For former NFL star Benjamin Watson, abortion is a complex issue of justice, human rights, and dignity — and must be addressed holistically, from the economic and social disparities that drive the practice to the cultural mindset that normalizes it.
When the Human Coalition — an organization dedicated to removing the stain of abortion from America — offered Watson the role of vice president of strategic relationships, he gladly accepted.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Watson told The Christian Post. “I got involved with Human Coalition because I love what they’re doing from a dignity standpoint. We all have inherent dignity as creations of God. From womb to tomb, people deserve to be respected, and mothers deserve to be supported. Human Coalition has a full spectrum of services, from telecare and brick-and-mortar clinics to working toward policy and legislation. They are involved in so many different aspects of caring for women, families, and preborn children.”
Watson, who previously served as an ambassador for the organization, explained that in his new role, he hopes to collaborate with others in the pro-life arena, connect with donors, and cultivate relationships with legislators in key states.
“There are so many individuals that are in different spheres of influence around the country that are likeminded, from those in medicine, business, and education to those who stay at home,” he said. “I hope to bring these people in and allow them to use their abilities to further protect human life and support mothers.”
But more broadly, the Super Bowl champion says he hopes to be a “bridge-builder” between communities, people groups, and demographics that have a shared passion for protecting life.
“The false stereotype of the pro-life movement is evangelical, middle class, Republican people,” he said. “But I would say that the pro-life movement expands between all ethnic groups, Democrats and Republicans, those who are wealthy, and those who are not.”
Watson said there is “breadth and depth to the pro-life movement,” adding: “While we have differences in one area or another area, it doesn't preclude us from coming together on this issue. We need to have respect, dialogue, and overcome differences to strengthen this movement. We’re stronger together than we are apart.”
The bestselling author’s passion for the pro-life movement stems from his deep commitment to justice. One of his favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 9:23-24, which describes God as one who “exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth.”
Watson defined justice as "giving people their just due, whether that is protection or punishment. But at the same time, justice is about "restoring fallen creation to a rightful relationship with each other as well as with our God," he said.
"The entire abortion issue is a justice issue. It is about protecting women. It is about men serving and protecting the women that are having their children. It's also about protecting innocent life. Anytime I'm able to be involved with promoting justice and human dignity, it’s going to be a passion of mine.”
Together, Watson and his wife, Kirsten — a businesswoman, philanthropist, and pro-life activist in her own right — have seven children. As parents, the couple often tell their children: “Don't be surprised when you are ostracized, the outcast, or out of the norm because of your beliefs.”
“We tell them, ‘Understand that there will always be adversity to the truth, but that doesn't make it untrue. It just means that you have to fight a little bit harder in order for people to hear the truth,’” Watson advised.
Likewise, he encouraged the next generation to not only stand firm in their beliefs but have an unwavering understanding of why they hold to certain values.
“What I've seen from the pro-life movement is that there is a generation of young people who are really understanding the impact abortion can have a life and on our country,” he said.
“But the pro-life movement, like any movement, can become kind of a club or place of belonging," he continued. "While that’s part of human activity, we always have to get back to why we believe what we believe and what our beliefs are rooted in. I would encourage young people to understand that though they will face adversity, the adversity is worth the outcome. It’s important to keep fighting the good fight.”
The Watsons are also behind the new documentary "Divided Hearts of America," which looks at the injustice of abortion and tackles difficult questions surrounding the issue. With the stated aim of “bringing empathy and understanding to all sides of the abortion debate,” the documentary features interviews with 30 pro-life and pro-choice Americans, including retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson to Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece Alveda Kings.
On Feb. 2, “Divided Hearts of America” debuted on mainstream, widespread digital and cable platforms for the first time. The film is now available on numerous digital and cable platforms, including Amazon Prime, Cable Vision, Comcast, Cox, Dish, Frontier, Google Play, iTunes, Redbox, Roku, Sling, Spectrum, Verizon, and Vudu.
From former teammates to viewers on both sides of the aisle, Watson said hundreds of people have shared how the documentary impacted them.
“I think this documentary has the ability to really be unifying, but also to make people really think and understand just how we have to approach this issue: With grace and empathy,” he posited.
Though optimistic about the future of the pro-life movement, Watson challenged the Church to engage in the “whole plethora of issues” that compel a woman to have an abortion. It’s important for church leaders to unpack from the pulpit what the term pro-life really means, he said.
“Hopefully, the Church can get involved because it has the ability to be a culture-changing catalyst, not only on this issue but on so many other justice issues. Churches can be the one to push the culture to not only fight for life, but fight for all the needs of people that may lead up to this decision,” he said.
Christians, Watson charged, must be people who are “passionate about life” — and anytime there is a life that is “mistreated, devalued, or oppressed,” the onus is on the Body of Christ to actively defend and fight for it.
“Families are being destroyed. Lives are being destroyed. This should bring out emotion in us,” he said. “We need to understand that when we talk about justice, that spans a lot of different issues, but they all have to do with respecting the inherent dignity of people because we are image-bearers of our Creator.”