One of the most beautiful, under-the-radar things I have seen in the passing political frenzies of the summer thus far was one doctor’s response to the upheaval at Planned Parenthood: “I am an Obgyn like you, and I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss.”
Dr. Monique Ruberu reached out to Dr. Leana Wen after news hit that Wen was no longer the president of Planned Parenthood. The news came not too long after Wen had an op-ed published by the Washington Post explaining that her recent miscarriage made her more committed to her Planned Parenthood work.
So Ruberu reached out to Wen with compassion: “I have lost two little ones in the past and I believe that they are in heaven and we will meet again.” She went on:
Until then they are praying for us as saints in heaven. I believe the same of your little one. With such huge changes in your life, loss of job, loss of child you may be in a difficult place know that I and many others are praying for you for your healing. When things look darkest God can create something beautiful and new. I pray that one day we can serve women on the same side and provide them with what they need so they don’t have to choose abortion.
She signed off with “God bless you!”
This is the way Ruberu operates. “When a loving peaceful prayerful person is present,” she has said, “offering life-saving resources, we have a shot at saving lives.” When a Pennsylvania elected official harassed a pro-life woman praying outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia recently, Ruberu was outside at a rally days later praying for a “Saul-to-Paul-like conversion” for him. Saint Paul, of course, was as far away from being a Christian before his conversion, when he persecuted Christians.
But it’s far from just one bright shining tireless Philadelphia doctor. Abby Johnson also had dramatic conversion story. She’s the former Texas Planned Parenthood director who left the industry after having to participate in an ultra-sound-guided abortion, where it became all too undeniably clear about what happens in an abortion, especially a late-term one. Johnson implored people to avoid being snarky to or about Wen, writing to the pro-life community in a tweet:
Our job is to reach out to Dr. Leana Wen in love. Snarky memes and words will not bring about conversion. Let us also remember that she is a woman grieving the loss of a miscarried child. Let us treat her with care, not callousness. Let’s be the people we say we are.
It all echoes the spirit of one of the most unifying documents of recent decades. Pope John Paul II’s “Gospel of Life” calls upon our better angels to be wholly committed to a civilization of love that will help people see the possibilities of life more than the problems, in no small part by receiving all fears with love and resources:
You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task. “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. . . . This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality.
And I’ve got to say, rereading it, I think it’s not very far away from Wen, who in her Post op-ed on her miscarriage talked about how excited she and her husband had been to be welcoming a second child into their lives: “We measured the spare room to turn it into a nursery. We started teaching Eli to be more gentle. I began to plan my maternity leave.” About her heartbreaking miscarriage she wrote:
As I recover . . . with my family, I decided to write about my experience because I want to break the silence and shame that often come with pregnancy loss. I also write because my miscarriage has made my commitment to women’s health even stronger. If we truly care about the health of women, children and families, we must commit to policies that provide pregnant women with the care, humanity and dignity that all people deserve.
Planned Parenthood insists it is about women’s health, but abortion rips at what’s most wondrous about a woman: motherhood, a reality that many women, including Wen long for (she and her husband had been trying for months for a second child). The pro-life movement is its most authentic when it puts out a welcome mat out for anyone who wants to genuinely join in the cause of helping women embrace life. The more converts, the healthier this culture of ours will be. To Dr. Leana Wen, and anyone else: We have more in common than much of politics or Planned Parenthood would have you believe.
This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.