NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

First Responders for Life

November is the month the  Shockwaves of Abortion initiative addresses pro-life workers. 

Kevin Burke is the co-founder of Rachel's Vineyard and a pastoral associate with Priests for Life and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.  In one of his blogs on the Silent No More website he said, “When we hear of vicarious trauma, we often think of first responders; the brave men and women who serve as firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and police officers.”  He goes on to say, “There is another Population of First Responders.  These women and men are frequently marginalized, cursed, and ridiculed as they try and protect the innocent and advocate for their lives.  They are ignored or maligned by the media, society and sadly sometimes even by their own faith communities; they are the pro-life advocates on the front lines.” 

Being on the front-lines myself, I can attest to the ridicule as well as intimidation.  I can also attest to delayed emotion after a vigil or rally.  I cannot count the times I've been sworn at, flipped off and accused of trying to humiliate and bully young women as they approach clinics.  My response is always the same, I smile and wave at the passing cars, and if confronted one-on-one by someone with a calm demeanor, I quietly listen to what he/she has to say.  Then I look him/her straight in the eye and calmly ask if they would be willing to listen to me or at least take an informational brochure.  Most walk away immediately, or they will listen until something I say probably hits close to home, then say something like, “that’s not true,” then storm off.  There are times I've been approached with so much hate and anger, it’s fruitless to even engage in dialogue.  Those times I just smile and walk away.  Paid pro-choicers greeted us at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. with bloodied crotches and loud, disgusting chants in an attempt to drown out our Silent No More testimonies (to no avail).

Of course, there is also the intimidation factor.  Planned Parenthood contracts out security services, and when we pro-lifers gather, our pictures are taken, and the security guards constantly talk on their radios while eying us.  Some call me by name, even though I’ve never seen them before.  I try my best to develop a positive rapport with them and offer brochures, etc., but they are ordered not to take anything from us whatsoever.    

Now I’ll address delayed emotion.  As a Regional Coordinator for Silent No More, I share my abortion experience at a variety of venues, including vigils and rallies in front of clinics.  Recalling the most horrific decision and experience in my life is like ripping a bandage off, still attached to the scab.   By the time I am safely ensconced in the security of my home, the cruelness of the ridicule and intimidation added to the pain of recall pours out in a flood of tears.  It’s then I immerse myself in prayer and meditation and focus on the lives we may have touched and the faces of all those standing beside me on the front lines … People like me who offer nothing but love, compassion and hope to the women considering abortion as well as already victimized.  I remember the many “thumbs up” and honks from other cars driving by and most importantly the days we see young women decide not to enter death’s door.  

Will it all get too overwhelming?  Will I eventually give up?  Absolutely not.  No amount of cruelty or intimidation will stop me from speaking the truth.  No amount of cruelty or intimidation will stop me from doing all I can to save a precious child from the grips of death.  No amount of cruelty or intimidation will stop me from preventing others from experiencing the physical, spiritual and emotional devastation abortion brings to all involved.  And no matter how many tears I shed when I get home from the "front,"  I wipe them away with the healing love, mercy, and forgiveness received from God and my children and with the love and support from the other “first responders.” 

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