According to the dispatch log, it was around 2:16 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, when I was physically assaulted near the Red River Women’s Clinic.
I’d arrived not long before, just in time to see the young woman, who would later punch me in the head, enter the Kopelman building in downtown Fargo.
About 30 or more people were gathered there that day—clinic escorts, along with pro-life advocates hoping to offer tangible help—and tensions were high.
The woman had arrived agitated. Reaching the door, she turned to yell at the crowd of people before slipping inside.
Shortly thereafter—not long enough for an abortion to have happened—she appeared again, exiting, but pausing to talk to some escorts, loudly enough that I heard her mention a domestic situation provoking her distress.
Knowing of nearby help, I stepped forward with information to lead her to safe harbor. But there was no diffusing her anger, and she threatened to punch me. Finally, lurching toward me, and after getting in my face, she slugged me hard on the side of the head, resulting in a mild concussion.
A police report was written, and though the clinic would not willingly release the video in their possession showing the incident, it is now in law-enforcement hands and being investigated.
In processing the impact in the hours and days following, I gleaned important insight. Yes, there were several days of physical discomfort—a sore jaw, migraine and tender temple—but this was nothing next to the internal anguish I experienced.
The emotional effects of the trauma seeped deeply into my soul. For I realized the punch represented not a moment in time, but the violence of abortion itself, and all the fractured relationships that result. A “Faith Conversations” article I wrote recently about the effects of abortion reveals more of this reality.
One friend reminded me of the inherent violence of abortion, for it’s not just about the tiny lives lost, but the violence permeating in every direction. Abortion is not only a violent act to the child, but to the mother, whose body is violated in the process.
As Mother Teresa once said, “If a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill?” Another friend, who used to work in the abortion industry, reminded, “Violence begets violence.” By promoting abortion, we promote violence; that’s the raw reality of what I experienced that day.
The young woman’s rage that afternoon wasn’t for me. I just happened to be there when she released it. It’s not OK, and those actions carry consequences. But I am left mostly wishing she knew how deeply loved she is. Because despite my suffering, I emerged from it knowing I am cherished by a merciful heavenly father.
If I could face that girl with the angry, blue eyes once more, in a softer moment, I’d want her to know, unequivocally, how precious she is. Perhaps someday I will get that chance, God willing.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on June 6, 2022.]