The friend accompanying me that day hadn’t planned on staying any longer. She’d been at our state’s only abortion facility since morning and had a 90-minute drive ahead of her. Now late afternoon, she’d put in her time, and knew we local, afternoon dwindlers would cover for her.
But something made her turn around: the flash of a woman she’d greeted a while earlier, now exiting the facility. I was closest to the woman now and reached out with some literature on counseling options. Surprisingly, she took them, but her face showed she was processing something deep.
A male escort walked with her to the end of the sidewalk heading west, and my friend who’d just said goodbye was suddenly next to me, suggesting we try to talk to the woman who’d just left the abortion facility. So, we began in that direction, and as the escort turned back, we picked up our pace to catch up.
By the time we reached her, she was nearly to the end of the next block. We knew this might be our last chance to see if she had any needs we might help with—perhaps post-abortive resources, or information on abortion-pill reversal options. It seemed best in this case to just cut to the chase. “Are you okay?” we asked. “Did you have an abortion?” “No, I couldn’t go through with it,” she replied.
Both shocked, but also cautiously hopeful now, we gently persisted in our questions to make sure we understood. She responded, “I found out I’m having twins, and I just knew I couldn’t do it. I’m also a twin.”
Noting her sincerity, a flood of joy filled our hearts, and the pace of conversation picked up quickly. “Are you serious?” “We’re so proud of you!” “Do you need any help?”
She was a mother to three born children already, she told us, and though she had been reluctant about coming to the abortion facility, she’d wanted to at least hear the information. Obviously, news of another pregnancy had overwhelmed her.
But now, having discovered not one life but two would be ended, any consideration of abortion vanished, and all lingering questions disappeared. The reality of the death of two babies had tipped the balance of doubt into the direction of life.
After learning her name, and offering prayers and our phone numbers, along with more if she needed—she claimed her support was more than sufficient—we celebrated with this precious mom, hugging her, and letting her know how proud we were of her decision. As we parted, my friend and I skipped off—literally—thanking God for his divine hand, and for the nudge that sent us after her, so that we could experience the joy and victory with her.
We wish every Wednesday would end this way, but saves are still all too rare. Recently, I was introduced to a poem by Catholic poet Catherine Chandler that conveys the haunting heartache of those who listen to the world’s wooing, and not God’s guidance, in such moments. I share it now with you, as published first in Able Muse ©Tim Murphy, 2010, with permission of the “Able Muse: A Review of Poetry, Prose & Art.”
On Sunday evening after the party ends
and family have gone, you ache to say
how you can’t bear this gathering each May.
Your thoughtful husband usually sends
a rose bouquet, but changed his mind this year:
a special gift, it makes your finger shine
with emerald and ruby. Too much wine,
he banters as he wipes away your tear.
But you and I know, Mother, what he can’t –
your April foolishness; how bit by bit
they snipped me out of you, “took care of it,”
how through the years I’ve been your confidante,
the reason for this night’s unraveling –
the garnet missing from the mother’s ring.
[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 June 2021 issue.]