I have been going to abortion facilities to pray for 30 years. I have watched as “safe and rare” has turned into “abortion at any time for any reason.” I have witnessed the hardening of hearts, which I believe can often be attributed to the silent suffering of those who have experienced abortion.
We are told abortion is “women’s health,” that life will go back to “normal” with the termination of an “unwanted pregnancy,” that abortion is common, and even that it “saves lives.” Despite tons of evidence to the contrary, the adverse impact of abortion on millions of women is still denied, leaving them to feel crazy and alone if they in fact don’t find peace with their abortions.
As the abortion debate again fills headlines and minds while the Supreme Court deliberates on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that could see a reversal of Roe v. Wade, I’ve been feeling that we do not speak clearly enough to the heart of the mother going in for an abortion.
Love Them Both
The abortion side focuses on the woman and her supposed rights. The pro-life side tends to focus on the baby, in a justified attempt to stop the slaughter of the innocent unborn. I believe we must speak to both the mother and the baby, who have been joined together by a gift from God.
With this in mind, I have tried to think of a few slogans to put on my signs that will touch the mother seeking the abortion. The one I currently am using says, “I had an Abortion. Life does NOT go back to normal. Save your baby and yourself. For help call: 800 723 8331.”
The number is for Good Counsel Homes, a place mothers can get the help they need to have their babies, including a place to stay, training in life skills, and support throughout their pregnancy and after.
Opponents Target Our Message Because It Works
Here in New York, we are often met at the abortion facilities by an extreme pro-abortion group named “New York City for Abortion Rights.” Although they claim we are the ones harassing women by our prayerful presence, they attempt to block our walk to the building from a church where we begin the morning with Mass and adoration, shouting their slogans like “God loves abortion,” “This church harasses Women,” “Abortion is freedom,” and a retinue of others as they bang on their drums to drown out our prayer. Sadly, they honestly believe what they are shouting.
Having worked in a ministry of healing from abortion for over 25 years, I recognize the desperate need to keep justifying abortion. I have seen it many times and as someone who had a coerced abortion at 17 years old, I can identify with the emotions they are experiencing. To look at the truth without the light of God’s love would be next to impossible, so they need to stand strong in their rhetoric for the sake of survival.
Once at the abortion facility, the participants of NYC for Abortion Rights continue to shout, bang their drums, and block us from any woman who may be coming for an abortion. My sign is a thorn in their side. On more than one occasion they have frantically tried to keep it hidden from the view of the women coming for an abortion.
This past Saturday, one of the abortion rights participants continually obstructed the view of the sign telling me she did not want the women “to see that sh-t.” Her own sign spoke to ending “forced birth.”
There’s A Reason Both Sides Care So Strongly
As they proclaimed the normality of abortion, it struck me how we actually have much in common. None of our lives have gone back to normal. Abortion has altered us forever. It is not “normal” to spend your Saturday mornings at an abortionist’s office either shouting abortion’s praises or praying for its destruction.
Since the passage of Roe v. Wade, abortion has touched millions of women in our country. Most are not in front of abortion facilities. Some never share their experiences, for fear of judgment or because they are oppressed by guilt and shame. Many often keep it to themselves for years, not even telling husbands or others they are close to, living in the fear of being found out.
With Dobbs v. Jackson before the Supreme Court, emotions are high. I cannot help but wonder how those living in silent suffering are coping. It must be exceedingly difficult for them as they hear both sides arguing their points with neither somehow speaking to their hearts.
I am certain many feel stuck in the middle of a debate that sometimes does not seem to get it. We often speak about these babies in abstracts, but they are not abstract; they are each someone’s child, often the silent suffering.
‘Don’t Ever Forget to Love’
A couple of months ago I dropped my sign at a “Witness for Life” event in Brooklyn. One of the women from NYC for Abortion Rights grabbed it and wrote across the back, “God loves Abortion.” A police officer saw and made her give the sign back to me. To cover up her writing, I placed a picture of Saint Maximillian Kolbe on the back with a quote of his that simply says, “Don’t ever forget to love.”
Rev. Fidelis Moscinski, who leads our vigils, often reminds us, before we take to the streets to pray, that we are not to confront the opposition but to remain in prayer. That they are “not our enemies.”
Little did I know how significant the back of my sign would become as I continue to pray and be confronted by the angry shouts and actions of the other side. Abortion is the ultimate failure of love. Saint Maximillian Kolbe now reminds me as we are on the streets, “Don’t ever forget to love.”