Opinion

Sometimes you just want to hear someone say, “you don’t have to do this.”

sad woman girl

You never know whose heart you’ll change.

Fifteen years ago, I had an abortion that I never wanted to have. I was young and scared and wanted nothing more than to have someone tell me, “You don’t have to do this.” This is a recalling of those events and my plea for all pro-life advocates to make themselves seen at the front lines of abortion – abortion mills.

* * *
I know that I never wanted to have an abortion, but I sincerely felt there was no other way. I had a job that barely supported me and my little apartment, and the father of my child wasn’t returning my calls. All around me, my friends, fresh out of college, were starting their careers. Many were getting married, some traveled, and others sought to climb the ladder of success. I admired them all and their ambitions, so when I found out I was pregnant, all I could think of were the things I would give up and the opportunities I would miss. Even still, I never wanted to have an abortion.

I made several appointments and broke them all. I acted morose and angry in hopes that my friends would notice and ask me what was wrong. No one did. I was dying to tell someone – I wanted to share the burden. But we were all so busy at that age. Busy hanging out with our friends and making our plans for the future.

When I called the abortion mill to make a third appointment, the woman warned me that the longer I dragged it out, the more “far along things get,” and that the procedure would cost more money. A lot more money. More money than I had. I felt pressured to hurry up and make a decision I never wanted to make. I honestly thought for a while that if I ignored things, they would go away, or at least solve themselves. I’d be too far along for an abortion. But the woman taking my appointment snapped me out of that quick by telling me time was running out. I made the appointment and thought, This is it, no going back… Unless…

And here is where my mind went wildly racing…

Unless I pull into the parking lot and am met by screaming pro-lifers waving pictures of aborted babies and calling me names like “slut” and “tramp.”

I imagined an entire scenario in my mind where I was victimized and chased off by these fanatical Christians and missed my appointment and now it was too late. People would feel sorry for me instead of thinking I was a whore.

Yes, in my youth I was a pro-abortion advocate, and I thought that all pro-life advocates were crazy religious zealots who foamed at the mouth and spewed Bible verses like profanities…like a pro-life version of the Westboro Baptist Church. God Hates Whores!

This is a common stereotype that pro-abortion advocates have about pro-life folks because, honestly, this is how a lot of pro-choice supporters debate. I debated this way myself, by being louder and more vulgar than my opponent, who would just give up frustrated and walk away. I actually considered it “winning” when this happened.

So I can sympathize to some extent when I hear pro-abortion advocates vilify pro-lifers. Immediately it tells me two things about them: they have never honestly spoken to a pro-life advocate, and this is how they themselves debate. I can adjust my behavior accordingly and prepare myself for the verbal lashing.

So yes, I had decided that if I drove to the clinic and there were angry pro-lifers frowning at me and pelting me with Bibles, I would turn around and go home. In fact, on the drive there I actually prayed that there would be angry pro-lifers drunk on their own piety, waiting there for me…like vultures. Please please please, God, let there be Your people standing in between me and the door to the clinic.

In fact, I was so convinced there would be a pro-life presence I drove right by the place. Twice. It was such a quiet, unassuming gray building. This couldn’t be the place, I thought. But I drove by one more time and checked the number on the front of the building – it didn’t have the clinic’s name on the building or on any sign – before finally putting my car in park. Then I waited.

And waited.

I was still convinced they were there…somewhere. Hiding in the bushes, perhaps. Or sitting in their parked cars, reading the Bible, waiting for people to pull up, and then they would jump out of their cars and swarm around mine like a pitchfork-wielding mob. I waited five minutes. And I prayed the whole time that they were there. Then I waited five more minutes. Maybe they were just running late.

Nothing.

And you know the rest of the story. No one was there. Not a single living soul told me I didn’t have to do this. No one in the clinic told me otherwise, either, of course. They took it at face value that if I was there, I had already solidly made up my mind. But the truth is, I could have been talked out of it quite easily at any given minute.

Sad, really – even up to that point, I was still looking for an excuse not to take responsibility for my own actions. I could have very easily looked up the number to the local crisis pregnancy center and called them. I could have found someone to talk me out of it. Maybe the clinic’s workers’ assumptions were correct after all…my mind was made up. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been changed.

I do not blame pro-lifers for not being at that clinic in Virginia some fifteen years ago. I don’t even blame the clinic workers for not telling me about social services and their programs. All the information was there, readily available if I had sought it. But I didn’t. No, the responsibility was all mine.

So why am I sharing this deeply personal story with you? I am telling this story for two reasons, and neither of those reasons is to cast blame.

I tell this story to illustrate how critically important it is that we, who call ourselves pro-life, be physically active and audibly vocal in the pro-life movement. We must go beyond the voting booth and the bumper sticker on our cars. We must, we must, we must be a physical and prayerful witness at abortion mills, prayer vigils, and at pro-life masses, marches, and rallies.

Even if all you can commit to is one hour a month, I urge everyone reading this to spend that hour silently praying in front of your local abortion mill. Just be there. Even if no one approaches you, be there. Even if people drive by and swear at you, be there. Even if it’s pouring down rain, be there.

And lastly, I write this for those who regularly make vigil outside their local abortion mill and may be feeling discouraged. During the 40 Days For Life campaign, we often read encouraging stories of women who spoke with sidewalk counselors and decided not to abort. Then they went on to name their babies after the people who changed their hearts. And everyone says, “Praise Jesus! Amen!” at the job well done.

But really, it’s rarely like that. Usually you stand out there for days or months at a time, silently enduring verbal abuses, and never know the impact of your presence. What you don’t know is that there may be one girl driving down the road who might have just kept on going by instead of pulling into the parking lot just because she saw you standing there. To you, she’s another face traveling down a road. To her, you are silently reassuring her that “you don’t have to do this.”

Be encouraged.

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