The following is the keynote address given by Deacon Steve Olmsead at the Rally for Life on the Capitol Steps in Juneau, January 22, 2020.
I want to thank Alaskan’s for Life for hosting this event and for all they do to promote life and the protection of the unborn.
I want to thank each of you for being here and standing for those who have no voice — standing for the rights of the smallest and most vulnerable in our nation.
I am the youngest of 4 children. I have heard the story of my conception and subsequent birth 100’s of times. My parents were married out of college. Not long after they had a girl and two and a half years later, they had a boy. They were very happy and decided after my brother was born, they were done having children. Thus, they started using birth control.
However, as is the case with birth control, it does not always prevent pregnancies. This was in 1963, 10 years before legalized abortion in America, and the passing of Roe vs. Wade. Thankfully, my parents decided to have this very unexpected third child. As the pregnancy progressed, my mother had three tests to see if there were any problems with the pregnancy and if she was having twins. The results were conclusive, only one baby in the womb – one heartbeat.
Yet, when my mom was being wheeled into the delivery room in the hospital, an internist checked my mom and said to my dad, “Mr. Olmstead, you are going to have twins.” My dad said, “there is no way we are having twins, we’ve had several tests, and I bet you a Martini we are not having twins.” In the delivery room, my brother was born. Not long after, the doctor told my mother there is another one coming and I was born.
My mother was devastated. She didn’t know how she was going to raise three children, let alone this child who she never knew in the womb. I didn’t have a name — not one thought of my life. My mom had no idea what she was going to do. She was in crisis and fell into instant depression. She didn’t know how she was going to move forward.
My saving grace, an angel who saved my life, and I believe my mother’s life as well. She was an African American Nurse who kept coming into my mother’s room saying. “You’re so blessed! You’re so blessed! You’re so deeply blessed! You’re so deeply blessed.”
As important as pro-life legislation is. As important as voting for pro-life legislators and candidates is. As important as it is to pass laws to defend the defenseless. If we are going to stop the killing of innocent, vulnerable children, we ultimately must work tirelessly to turn the hearts and minds of mothers and fathers to their children. I mention fathers because often it is the spouse that pressures the woman to have an abortion. We must work to change hearts and minds.
I believe my mother’s nurse, who I call Grace, has something to teach us. Sometimes what is needed to change hearts and minds is simply a compassionate, consistent, and committed message, “Children are a blessing! Children are blessings. You are blessed to have this child!” I believe this simple and clear message can truly change hearts. That is why we must share like Grace did a compassionate, consistent, and committed message to help the heart and mind conceive what is already conceived in the womb.
Grace showed my mom compassion! She didn’t scold my mother or say she was a bad mother for being in crisis. She didn’t judge my mother for being depressed or in tears. She didn’t try to shame my mother or make her feel any less of a woman or mother. She just kept speaking the truth with patience and kindness. “You are blessed. Children are a blessing!” Her compassion gave my mother time, time for her heart and mind to catch up with what her womb had embraced.
Today technology and biology favor life. 90% of abortion-minded and abortion-vulnerable women who go to a crisis pregnancy center will choose LIFE once they have seen their baby on ultrasounds or hear their heartbeat. Science and Technology are for LIFE.
At the moment of conception or fertilization, a unique and unrepeatable human person is created with his or her own DNA, separate from the mother and father. Within five and a half weeks, the heart beats with its own blood. Within the first trimester 10 to 12 weeks, all organs are developed. When we offer compassion, we offer patience and kindness and give mothers and fathers more time to let the message sink in. Children are a blessing!
We also need to be consistent. Grace kept coming in over and over, sharing the same consistent words of blessing. “You are blessed. You are so deeply blessed. Children are a blessing.” One challenge is that many women in crisis or unplanned pregnancy situations do not feel blessed. Many feel burdened, alone, and even see the baby as a competitor.
Mother Theresa said, “The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships…It has portrayed the greatest of gifts a child as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience.”
We stand as advocates for life and the truth that a child is not a competitor or intrusion or inconvenience, but a blessing and gift from God. We keep the same consistent message. Babies are a blessing! You are blessed!
Finally, Grace was committed not only to the message but to my mother and father as well. She was relentless.
Grace wasn’t afraid to be a voice of hope amid despair. She wasn’t afraid to be a voice of contradiction. When the room was filled with crisis, uncertainty, despair, tears, and darkness, Grace was committed to being a witness of hope and light. “Children are a blessing! You are blessed! You are so deeply blessed!”
If mothers and fathers know we are truly committed to them and will help them with the realities of pregnancy and the many challenges of life after pregnancy, more and more women will choose LIFE!
We need to support them by assisting with housing and childcare, and helping with a myriad of their very real needs, so they are supported in choosing life and don’t feel they have to choose between a career and being a mother.
We are called to share, as Grace did, a compassionate, consistent, and committed message: Children are a blessing! You are blessed. You are so deeply blessed. If we do this, I believe more and more women will choose life. More and more men will encourage their spouses or partners to choose life.
In addition, more mothers, if they do not believe they can adequately care for the child within them, will be willing to offer the blessing of their child to someone else to adopt.
My wife and I have seven children; three are biological. I’ve seen my wife sacrifice her body to give life to these children. I’m pro-life, in many ways because of my wife.
We can’t imagine our life without our three biological children, but we also have four adopted children. Our lives could not be more blessed because of them. Our four adopted children share the same biological mother. She had crisis pregnancies. She had severe financial, emotional, relational and mental challenges. Yet, we thank God she chose life. Although she was abortion-vulnerable, she chose life because she believed in the compassionate, constant and committed message that children are a blessing. We cannot imagine our lives without these children. We cannot imagine our world without these children.
It is estimated that there are 2 million couples in America waiting to adopt a child. I hope and pray the hearts and minds of mothers and fathers will choose life.
Truly children are a blessing! Thank you again for standing up for LIFE!