My first visit to an abortion clinic was with my Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church Right to Life group. That was called a "vigil", and we prayed for over an hour.
My next three visits were called Abortion Protests, which was ironic because my kids and I were the only non-Protestants in the group.
This morning before we left, one of the boys asked the Pastor, "Will there be 500 Catholics there praying like last time?"
I said, "Wow, 500! That would be great, but I think it will be more like 100."
The organizer of the trip said that I should think bigger!
The five high school girls and myself hold signs across from the clinic. Mine read, "Moms for Life". Most of the girls held up stop sign shaped signs that read "Stop, Abortion Ends a Life", except two held, "Planned Parenthood Lies to You". You'll find out at the end that it is a very effective witness for the young pregnant girls, going in for abortion, to see girls that are at or just younger than them standing outside in the cold encouraging them not to have an abortion.
The boys and men walk up and down the sidewalk on the other side of the field carrying signs too.
This might end up being my longest post ever. I will mention 4 people. You might want to read about 1 of them and then return at another time to read about the others.
If you don't like having painful, graphic images in your mind, which I am not going to show, just describe, skip until you see asterisks in a row:
When we came up there was a Randall Terry, Operation Rescue alumni that had a second sign. He had one the last two times we came with real aborted baby parts. This new sign was even more horrific: a larger than life severed head of an aborted late-term baby being held with medical tongs by the severed neck.
I stood on the end of the girls closest to the sign so they would not have to catch a glimpse of it too often. Father Frank Pavone says people have to see what abortion is to change their minds about it. My mind doesn't need to be changed about it. I don't like those signs. I bet they are effective, but I don't like them.
"My friend, Adam (changed from another "A" boys name) and I would like to take pictures with you and ask one of you questions to do an article for our high school paper. Would that be OK?"
Me, "I think so, but let me make sure the other girls are OK with it. Girls, are you OK with these two high school kids taking your picture for an article in their high school paper?"
Pictures are taken. The girl leaves. Kind of interesting after that she ran off. She tells Adam to ask me some questions for the article.
Adam asks me lots of questions, and in between tells me quite a bit about himself. He is a senior, wants to be a fireman, was up to 2:30 in the morning shooting pool and playing guitar, and he lives very close to the center, just over a nearby hill. Some of his questions and my answers (A is him, M is me) follow:
A: Why do you think it is important to come out here?
M: Because we believe Thou Shalt not kill the innocent as God wrote in the 10 Commandments, and a baby inside a mother is an innocent and to kill her in the womb chemically or surgically is wrong. We believe that is a truth that many girls do not hear. Some kids in junior high or high school think since the baby is not breathing and is inside of liquid inside the mother that the baby is not alive.
Many of the girls driving up here are encouraged, even pressured into this decision. It is a decision that cannot be undone and may burden and sadden them the rest of their lives, especially when they see other babies or children.
We want to let her know that she can get non-judgmental help for her and her baby, and that there are other options besides taking her baby's life.
I know a couple women that have had abortions and it is something they regret profoundly later on. They can find forgiveness but there can remain a deep sadness that resurfaces throughout their lives. The people on staff inside PP don't mention that to the girl. Instead they offer her a fresh start, pregnancy free. That is hiding the longer term burden she will carry after she leaves the center.
A: Is a miscarriage the same as an abortion?
M: No. Miscarriage in the first 10 weeks is very common, and that is often why a pregnant woman will wait until after she hears the heartbeat before she'll tell people that she is pregnant. Doctors actually tell her this, so that if she does have a miscarriage she has the option of private grief.
A: My mom had a miscarriage. She didn't tell me until I was 15. I remember her spending a week lying in bed and that was when it happened.
M: She probably had pain and sadness that kept her in bed. Miscarriages are very sad.
A: Do you believe abortion is wrong in all circumstances?
M: For me, yes. It is important though not to judge people, especially victims of violent crimes like rape and incest. If I were the victim of rape or incest, I would not kill the baby. It is a second act of violence. Healing is needed from the first violent act, and violently ending the life of a child is not a way of healing. Also, I know someone that was told by doctors and specialists that her baby had severe genetic abnormalities. They took her to an institution and showed her kids with the same condition (I still don't know what the name of this was) and told her the baby would have a life attached to machines, be on pain medication, and would be unable to communicate whether or not the pain medicine was working. She was furious when they told her. She wanted hope. For her it was not abortion it was medical termination that ripped her heart apart, but that she did to save her daughter from what the specialists had showed her. I do not judge her.
A: Yes, that is the one I was really wondering about, more than the rape and incest cases.
M: Then there is Rick Santorum. He has a little girl, Isabella that has Trisomy 18. This is a serious genetic disorder that doctors say gives only a 10% chance of survival in the first year of life. This is worse than a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome. There is probably high percentage of abortions, medical terminations after this diagnosis. Santorum and his wife did not want to abort their daughter. The child is 3 or 4 now. So while I don't judge my friend or victims of rape or incest, I think if you have been loved by God, loved by Christ, have known the love of a father or mother, and you really have faith in a loving and Provident God, then even in the case of rape or incest I would have the baby. I've had four children and I never did any genetic testing because I told my doctor none of that mattered. Regardless of what was found I would be having the baby. It takes a strong faith and trust in God to have a child that the doctors say will not live long, and may suffer much before dying. In so many cases though, the lives of all around a special needs child are incredibly blessed and transformed by the presence and great love and innocence of the child they did not abort. (yes I was just as long-winded in person as I am in my blog!)
A: A couple of years ago in school I had to represent the pro-choice position. The main thing they say is that pro-life people are judgmental.
M: That is easy to fall into, especially if everyone you know shares your faith and beliefs and values. But it is wrong, Jesus tells us not to judge. The way to persuade people is through love and understanding and compassion. I used to use the word murder regularly when talking about abortion. Then I met the friend I told you about earlier. I used that word with her and it hurt her, and knowing already how much pain losing her daughter caused her I very much regretted using that word, being so insensitive to her pain, being so ignorant to the impact of that word on someone who was as pro-life as I was, before being confronted with the diagnosis.
He was a good kid. I liked talking with him
2) 21 Year old Catholic Catechist Holding Framed in Glass Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
I don't have to change this guy's name, because I neglected to ask it. Ironic after my love and compassion talk with Adam. He was reflecting the sun at the people walking in and out of the center so that the light was shining into their eyes and they would maybe look over at where it was coming from and see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He said he knew it was a little rude, but that his mother said this image is powerful enough to stop abortion. He said that when Aztec Juan Diego saw the vision, there was human sacrifice, often of children occurring. After the miracle of her image on the tilma, over 6 million natives were baptized Catholics, and human sacrifice ceased. He said abortion is human sacrifice to rid the woman of inconvenient pregnancy. He said he teaches 15 year olds that are preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. He says to him it isn't as important that they understand the Immaculate Conception dogma, but that they understand that even if they do not remain chaste, that they need to know Jesus still loves them and he doesn't want them to ever commit the sin of abortion. They can always come back.
3) Approximately 35 year old man with two kids in his back seat. One his son, the other a friend of the son.
Man: Would one of you explain to my 10 year old son what an abortion is?
The girls, "Why don't you tell him, Mrs. S?"
Without further thought, I said, "You know how when a woman is pregnant she as a baby inside of her?"
Me: Well an abortion is when the woman doesn't want to be pregnant anymore so she goes to a place like that (pointing across the street) and either takes medicine or has an operation to kill the baby inside of her and to remove it from her body.
Man: I agree with you that abortion is morally wrong, but I don't agree that there should be a law against it. I don't believe there should be a law against you standing there holding signs either. That is free speech. That is your right.
21 Year Old (he was still beside me) Well we believe in the sanctity of life. The truth is this is wrong.
Me: It's the same as when people in this country thought Africans were 3/5ths of a person. It was a truth that this was wrong. It should not have been legal for them to be kept and held and treated as property. We are like the abolitionists then. We are trying to stand up for the truth. An unborn baby is 5/5ths of a person, and just as it is unlawful to kill one of us, it is unlawful and wrong to kill an unborn baby.
Man: I believe you, but I don't think there should be a law. Ok, I'm a Liberterian, and there are too many laws. We need more freedom.
Me: There are laws preventing theft . . .
Man: (Interrupting me) But they don't prevent it. The laws in this state allow for all kinds of corruption that steal money from us.
Me: We have policemen to protect and stop violent crime. We have teachers, principals, guards in our schools to stop fights in schools.
Man: But they don't. Bullies are a big problem, and no one is doing anything about it.
Me: Yes, I know. We had some of that in my kids' previous school. We had speakers and such come in. I had to talk to some girls on my basketball team.
Man: But we shouldn't have a law. Pro-choice people are not pro-abortion, they are pro-choice, no law against it.
Me: But it is an act of violence. We protect our children from other children and other violence. Why would our country condone the violence of killing an unborn child?
Man: What about if a woman's life is at stake? Would you want a law to prevent the doctor aborting the baby to save the mother's life?
21 year old: There are some women with cancer that forego treatment to save the life of the baby.
Man: But that is her choice . . .
I had to leave at this point, and said good-bye because it was time to return our signs.
We said the Our Father with the Catholics (remember I was with the Protestants today), and I went and did the sign of the cross and everything! At our kids school they never say the Our Father and they don't make the sign of the cross before and after they pray. It is so strange. Sometimes I slip, sometimes I slip on purpose.
4) Elderly man with blue blocker shades
An elderly man came up to me when we were leaving.
E: Weren't you here on November 17th?
Me: Yes, I think so. We come around the 20th each month.
E: Well your white bus had just pulled away when two girls walked out of the clinic and drove out and talked to us. They said they were in there for a half hour, but seeing the girls standing out there with the signs got the one who was pregnant thinking. She decided to not have the abortion, and she was happy. I was hoping I would see you here again so I could tell you. I've been coming here for years, but that is the first time I was here when a woman changed her mind to not have an abortion.
I told the kids all about it when I got on the bus. They were so happy. They were high-fiving each other that they made a difference! They made plans to get more kids signed up on their Facebook group page so they could remind people to set their alarms the night before the next visit. They are going to tell the 7th - 12th graders at the next chapel about the good news.
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.