Leanne van den Bosch aims to change hearts through adoption, public witness, silent prayer
By Agnieszka Krawczynski
Photo: Leanne van den Bosch (second from right) holds a sign with friends outside B.C. Women’s Hospital March 28. Van den Bosch, a mother of two adopted children, decided to participate in the 40 Days for Life campaign to show women they have options outside of abortion and to pray for them. (Credit: Josh Tng / The B.C. Catholic)
Adopting two newborns turned Chilliwack mom Leanne van den Bosch from a couch pro-lifer to an activist.
Van den Bosch grew up in a Christian home and believed strongly in the value of human life from conception to natural death, but she more or less took it for granted.
“You just grow up being pro-life in a pro-life family, church, and school community,” she told The B.C. Catholic. She didn’t get involved in any particular activism or in speaking publicly about her views.
Seven years ago, she and her husband adopted a little boy at birth, and the process got her thinking about “how adoption is an option for these mothers.”
Slowly she began wondering if there was more she could do for moms and unborn children in crisis situations.
Two years ago, the couple adopted another son and have kept in touch with the birth mothers of both children. “I’m sure they have hurt and pain involved with placing their children with us, but I’m sure it can’t be anything like the pain they would have experienced if they had aborted them instead.”
Van den Bosch sought out more ways to help women in crisis and soon joined the board of the Chilliwack Pro-Life Society. “It felt empowering to know there was a movement out there.”
Chilliwack Pro-Life donates fetal models to high school science labs, sponsors pro-life messages on billboards, and runs the Walk for Life fundraiser, which sees about 350 people walk through the busiest part of Chilliwack every year.
Van den Bosch also started picking up all the pro-life literature she could. She read Unplanned, a book by abortion-clinic-director-turned-pro-life-activist Abby Johnson, and found another way to reach out.
It was called 40 Days for Life, a campaign she had never heard about that made a big impact in changing Johnson’s mind. It invites people to sign up for shifts to pray outside an abortion clinic so there’s a pro-life presence 24 hours a day for 40 days.
“She was on the front lines. Yes, there are clinics in B.C. and we should be doing something about it, trying to help these women who are heading there, and doing something to show them their options.”
The nearest 40 Days for Life was outside B.C. Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, so van den Bosch grabbed a few friends and signed up.
“It felt good to be taking a stand, being a visible protest, and to be in public prayer,” she said after praying silently in the pouring rain with some friends March 28.
Van den Bosch said most passersby were apathetic to their cause, save for one woman who rolled down the window of her car and began shouting obscenities.
“A lot of people are reluctant to witness outside the women’s hospital for fear there’s going to be confrontations or something negative,” said 40 Days for Life Vancouver coordinator Heather Thompson.
“I really feel like it’s a matter of solidarity. We’re praying for a change of heart. We’re praying for a change of culture. We’re praying for, first and foremost, the victims of abortion. The unborn are the first victims, but there are far more victims. There’s the mother who made the decision and there’s everyone else in society who is also negatively impacted.”
Van den Bosch feels compassion for people who seek abortions or promote them as a woman’s right. “What I found interesting from Abby’s story was how she was pro-choice but she didn’t really start off that way. It evolved that way.”
Johnson “thought she was helping women,” said van den Bosch. “The people on the other side, if I can say that, aren’t necessarily the enemy.”
She’s passionate about education, which she does through the Chilliwack Pro-life Society, and about being a visible witness through praying with 40 Days for Life.
“We have our wonderful family because two birth mothers were so selfless to choose to carry their babies to term and allow us to adopt them,” she said.
She has two boys aged 7 and 2, and hopes to adopt another child soon.
“We would love our family to grow, and to be able to do it this way is amazing. It’s beautiful,” she said. “We love them so much.”