The reporter and I didn’t have time to finish our interview, so I answered some questions by email (below). You can see the news article at oclarim.com.mo/en/2018/04/13/third-year-of-march-for-life-in-hong-kong-joe-woodard-calls-for-praying-and-fasting-to-end-abortion/
1. Can you explain a bit about Asia for Life?
I needed a name for all the pro-life projects I was trying to do, and other cool names like “Joy of Life” were already taken. So, I chose “Asia for Life”, to focus on building on strengthening the pro-life network in East Asia. I also plan on being in Asia for life : )
2. Can you explain the situation, of the awareness of abortion, and pro-life efforts in Hong Kong?
It’s hard to talk about abortion. It’s terrible–like talking about rape, or domestic violence. Really, who wants to talk about abortion? But, if church communities can provide ideas and vocabulary, it will help Christians feel like they can have a real conversation about abortion, and not just feel angry or ashamed. Yeah, if we can talk about abortion with more honesty and less shame, I think churches will actually have more compassion, and also more conviction and clarity on questions about abortion.
3. What makes you want to give yourself in the pro-life movement?
Usually, I try to be really positive with my pro-life messages, and not simply talk about abortion all the time. But I’ll be direct with you. There are 70,000 abortions in East Asia every day. I’m convinced there is no good reason for this, and that abortion is the worst long-term solution to social problems. I also believe that every human being–no matter what size–has inherent dignity. And we shouldn’t kill innocent humans. Actually, when people ask me why I care about abortion, my first thought is: “Have you ever seen an abortion?” But I don’t usually say that, because it might be a conversation-stopper. I don’t know…maybe I should try it.
Since high school, I’ve believed that abortion is a human rights issue. This is an issue of justice for unborn children, and also of just treatment for women by their families and societies. We can do better than abortion.
I don’t have a personal experience with abortion. But my wife is an abortion survivor. Her mother had already given birth 9 times, and after she got pregnant the 10th time, she was convinced that a medical abortion was her best choice. But it didn’t work, my wife survived without any harm. And because of her, her family is blessed, and the world is a better place.
4. What is your vision of pro-life movement in Hong Kong? And is there any possibilities for bringing it to Macau, or even other parts in China?
“This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting.” Jesus said this about a demon who was afflicting a child, and making him harm himself by falling into fire and water. Abortion is a reflex, like the reflex of the boy to throw himself into water or fire. The idea that abortion will cure our problems is madness. But it is deeply ingrained into society. But it causes more problems than it produces, and destroys the next generation in the process. My vision is to call people to pray and fast for an end to abortion. There are many other important aspects to ending abortion, but I don’t think we can be successful without prayer and fasting.
As far as pro-life efforts in other regions–yes, it’s totally possible. I’m happy to encourage and counsel–but only a local facilitator can create an effective ministry. But if someone wants to do something–it is possible to do something. I’d be happy to discuss ideas!
5. What do you think the government should do, in order to protect the unborn babies?
I’m from America, and I don’t know what the government should do about abortion there. I certainly don’t know what the government should do here. But I will say, even though the Hong Kong government facilitates over 9,000 abortions each year (through funding of hospitals and the Family Planning Association), they didn’t start abortion. Originally, it was foreign medical doctors who persuaded the medical community and the government to make it normal and “necessary” in society. I think doctors and pro-life medical professionals will also help to end abortion. A lot of people’s ideas about life and death depend on what doctors say. Their attitudes are so powerful.
So, my priority is not politics. I want to get a clear pro-life message into churches, because God works through churches to bless the community and the society. Throughout history, most of the work to end infanticide, child slavery, and foot-binding, has been done by Christians. And despite different traditions and theologies, we can also work together today to respond to the injustice of abortion.
In the photo below, a mother is being separated from her daughter during a slave auction. 300 years ago, this scene could have happened, legally, almost anywhere in the world. For people at that time, today’s legal protections against enslavement would have seemed like an impossible dream! Very few imagined it was possible to make slavery illegal in every country.
Slavery still exists, and it is still a horrible scourge on our humanity. In fact, the world still has roughly 45,000,000 victims of human trafficking. There is no acceptable justification for this, and it must stop.
But despite this unconscionably high number, the number of slaves per capita is lower than it has been in millenia. This is due largely to Christian abolitionists, who have prayed and worked hard for hundreds of years. Without their continuous efforts, slavery would be far more common and acceptable than it is.
Despite many victories, slavery has never ended. So abolitionists have continuously found new ways to influence education and law, which have in turn radically reduced global slavery. We still have a lot of work to do, but the abolition movement has made incredible progress over the past few hundred years.
My goal is to persuade people that abortion is as unnecessary and unacceptable as slavery. I just hope it doesn’t take hundreds of years.
A long time ago, a lot of people believed that slaves were not really members of society, and that slavery was needed for the economy. It was common for slave children to be violently taken from their mothers.
The lies that have enabled slavery are the same as the lies that have enabled abortion.
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