Over 3,400 confidential and totally free groups to call and go to in the U.S. alone. 1,400 outside the U.S.
I’ve Gone Back, Finally
As some of you know, I (Annie) had joined a friend back in December ’02 to offer non-judgmental help to the women going into the abortion center near us in Connecticut. I found it particularly hard at first, as it was the same clinic (albeit a different physical location) where I had my own abortion 25 years ago. It was the closest thing to a panic attack I had ever experienced. But God had seen fit to grace me with strength and conviction of mind to go, every day it was "open for business" on Saturdays and Tuesdays from 7 AM to 10 AM. After the abortionist and the anesthesiologist arrived at 10 to "go to work," most of us would leave, to be replaced by another group offering post-abortive materials to the women and girls as they left after their abortions.
I went twice a week, along with the others, in snow, rain, ice, until advanced Lyme disease derailed me in June of ’03. After being away for over a year, I finally returned to those sidewalks this past Saturday.
As I have said in many places on this big ol’ World Wide Web, of the 30 of us who go to that sidewalk once or twice a week, 29 of us do nothing but silently pray for or speak to (not shout, not badger, not scream at) the women and young girls (more later, perhaps, on the one who doesn't speak calmly, who we’ve tried and failed to show the harm he’s done and continues to do). We offer help and sometimes we ask if we can pray with those who are wearing crosses or have a Rosary hanging from their rear-view mirror. Several women do stop and pray with us, or at least listen, as it is never a hellfire-and-brimstone prayer, but a genuine petition to God for help, strength to do the right thing, and blessings for her and her unborn baby. It’s a heartfelt reminder that God really loves and cares for them and He’s ready to show that He does, through the great majority of us there on that sidewalk.
We offer—and deliver—concrete, here-and-now help. A hot meal, a ride to Hopeline or Birthright (Toll-free 1-800-550-4900, with 12 locations in Connecticut and a thousand in the U.S.) to get a free ultrasound or if she’s not sure she’s pregnant, a free pregnancy test. Groceries, clothing, cribs, "safe haven" places to stay as long as they need (like my own home, for instance, in my guest room), baby supplies for their other young ones, even medical care for them and their unborn babies. Yes, this state gives virtually free prenatal and postnatal care to those who need it. It’s called "Healthy Start" and can be obtained even by illegal immigrants afraid of being deported. My friends take them to the hospital to fill out the forms and get the approvals. They also have a warehouse down the street filled with baby supplies. All given away for free. Sometimes they’ve even helped expectant fathers find jobs.
There are people helping people non-judgmentally like this all around the country.
Over 3,400 confidential and totally free groups to call and go to in the U.S. alone. 1,400 outside the U.S.Some work from the sidewalks, like my friends. Most don’t but have downtown, storefront locations where the girls can go to get all this help. And as I’ve said elsewhere, if a woman with a crisis pregnancy finds one place a little too "Bible-thumping" for her liking (yes, they’re out there, I’m afraid), then call up the next one, and the next one, until you get the ones that are not. There are at least 38 such places all over Connecticut. All operating on donations and volunteers’ time.
Many girls and women change their minds, even after they’ve gone inside the abortion clinic for hours. They are shocked that someone—many someones—are there to help them, not hurt them. To not take a dime of their money, instead of asking for the $550 it costs for the abortion of a 3-month-old fetus or $3,000 if the baby is further along.
Back on Sat. Dec. 21, 2002, I’d written this in my e-letter about that day: "Seventeen moms came to the center for abortions today. Four turned away, after going inside about an hour. We believe four babies were at least allowed another chance at life; this was an incredible number of turn-aways!
"We hold signs offering help, we pray with and plead with the mothers not to go inside, and it is all worthwhile when even one comes back out, changing her mind. Perhaps it was because we touched their hearts in something compassionate one of us said, or a word of caring on our signs."
This past Saturday, sixteen moms came for abortions, five turned away, and three more told us they really changed their minds after listening and talking with us. EIGHT women out of sixteen, at least a definite three saving themselves from the pain and their babies’ lives as well. This shift has been steadily happening over the past year or so. More and more are changing their minds.
When someone "turns away," it could be because she accidentally had something to eat that morning, or the ultrasound proved she was further along in her pregnancy than the clinic likes to bother with. If they don’t answer us when we ask politely if they’ve changed their minds, we can only hope that they’ve reconsidered and don’t come back another day. But it does happen.
From time to time, I’ll be writing about "the sidewalks," here. Protecting people’s privacy and identities, of course: changing any least little thing that would compromise them. And I know I’m not the first or even the tenth to write about the sidewalks (if you can get a copy of Marian Banducci’s Twenty Years on the Front Lines, I highly recommend it).
But there are many new stories about the moms, the fathers, the escorts and what happens out there that you have never seen and won’t ever see in the major mass media. Maybe it’s time we all should.
Putting this up here isn’t about me or what I’ve done. I have such a miniscule part to play in all this. My friends at those sidewalks have been doing this for over 13 years. God just gave me the gift of being able to write about it.
But this is about the moms and the babies. They need all of us, at least as witnesses to both of them and to both of their true needs and rights. For those of our readers who believe in God and Christ, Jesus wants to use you as His mouthpiece, His hands, His feet, reaching out to them, as they find themselves where they should not be, where they don’t have to be. I ask only that we all help our preborn neighbor and her mother. We must speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and if not physically able to do anything, I hope that we will just pray and hope for them.
"You are my witnesses, says the Lord." Isaiah 43:10