As the crisis along the country’s southern border rages on, it’s important for those in the pro-life community to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Abby Johnson, founder of the pro-life advocacy organization And Then There Were None, traveled Saturday to the Catholic Charities Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, where, in partnership with the secular, pro-life group New Wave Feminists, she and about a dozen volunteers unloaded an 18-wheeler filled with more than $120,000 worth of supplies for migrant mothers and their children.
“It was really beautiful,” Johnson said during a phone interview Monday with Faithwire, noting she does not speak Spanish. “[E]ven if you can’t communicate, there’s just something beautiful about helping people who need help.”
Perhaps most upsetting about the experience, Johnson recalled, was the fact there were a number of Democratic lawmakers at the respite center Saturday for a press appearance, and none of them stopped by to help, despite a personal invitation from the pro-life activist whose personal journey away from her career as a Planned Parenthood executive and into pro-life ministry was recently chronicled in the Pure Flix movie “Unplanned.”
Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) were among those who participated in the press event.
“It felt like they were really pandering to these people and they were clearly just there for, really, a photo op,” Johnson said. “When we got there, I asked the members if they would be willing to help us unload the truck. They all said they did not have time because they had another press opportunity, so that was frustrating.”
“They actually had an opportunity to do something, to help the people they say they’re there to serve,” she added. “They failed to do that.”
Johnson singled out Gonzalez in particular, describing the lawmaker’s behavior as “smug.” She said he waved at the volunteers, telling them he’d “send someone” to help. No one, according to Johnson, ever came.
“He’s from Texas; these are his people, and he couldn’t be bothered to help,” she said.
After working with New Wave Feminists founder Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, an agnostic, Johnson, who is Catholic, has seen first hand it’s possible to work alongside those with whom you have fundamental disagreements.
The crisis at the border, whether conservative or progressive, should give every American pause because those crossing into the U.S. — legally or illegally — “are human beings who are created in the image and likeness of Christ.”
That biblical truth, Johnson emphasized, mandates Christians, whether they support increased border security or not, extend hospitality.
“It’s really disheartening when I hear Christians say that we shouldn’t be helping people who are standing right in front of us,” Johnson said. “It’s a misconception that, if you want to help people, you’re suddenly for lawlessness and you’re for open borders. I’m certainly not.”
Johnson, though, sees migrant children as “truly innocent” bystanders.
“No one would be able to look at these children and deny them basic care and basic supplies,” she said. “I was glad we were able to do it.”
More than anything, Saturday’s delivery should serve as a reminder to those in the pro-life community to walk and chew gum at the same time, to realize it’s OK to oppose open borders, and nevertheless work to meet the needs of those seeking a better life here in the United States.
“There’s just so much dehumanizing rhetoric coming from conservatives, in particular, about these people who are coming into the country,” Johnson said. “You can disagree with someone, but you should not be allowed to dehumanize them.”
In fact, that was — and remains — the motivation for Johnson’s pro-life organization And Then There Were None. When she worked for Planned Parenthood, she was troubled by the “systemic dehumanization” plaguing the abortion industry.
“This is an opportunity for us to really be the church,” Johnson said of the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
While politicians sit on the sidelines, wagging their fingers at one another, seeking to attach blame to anyone but themselves, we should all rejoice in the fact there is a diverse group of pro-life people, spanning all walks of life, linking arms to, as Johnson said, “fill in that gap.”
To learn more about what Johnson and Herndon-De La Rosa are doing with the Bottles to the Border Campaign or to make a donation, click here.