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When Cecile Richards stepped down as president of Planned Parenthood last week, glowing profiles celebrated her leadership of the nation’s largest facilitator of abortions.
But Richards’ legacy is dark.
Nearly 4 million unborn children died in Planned Parenthood centers during her 12-year tenure.
Her legacy is also postmodern, and continues the tradition of defining truth for self, instead of acknowledging objective standards. Richards spoke of her own abortion as an uncomplicated choice, but said every woman should decide for herself when life begins.
That’s gotten harder in an era of high-tech ultrasounds that show astounding images of unborn children in the tiniest stages of development. Still, Richards has led abortion advocates in encouraging women to decide what those pictures mean for them, if they ever see them at all.
Last fall, a Washington Post story profiled “abortion doulas” that volunteer to hold a woman’s hand during her abortion. The reporter noted some women feel conflicted, others don’t.
A trainer suggested that the volunteers chat about Netflix shows or weekend plans during abortions, but never define what’s happening in the room: “If someone getting an abortion calls it a baby, it’s a baby. If she calls it a fetus, it’s a fetus. If she doesn’t say anything, don’t talk about it.”
For Richards, this postmodern legacy has expanded beyond women and babies. In at least 17 states, Planned Parenthood now offers cross-hormone therapy for people who identify as transgender. The new rule: If a person says a baby is a fetus, it’s a fetus. If a man says he’s a woman, he’s a woman.
But in both cases, denying objective reality is dangerous and cruel.
It’s cruel to make a conflicted woman feel better about killing her unborn child, and it’s cruel to urge a conflicted man to reject his God-given identity.
It’s cruel to make a conflicted woman feel better about killing her unborn child, and it’s cruel to urge a conflicted man to reject his God-given identity. That man is as fearfully and wonderfully made by God as the unborn child, and it’s kind to help him look beyond his brokenness to see his true dignity.
That’s a legacy Christians can pursue, even as Planned Parenthood likely follows Richards’ trajectory in the years ahead.
In conversations and pregnancy care centers and mobile ultrasound units, we can show women the objective reality of the baby she carries—and offer to help her meet the challenges she might face in sustaining a child’s life.
And in conversations and churches and counseling rooms, we can show deeply conflicted men and women the good truth about how God made them—and pledge to walk with them through the pain and difficulty of pursuing new life in Christ.
It will take courage and gentleness, wisdom and humility, perseverance and patience, but whatever others do in the years ahead—it’s a legacy truly worth planning.