TEESHAN Johnson is in the battle of her life – a battle to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.
It’s a battle that some days drags her into the wee, small hours but 2am is where she draws the line.
“I know I need two things if I’m going to do this – one is sleep and the other is to go to church,” she said.
Teeshan’s mission is to be a leader in the fight against liberalising Queensland’s abortion laws.
Under laws similar to those existing in Victoria, Queensland’s Labor Government is proposing changes that would mean a woman could elect to abort a pregnancy up to 22 weeks, and would allow terminations beyond 22 weeks (up until birth), if approved by two doctors.
Already under current laws it is estimated that, 14,000 abortions are performed in Queensland every year.
Teeshan, as executive director of Cherish Life Queensland, is doing everything she can to make sure the new laws opening the way for more abortions are rejected.
Debate on the abortion bill being promoted by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad is due to start about October 16.
“It’s in my blood to fight for the unborn, and it is just so unjust, the proposed laws, which is effectively abortion to birth,” Teeshan said.
“We simply have to win.”
Teeshan said she was pro-life because she was raised to be that way by her parents, not out of being Christian.
She said her parents’ pro-life stance probably stemmed from their medical backgrounds – her father as a general surgeon and her mother as an orthoptist – and they taught their six children to respect life.
Although baptised Catholic as a youngster, Teeshan said she didn’t become a Christian until much later.
“I really engaged with my Christian faith at 23, and before that, although I was christened, I didn’t really have a strong personal relationship with God,” she said.
“I always believed in God but I didn’t actually understand that God loved me personally and I was very fearful of God in a bad way …
“My perception of God was wrong.
“I thought He was a cruel God, and very much into strict rules and regulation but I realised what He really wanted from me is a deep relationship and my love and my trust, and, from that, right behaviour flows.
“Once I understood that I was absolutely loved by God and that He had taken all my sins away and He was a good God, everything changed and, at that point, I would say, I became a Christian.”
Now, at 42 and needing strength for the pro-life battle, Teeshan said “my faith is paramount in my life”.
“My faith is absolutely fundamental in everything I do,” she said.
“I’m working huge hours and I can get discouraged and I do see some social media – some people say some nasty things about me personally because of my stand, and … I don’t care.
“It’s a bravery in you that I wouldn’t have had without God. It gives me courage.
“God gives me courage and direction.
“If you know someone – God who is all powerful, who is backing you and is for you, it doesn’t really matter who’s against you.
“If you know that God is saying this is the right thing to do, and you’re doing it with all your strength and with all your might and with all your power, with everything you’ve got, and then people criticise you, it’s like, ‘Well, if God’s got me, what does it matter what they say? If I’m doing what God says, what does it matter what the others say?’
“So that gives me joy and that gives me strength. Joy gives me strength.”
Something else that keeps her going in a struggle that can sometimes seem uphill, is the Cherish Life supporters.
“There is so much love, there are so many people for us, we have amazing, amazing members and supporters at Cherish Life,” she said.
“I was opening the mail the other day, and one of our supporters who I know has very, very, very little money had sent us $20 to help the campaign, and it felt like the widow’s mite, and I started crying.
“And I’m like, ‘God, we have to win, because it’s for the unborn, it’s for the women and it’s also for people like this dear woman who gives her last $20’.
“She doesn’t have anything, that woman. I don’t even know how she afforded it.
“So this keeps me going.
“Cherish Life is a movement; we stand for the truth of life, and all day I just kept thinking of that woman.
“That really kept me going that day. That was not an easy day – (two people were away from the office sick) – but just thinking of the woman …”
Ironically, one of the experiences that has prepared Teeshan for this campaign against Labor’s proposed abortion laws was a stint working as assistant private secretary to Labor luminary Bob Carr when he was NSW Premier.
“It’s prepared me hugely. It really has,” she said.
“I understand the political process. I understand the power of media; I worked closely with the communications team within Bob Carr’s office.
“It taught me about detail; I was quite young when I worked in Bob Carr’s office so I learnt a lot and I had to learn quickly because it was a very high-impact, fast-moving office, and very successful office. He was Premier for over ten years and then he resigned; he was never voted out.
“So it taught me a lot about excellence in the political realm.
“It was a blessing – a blessing for this job.”
On the eve of the March for Life from Queen’s Gardens, Brisbane, to Parliament House at 2pm on September 1, Teeshan remains hopeful the pro-life campaign can succeed.
“Firstly, I am grateful to the Premier (Annastacia Palaszczuk) – although I’m very disappointed the Labor Party has brought in this extreme and brutal bill, I am grateful the Premier has allowed a conscience vote,” she said.
“Us holding this ground is dependent upon some Labor MPs voting No.
“We know there are a number of men and women in there of good conscience who we believe when it comes to the crunch will cross the floor and vote against this bill.
“We know there is immense pressure within the Labor Party … so we’re supporting our MPs from all sides of politics who are life people the best we can but the important thing people can do is actually engage with their state MP and also be a real advocate in their church community – wherever, their mothers’ groups, schools, wherever, saying ‘Do you know this is happening? Please, write a letter to your MP. Please, write a letter to The Courier-Mail. Please, call someone about this’.
“But it is dependent upon some Labor people voting No.
“We hope all of the LNP vote No. The Opposition Leader hasn’t said whether or not she’ll allow a conscience vote. We hope they all vote No.”
Apart from meeting with and writing to MPs, writing letters to the editor and signing petitions, Teeshan said it was most important to pray.
“I am hopeful, I’m very hopeful – for many reasons,” she said.
“I feel like it’s hard to fight if you’re not hopeful. What are you fighting for if you don’t believe you can win?
“I believe we can win.”