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A Matter of Life and Death

In a state with no pro-life laws, Moody alumna and right-to-life lobbyist asks for prayer
  • Nancy Huffine
  • September 29, 2023

Moody Bible Institute alumna Molly Rumley


Saying that Molly (Malone ’18) Rumley’s life path was impacted by a refrigerator door might be oversimplifying the story, but there’s also a grain of truth in it. As Molly’s high school years began coming to an end, she faced the question that challenges many students: What’s next?

A career in education was not only at the top of her list, it was almost an inherited trait. “My family has been in Christian education for a long time. My grandmother was a principal,” Molly says.

One night, Molly was standing in her kitchen thinking about her education options. She recalls, “My dad worked for Moody Radio WDLM in the ’90s, and we had a Moody Bible Institute magnet on our fridge. I looked at it and said, ‘Of course! Why didn’t I think of Moody?’”

Joining the cause on campus

Molly completed her first year and a half with Moody’s online studies, then enrolled on campus in January of 2016. A few months into the semester, she heard an announcement in chapel about a student pro-life group called Zoe starting up again after a bit of a lull.

“The pro-life cause has been something that has always made sense to me,” Molly says. “My parents talked about it. My family talked about it. It’s kind of just always been part of my life.”

Molly joined Zoe and was soon participating in the group’s sidewalk prayer and outreaches, some near abortion clinics and others at various Chicago locations. “We didn’t just send people out and say, ‘Go talk about this.’ We had training from an organization called Created Equal,” Molly says, “people whose full-time job is engaging the public on these issues.”

Students at a March for Life in Chicago with Dr. Bryan Litfin, Dr. Laurie Norris, and her husband, Bob Norris.

Students at a March for Life in Chicago with Dr. Bryan Litfin, Dr. Laurie Norris, and her husband, Bob Norris.

While Zoe members were occasionally mocked and harassed, some interactions led to impactful discussions and opportunities to recommend resources for abortion-minded and post-abortive women. “We wanted people to think about it,” says Molly. “We had a goal in mind, whether that was changing people’s minds about this issue or meeting them where they were and helping them heal from [abortion]. I was surprised because, more often than not, it ended up in a gospel conversation.”

Finding her future at Moody

By 2018, Molly had become the president of Zoe, and she began ride-sharing with Justin Rumley, the group’s vice president. “We’re actually from the same county in Illinois. I brought my car to Moody but he did not, so he got rides back home with me. The rest is history,” she laughs. The couple married in 2020.

While at Moody, Molly attended a breakfast that featured two pro-life legislators. The event had been organized by Ralph Rivera, lobbyist and legislative chairman for Illinois Right to Life. “He talked with me after the breakfast and said, ‘I know your major is in elementary education, but we're thinking about adding a second lobbyist. Is that something that interests you?’” Molly says. “And I said, ‘Yes! That would be an answer to prayer.’”

Ralph Rivera remembers both that meeting and his impression of Molly. “When I first met her, I found that she had a history of being active for life, had helped pro-life candidates, and was unafraid to take on hard tasks,” Ralph says. “I saw in Molly a young Christian woman passionate for right-to-life issues and seeking to serve the Lord.”

Molly stayed in touch with Ralph and also with Illinois Right to Life Action, the lobbying and legislation arm of the Chicago-based organization. After graduating in 2018, she was hired by Illinois RTLA and now serves as the organization’s assistant legislative chairman.

Molly Rumley looks over the Illinois state budget (4,000 pages long!)—thankfully not an abortion bill.

Molly Rumley looks over the Illinois state budget (4,000 pages long!)—thankfully not an abortion bill.

“My job is to read through all of the bills that are introduced, which is quite a task because there are usually about 6,000 bills introduced each year,” she explains. “I pick out the ones that have an impact on life in Illinois. We get our arguments together, and we write up information sheets about the bills. From those points, I create testimony, and if it rises to a certain level of importance, we testify for or against it.

“But in Illinois,” she adds, “it’s usually against.”

Ralph Rivera describes his co-lobbyist as having determination and tenacity but also something more. “For lobbying,” Ralph adds, “Molly has the right temperament of Christian love which she expresses to everyone, including legislators and staff, whether they are pro-life or not. Without hesitation she has taken up testifying on legislation, for and against, in numerous Illinois Senate and House committees as well as in speaking and training engagements.”

Pro-life in a pro-abortion state

The 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling which legalized abortion in the United States, has energized both sides of the issue. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the US Supreme Court upheld the Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and concurrently overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, determining that the US Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion. The court’s decision returned the issue of abortion regulation to the elected branches of state and federal government.

Zoe team in front of US Capitol in Washington DC.

Zoe team in front of US Capitol in Washington DC.

But Molly says that pro-abortion factions in Illinois began mobilizing several years earlier in response to then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign promises to appoint Supreme Court justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade.

“That (mobilization) actually started in 2017 with House Bill 40, which removed the ban on taxpayer funding of abortion in Illinois,” Molly explains. Abortion proponents were concerned about a conservative coming into the White House, and they worked to pass laws with one goal in mind: “To ensure that if Roe [v. Wade] was ever overturned, abortion would be enshrined in Illinois law,” Molly says.

In 2019, the Illinois State Legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act, essentially removing every restriction on abortion in Illinois with the exception of parental notification, which was repealed in 2021.

“So we have no pro-life laws on the books right now in Illinois,” Molly says. “I think there was also a lot of confusion about what Roe actually did because when it was overturned, it didn’t make abortion illegal anywhere just by virtue of the court decision itself. But that’s not the way it’s presented.”

The theology of the body

Molly’s passion for educating people about the status of right-to-life issues in Illinois and about the aftermath of the overturning of Roe is rooted in her biblical and theological studies at Moody. “At Illinois Right to Life, we’re focused on the abortion issue, but we also lobby against assisted suicide. There were several Moody professors—I think about some of the things they said all the time. Dr. John Clark, who taught Systematic Theology, would talk about the theology of the body a lot.

“I remember once in class Dr. Clark said, ‘Your body and soul are connected. They’re meant to be that way, and you’re supposed to do everything you can to keep it that way.’ That really stuck with me, and it opened up this curiosity to dig deeper into the theology of the body, God’s plan for it, and why we’re made the way that we’re made.”

Prayers for boldness and unity

Molly knows that the work done by Illinois Right to Life Action as well as by other advocates and organizations is crucial to the stability and success of the pro-life movement. She also understands that something else is crucial: prayer. And she doesn’t hesitate to ask for it.

“Pray for the women who are tempted by abortion. Pray that the Lord would give them a love for that child. Pray that the Lord would turn their hearts away from [abortion] and that He would put the right people in their lives at the right moment to say, ‘You are not without the help that you need.’

“For the pro-life movement,” she adds, “pray that Christians would be bold. The other side is loud, and they’re unashamed of supporting abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy for any reason. Christians need to be unashamed because we’re on the right side of this issue. Pray that pro-life people would come together, that we would have unity—yes, boldness and unity.”

Read about current students in Moody’s pro-life group, Zoe


About the Author

  • Nancy Huffine

Nancy Huffine is a long-time freelance writer for Moody Bible Institute and Moody Alumni & Friends magazine.