God & I: Stephanie Gray Connors

July 05 2021 | by

SINCE the age of 18 you have given over 1,000 pro-life presentations. Why is the topic of abortion so important for you?

I have always loved babies, and I saw that my parents were very active in the pro-life movement saving babies. My mum in particular volunteered at a pregnancy care center, and my parents would also bring my sister and I to pro-life conferences, rallies, marches, etc., so I knew that there was a need to speak for pre-born children who couldn’t speak for themselves.

A pivotal moment occurred at the age of 18 when I heard pro-life speaker Scott Klusendorf who said, “There are more people working full-time to kill babies than there are people working full-time to save them.” At that moment I felt that God was asking me to commit my life to the work of saving babies, and I began giving pro-life talks.


In 2016 you published the book Love Unleashes Life: Abortion & the Art of Communicating Truth. What are some simple tips for discussing the abortion issue charitably and fruitfully with relatives and friends?

I encourage people to model themselves on the example of Jesus when interacting with people. Jesus asked questions and He told parables, so when it comes to discussing abortion the more we ask questions and tell analogies and stories that make our point more clear, the easier it will be for people to see and embrace the pro-life perspective.

For instance, I would ask someone, “Do you believe in human rights?” and they’ll answer in the affirmative. Then I’ll ask, “Who gets human rights?” and they will say that humans do. Continuing, I’ll ask, “When does science say human beings begin their life?” If you look at biology textbooks, they clearly teach that beings which reproduce sexually begin their life at the moment of fertilization. Because our parents are human we are of the same species as them – homo sapiens – and that means that if we believe in human rights, our human right to life begins at the moment we did – at conception.

If people ask about specific circumstances, such as rape, I respond, “We need to have compassion for victims of sexual assault.” We also need to ask, “Is it fair to give the death penalty to an innocent child? That’s a consequence we don’t even give to the guilty party, to the rapist himself, so why would we give it to the innocent child and make them pay for the crime that their father committed?” I often add to this the true story of my friend Lianna Rebolledo, who was raped when she was 12. She became pregnant, but decided to keep her child, which is the only child she ever had and who became her best friend. She realized an abortion would not unrape her, and that her child needed her.


They told me that when you share your pro-life beliefs you often employ the art of storytelling and the ‘Socratic’ method. Can you explain to our readers what the Socratic method is?

Before Jesus used questions we have Socrates who, in his quest for truth and the desire to teach others, often asked questions.

Questions are important because they cause the person who is questioned to ask themselves what the answer is, or what the reasons are for their claims. This can help them identify if there are holes, weaknesses or errors in their opinions.

Stories are important because they activate the imagination. They also help us understand principles that, when told in isolation, might be difficult to embrace, but when communicated through the lens of a story that we can relate to, become clearer.

For instance, people say to me that abortion is justified because the pre-born child is totally dependent on the mother only. The principle to convey is that when a vulnerable person is entirely dependent on one single individual, then that actually heightens the individual’s responsibility. A story makes this clear: If you know first aid and you see someone in a restaurant choking, but you notice that other people who know first aid are helping the choking person, then if you do nothing you haven’t committed a wrong because others are intervening. But if you are the only person at home with a choking person and you do not use your first aid skills to help that person, then your omission will lead to the person’s death. In both situations you did not act; however, in the second situation, the person was entirely depended on only you, just like a pre-born child entirely depends on only its mom, so that heightens one’s responsibility.


I have read that many women, after having gone through with an abortion, are racked with guilt. What can we do to help them?

We should offer them the message of Christ’s mercy and healing. When someone feels guilty, rather than dismiss their guilt, we should help them explore why their conscience is convicting them and point them to God’s forgiveness through confession.

The Good News is that God is loving and merciful, and He sent His son to atone for our sins. He forgives and He transforms. For instance, St. Peter betrayed Christ at his greatest hour of need, but then repented. He was not only forgiven by God, but also transformed to the point of being made the first Pope, the rock on which Christ built his Church.


What is the most common pro-choice argument and how do you counter it?

I often hear abortion supporters say a woman has a right to control her own body. So I ask them this question: “If a woman who doesn’t want a baby takes a pregnancy test and the results are negative, does she go to an abortion clinic?” And they will obviously say no. So then I ask them what would happen if the results were positive. And they answer that she might go to an abortion clinic. So I ask, “What is the negative test telling her that’s different from the positive test?” The answer is that the negative test is telling her that it’s only her body there, whereas the positive test is telling her another body is there. When someone chooses abortion, they’re actually controlling someone else’s body – that of the pre-born child. And if we believe we should respect the body of another human being, then we need to protect the body of pre-born babies, especially our offspring.


What can you tell us about your Catholic formation?

Both my parents were raised Catholic, and I’m grateful for that because they raised my sister and I in a devout Catholic home. We prayed the rosary as a family every night, and we attended Catholic school. We went to retreats and conferences.

So from the time I was young I was formed in the faith. Catholicism was not merely a cultural experience for me; it was also a religious one through which I grew in a personal relationship with Jesus. I have been blessed by many priests and other godly examples who have helped me further in my faith. My source of life and hope is Jesus in the Eucharist.


What image of God do you have in your heart?

I don’t know if I can put a face to God in my mind, but I think of him as a good Father who wants what’s best for me as a daughter. God for me is not so much an image as He is a strong sense of power and spirit that is infused in me and through my work.


You got married in August last year. How did you know that you were called to the vocation of marriage and that your husband Joe was the right man for you?

I had always longed to be married, but also considered religious life in case God was calling me to that. However, I never got the certainty that I should pursue the latter. Moreover, I felt very called to be in the world speaking and doing pro-life work so I continued with that while seeking the guidance of spiritual directors, and hoped God would provide me a companion for the journey.  

I finally met “Mr. Right” at the age of 39, and got married three weeks after my 40th birthday. From the moment I met Joe, I could tell he was kind. There was so much virtue radiating from him. Moreover, we had so much in common. It was easy to talk with him and I was very much myself around him. We had deep conversations, but also a lot of fun. And we laughed together – a lot (and still do!). He demonstrated great spiritual leadership through initiating prayer, going to Mass, etc.


Do you have any advice to engaged couples who are preparing for marriage?

Stay close to the Church. Trust the wisdom of the Church in her formation. Trust that she was instituted by our heavenly Father who wants our good, and that all her guidance and teachings are given to bless and help us.

My husband and I were blessed by very holy priests who helped guide us in our marriage formation. The Vancouver Archdiocese has an excellent marriage program which teaches a lot about the importance of communication between spouses. The more formation you get in advance of entering into the Sacrament of Marriage, the better. At the same time, marriage is a journey so there is much learning after the vows are said. We should aim to continually grow in our faith and reverence for our spouse.


Where is God when bad things happen?

We live in a broken world where sin exists because of the presence of Satan. But God never wanted evil to exist in the world. Had God made us robots who were programmed to love him without choosing to, then that love wouldn’t have been authentic. It’s just like in marriage. If someone holds a gun to your head and says, “Marry me!” then if you marry that person you’re not freely choosing them out of love. So God gave us the freedom to choose Him, which therefore necessitated that we also have the ability to not choose Him, and this rejection occurred through the original sin of Adam and Eve. This rejection of God brought a host of other sins in its wake, and this explains the presence of evil in the world.

But God is constantly writing straight with our crooked lines; whatever messes we make, He has the power to “make all things new” (Rev 21:5), and He does. In short, when bad things happen, God is right there fixing them. We need to remember, however, that if God doesn’t respond in the way or timeline we think He should, that He is Creator and all-knowing and all-loving, whereas we are prone to sin and don’t see the bigger picture. So we need to surrender and trust Him as a child should trust their parent. For example, if a parent refuses a child’s request for candy, the child might interpret the parent’s denial as harsh and unloving; however, if the parent knows the child has a deadly allergy to something in the chocolate, their refusal is actually loving, even if it doesn’t feel loving to the child. We need to trust God is working all things for good, even if we, from our limited perspective, don’t fully see or understand everything.

I’ve been reading lately on the word shalom, and how it doesn’t just mean peace. In the Old Testament it meant much more. The word shalom is about wholeness and fullness. It means an ordered relationship with God and with our neighbors. That’s what it was like in the Garden of Eden, and that’s what it will be like in the world to come. And our job in the meantime is to try to reweave the power of shalom into our relationship with God and with our neighbors. And we have to trust that God is the greatest orchestrator of doing that.


Has Saint Anthony of Padua ever played any significant role in your life?

As a child I saw my parents pray often for his intercession when something was lost. As I got older, I learned that Saint Anthony was also a great intercessor for public speakers because he’s been described as having a “golden tongue” due to his power of preaching. This is why I feel a special connection to him in my preaching and proclamation of the word of God.

Also, I have a dear friend back in Vancouver who is a priest. He is a phenomenal shepherd who has grown his parish and forms his parishioners so well. He has a real heart for his vocation, and is an incredible preacher, and his parish is named St. Anthony of Padua. I think that’s no coincidence!


BORN IN Vancouver, BC, Canada, Stephanie Gray Connors holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UBC in Vancouver, and a Certification, with Distinction, in Health Care Ethics, from the NCBC in Philadelphia.

  Stephanie is a seasoned, international, pro-life speaker who began presenting at the age of 18. She has given over 1,000 pro-life presentations over two decades across North America as well as in Scotland, England, Ireland, Austria, Latvia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Stephanie is author of the book Start with What: 10 Principles for Thinking about Assisted Suicide as well as the book Love Unleashes Life: Abortion & the Art of Communicating Truth. Her website is: www.loveunleasheslife.com

Updated on July 05 2021