I attended an AHA meeting as a pro-lifer

I recently attended an AHA meeting as a pro-lifer. AHA stands for Abolish Human Abortion. The group has been extremely critical of the so-called (PLM) “pro-life movement.”

For clarification, this was my second official AHA meeting. The first one was over a year ago, when I was invited to travel to Norman, Oklahoma to hear what AHA had to say in person. I found my first meeting interesting. I was warmly received and I was even allowed to bring my dog who had previously had surgery and needed some care. I met several abolitionists and found them to be sincere and inviting to me as a person. At the end of the meeting, I asked several questions which AHA attempted to answer. Needless to say, during that first encounter, I found many issues with what AHA was saying, which they allowed me to express. No one was hostile or unkind – each “abolitionist” there treated me with respect and thanked me for coming to hear what they had to say first hand.

Over the course of the last year, there has been no love-loss between many pro-life people and leaders over what AHA says and many of those disagreements have played out publicly in the AHA facebook page. I have also participated in those dialogues, which, at times, became heated. In addition, this blog has written at least one post which made those within AHA upset- that post can be read here.

So, it was a little surprising when I received a second invitation to attend an AHA meeting by my good friend and abolitionist leader, Todd Bullis. The meeting took place in Todd’s home and he assured me up front that despite AHA spokesperson, T. Russell Hunter’s call for an open debate with several pro-life leaders, self included, my attending this meeting would not be a trick to publicize such a “debate.”

I explained to Todd, that I would attend as an individual pro-lifer who has been involved in pro-life work for over 30 years. That I did not represent ANY pro-life group or organization and anything I said there should be understood that way. Todd agreed.

It was NOT my intent to go to this meeting to dialogue with members of AHA over what we disagree on. My intent was to go- listen- and try and understand what they believed better. Todd gave me permission to take “ANYTHING” I heard at that meeting back and to publicly or privately share it. He told me , “We want the PLM to know what we say.”

So…I went. I did not get an official count, but it appeared to me that 15-20 people attended the meeting, although, I left before more arrived for the evening part. I observed that the majority of those attending this meeting were “abolitionists” but there were some who were not.

The spokesperson was T. Russell Hunter. I brought my notepad to take down quotes, etc, but decided to not take notes. I wanted to experience the meeting as a person who is new to their movement would and I did not want to focus on any “Gotcha” statements. So, as I detail the dialogue we eventually had, you must know it is being filtered through my memory and bias.

Russell began the meeting using scripture from Isaiah and he spoke about the dangers our nation faces as a country which murders their children. He spent some time on this part and I do not recall having any major disagreements here. But, although my intent was not to disrupt the meeting, that did change as Russell moved into some of the differences between AHA and the PLM.

The place that I could no longer stay silent occurred when Russell was telling those who had little or no understanding of the PLM that if they were to look at pro-life memes after the Gosnell trial that they would see the PLM implying that what Gosnell did in snipping the necks of babies born alive was worse than what takes place in a first trimester abortion. Now, keep in mind that I am writing this from my filter not theirs so this is how I heard what Russell said. Russell pointed to a statement he says some pro-life leaders made because, according to Russell, they said that justice was served in the Gosnell case. Russell then said that justice was not served because Gosnell was not tried for all the babies he killed. It was my impression that Russell was using this one point to paint the entire pro-life movements position on abortion.

It was during this portion of the meeting that I broke my silence. I told Russell that it was unfair of him to tell people with no experience with the PLM to judge them based on any one meme or FB post. I strongly suggested that new people MUST look at the whole of what the PLM and individual groups say. I know from personal experience that pro-life leaders were saying that Gosnell was not an anomaly – that killing babies in early trimesters was just as horrific as the snipping of babies’ necks outside the womb and that justice was not served for all the babies he killed. But- these statements were not mentioned at this meeting. That concerns me. (You can hear what Russell said on this video uploaded weeks after I posted this blog – here)

There were several confrontations like this which took place throughout the meeting. But I must state, that although there was dialogue, and I was severely outnumbered, I never at any point, felt that abolitionists there were unkind towards me.

I recall another interaction between Russell and I when he began to list the names of certain pro-life leaders, although I do not now recall the exact point he was making. I interrupted him to say that I felt that to list names was unfair since those people were not there to defend their position. And I later explained to individual abolitionist members that their naming pro-lifer leaders in a public format was in my opinion a way to poison new people who had no knowledge of who those leaders are or what they say. I am not sure if my comments were fully received, but they were graciously allowed.

Abolish Human Abortion made the point that they believe that abortion will not be abolished unless the Christians in America repent, and I will say that I generally agree with this. It came across to me clearly that AHA does not think that efforts to fight abortion will be successful outside a Gospel centric approach. They explain this position by saying that it is a sinful heart that seeks to murder an innocent child. They do not deny that babies can be saved using other means, but they hold to the belief that abortion will never be abolished without a priority to the Gospel. AHA believes that a strategy which does not include the Gospel cannot be acceptable.

AHA also argues against the PLM’s incremental strategy. They point to laws such as a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and say that such bans are ageism – and dehumanize the unborn while teaching the culture that a baby that say, feels pain, is more valuable than one which does not. Now, I will publicly state that I do not have any problem with a Christian telling me that they cannot support a politician or a piece of legislation because it violates their beliefs or conscience. As believers and followers of Christ, we should respect those views. However, what I do have issues with and how I hear some of these conversations regarding AHA , is that they question the motives of pro-lifers. They say they want the PLM to be consistent- that murder is murder and point to early abolitionists who vowed to never compromise with slavery.

At this point, I asked Russell if murder is murder and every Christian must act like it is and not be “pragmatic” understanding that the law limits our efforts, why AHA does not picket Christian police officers who are charged with arresting murderers? After all, if murder is murder, than shouldn’t police officers who claim to be against abortion walk into the abortion clinics and arrest the killers? I do not feel that I received a satisfactory answer to this question and I felt that they considered the entire premise of my question rather ridiculous because we all know a police office will get no where arresting an abortionist. But, isn’t that the point of pragmatism – to be realistic? But, I digress…..

Russell made a point of saying that it will take the church repenting to abolish abortion. So, I asked them why AHA focused so much on the PLM if they believed this. I asked why their main focus was not The Church. To which I was told individually by members that they do focus on the church thru their Church Repent project. Yet, what I personally see on their social media pages, appears to me, to be focused on the PLM. I guess we disagree here.

Another place where I tend to get very frustrated with AHA is when they speak as experts of the PLM despite their admitting that they have only recently come to a conviction over abortion. Russell blames this perspective on his own experience- where he admits that he would have claimed to be pro-life and yet did little to oppose abortion. Russell said he had come to a place where he repented for his apathy and began to see that it IS Christian to oppose abortion. I may be simplifying his experience, so I would encourage readers to ask him for the details, and let him explain his personal experience rather than me.

But, to me, Russell’s personal views of abortion prior to his repentance should not be the blame of those who have cried out for many years, in my opinion. Just as those who claim to be Christian are not – there are many who claim to be pro-life who are not. As a person who has lived this nightmare for 30 years, I personally find it a bit arrogant that anyone in 2014 would claim to know the views and motives of those who actively fought abortion in 1973 or 1983. It is my personal view, that when you completely disregard the FIRST-HAND experience of a pro-life person who was there in the 1970’s or 1980’s for the perspective of someone who wasn’t there, did not live it, you are not seeking truth but are passing along baseless opinions.

Unfortunately, when pro-lifers point to their years fighting abortion, it has been my experience that some within AHA tend to dismiss it as a foiled attempt to “get the credit.” To me, that is a wholly disrespectful cheap shot. To dismiss a first hand witnesses who may be trying to correct your points by again attacking their motives is rather immature and defensive.

Another place where I interrupted Russell’s presentation was when he claimed that there were more Abolitionists in front of abortion clinics than pro-lifers. That point seems interesting from a group which vilifies us for “taking credit” but, I digress.

My question at this point was how could AHA know their “numbers” when they are not an organization. To which they responded that the individual Abolitionist Societies were organizations registered in their states. To me their statement seemed a bit overstated and even somewhat prideful. If AHA wishes this to become a competition on how many abolitionists have gone out to abortion clinics verses pro-lifers than AHA has 41 years of activism to catch up on, just say’n.

But, as much as this may be perceived as a slam on AHA, I am not writing this with that in mind. Although I see issues with AHA’s facts, understanding of pro-life history and even some of their tactics, I see them as sincerely trying to please the Lord.

As I sat in the meeting and looked around the room, I observed most of their members were young. They were also young families. They were very kind, respectful, and immoveable. Those are attributes which should be commended. From a Christian point of view, they remind me of the times when a new believer gets saved and radically on fire for Jesus. They often will say things out of ignorance and zeal. They can be harsh – but – they are very effective. Their zeal drives them and in the end, they bring in others to salvation thru Jesus Christ.

I was told recently by Todd that it is easier to convert a Christian to abolitionism rather than a pro-lifer. And , I would expect that to be true. Pro-lifers, many of us, do have an investment. Despite the insinuation that the investment is financial, it is an investment of tested strategy and experience. Not speaking for the PLM, and speaking for myself, I can see how that must look to a young and newly inspired person to the realities of child killing. After all, placing myself back to that day when the reality became crystal clear, my first response, like that of AHA, was end it TODAY! I certainly do not want child killing to continue one more second in America. And so, it is with that desire that I finish this blog post….

What I witnessed being around members of Abolish Human Abortion in person is drastically different to what I witness online at times. In person, I see brothers and sisters, young zealous people, willing and committed to taking a stand for life. Willing to be called names, thrown out of churches, labeled as the trouble makers of their communities. I see myself! I see devotion, hatred of child killing and sin, I see myself. I see compassion for the lost and the orphan and injustice, I see myself. I see an intolerance for a worldly Christianity which tolerates child killing in their nation and I see myself.

No…I am not making an announcement that I have joined Abolish Human Abortion and that I am renouncing all things pro-life. What I am saying is that there is a certain beauty in this new movement which I failed to see before. There is a devotion to life an uncompromising commitment which must be considered. Some say AHA will fizzle, others say they are to be stopped, and who knows what the realities of potential years of fighting will create in the future. What I am beginning to see, is that despite the areas where they are wrong or have wrong facts, they are bringing in new people to fight for these babies. So, I must ask, exactly what is wrong in that?

Going to this meeting reminds me of my own views on ending abortion. That it requires the American Church to confront this evil for it to end. Where did I stray from that belief? Was it when I repeatedly went to the American Church for help and they dismissed me which caused me to focus more of my time in other areas? Was it standing outside abortion clinics for years in a county of thousands of churches and only a handful of pro-lifers confronting evil, that caused me to shift priorities? I do not know….but…what I do know is that I am still not fully convinced that we will see the Church rise up to end child killing. I am not convinced that we haven’t already been handed over for judgement in America after the millions of dead babies already.

But…if my years of fighting and battling and scars have caused me to give up on the Church in America too soon, than I welcome those who will try again to reach the Church. I have laid out my case pro and con regarding AHA and this recent meeting. I get a bad taste in my mouth every time this organization questions the motives of pro-lifers or completely misrepresents our history- but- and there is a but….there is one question which haunts me. Do I care more about my reputation, the pro-life history, or my name, than I do the babies whose lives will be saved by all these newcomers?

As the AHA meeting progressed, we were visited by a pastor from Todd’s church. As I made my way back to the kitchen to get a bite to eat, this man began to talk. He explained his friendship with Todd over the last year and how he has been changed by what Todd says about what Christianity looks like in a culture which kills their children. He began to encourage the abolitionists. His words were like a breadth of fresh air. A Pastor saying that abortion demands a public response and encouraging those who take a stand. He committed to going out with the abolitionists the next day and to defend them against what other pastors or churches would say against them. I have to admit, his words caused me tears.

If this movement has their facts wrong and if they have ridiculed many of us long time fighters, they will be held to account before God, no doubt, and I will continue to challenge these issues as well. But, if they succeed in bringing in others and changing the hearts of the church and some in society, than I can no longer stand in their way. As a person committed to facts, it would be difficult for me to join their ranks so long as some of these issues continue. It would also be difficult for me, at this point, to view many of the PLM strategies as sinful, but, I cannot deny that AHA is having an effect. I cannot deny that watching a pastor stand up for the lives of unborn children because of his encounter with AHA brings my heart much joy.

I am still conflicted about the AHA vs. PLM reality as are many others who are publicly blogging about AHA. But, one thing I do know, that those who believe in Jesus Christ and have received his gracious plan for salvation, are indeed my brethren and from now on, must be treated as such. I cannot control what AHA says or does, but, I can control myself. I can make every effort to dialogue with respect towards those I might disagree. I can say that some of the things I have said and done in the past were neither respectful nor loving toward members of AHA and for that I apologize. Love can cover a multitude of sin and love can change the world.

I attended an AHA meeting as a pro-lifer and I left the meeting a pro-lifer. But labels are just that, labels. What I did in reality was dialogue with brothers and sisters in Christ, I agreed in part and disagreed in part and I left that meeting feeling respected and valued. Our relationships and our identities are grounded in Christ and not in movements and so I wish members of AHA well and I will pray that their desires, just like mine will be accomplished, that abortion will be abolished once and for all in America.


(NOTE: A few weeks after uploading this blog- Todd posted videos of the AHA meeting. Parts of the dialogue I had with them has been edited out. In all fairness, Todd agreed that if I came, they would not video this as a PLM vs. AHA debate and that they would not intentionally put me into their vids. They appear to have kept their word on that. SO, if you want to know where I disagreed – you have read the blog and if you want to know much of what AHA said- you can watch it here.)

3 Responses to “I attended an AHA meeting as a pro-lifer”

  1. Angela Wittman Says:

    I appreciate your words of wisdom – may the good Lord be glorified in the pro-life movement – including the AHA. I’m praying for all of us. 🙂

  2. […] recently came across this thoughtful account of a meeting between the AHA (Abolish Human Abortion) leaders and a seasoned pro-… which I think can help all of us as we interact and work toward ending the killing of the preborn […]

  3. John Doe Says:

    Todd Bullis is a control freak. Individuals dealing with him should find out about his family history–they would be shocked.

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