AMERICAN Brad Mattes is highly successful in spreading the pro-life message.
And it is this message: “Lost Fatherhood – Men and Abortion” that this highly accomplished media commentator is bringing on a speaking tour across Queensland and to Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Mattes hosts Life Issues, a daily radio commentary on abortion and other life issues.
It is carried on more than 1100 radio outlets across the United States, reaching four million listeners.
For eight seasons, he also hosted Facing Life Head-On, a weekly pro-life TV program that was available to more than 100 million homes in the US and Canada.
The program earned three Emmy awards.
As a pro-life campaigner, the message often puts him in the firing line.
He recalls speaking at a pro-life rally in Berlin as opponents infiltrated the event and started heckling.
“It was aggressive and many in the crowd were frightened,” he said.
“I told them be calm and have courage.”
This is Mr Mattes’ approach as a public speaker and media commentator – reach out to a wide audience and deliver the facts.
“People who have never been exposed to the abortion issue need to hear that in eighteen to twenty-eight days the heart of an unborn child is beating with a blood different to that of the mothers. Those brain waves can be recorded. That at 10 weeks toes and fingers are formed,” he said.
“We need to keep doing that and of course work very hard.”
Mr Mattes is aware of the critical timing of his speaking tour – as the Queensland Parliament considers a proposed abortion bill aimed at legalising abortion for women up to nine months pregnant.
“It’s very radical,” he said of the Queensland proposal.
“It’s a strategy often followed by those pushing abortion and the abortion industry itself.
“They are throwing this out there to see what reaction they get.
“If they get a pared-down version then that is still a big victory, if they get their foot in the door.
“I think this has to be robustly opposed in every shape and form.
“You don’t have to look very far to the nations that have allowed abortion like America, and the anguish and the problems that it has created.
“It has put a price tag on human life.”
Mr Mattes is president and chief executive officer of Life Issues Institute, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, an organisation he co-founded with pro-life pioneer Dr John C. Willke in 1991, with the primary objective to globally develop and disseminate effective pro-life educational material.
Decades of anti-abortion advocacy contribute in his work as a peer counsellor to men who have lost a child to abortion.
“When you see the change that takes place in a man when he comes to you for counselling,” he said, “and I spend an hour-and-a-half once a week with him and after ten or twelve weeks he’s a new man, and in my opinion that needs to be a biblically-based counselling system because abortion is such … a grievous wound for a guy to carry that I really think that it takes the Holy Spirit to lighten that load.
“We take them through the process – let them grieve for the child. We make the child real to them by assigning a name to that baby.
“And we help them separate the healthy guilt from the unhealthy guilt which means they take accountability for the relationship outside of marriage that created the pregnancy.
“If they were opposed to the abortion we go through that as a disinterested third party, and clarify things that might have got twisted in their memory over the years blaming themselves for something they shouldn’t blame themselves for.”
Mr Mattes said it was common for men reflecting on an abortion to get angry.
“Frequently they don’t even know why they are being angry,” he said.
“We are now creating awareness by letting people know that men are affected.
“The research shows about eight per cent of men who have been part of an abortion are seriously affected – which means they are struggling to get through each day.
“In the US that equals about 4.5 million men who are seriously affected. And then there are millions more who are affected to a lesser degree.
“We’ve seen everything from mild depression to suicide and murder and everything in between.
“It’s time that we be aware that this is a problem.”
With such a deep involvement in the abortion issue, is this personal for Mr Mattes?
“Well, many people ask if I have had an experience with abortion, and I haven’t,” he said.
“However, God has put this on my heart in a very profound way. I hate to see the injustice of abortion and I hate to see the injustice of the fathers having no legal say whether their child lives or dies.
“And when I see the anguish and heartache that creates and the fact that we can walk them through that, help them and they can come out literally a new man at the other end – I just think that is a compelling opportunity that the Lord has given us, that we should do.”
Mr Mattes said he was watching the tide start to turn on abortion in the United States.
On May 17, the South Carolina legislature passed a bill banning most abortions after 19 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life was at risk, making it the 17th US state to approve such a ban.
However, he said, the pro-life campaign could not afford to rest.
“We want to expand awareness of fathers who are struggling after abortion,” Mr Mattes said.
“We want to make sure that the grassroots, pro-life movement is assisting to provide healing and hope for men.
“We also want to pursue education which is the foundation for political and legislative victories.
“You can’t get legislators in Queensland to stand up and take the heat in parliament if they don’t believe in what they are doing.
“They must have a strong and burning desire to defend unborn babies.
“If we could get religious leaders of every denomination speaking out against abortion from the pulpit and offering hope and forgiveness and healing to those who have chosen abortion, that is the ministry that would explode – people would be healed and we would build on the momentum that we have in America.
“We could end this if all the Churches were involved. They have to be bold.”
By Mark Bowling