Steve Curtis: The Unlikely Pro Life Hero

I met Steve Curtis two years ago during a collaborative effort to place a human personhood amendment on the ballot in the state of Colorado. Curtis was and is a dedicated, principled pro-life leader who, as a former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, took issue with a candidate for U.S. Senate, Bob Schaffer, for not publicly supporting the state’s 2008 personhood proposal. While Schaffer argued that he had not yet decided whether or not to support the Colorado for Equal Rights initiative, it was clear to me that his first priority was doing what would garner the most votes. While Schaffer lost his bid for a Senate seat, the struggle to garner political support for human personhood continued. 

Steve Curtis did all he could to hold every politician’s feet to the fire during the crucial struggle to get Amendment 48 on the ballot in 2008. Curtis worked tirelessly promoting human personhood and often used his political credentials to call attention to the real reasons why personhood should be a fundamental concern for all politicians, but particularly Republicans. That’s the way this no-nonsense man sees things.

I really didn’t give Curtis much thought after that 2008 battle until he e-mailed me one day to say that since I had given him my book, Saving Those Damned Catholics: A Defense of Catholic Teaching, he wanted to send a book to me. He asked for my address and I, not realizing what I was about to read, willingly accepted the offer.

Then the book Ten Minutes Till Midnight by Lee Martin arrived in my mailbox and my perception of Steve Curtis changed forever. That is why, during this week of preparation for the 37th annual March for Life, I feel compelled to share an overview of this remarkable true story of murder, deception, conniving, injustice and ultimate peace in Christ with you. You see, Steve Curtis has survived not only a violent crime designed to kill him, but he witnessed the cold blooded murder of two of his closest friends and lived to testify against the killers.

To me, this makes Curtis someone who could speak to the value and dignity of the human person in ways that few can or, for that matter, would ever want to. His experiences of that awful night in 1989 could have driven him in any number of directions. It is only by the grace of God that he ultimately chose to be a part of the growing pro-life movement. 

As the short description of this remarkable book says,

It was called Denver's Crime of the Century. In 1988, Frank Magnuson, a young man struggling with life's curve balls, was set to testify against a Crip kingpin who along with three other men perpetrated a robbery of a Denver restaurant. The night before the trial, two dispatched killers lay in wait in the basement of a house in Bonnie Brae owned by Frank's friend and roommate, Steve Curtis. At just before midnight in June of 1989, two innocent young men lay dead, with Steve Curtis left for dead.

Ten Minutes till Midnight is Steve Curtis' story, told to Lee Martin. It is a compelling story of faith, miracles and deliverance in the face of evil and certain death. Life is God-given, precious, and holy and the events of those early days in Steve's life helped shaped the man he would become. He developed a passion for saving the truly innocent, the unborn, and devotes his time and energy to raising awareness about the nightmare of abortion. His ministry, Life Commercials, produces powerful and tasteful commercials aimed at providing the viewer the truth about abortion. Proceeds from the sale of this book go to fund Life Commercials.

In case you have never delved deeply into the mental state of a member of the Crips gang, this book will teach you things about the human mind and the evil that lurks within that may never have occurred to you before. It will help you to better understand the tragic mentality that goes along with gruesome acts of killing, such as those detailed in Steve’s story. In many ways, it parallels the story an aborted child might tell if he or she had the opportunity to do so.

Is there, after all, any difference between a street gang dedicated to employing cruelty to punish those with whom they have a problem and the cadre of businessmen turned abortionists who accept money to kill the preborn innocent? I think not. Sure, the apparel and vocabulary might be different, but at the end of the day, being occupied with the business of eliminating the innocent is really all about wielding power that sets the strong against the weak, regardless of how the crime goes down.

This is but another reason why I am so personally touched by the Curtis story. There is so much agony, suffering and personal disappointment in a narrative like this that only by the grace of God could a man emerge from the endless testimonies, police interviews and opposition from the defense team to become a strong and committed Christian who also happens to be the loving father of six beautiful children.

Among his many tribulations, Curtis’ goal of seeing the shooter, Kevin Fears, get the death penalty for the crimes he had committed did not come to pass, though Fears later took his life in prison. Fears had agreed to a plea agreement which required him to plead guilty to all of the crimes in exchange for a life sentence instead of the death penalty even being considered. 

This turn of events sickened Curtis who campaigned vigorously for nearly eight years for an inflexible death penalty law. Though his efforts failed to bring about the result he wanted, he saw in that experience, as well as in those that had gone before, the hand of God. Ultimately he turned from his death penalty campaign to becoming an advocate for the most innocent among us who go to their bloody deaths every hour of every day without benefit of jury trial.

To me, Steve’s personal ministry, Life Commercials, is a product of his experiences in life coupled with his faith in the power of truth. The one-minute commercial currently featured on his site is a perfect example of what I mean. A group of children singing a tune based on the “Row, Row, Row your boat” melody that begins, “Roe, Roe Roe v. Wade, twenty million lost” proceeds through the increasing numbers to thirty, then forty and finally fifty million lost. It is a sobering, black-and-white commercial that is set with the concurring unmistakable sound of a heartbeat. It is a powerful message that is both simple and, at the same time, profound.

That too is the essence of Steve Curtis. He stays on point; he doesn’t deviate from the facts and he witnesses to the Lord’s saving power through the walk he has taken in his personal life not to mention through this powerful book, Ten Minutes Till Midnight.

It is an honor to know this man and to have learned his compelling true-life story. It is a genuine blessing to have read about a life experience so gruesome that turned out to be so remarkable. The man who should have died from two bullet wounds has overcome his devils to work toward exposing the devil that resides in the reality of what abortion really is.

The theme for the 2010 March for Life, “Giving Witness to Your Commitment to Life”  invites us to publicly proclaim our dedication to the truth that every human being, regardless of age, health or condition of dependency, is created equal by God and deserves the loving protection of the culture and the law.

Steve Curtis is one of the millions of pro-life Americans who give witness to his commitment to life based on his personal experiences and his relationship with Christ. As Curtis says,

Long ago I gave up the death penalty fight. I could spend a lifetime pursuing the cause and perhaps see one or two of the guilty pay for their crimes. Or, I can spend my energy and the days I have left on this earth saving the truly innocent. To date we have helped save over 8,000 babies.