The signs were hastily made, with flimsy, white 8×10-inch paper and a dark green marker. By the time I saw them, the wind and cold had caused them to become a bit crumpled.
I’m not even sure many of those coming in for their abortion appointment that day saw the words she’d written. But we sidewalk prayer advocates did, and it mattered to us.
“I have abortion PTSD. Save your child and yourself,” the first one read. And the next: “I regret my abortion every day! Please don’t make the same mistake I did.”
In talking to her later, I learned she’d come on her own, from a town about an hour away. Her abortion had happened a year ago, at this very facility.
She acknowledged the signs were rudimentary, but it had taken a lot just to find the courage to get there, she said. She’d grabbed what materials she could find and scratched out the words her heart had been yearning to tell the other women.
She wanted so much to warn them, she said. “I just wish someone would’ve stopped me.”
I asked her whether there had been other people on the sidewalk the day she’d come in, and she said yes. “People like us, praying and handing out literature?” I asked. “Or escorts for the facility?”
“Yes, both,” she said. “I tried to talk with one of you but then the escort said, ‘Don’t listen to them,’ and pulled me away. Maybe if I’d been able to hear you, it would have been enough to wake me up.”
I told her how valuable her presence was, and how important it was for her to share her story. I asked her if she’d sought healing. She said she’d been doing some research online. She was aware of what was available and was hoping to pursue it more soon.
But more urgently, she indicated, was the need to be there to warn those heading into the facility that it would not help; it would make things worse.
She described what other post-abortive women have shared – how people around you make it seem like it’s the only solution, insisting you do it quickly and move on. “But I immediately realized what I had done, and it was horrible.”
“When I was in there, they kept telling me how relieved I’d feel,” she continued. “But that never happened.”
A friend brought her in that day, she added; someone she’s realized now who, rather than helping her, helped lead her to kill her own child. “I really can’t even look at that person now. I avoid them.”
But what really bothers her, she said, is that no one will really talk about the truth of it. “No one wants to hear from us what really happens.” Pre-abortion, the world rails, “My body my choice,” but post-abortion? Silence. Avoidance. Denial. Censorship. Oppression.
Her testimony, and witness in the bravery it took to drive to Fargo and stand there as if naked in all her vulnerability, not knowing what she’d encounter, and out of sheer love for the child she’ll never hold, is exactly why I am committed to sidewalk advocacy.
Hearing the Post-Abortive Ladies (PALS) group years ago, and again recently, awakened me to the sheer devastation of abortion. Their voices have cut through the lies and brought the very hard truth to light, prompting me to the sidewalk to do my small part.
Silencing post-abortive women will only keep the hidden secret that festers in their souls oozing. We’ve got to find ways to encourage their voices to break free.
Truth – like the love of a mother for her child, even one who died wrongly – is beautiful. It speaks to us on the gut level. It helps us see through God’s eyes, not the Father of Lies.
As one post-abortive friend recently shared, “Before the abortion, the Evil One whispered, ‘It’s harmless.’ After the abortion, he hissed, ‘It’s hopeless.’”
That, too, is a lie, and so we must help unbind those enslaved by this “choice” in this horrid culture of death, so that life and love in all its glory might be unleashed.
“Dear Lord, help us be a guiding light on the sidewalk, to assist these women and console your suffering heart, so that love might reign more and more in our world. Amen.”
[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 Dec. 2018 issue.]