Denise Harle on the Image of God and Post-Roe Policies
Nick Vujicic: Hello everyone and welcome to the NickV TV Talk Show. I am so excited. Stand for Life, this is the series, there’s nothing more closer to my heart and more important than to talk about the value of every single life. Yes, life begins at conception. Yes, God doesn’t make mistakes. And yes, whenever the enemy tried to use for bad in any unexpected pregnancy, God can cause all things to come together for the good, for those who love him. We, the church, we, the people, who believe that the babies in every womb are valuable, we are doing our best to stand for life. I’m so thankful to Lauren Green McAfee. We did some interviews in the last couple weeks with people who are standing for life together. It’s a unification of multiple organizations that are aligned to Stand for Life all across America.
Today’s guest, Denise Harle. Let me give you a little bit of background. Incredible, incredible woman. She serves as senior council with Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is the director of the Center for Life and leads her team’s litigation and advocacy efforts to defend pro-life laws around the nation. She was one of several ADF attorneys who assisted Mississippi’s legal team in Dobbs versus Jackson, Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court victory that reversed Roe v. Wade. Come on. A master’s degree in political science from Stanford University and a Juris Doctor from Duke University’s School of Law. At Duke she served as the executive editor of Law and Contemporary Problems, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Harle to the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council in 2021 to support churches and nonprofits as they care for vulnerable members of society.
What an amazing woman, full of weaponry to stand for life and our freedoms. Thank you so much, Denise, for joining me. Hello.
Denise Harle: Hey Nick. So glad to be talking with you today.
Nick Vujicic: Thank you for doing this virtually. I know you’re very, very busy. Three little ones, nine flights in the last six days. Thank you so much for making time to have me interview about Standing for Life. We love you so much.
Denise Harle: Oh, my pleasure. I’m so excited about Stand for Life.
Nick Vujicic: First of all, I want to ask you about the conference, we’re all excited about it. Tell our viewers and listeners right now, why are you most excited about the conference in DC January 18th and 19th?
Denise Harle: Well, I have to say the overturning of Roe v. Wade makes this a very exciting conference because it’s a celebration of what God has done with decades of faithful prayer. We have marched, we’ve prayed, we’ve served and loved moms and babies through the Pregnancy Center Network and churches. And this is the time to come together and just rejoice and worship and praise God for what he’s done and also to look ahead and ask him what does he want us do now? Because this is just the beginning of the opportunity for the church to walk the walk that we’ve been talking about and praying about for so long.
Nick Vujicic: Denise, this is amazing. I mean, reading your bio and how you’ve been active and you don’t look a day older than 30. Denise, listen, I want to know the beginning. Help me understand how and what gave you this passion for helping people choose life, I would love to know where did this begin for you?
Denise Harle: God just puts certain things on certain people’s hearts and I think at a very young age, I would say even in middle school, I felt a little burden when I learned what abortion was. I was so clear to me that we’re all made in the image of God. Of course, I knew that God’s word tells us that he knits us together in our mother’s womb and he knows us before he even forms us. And so that combination of knowing that God says every single person is made in the image of God and also as a female, as a woman knowing that abortion destroys women. It lies to women. It tells women that they can’t be moms and have happy, successful lives. And it also tells women to sort of do something that’s going to leave them with shame and regret and guilt. I think it’s a lie of the enemy that deceives women. And so for that reason, I wanted to do whatever I could to kind of come alongside women and help them choose life both for themselves and for the baby.
Nick Vujicic: I love it. Denise, what is it that you see your role being in the pro-life movement? I mean, we’re all excited, I know you are excited to see someone actually be the spearhead, to tell all the organizations nationwide come together. Let’s come together synergize learn, strategize, empowered the church, give free resources given free sermons for the pastors to bring that back in their spine, the spine in their backs, to talk about this issue that needs to be talked nationwide way, way more. Your role in the pro-life movement and your excitement about this movement, Stand for Life.
Denise Harle: It’s so exciting and it’s important because overturning Roe gives America a tremendous opportunity to finally affirm the dignity of human life and that life is a human right, and the church is an essential part of this. So what the Supreme Court has said in overturning Roe is that now the question of abortion policy goes back to the people through our elected representatives. And that means states are going to be able to pass certain laws that protect life. But a critical piece of those policies is that the church be there to help support these women with resources and that we be communicating a message that wins over the culture. Because if we don’t have the culture and if we aren’t there to show that it’s possible to support these women who are facing difficult circumstances, then the lawmakers aren’t going to be comfortable enacting pro-life policies and it’s going to fall apart if we’re not there to step up and show that these policies are possible and we are here to do whatever is necessary to love these moms and give them what they need.
Nick Vujicic: I love it. Look, the whole movement of the church to talk about it, to meet these women where they’re at with no judgment whatsoever, to talk about even to women who’ve already had abortions to help them heal from the PTSD, from such a traumatic, if you will, difficulty of mental health and even physical health. We all know that no one knows what even the new chemical abortion wave is going to look like in our own towns. Not everyone’s going to be able to jump on a plane and go to California and have an abortion, there’s going to be a surge of chemical abortions in their own home. Our church needs to be ready for this type of new approach in reaching people where they’re at;.
We can’t play the victim card. We need to be educated. We need to get resource. We need to start talking about that. We need to get ready. You know this Denise, just because Roe v. Wade was overturned, as amazing as it is and as celebratory as we all should be, the fight is far from over for the church to really have that movement in a holistic of life approach and point of view to the mother, to the families affected with the unexpected pregnancy.
Look, there’s so much I know you could tell us more about, but from a high level, Denise, what do you see for the pro-life movement? What would you like to see? What do you hope to see that that should happen and hoping to change in the near future when we talk about the pro-life movement?
Denise Harle: Well, I think what I want to see is more engagement. I think for a long time the conversation was basically just shut down because seven male justices in 1973 said that there was this mandatory abortion regime, and we were just locked into that. And I think that the church, believers have been afraid to upset people to sound like judgmental, to get into an argument. But the truth is we have God’s word on our side, we have sciences on our side, we have morality on our side. We have love and truth on our side. And so I’m hoping to see a sort of contagious amount of confidence and courage come into these conversations.
One thing that I find a lot of people are surprised to learn is just what an extreme outlier the United States is and was under the Roe regime. We were one of only six nations around the world to allow elective abortion up to the moment of birth, and we were in the company of China and North Korea on that. In fact, 75% of nations around the world either don’t allow elective abortion at all or limit it to at most 12 weeks. So I think these are the sorts of things we want to educate people and say, no. You know what? We’re right about this. If you look around the globe, people understand just instinctively as humans that abortion is an atrocity and a human rights violation. And so we should not be afraid to speak up and speak into that with the love of Jesus and say, because of human dignity, because God made each one of us and he makes no mistakes, we stand for life. We stand for the life of that child. We stand for the life of the mom and the best things in her life as well.
And so what I hope to see is sort of an educational moment that then sends us out into the world equipped to have these conversations and to be the hands and feet.
Nick Vujicic: Amen and amen and amen. On an individual level, Denise, how can Christians help legally shape the conversation surrounding a pro-life view and the issue of abortion when there’s conversations, how do we approach it? There’s so many people who just say, well, I can’t talk about it because it’s political, and everyone on both sides is incredibly passionate on where they stand. How does a Christian legally shape that conversation surrounding this?
Denise Harle: Yeah, that’s a great question. I do not suggest that everyone go to law school. But I do suggest that you might want to follow, just for example, Alliance Defending Freedoms Center for Life, we have a webpage and a newsletter that we just sort of boil down the basics on what’s going on in the pro-life world. We’re currently working in about 20 states to defend pro-life laws there. And just for example, one myth buster that I’ve put out into my op-eds and blogs lately is that the truth is every single state law, even those that completely outlaw abortion, protect the life of the mother and would allow exception from life of the mother. That’s one of those myths that the media on the other side has put out that we need to be able to refute.
Another is what pregnancy centers do. I would encourage everyone listening to this to get familiar with your local pregnancy resource center. Find out what they’re offering moms in your communities. Find out what you can contribute to what they’re offering because the list of services and resources is so long, and it’s a wonderful talking point if you’re talking to someone about abortion. Just to let them know, hey, these free support services are available for anyone at no cost.
And then the third, I think, and it kind of plays into the law as just a quick understanding of the science of what happens during a pregnancy. The law that ended up overturning Roe was a 15 week law. At 15 weeks a baby’s heart has been beating for about 10 weeks. All of the organ systems are fully formed. That baby can move around and kick, hiccup, suck its thumb, likely feel pain, it responds to painful stimulus. And that’s the kind of thing that when we’re talking to the other side, sort of just asking, what about when a baby has a heartbeat? And just sort of gracefully knowing what the science is, those ultrasounds are undeniable. And then sort of asking questions, kindly asking questions of the other side to see where their position is coming from, and then sort of engage with them where they’re at.
Nick Vujicic: Amen. And look for me, we also always end up saying, well, adoption is an option. And people think, no, no, no, I can’t. There’s so many thoughts that then are spiraling because of fear and uncertainty and what does that look and carrying a baby to full term, what does that even mean? And putting everything on hold. Well, it’s my choice. Well, the same strong view of having a choice, your baby with us standing for life, actually, we become the voice for the voiceless. And that’s why we’re so passionate and, yes, coming in love. But the bottom line in my conversations I’ve had with many people, it’s interesting where in nearly every single argument could be actually used for the baby’s voice as well to have that opportunity, that chance to live.
Denise, where can I find your blogs? Where can we learn more about what you are posting and articles and activities and events that you are doing on the circuit?
Denise Harle: Yes. Well, Alliance Defending Freedom is a proud partner of Stand For Life, we’re at adflegal.org. You can also follow us on social media, we’re on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and then I also post lots of content op-eds blogs on Twitter and LinkedIn as well, just to share the narrative. We have truth on our side. We have God’s word on our side, and I think it’s just so important to get that out into the court of public opinion because we do have to win there as well. I would be thrilled to have anyone follow along there and even ask me questions, engage. That’s what we’re here for, and that’s what Stand For Life is about is equipping the church for this very moment.
Nick Vujicic: Amen. Denise. We’ve said a lot, but if there was only one thing you could just wish that everyone knew or understood about this issue that we generally just don’t know, what would it be?
Denise Harle: Well, I’ve talked about the science of fetal development and I think that’s often unknown. And I think also how extreme America’s abortion laws, that’s another unknown. But I would say the pregnancy resource centers that are out there, this is often surprising to the church, is there are more than 3000 around the nation. Last year alone, they gave hundreds of millions of dollars in free resources to over 2 million individuals, they are in communities and states around the nation. It is to me, such a key partner that the churches need to be connecting with, believers in the community to be connecting with these pregnancy resource centers because that’s where these women, when they wonder if they’re pregnant, when they get that pregnant positive pregnancy test and they’re trying to decide whether to have an abortion, almost always end up calling a pregnancy resource center. And when they do and when they’re welcomed in and they have one conversation from one loving person or if they just see that ultrasound, it can make all the difference in the world of choosing life for their baby and choosing a future.
So if you don’t know that that’s out there, I would just encourage you to find out more about them and to be proud when you’re having those conversations that these are the sorts of things that every single one of those pregnancy centers is a faith-based Christian group, every single one I’ve ever encountered. So we can be really proud of that, that we are there, we’re ready for this moment, and we’re going to just keep loving and keep sharing the fact that life is a human right.
Nick Vujicic: Denise, thank you so much. This is huge. This is huge. I hope that every single one of you’re going to go to ADF, go on their LinkedIn, go on their website, go check out their blogs, get resourced, get educated. Don’t wait for your church to do something different. On behalf of your church, you do something, you instigate something. Start the conversations. We have no excuse. Babies lives are at stake, and you can make a difference in your own community.
Denise, last and final question, how does the individual, apart from that little encouragement that I gave, give us some practicality on how can we engage in our communities and directly impact or indirectly impact, but just engage now? How do we do that in a practical sense?
Denise Harle: You know what? That is the ultimate question of what Stand For Life is all about. So I would say come to the Stand for Life Conference in DC, we have two days of workshops and panels and keynotes, including you, who are going to be talking about all of the options of exactly how we can do this. In the meantime, go to standforlife.com, sign up, say that you are standing for life that you’re in, and you’ll see there many of the partner organizations. There are places like Embrace Grace that put together love boxes for women who are choosing life and facing very difficult circumstances. There are, again, the Pregnancy Center Network, there is information about how you can volunteer your services if you have particular skillsets that you can be offering to moms in your community who need a crib, a car seat, their car fixed, they might need maternity clothes, they might need an ultrasound, they may need baby blankets, it could be anything. But Stand For Life is going to be exactly that, it is the one stop shop portal for us to know exactly which of our neighbors needs help and how.
Nick Vujicic: I love it. Denise, I’m so excited. I can’t wait to share the stage with you. I’m honored to have had this opportunity to interview you and your standing for life to make it even more prominent and personal to everyone watching right now. It’s not political. It’s not a political issue. It’s not this, it’s not that. It’s like, well, I’m just going to see what happens now Roe v Wade was overturned. No, get in the game. Get on the field and do what you can to stand for life in your own community.
Right now. Go to standsfl.com/nick right now. Go there. Give us your name. Give us your email address because this is a movement. It’s going to take millions of us to get on this list and say, yes, we stand for life. I want to be counted. I’m ready to engage in my local community to stand for life, and I’m coming to DC to learn how. Love you so much, Denise. Thank you so much for joining me here today and God bless you and your work, that’s very important.
Denise Harle: Thanks, Nick. I’ll see you in DC.
Nick Vujicic: Sounds great. Everyone watching thank you so much for watching Stand For Life here on the NickV TV Talk Show. I love you very much and let’s together continue to stand for life.