Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Message to Sidewalk Counsellors

A friend from out of state sent along the following message which appeared in the local parish bulletin. It provides a poignant reminder of why it is important to have folks out front of abortion mills. Have a box of tissues ready, just in case.


Dear Father:

I have struggle with writing this letter. I truly feel called to do it, but at the same time, my heart still breaks every time I think of that day. March 6, 1998 - the fact that I was heading towards an abortion clinic hadn't set in yet. I was too busy begging the boy next to me to turn the car around. This boy was supposed to love me.

We'd been dating for over two years when we found out I was pregnant. The plan had been for us to get engaged in two years when he graduated college and marry the year after when I did. I figured this just moved the plan forward a bit. Neither of us had planned on a child yet, but he knew how I felt. We discussed what we would do if this situation popped up. He knew what I believed. He said he believed in a woman's choice and he would support me no matter what.

How naive I was Father. How I wished I had followed the Church's teaching and not had sex until I was married. You see, planning on marrying someone is not the same as actually marrying them. The support is not the same. I also learned the hard way that when the boy said he supported my right to choose, he really meant he supported my right to have an abortion.

This boy I loved had been slowly becoming a dominant force in my life. He had been sweet in high school, but in college jealousy and stress began to take over. I became something he could control and relieve his stress with. Never did I expect him to cross this line though.

I spent a week crying and begging. He spent a week shutting me out. He shoved, grabbed, yelled, and threatened. Then came March 6th: the day of my appointment at the abortion clinic. I was still trying to change his mind.

I told him I thought it was a boy. His name would be Michael. I told him regardless of what he believed, we could at least agree that the potential for life was inside me. If we did nothing, a beautiful child would grow and be born. For a moment I thought he would turn the car around. He just looked at me and said, "You're not going to let this be easy." Of course I wasn't; I didn't want to do it.

My mother had already told me I couldn't come home. I wasn't even allowed to come home just to give the baby up for adoption. She didn't want my siblings to think she approved. So, all my hopes rested on the boy who said he loved me; the boy who said it was my choice. Abortion was not my choice. I wanted my child, but he didn't care.

The closer we got to the clinic the harder I prayed. I prayed for protesters to be outside the clinic doors. I knew I could run to them. I knew they'd keep my child safe. But no one was there in the parking lot. There were no people holding signs. There was no one praying a rosary across the street, waiting to tell me everything would be alright. I was utterly alone.

When we entered the clinic my whole body was shaking with sobs. The lady at the check-in asked if we wanted to t talk to a counselor. The boy shook his head; I told her if we talked to a counselor I'd probably change my mind. She laughed. I had been trying to reach out, to tell her I needed help and she laughed like I made a joke.

The boy and I made our way to the waiting room and sat down. So many faces in there I'll never forget. I watched them go in one by one. My crying was almost uncontrollable now. My helplessness was engulfing me. I wondered why no one in that office came to check o me. Why didn't they say "You don't look ready to make this decision" or "We can't let you do this today" or "We insist you spend time with the counselor first."

No one did. They did come to tell me it was my turn to come down. I followed the lady down the stairs, changed into a gown and sat down with three other girls waiting my turn. I looked around and realized I couldn't do this. I didn't care if I couldn't go home. I would go somewhere, but not here.

I changed back into my clothes and walked up the stairs. I was about 100 feet from the door when he stopped me. I looked up into his face and told him I couldn't do this, we would figure something out. At that moment he grabbed my arm and asked the nurse if there was a room we could talk in. She sent us in a back room alone. She let him lead me away from that front door. She sent on one in to mediate, no one in to check on us.

I had to endure a half hour of hearing how he regretted ever knowing me. He told me that he would take out his hatred for me on this child. He grabbed my face, shoved me into a wall, looked down at me, and told me I could not leave. When I was allowed to leave that conference room, it was because he was sure I had no more fight left. He was sure I knew no one was going to help me.

I flipped him off as I headed back down the stairs. No one stopped me, but by this point I didn't expect it. I knew they weren't really there to help me. They wanted the same thing he did, to rip my child from my womb, to pretend my Michael never was.

The thing no one tells you about abortion is that you hear it. They give you meds to numb your body, but you are awake. I heard them scrape my baby from my body. I had nightmares about that sound for years.

Then I was moved to a recovery room. It was filled with recliners. I sat in one still crying. There was another girl across from me. I asked her how long she thought it would hurt. She gave me the clinical answer of about 4 weeks. No, I told her. How long do you think our hearts will hurt? The girl began to tell me her story, she began to cry as well. This was where the nurse finally intervened. She came and moved the girl away from me. Apparently it was not okay to show emotion for the loss of the children that never were.

Eventually I left that clinic and left that boy. I have never left that experience though. I have never been able to answer all my questions.

I know that it took about 6 years for me to stop having nightmares. I know that I stayed away from Church for about 4 years because I felt unworthy to be there. I know that I spent many nights after the birth of my children wondering what Michael would have been like. I know that I ask God to take care of my little boy in heaven. I know that God forgives. I know that I have been healed in this Church. I know that the pain in my heart will never go away. The past eleven years have dulled the pain, but it will never disappear.

What I don't know...is why I got so close to that door, but never made it out. Why was no one there to help me? Why did they let him take me alone into that conference room? Why did they let me go back down? Why wasn't I strong enough to keep fighting?

I'm not 18 anymore, Father. I am much stronger. While I cannot fight for Michael, I can fight for other women/girls like me. I can fight for children like Michael that deserve the life he never had. Please use this letter however you see fit. Let this experience become something for God's glory.

Love in Christ,
A member of the parish.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this story Father. 40 Days for Life begins in Cincinnati on February 17. This story shows how powerful the work of the sidewalk counselors is. Thanks for all you do father!

Carol said...

Shocking. We've not come a long way, baby, if we let a girl, or anyone, go sobbing past us.

And this article may be the thing that puts me on the sidewalk where I can both see and be seen.

Michael said...

I am moved beyond words. What a lie we have allowed to perpetuate for so long!

Kitty Actress said...

I want to thank you so much for posting this. (Though it may sound stupid) I have never really been to look at abortion as real. The deed is just too cruel to be viewed as real: Does anyone know what I mean?

What I'm trying to say is that this story/event did 2 things for me:
1. Reminded me how real these bad/horrible/cruel/nasty/(insert other bad words) doings are.
2. Reminded me how precious the gift of life is. My birthday is next week and i thought, what if my parents hadnt have been trying to have a baby and they were a few years younger and they weren't married, would I still be here today? I know that I would be here, because I know my parents, but still, what about someone less fortunate, like someone my age, a teenager?

Beth said...

Father, I hope and pray that I can use this article for 40 Days for Life, to rally people! Please pray for us here in Mobile, AL. Despite our conservative ideals, it's long scrawny arm has reached even us, pushing on the conservative south something we don't even want.

BrianPGibson said...

I have been the director of an organization that trains, organizes and schedules sidewalk counseling in Minnesota and Orlando, FL. This story reminds us of the importance of our work. We try to never leave any abortuary unattended at the times women go in for abortions.