There is a scene in the 2020 movie “Roe V. Wade” when Dr. Bernard Nathanson breaks down in tears and falls against a wall sobbing over and over, “It’s a person. It’s a person.”

It is a powerful scene. The moment when one of the most prolific abortionists of his time realizes the humanity of the unborn child and the gravity of his actions. The moment he has a major conversion of heart.

When people blanche at the thought of being labeled “pro-life,” the above scene brings home why those who are pro-life are so stubborn. It’s a person.

Dr. Nathanson’s real-life conversion gives hope to those who are pro-life. Hope that we can reach the lost, those whose hearts have been hardened.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recognizes October as Respect Life Month. During this month we are called to reflect on the dignity of every human life. How do we love and show mercy to those who hold us in contempt? How do we love and show mercy to those who WE hold in contempt?

Consider this reflection from Father David Thoroughgood: “The Lord seeks out the lost, and so do we under His guidance and power. He has a real love for the lost, being able to see these people as His own children. It is much like a parent still looking out for the child who has taken wrong turns and is in great trouble at present. … The parent still loves the wayward child, whereas the general public might have contempt for that same ‘child.’ The lost can include some very unpopular people, such as murderers, rapists, dictators, fraudsters, sex abusers. …”

I dare to add the abortionists and pro-abortion politicians.

A priest from the Archdiocese of Adelaide, Australia, Father Throughgood posts his homilies on his blog luxvera.blogspot. com. His words are filled with charity even though sometimes they are hard to read. How do we change hearts?

How do we reach people and convince them of the truth? Perhaps we stop talking and instead listen, leaving the heavy lifting up to Our Lord.

St. Teresa of Calcutta famously said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

The words of St. Peter of Alcantara can apply in our times. He said, “Truly, matters in the world are in a bad state; but if you and I begin in earnest to reform ourselves, a really good beginning will have been made.”

“The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.”

— Phyllis Harkonen is the Respect Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington.

—Originally published in the Oct. 2-8, 2021, edition of The Inland See.