More than once here, I’ve written that “the conscience cannot help but speak out.” It’s something I’ve discovered powerfully as a sidewalk advocate with a heart for those seeking abortion, and their children, whose lives hang in the balance weekly here in Fargo.
Now, I have another example of how our consciences bear down and cannot be suppressed. Eventually, the truth comes out. It cannot be contained.
It happened as a result of one of my “Living Faith” columns I write for The Forum newspaper, about a couple who’d proudly announced their vasectomy on social media, declaring they were “expecting a child…NEVER!” I felt this very public admission deserved to be held in the light because of the “culture of death” it announced.
One of my fellow columnists responded publicly, taking issue with what he called my judging attitude, despite my having noted in my essay that we are not to judge hearts; a statement I hold firm.
I’ve been misunderstood many times before, however, and accept the daggers that come from being a public communicator of Christ’s Church. What came next, though, left me and my fellow pro-life friends stunned.
In his column, “Conservatives block solutions to unwanted pregnancies,” Tony Bender stated that he had “experienced the loss of a child,” who was “aborted when we learned his condition ‘was not compatible with life.’”
“I’ve run the ugly gauntlet of protesters with no empathy for those between a rock and a hard place,” he continued, noting that “George Tiller the Baby Killer” was “the only man in America who would take our case…”
The conscience speaks.
Most everyone in the pro-life movement knows of Dr. George Tiller, the late-term abortionist who, in May 2009, was killed by a gunman who approached him in church. Despite the fact that only a few misguided folks would uphold the gunman’s action as a needed act, this unfortunate incident continues to be used to justify abortion, and against those who uphold life at all stages.
George Tiller was famous—or infamous perhaps—both before and after his death, which should not have happened this way. God alone should decide when the life he gives ought to end. But more to the point, a local man has now, through a post about vasectomy, admitted to something troubling before all.
In the end, Mr. Bender has provided an important opportunity for us to pray for him. We can do so more fervently now, better understanding what motivates his words. By his own admission, on Ash Wednesday (an abortion day here in Fargo), he gave us a chance to peer into his soul and beg the Lord’s mercy on his behalf. We can, and ought to, pray for his conversion, and the healing of his and his wife’s broken hearts.
As beautiful an opportunity as this is, in this season, it is also hard news to carry. One of our own little ones died at the hands of a man renowned for helping people end the lives of our smallest citizens in the latest stages of pregnancy. This is not cause for rejoicing, but deep grief. In that grief, we must not only pray for the Benders, but for George Tiller and the man who killed him as well.
If nothing else, this mess reminds us that taking the life of another human being—of an innocent person—is the highest offense, and will require the most mercy from God. Does God have it in him? Yes, he does, and our prayers here matter. Of course, we need those prayers ourselves, for we, too, are sinners.
Just a week after Mr. Bender’s column, at the sidewalk in front of our state’s only abortion facility on a Wednesday, a prisoner arrived, in prison garb, flanked by two security guards. From all indications, she was there to procure an abortion. Though I was not present at the time, several friends were eyewitnesses.
Their report raised questions in my mind. Can prisoners be let out to seek an abortion? And if so, who is paying for the abortion? I dare to guess it is us, friends, the taxpayers. This scenario leaves me unsettled, and wondering what our response should be. If you have any thoughts, please let me know.
Meantime, let us remember what Mother Teresa once said: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love but to use violence to get what they want.” May we never cease in praying that unmerited deaths of all kinds, whether in war or abortion—for the link is undeniable—will cease, and soon.
[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 April 2022 issue.]