Please listen with discretion as this episode addresses very sensitive topics around the sanctity of life.
In this episode of TGC Q&A, Matt Britton joins us for the third installment of our four-part sanctity of life series, discussing how his legal career grew beyond the courtroom and into fighting for the rights of the unborn in the pro-life movement.
- A quick introduction (1:26)
- The core functions of 40 Days for Life (1:55)
- How he got involved in pro-life work (4:19)
- How pro-life includes advocating for women (5:49)
- Amazing things happening with the pro-life movement and how to get involved (7:07)
Explore more from TGC on the topic of abortion.
Join 40 Days for Life for prayer, fasting, and community outreach.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Heather Calvillo: From conception to the grave, all life is precious. Scripture tells us we are created in God’s image, foreknown, knit together by God in our mother’s womb, fearfully and wonderfully made. His eyes saw our unformed substance. How should followers of Christ view the sanctity of life and love our neighbor and the unborn in a way that honors God’s creation? You’re listening to TGC Q&A. This is the sanctity of life series, where we seek to answer questions related to the pro-life conversation from a loving, biblical perspective.
If you’re listening with little ears around, we encourage you to save this episode for later, and if you or someone you love has walked through a story of abortion, we want you to know that the episodes in this series are meant to point you to the love of Jesus, in whom there is hope, forgiveness and healing. On today’s episode you’ll hear from Matt Britton. Matt serves on the board of directors and is the general counsel for 40 Days for Life. He talks about how his legal career grew beyond the courtroom and into fighting for the rights of the unborn in the pro-life movement. Matt joins us in the sanctity of life series to address some of the legal implications of abortion.
Matt Britton: Yeah, thanks for having me on. My name is Matt Britton. I’m the general counsel. I joined the 40 Days for Life board in 2013. I was the DA of my county. As an elected official, I was praying with 40 Days for Life and I was out on the street praying and fasting to end abortion. I couldn’t be on any other boards while I was the DA, but when I stepped down in my fourth term as the DA, one of the founders of 40 Days for Life said, “Hey, would you join our board?”
Heather Calvillo: In this segment, Matt explains the core functions of 40 Days for Life, prayer, fasting and community outreach. He also shares why it’s necessary for a lawyer and general counsel to represent and advocate for the organization.
Matt Britton: 40 Days for Life is in its 17th year. We pray, fast, and when possible do community outreach on the street with all volunteers now in over 1,000 cities a year with almost a million participants a year to end abortion on your street corner, in your town, in your city, eventually in your state, and eventually in the country, and the world. We are a peaceful prayerful organization. We believe that God is in charge 100% and that therefore our human motivation should be last. We first start with prayer because the Lord’s in charge. Secondly, we fast. Then when, possible community outreach. That is to say, in a loving way to an abortion-minded woman or an abortion industry worker like Sue Thayer, who now works for us, or Abby Johnson, who everyone knows about, “We will help you.” Why? Why would you help me? Because we love you.
That’s what we do. But as you can imagine, our country is divided, been divided for a long time on this issue in particular, and not everybody’s with us. If we’re going to be lawful, we’ve got to know what the law is to follow it. If we know it’s right, we can do it. And if we know it’s wrong, we don’t do it. We all know that. Most of life is a gray area. When you operate in the gray area … Can I have a politician come talk at my event? We’re a 501(c)(3). Can I go on the property of Planned Parenthood if it doesn’t have a no trespass sign? Can I walk in and complain? Am I allowed to block the passageway? Can I park my car in front of their driveway? So many things that we deal with all the time.
That’s the number one thing that we need a lawyer. We need to know what the laws are. All over the world we have about 1100 prayer vigils or campaigns with thousands and thousands of people 80 days a year. Now we’ve launched 40 Days for Life 365 around the clock. They need to know what the law is, and what happens if somebody yelled something at me, somebody threw something at me, someone threatened to kill me if they saw me here tomorrow? That’s what I do. I like to think that I protect the mission.
Heather Calvillo: Next Matt tells us how he got involved in pro-life work. He says that growing up, he didn’t know much about abortion or the pro-life movement. It wasn’t until high school that he learned more and couldn’t fathom that abortion was real, let alone legal. Appalled at the reality, Matt sought to educate himself on the issue. During his career as a district attorney, he knew serving the public would one day mean fighting to protect the unborn.
Matt Britton: You know, as we say in the pro-life movement, life is not the main issue. It’s the only issue, because if you don’t have life, there are no other issues. I think that that was what was it in my heart. Yeah, I mean, when I was a DA … Sure it’s important when someone burglarizes your home or steals your car, or takes your money. But my gosh, if I only had time to do two cases and eight of them were car theft or property cases, one was killing of a child and one was killing of an elderly person, which two would I pick? I would pick the killing of the people that can’t defend themselves.
After I stepped down as DA in my fourth term, didn’t move on to other things … I have eight kids myself, so I had to take care of them. I was offered to be on the board and one thing led to another, and 40 Days for Life grew. They went from having four or five international campaigns … Now we’re in 63 cities. That’s why I love the job and I think I’m protecting the community, especially first and foremost, those that cannot protect themselves. That’s what it’s all about.
Heather Calvillo: One of the challenges Matt says he faces in his legal pro-life fight is that many people think being pro-life means you’re only advocating for the unborn, not necessarily for the mothers who are carrying the child. But Matt says to be pro-life means you’re also for women. He goes on to describe his thoughts on the difference between law and justice.
Matt Britton: People have good ideas, but lawyers know how they’re implemented and how they’re challenged. Lawyers shouldn’t run the world, but we do need to be able to give advice. There was a time when too many lawyers were in Congress, but now there’s a time where there’s not enough because people are implementing these ideas which, when you implement an idea in Congress, it’s called a law. The greatest legal challenge we have is thinking that the law is justice. We don’t have a justice system. We have a legal system. You think you’re going to go into court to get justice? You’re wrong. You’re going to get what is the law that day to the best of the ability of the witnesses that showed up and the evidence that you had. It’s not perfect. You want justice. You want justice and you want … What we really want is mercy. Rely on God. There will be new judges and there will be new laws and there will be new presidents, but there will never be a new God. From the Alpha to the Omega, pin your soul to the back of Jesus Christ.
Heather Calvillo: To close out our conversation. Matt tells us some of the amazing things that are happening through 40 Days for Life and within the pro-life cause. He also gives us a few ways we can practically get involved in protecting the unborn and standing for life.
Matt Britton: 18,000 babies that we know of … That means while we were on the street corner, the abortion-minded woman came and said, “Okay. I won’t have my abortion.” We know those children. 18,000 of them that we know of in 16 years are alive today because of people saying “Yes,” just at a 40 Days for Life. Over 105 abortion facilities have permanently closed down during … I’ve been to many of them during a 40 Days for Life, including our headquarters where Abby Johnson walked out and said, “Okay, help me.” We wind up buying that former Planned Parenthood. To my knowledge, it’s the only house of life that was a former house of death. We now have a beautiful memorial to the thousands and thousands of babies that lost their lives there when it was a Planned Parenthood.
You know, over 200 abortion facility workers have left the industry, just so many you haven’t heard of. Abby Johnson … but, Sue Thayer, the great Sue Thayer who was Planned Parenthood director of the year in Storm Lake, Iowa. When they told her she had to start doing telemedicine abortions, she said no and they fired her. She walked across the street of her own clinic, opened a 40 Days for Life and in four months shut down her former clinic. There are so many stories like that, and pro-life leaders really, in America, be it Jules Green or Ramona Trevino or so many Planned Parenthood workers who have come to the other side. Because as our founder says, Shawn Carney, “The conversion gate only swings one way.” Maybe you just didn’t know, but you get converted by example. Those are the good things that are going on in the world. By the way, globally, over half of the abortion facilities in the last 25 years in the United States of America have closed.
If you want to do something, here’s a challenge. Give one hour during a campaign, find where the local 40 Days for Life is. 40daysforlife.com, hit the map, find where it’s close to you. Some people have seen within minutes, a miracle. I’ve gotten phone calls of grown men trembling and crying and saying, “A woman ran out in the gown and hugged me and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, she just had an abortion.’ She said, ‘I changed my mind. I changed my mind. Help me.'” Within minutes of showing up. Get out there, please. Give an hour. Watch a miracle. Everybody asks for miracles in their time. It’s happening all around you. Open your eyes. There’s so many miracles.
Talk to some women who’ve had abortions and feel what they feel. Listen to what they are saying. Do something. Don’t drive past that abortion clinic. Don’t say, “Not me. No way. I’m scared.” If you’re not scared, definitely do something. Everybody’s scared. I can tell you I’ve been out on the street corners all over the world for a decade and 90% of it’s positive. 90% of it’s positive. The honks are for us. The thumbs up are for us. The rest of it … Hey look, if no one was against you, you wouldn’t be fighting the good fight. There would be no fight at all. So, when nobody honks at me and when nobody yells at me and I don’t have a job, be the happiest day of my life.
Heather Calvillo: Thanks for listening to this episode of TGC Q&A. Be sure to tune in to our next episode in the sanctity of life series. We hope these conversations will encourage you to draw closer to God’s heart and seek his wisdom on this topic. If this series brought up new questions for you, please send us an email at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you.