Why am I so passionate about the pro-life cause? It's not because I personally have had one. But we have known those who have and seeing the devastation that happened in the wake of the choice to abort the babies only further cemented what I already fundamentally believed as an intrinsic evil.
When my husband and I had been married for only a few months, some university friends of ours called to ask if they could stay with us in the big city. She was pregnant and the nearest abortion facility was in our city. We said "Yes" and when they arrived, we spoke to them for several days trying to convince them to turn away from the path they had chosen.
They were unmarried and she was from a small farming community, on scholarship in the Art School. We said to her that she could stay with us, we would pay for all her medical expenses and adopt the baby. She could transfer to the Art School in the city and in essence, take advantage of the anonymity afforded by the city. Her grants would transfer to the school. Round and round we went for three days. On the fourth, they sneaked out very early in the morning and at lunch time, they returned. They went through with the abortion. She looked horrible and in terrible pain. He was whitefaced.
Then several years later, a relative and his wife were having a tumultuous pregnancy exacerbated by the instability of his wife. She was unhappy in the marriage and jumped on the possibility that the baby had abnormalities. Off she went to the abortion facility, the extended family begging her to not go through with the late-term abortion. We would care for the baby, we said. We would love the baby no matter what disabilities he might have. There was nothing we could do but stand by. She named the baby Jacob. The marriage did not survive and the effects of the divorce resonate to this day.
With my own miscarriages, I understood the sorrow that a mother naturally feels at the loss of a child. One moment I could feel the movements, the hiccups, the kicking feet. And then another, quiet, stillness. The guilt and the reproaches came, peace and acceptance coming only years later. These were wanted children.
What must it be like when in the stillness of the night, a mother who chooses her baby's destruction will hear that persistent voice in her head saying there is great loss?
Move forward several years, I am standing in front of the nearest abortion facility and watch as car after car drive up. Some cars are ordinary, others large SUVs and expensive imports. Young women with their mothers striding into the building, purposeful in "taking care of the problem". They throw back Project Rachel brochures out of their windows in disgust. Others flip their fingers at me. Sometimes, the men that come with them stare at me, contemptuous of the rosary draped around my folded hands.
This past week, families with young children walk in with the strollers. Activity is high, higher than usual. Economic instability reveals the fear that grips.
In all these years, I have not had the privilege of directly saving any babies. I am fine with that. Success is not what I seek, but only to be a witness at the line of no return. So I stand there in the rain, in the heat, in the cold praying my prayers, chanting "In Paradisum", speaking with God about the Little Martyrs who are returning into his arms of mercy, remembering the parents who made such a choice. The babies that I've spiritually adopted are prayed for at Mass, remembered on All Souls' Day, and at Mother's Day celebrations. I don't know their names. God does. Each year, my love grows for them, even though their numbers increase. Some nights, I am at the abortion facility, the world asleep, yet inside, there is activity. The floors are being swept and mopped, the instruments sterilized, and punctuating the end of another day, the smoke released when no one is around to see.
I don't know if God will ever grant me the joyful privilege of helping to turn a mother's heart. But for now, I cry and grieve, as Mary did at the foot of the altar. It is for me to pray and believe that the Lord of Life will triumph, has triumphed.