It was a cold day in March when we went to pray at the abortion clinic.
It would have been easy to stay home that day – nobody enjoys standing around in the cold. The handful of people gathered there were mostly senior citizens. So there we stood, on the sidewalk holding pro-life signs and praying the rosary. Since our city council passed an ordinance demanding a “buffer zone” around Planned Parenthood we did not stand in front of the clinic as one would expect. A white line painted on the sidewalk marks the boundary. Crossing that line could land you in jail.
Ironically, standing outside the line places you in front of a gay bar next door. It almost seems fitting that a gay bar would set up shop next to an abortion clinic since in essence, both establishments are fundamentally anti-child.
So, there we stood in the cold, a public witness and a voice for the unborn who cannot speak. While it is a noble endeavor, there are many people that don’t see it that way and some aren’t shy about expressing their disapproval. One passerby made a point of informing our group that she was pro-abortion. But for the most part people just ignored us. I gazed at the Planned Parenthood building. I noticed the video cameras that adorn the brick wall, as if those who gather outside to pray pose a threat when in reality, all the violence takes place inside that building.
Then Brandy showed up. She is 22 years old and had a little boy with her that appeared to be about 4 years old. Brandy wasn’t there to pray. She came down for an abortion. She told us her boyfriend wants her to have an abortion and will not be supportive any other way. It really was not her choice. We asked her to join us in a prayer and she agreed. We prayed for her, the unborn child in her womb and also the child’s father. We acknowledged that God has a plan for this child. We told her that we cared about her and offered to help. She looked distressed. I glanced at a man in our group who was holding a sign that read:
“Abortion hurts women” and saw a connection to the reality of that moment. I realized that a big part of the pro-life message is that we are pro-woman. My heart fell when Brandy walked through the doors of Planned Parenthood but only to be lifted up in joy when she came back out a short moment later. She had changed her mind for now. Someone in our group handed her a card along with literature and said “Keep in touch, we care about you.”
This experience taught me that we should do more than just internally assent to pro-life values. We live in a culture that is lost and needs guidance. Trying to provide that guidance is not always easy. It may mean standing in the cold to pray or sometimes enduring ridicule. In the end it is always about love of neighbor and not about confrontation.
There are other ways that we can promote life as well. What about the opportunities that we have to dialog with others about our pro-life views? Particularly at election time we often have that opportunity. The question is: are we willing to talk about it? For example, I was conversing with a woman who happened to mention that she was a registered democrat. “I am too,” I replied and then added “But, I vote pro-life.” She balked at my response. As a Catholic she purported to also be pro-life. But she didn’t think that her personal beliefs should be legislated to others that don’t hold similar beliefs. So I asked her, “Why are you, personally opposed to abortion? Is it that you view the issue as murder?”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t call it murder,” She exclaimed. “I would say it is more like …..ah…..killing a human being. Oh… maybe I do think of it as murder after all.”
Then I inquired if these are purely religious beliefs or if she thought they could be supported by scientific evidence as well. She acknowledged that advancements in science (such as ultrasound) bolster the pro-life point of view.
We also need to also consider what is best for the common good of society. I think Mother Theresa best made this point succinctly in the following statements:
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love but to use violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” And also, “We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”
Abortion is the foremost evil on our society and it should deservedly be the primary concern when we vote for our nation’s leaders.
While it is easy to get discouraged I have also learned from these experiences that there is hope. More younger people are becoming pro-life as evidenced by the annual March for Life rally in Washington D.C.. And certainly it was good that someone was there for Brandy when she showed up at Planned Parenthood on that cold day.