Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Julia Pritchett, a young pro-life activist from Arkansas.
When did you decide to get involved in the pro-life movement? Why did you decide to get involved in this important cause?
Each person is called to protect human life and so each of us has a place within the pro-life movement. Looking back, I realize I didn’t decide to “get involved” in the pro-life movement; rather, God had always purposed me for it, and He brought about events, circumstances, and personal gifts so that I could best respond to this unique call in my life.
Perhaps a deeper question might be why I have decided to stay involved. I got involved in 9th grade and it was a natural, no-brainer type of situation. But, as I have grown older and spent several years working towards abolishing abortion, I constantly ask myself why I am still in this rescue mission. The best answer I can give to that is:
We live in a world where so many do not feel loveable, they do not realize their own inherent goodness, and without being able to see the beauty in their own existence they are unable to see the beauty in all existence. This is a devastating reality to come to terms with, but it gives me a reason to get out of bed and fight for each person. Not just those in the womb, but for so many who are unable to see their own beauty and are living lives of brokenness and wounded-ness. As they are loved, as they are delighted in as a person, they begin to flourish and bloom with new eyes towards the human person. It is easy to call another person ugly, unnecessary, unlovable, unwanted when we feel that way about our own self. So maybe the real malady of the culture of death is not that we do not respect other lives, but that we disrespect the gift of our own lives so much that it only follows and make sense that we cannot appreciate the gift that is others’ lives. I desire to be a witness to the beauty and indescribable goodness of the human person. I want to make others feel loved. When others are delighted in they respond with love. For example, I have seen women walking into abortion facilities with sunken eyes, soul-less stares, and broken hearts. After just delighting in her presence, embracing her, letting her know her own beauty, she often has a new, tiny spark in her eye, she smiles, she says out loud “maybe I can do this”. She has found beauty and love of first her own life and therefore can better respond to the beauty and love of another life–her child’s.
Tell me about your involvement in the pro-life movement.
My involvement in the pro-life movement is varied. Activism, Education, and Prayer are the three areas I focus on most. God blessed me to be able to co-found and serve as president of the first pro-life group on any Arkansas college campus. With much thankfulness I have been able to serve on the leadership team for 40 Days for Life in my town for the past four years. And, closest to my heart, is my direct work with moms outside of abortion facilities. Sidewalk helping is the hardest action I have ever taken against abortion; it forced me to confront abortion directly, to see the pain, to see death, to cry with and for women and babies. Yet, it has also been the most rewarding action I have ever taken in my life. I see miracles happen, I see women choose love, I see babies who were once in danger leave alive instead of dead. That’s incredible.
What is your motivation behind being a pro-life activist? What drives your passion for defending the preborn?
Truly, it is a direct call from God. One day I saw one of those cheesy post-card questions that said “What is your life purpose?” I thought for a moment and asked Jesus, “Jesus, if I only had one purpose in life, what is it?” The answer I got was: “To love My children”. And I believe when Jesus gives you an answer like that, He helps you carry out what He has asked of you. There are days, even weeks, when I don’t want to hear the word “abortion.” I don’t want to run a pro-life table, because I am busy. I don’t want to be at the abortion facility on my Saturday mornings. But, something deep within me propels me out of bed. I might be tired and even unwilling, but I do it. So, truly Jesus has brought about this in my life because on my own I would never be doing this work to the capacity I currently am.
Your dedication to the pro-life movement is inspirational. What are the best ways for college students to be impactful pro-life leaders on their campuses? What resources and strategies should they use to be effective?
Thank you! And, great question. The number one way for someone to make a huge difference on campus is to make a decision. You know why we are not pro-choice? Because we do not believe in making arbitrary choices about human beings’ lives based on feelings and circumstance. Therefore, to be pro-life is to get out of bed each day and go confront abortion with dedication and commitment. We must decide to be involved, to be at all the events possible, to talk to as many people each day as possible without counting the cost. We must not count the feelings we have, we must not count the circumstance of our homework or our other obligations, we must not build our calendar around social events rather than pro-life activities. That might seem hardcore and it is. If we truly believe abortion is what it is, then we should be responding as if it is. We should wake up each day and say “Someone in my town is scheduled to die today, how can I bring life and joy into the world today to help combat this rampant culture of death? How can I reach out and help save that life?”
Resources and strategies are going to have a different effect in different areas. There is a college near me and the president of the pro-life group there only uses feminist pro-life material because that is what the liberal atmosphere at her college responds to best. It’s all about knowing the “climate” of the area you’re working in and formulating something specific and compelling. Of course, there are general resources that are available and helpful to anyone. The most effective technique I believe is building personal relationships. Once, there was a student on campus who came up to me while I was running our Students for Life table. She threw a knitted uterus at me in protest of what I was doing. I talked to her and she began to calm down and really listen to me. I learned her name. A few months later I was shopping somewhere and realized she worked there and I went over to say “hi”. She’s not my enemy because she doesn’t see the beauty of each human life. She’s my sister, someone to love, someone who obviously has wounds and hurts. And, through honest and kindred dialogue and friendship, I believe each person like this girl can be converted to loving each human life.
What are the most effective ways to educate apathetic and “pro-choice” young people about the pro-life view on abortion?
This is something I am still trying to figure out. The beauty in it is that each person is unique; we each have our own learning style, our own life experiences. Something that might work for some might not work for all.
The best answer I have come up with is to share the whole truth in love. We know what abortion is and what it does, let us not be afraid to show it, to explain it, to talk about it. If we approach sharing this horrifying and difficult information with a spirit of love, then I believe it will transform our culture. For example, have a portable DVD player and a copy of “Choice Blues”. Don’t be scared to ask people to watch a real abortion happen. Often times people do not realize what it is that they are supporting. They see that first tiny human hand ripped off and slide off in a pool of blood and they recoil in absolute horror. That horror is the proper and natural response to abortion and before that moment they haven’t had to encounter abortion like that. Don’t be scared to horrify people if it’s done in a spirit of love and they consent to it. Abortion is horrifying, we know that, so help them know it too.
Also, I have experienced becoming desensitized to abortion since we talk about it so much. We should allow ourselves to let our passion seep out in all our conversations. Once, I was talking to a young woman about abortion. For me, it was another “routine” conversation with a stranger about abortion. I do not cry often, especially in public. All of sudden, the pure horror of abortion that happened to one baby I knew in the past came to my mind and a few tears just rolled down my face. That young woman was surprised to see my tears as much as I was, and all I could say was “Sorry, it really gets to me you know, the fact that this person died.” She hugged me. That hug acknowledged that a life had been lost, a life was being grieved for, and that it was NORMAL for grief to be there. She said, “This person was real to you” and I said, “This is real, she was real, abortion is real.” There was not much educational material used, it was simply two female hearts communicating something we both knew in the depths of our beings: killing babies is wrong and the damage is real.
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We have to be bold and be passionate. How can we expect others to be on fire for life when we become lukewarm in our work?
What is the best part about being a pro-life activist?
Hands down, looking into the eyes of a mom and child saved from abortion. Recently, I held a baby God allowed me to be part of rescuing. She looked into my eyes, I looked into hers, and my whole heart seized up. It was one of those incredible human experiences that words cannot express adequately. Here was this precious child, one who was almost ripped to pieces, one who almost did not make it to birth and into the “outside” world. But, here she was, saved and safe.
What has been the most memorable experience for you thus far in the pro-life movement?
I tell this story a lot because it moved me so much. It’s a rather lengthy and special story, but I’ll condense it quite a bit:
I went to one of the abortion facilities in Memphis a few years ago. I was there for six hours straight, I got a wicked sunburn, and none of the women would talk to me which had never happened to me before. I was completely demoralized. I was actually angry with God. The next day I decided to go to the mall for some retail therapy. I was on my way and I heard Jesus asking me to go back to this abortion facility right then. There was no way I was going to do it, especially without any sunscreen on and red as a lobster. But, Jesus always wins when He wants to win, so I ended up there. I was there for two hours, nothing happened again, I became extremely upset.
Then, a car rolled up and I tried to get the women inside to roll down the window but they zipped past me. They wouldn’t talk to me when they got out of the car either but the woman getting the abortion was gorgeous. She was wearing a hot pink dress and I was instantly attracted to her in an odd spiritual way I had never experienced before towards another person. I felt God leading me to pray for this woman. I literally prayed for three straight hours for this woman and didn’t talk to anyone else going in. I was just there, totally frozen into prayer for this woman.
After three hours, the amount of time it approximately takes for an abortion to be performed, I was losing all hope. I just knew she had chosen abortion. I saw her walk out the back door, tears all down her face, and she was walking slowly with great difficulty (a sign an abortion has happened). My whole heart just shattered in that moment and I was even angrier at God. I was about to leave but I felt God prompting me to stay until this girl drove off. After all, I had been there so devotedly for her and she needed my prayers more than ever now that she was post-abortive.
As this young girl was driving out of the parking lot by her mother, the car stopped right next to me. The window shot down, the girl in the pink dress snatched my arm so quickly and held it to herself. With a tear soaked face she looked at me and said “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You saved us.” She let go of my arm and drove off. I never said one word to her. I don’t know her name. I don’t know anything. All I know is that I was there and I was praying and she attributed being spared to me. She gave me a great gift that day and I have never cried so hard before out of joy. I will never forget that look in her eye when we made eye contact and tears were streaming down her face. It was a look of desperate gratefulness. It was a life-changing experience for me.
This is an example of what I mean by deciding to be in pro-life work and not basing involvement on feeling or circumstance. I did not want to be there that day and I was grumpy as could be. But, God used me. He showed me His glory, His power, a true miracle in front of my skeptical and angry heart. Would that baby boy or girl be alive today if I was not there? I think of that each time I want to skip an event or feel too tired to engage about abortion with others.
Do you think Roe v. Wade will be overturned in our lifetime?
Simply put, yes. The pro-life movement is not giving up, and we are not going away. We are here to save lives. We are here to convert hearts. We are here to love. And, love always wins. Always. In the end, love triumphs. It shines as a beacon of hope to the entire world. We are here to love and love and love until ultimately love wins.
What are some ways that we can make America more pro-life? What do you think is the best way to engage people on this issue?
Draw people to yourself. Make them want to come to you. I have pro-life bumper stickers all over the back of my car. I wear a pro-life t-shirt at least five times a week. I calmly and casually bring up abortion in as many ways as I can in every day conversation. Occasionally I will walk up to a stranger in the store and say “hey, how do you feel about abortion?” Show them your smiling faces, your loving hearts, and the truth you know about abortion. Don’t save the activism for the weekend or organized group events. Go out and be a light of truth everywhere you go. Always be prepared to engage. Once, I was at a raging college party and a girl who knew about how pro-life I was approached me. She was a bit tipsy but she spilled her entire heart on me–about her hookups and her let downs and her hurt and her pain. And, you know what, I had to deal with it. I had to love her and practice good listening skills. Be unafraid and prepared to engage always and anywhere.
What advice would you give to young men and women who are starting to get involved in the pro-life movement?
Be bold. Recognize that many in the world will hate you for what you’re doing. You must love them anyway and keep pressing forward, because human lives are worth it.
Be educated. Take time to learn how to best talk to people, about abortion laws, about fetal development, etc. It’s hard to do that on top of school work, but it’s just necessary and it’s a sacrifice we must willingly make.
Put yourself in their shoes. Do your best to imagine what it is like being others. A post-abortive dad or mom. An unborn baby. A pro-choice student. A young mother. It can be easy to become angry at others for believing abortion is okay and that can be seen as righteous anger. But we must learn how to love them and see where they are coming from, so that we may treat them with absolute acceptance and love.
Have fun. Abortion is serious, but events talking about abortion don’t have to be. You can pass out cupcakes or popsicles. You can smile a lot. You can joke with a passerby about the latest meme or YouTube video. Be friendly and know that personal connection makes a big difference in whether someone stays around longer to talk to you about abortion.
Know names. Always ask someone’s name and use it in the conversation. Make it personal and show that you are one hundred percent tuned into what they’re saying to you, and you care about listening to them. It also helps you start conversations later when you see them around campus and you can confidently call out, “Hey so-and-so.”
I hope Julia inspired you to passionately and proactively stand up for the sanctity of human life. She certainly has inspired me to be more prolific in the pro-life movement.