As the car pulled up, I had just a moment or two to talk to the father. He did not try to hide the fact that yes, they were there for an abortion.
“Why?” I dared ask.
“This is the first one for us. We’re just not ready,” he said. “It’s not a baby yet anyway.”
The usual responses, and when one of my fellow prayer advocates at our state’s only abortion facility asked what the man had said, he replied, “That’s not a good enough excuse.”
“No,” I said. “I’ve yet to hear one that is.”
But it wasn’t all this father said to me. This man was young, but certainly not too young to bear the responsibility of a child. Before ducking into the facility that would dismantle and destroy that unique life, I implored him to think about it some more, reminding him that men are made to protect and defend life. He quickly shot back, “Well my dad didn’t protect me.”
There it was — the seething, hidden wound that had led him to the conclusion that this child was not real, not worthy of life — for all to see, if only for a moment before it enfolded again into its hidden prison within his heart.
Later, as I contemplated the lies this father had bought into, an image came to me. I thought of St. Joseph, and how it must have been for him when he learned his betrothed, with whom he’d had no sexual relations, had conceived a child.
Joseph, of all men, would have had reason to seek abortion for the life that had been quietly announced, presenting a crisis. Though there wouldn’t have been an abortion facility in either Nazareth or Bethlehem, surely they could have found a way to destroy the child Jesus.
Of course, God knew what he was doing when he chose Joseph and Mary to bring his Son into the world. But what if? What if Joseph had insisted that Jesus be killed, as Herod had desired?
Instead, with God’s grace in the hardest of circumstances, he rose up and became the father Jesus needed. His manhood springing into action, Joseph went into a mode of protectiveness for his beloved, Mary, and the fruit of her womb — the one who would save us all.
It’s chilling to consider the “what ifs,” but it presents a contrast we seem to need right now. The more time I spend on that sidewalk, the more apparent the crisis of fatherhood becomes.
I don’t wish to further beat down and belittle men. In our world today, they don’t have it easy. So many are simply ill-equipped, having not been fathered well themselves, just as the young man I talked with had indicated.
But I’m finding it harder to witness what we see so often: men bringing in their daughters, girlfriends, and wives to abort their children. Given the scenario I’ve painted about St. Joseph, it seems clear how deeply grieved our Lord must be that so many of his little ones have been denied life — yes, murdered — just as Herod, in his selfishness, had demanded of his life.
Our men are wounded, and the hearts of too many have folded up. In this damaged state, they have become selfish, to the point of overlooking what abortion does to women and themselves, ultimately leading many to facilitate the destruction of their own children.
More than ever, we need the intercession of St. Joseph, who knows just what they’re going through, and how to help rectify it all.
Dear St. Joseph, we implore you. Please, come into the hearts of men everywhere, that they might see the jewel before them, and be the men God has called them to be. Only then will their hearts, now chained in captivity, be set free.
For those who stood vigil during this year’s 40 Days for Life ND prayer campaign in Fargo — and all who stand for life — please join the Evening of Thanksgiving celebration with Ramona Trevino, former Planned Parenthood manager, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the Avalon Events Center in Fargo. Registration is not required. Hors D’oeuvres will be served. Free-will offering.
[Note: I write about my experiences on the sidewalk Downtown Fargo on Wednesday, the day abortions happen at our state’s only abortion facility, for New Earth magazine — the official news publication of the Fargo Diocese. I hope you find “Sidewalk Stories” helpful in understanding the truth about abortion and how it plays out tragically each week here in Fargo, N.D. The preceding ran in New Earth’s January 2019 issue.]