to think of myself as pro-life. I’m not a member of Congress, and I don’t have a voting record. But I’ve written a few pieces, and made a few donations, and do what I can. Not all that I should. I should do more. Maybe I will after I write this rant.

It turns out I have a whole lot of work — never mind penance — to do. Because the other day, I wrote a piece praising Hitler.

You’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, aren’t you? Color me just as confused.

When I wrote a brief “thank you” to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., for her brief but-had-to-be-overwhelming time spent on the House floor, reaction to the piece pointed directly to her abortion record.

For example, when someone re-tweeted something else I had written on Twitter, she was asked: “@kathrynlopez Is this the same Kathryn Lopez who was gushing over @Rep_Giffords’ return to her 100% pro-abort voting record?”

I guess.

Except I didn’t gush over her return because she is a star of Emily’s List, the abortion-rights political action committee. And while I appreciate that numbers in Congress and elections absolutely matter — and I even appreciate the people who at times only focus on the numbers — I also appreciate that Giffords, a woman who was shot in the head in January, is my sister. She’s a child of God who has gone through a devastating trial. And in her first moment back on the House floor, she provided some inspiration. And not just a feel-good moment. Real inspiration. Brushes with death can do that. And feel free to accuse me of reading too much into a few C-SPAN moments. But it’s not the worst lesson, is it?

Abortion is, I believe, a scourge on our national soul and the human-rights issue of our lifetime. There are so many missing faces as we live our lives.

So I appreciate the passion and understanding of the deep eugenic roots of the leading abortion-rights groups that might lead someone to ask, in response to my moment of appreciation for Giffords: “Save the niceties, Kathy. What if Hitler returned to work?” But can this be the best approach? And next to an avatar of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, as this particular Tweeter uses?

I’ve defended the use of aborted-fetus photos. I understand why abortion is “genocide” and that that word may be effective with some who need to be jarred. But I also know that there are a lot of people who are hurting out there, and that an ad on a subway from a nonjudgmental website called Abortion Changes You might help one of those wounded.

There was an online conversation in recent weeks about whether or not women who have abortions are victims. Abby Johnson wrote, in part:

Some of you may think the abortionists hold more guilt than the mother. I would disagree. I do not believe women are “victims” to abortion. I have had two abortions. I was not a victim. I was a perpetrator. My children were victims. Women who are coerced to have abortions still have a choice. They still make that final decision. The final “choice” is up to them. They choose to take the life of their child. Their child is the victim. …

[O]ver 70% of women who choose abortion are Christians. … These are women who go to church … who sit in Bible studies … who attend Mass … who lead praise-and-worship groups … daughters of pastors … wives of deacons. … You name it, they are having abortions. Why would these women have abortions? Don’t they know it is wrong? Sure they do. Why do we all sin? Why do you sin? We justify it. We rationalize it. We think we just HAVE to.

The woman has a point. How can anyone justify an abortion when they really do know better? And how can we call ourselves “Christian” if we kill our children?

On her blog, nurse Jill Stanek juxtaposed Johnson’s essay with the testimony of another post-abortive woman named Carla Stream, who runs the Wisconsin branch of a pro-life group called Operation Outcry:

Women are victimized by abortion. Women are victims of those who prey upon them for a price in what can be a very desperate time. We may have been victims at the time of our abortions. We may have been forced or coerced by lies of omission by the abortuary staff. We did not have informed consent. We did not see the ultrasound of our babies. We might have thought it was the right thing to do. We didn’t know then what we know now.

When one walks through abortion recovery there is indeed a step of responsibility to be taken. We were there; we paid for it; we consented. We accept the part we played in the death of our child. We are Silent No More and tell our stories on Capitol steps and testify in court to the harm that abortion has caused.
We are no longer victims when we begin to speak out about how abortion has hurt us and reach out to other women hurt by abortion and show them the way to healing.

Both of these perspectives are essential to building a culture of life. Honesty about truth and honesty about pain. And both are looking at the mother who aborts her child with Christian love.

Gabby Giffords isn’t Hitler. And even though the Twitter user who made the comparison wasn’t and isn’t alone in making that comparison, I know most of us wouldn’t make that comparison. But are we too dismissive of the pain? And are we too quiet to say what both Johnson and Stream will?

I would like Rep. Giffords to protect innocent human life when she gets back to voting more regularly. Given that Emily’s List is currently raising money for her, I doubt she will. But I’m not sure she’ll be convinced otherwise by reading about her similarities to Hitler. What’s changing the culture are ultrasounds and testimony. Options and information. Information absolutely includes the truth about life and death and Church teaching—and the ugly history and reality of the business and ideology behind abortion. Leading people to the light of a culture of life. What’s changing the culture is love. A love for truth. A love for the dignity of every individual.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a nationally syndicated columnist.