The following is an open letter to Meaghan Winter, whose first-hand experience at the 2014 Heartbeat International Annual Conference laid the foundation of her article, "'Save the Mother, Save the Baby': An Inside Look at a Pregnancy Center Conference," published April 6 at Cosmopolitan.com.
I’ve never been a fan of the “open letter” format I’m about to use. For the most part, the open letters I’ve seen are vain and disingenuous attempts to hold a “public conversation” that never actually happens.
Many times, “open letter” means the writer has no intentions of contacting the other person for a public conversation, but rather, wants to play make-believe. As if, somehow, since it’s written in second person, the writer’s insults and vitriol must be magically transformed into an acceptable version of human communication.
But I want this conversation to be different. Meaghan, you wrote this piece with integrity. You investigated with vulnerability. And, most impressive of all, you have courageously wrestled with the tension of a highly complex, hotly contested issue.
Tweet This: Meaghan Winter's @Cosmopolitan article was written with integrity, vulnerability.
I think I can see you’re still wrestling. That’s why an open letter seemed like a good place to start.
Your writing reflects a tension. Even though your aim to discredit pregnancy help organizations seems clear, as I read your article, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never did.
For instance, instead of taking the easy way out and regurgitating the disproven claims NARAL Pro-Choice America repeats as some sort of ritualistic chant, you use careful language to convey your message.
You use phrases like, “It has been widely reported,” and “The centers themselves vary.” Believe me, Meaghan, the caution you use throughout the article is a breath of fresh air.
You even come across as benign and light-hearted when you refer to “the hundreds of middle-age women wearing colorful blazers or sweater sets and a few dozen of their younger, ponytailed counterparts” at our conference.
(What’s still fuzzy to me is, who should we listen to, if neither middle-aged people nor their pony-tailed counterparts can be trusted?)
Bottom line, you don’t resort to the really ugly business of name-calling, like those who would call the gathering of 1,000 women a bunch of misogynists. Maybe you can buy me a coffee one day and explain how a group of women can possibly get together for the express purpose of hating women, because the thought kind of blows my mind.
The point is, you take the high road in this article, Meaghan. You prove that, in contrast to many of your contemporaries, you will think independently. You will wrestle. You will live in the tension.
My question is, why?
Why choose to live in the tension of integrity when you could opt out and sling mud instead? You might even get more clicks that way.
Can I propose at least part of an answer for your consideration?
Could it be that you’ve come into contact with truly compassionate women, who truly care about the well-being of others? Could it be that you didn’t expect to find that kind of love in the pregnancy help community?
Did you realize you used “love” 10 times in your article? You also used words like, “gentleness” and “kindness.” These are known as fruits of the Spirit, and I truly invite you to give them a glance in Galatians 5:22-23. They are marks for what Christians should look like, DNA for Christian living.
Tweet This: @Cosmopolitan article names off multiple fruits of the Spirit
Did you realize how clearly you were identifying the Christian worldview in this article? You point out that, “Heartbeat speakers… seamlessly united personal, religious, and political struggles.”
You even close out the article by telling about a conversation with a conference attendee who, “presented a whole worldview where all beliefs are interlocked.”
You must have wondered how we in the pregnancy help community would respond to the next, and final sentence: “I imagined them offering the same explanation to women looking for help with their unplanned pregnancies.”
Did you realize we would rejoice to hear you say that? Did you realize we would read that aloud to raucous applause at this year’s conference?
Because we already have.
We can work through a couple of finer points over time. Finer points that include a better understanding of the government money heading into pregnancy help organizations.
This money—you mention about $10 million of it—almost exclusively comes in the form of grants for parenting classes, marriage and relationship classes, and material aid. Surely you would agree this is money well-spent to help moms, kids, families and communities thrive.
Surely we would agree on this point, even if we disagree with the need for our government to subsidize abortions at Planned Parenthood to the tune of $1.5 billion from 2010-12.
We might also disagree when it comes to the medically referenced research that indicates abortion’s harmful effects.
But I don’t think either one of us wants to dismiss the real experiences and suffering of real women who actually do regret their abortions and wish more than anything to have another crack at that choice.
Meaghan, I truly believe you are an honest person, struggling to live between two worlds. One world is pulling you to join its narrative, disparage and sling mud on pregnancy help organizations.
The other is the world you have entered. It has real people in it. Real people who care, not to win an argument, but to see life come from death. Light from darkness.
Please join us in this world, where life is valued because of Who made us.
It’s as you said in your article, “No one will ever love you more than Christ loves you.”
Thanks for listening,