It is not easy to write about what I have witnessed today and even though it is not the first time I have seen it, it does not make it easier to watch. I spent this morning quietly praying outside an abortion clinic with a group of pro-lifers while, on the other side of the street, 'pavement counsellors' offered to speak with women as they entered the 'clinic'. By the admission of the friars who organise these vigils it was a 'busy' morning. Nothing is ever simple about abortion or the circumstances of the people entering the centres. The only word I can think of is devastation. The counsellors do not harass the mothers, simply offer them the opportunity to talk and if the mother agrees they listen compassionately and try to present the other side of the story as best they can.
Many things happened today some of them uplifting, some of them heart wrenching and all of them requiring, if you are able and willing, your prayer. It is a clumsy way to write but the only way I can think to organise this entry is to break it down into subheadings of events so that it will be easier for me to convey and hopefully for you to get an overview of everything that occurred to the soundtrack of our prayer. I don't know why I feel it is so important that I try and tell you these details but I know that it is important so thank you for reading.
This is the first time that I have joined the group at this particular centre and the first thing that struck me about it was the irritation of the staff. At other clinics I have been to the staff have let us get on quietly while they ignored us. Today two of the staff came and stood directly opposite us outside the clinic for the entire time we were outside which was most of the morning (we stay on the other side of the road since it is a very narrow British road). We aim to keep far enough away to let the pavement counsellors work but close enough to be a visible witness for the unborn. We never approach anyone or interfere. There is no reason for them to be threatened but they were clearly angry with us. Every time a woman about to enter the clinic walked up the road they would try to rush her in so the counsellors couldn't speak to her and she would not see our placards of unborn children. When no one was coming the two women would stand staring at us with defiance, sometimes they would crack a joke or laugh. They wanted us to know they didn't care. However, if they really didn't care they wouldn't be standing out there in the freezing cold in the first place.
Abortion is big business they were worried we might disrupt their income . Perhaps they also believe they are protecting the rights of women. Their faces were so hard and angry when they caught our gaze. When I was a bit younger, in my teens, I would have felt angry right back out them. Now I feel an overwhelming sadness for them because if they think that leading women up the steps to that place (and I watched them lead a lot of women today) is protecting their dignity they have been horribly misguided and, in a strange way, wronged.
Please pray for them and all those who work in clinics believing they are justified and right to do so.
May bitterness and anger never have the last word
The police, a supposedly neutral force, were required to be present to ensure that both 'sides' co-exist peacefully. They were not neutral, don't get me wrong they were competent and pleasant in escorting us, but at the clinic they stood on the other side of the road with the staff and laughed and joked with them. They allied themselves closely with the nurses. They treated us rather more distantly and did not stay close to us. When we were back at the church we thanked them for escorting us and they were cold.
Please pray that those who aim to defend life will be treated with dignity and fairness by those who do not understand or sympathise with our values.
The dog walker
As I have attended vigils, rallies or protests about abortion over the years I have got used to being shouted at and openly verbally abused. I was always told that this is a hopeful sign because this anger is a reaction to the knowledge their soul instinctively has- this is wrong! We only had one case of that today but the reason I bring it up is because it was a poignant example of how abortion affects women.
The woman in question was in her late fifties and walking her dogs, she started shouting across the road at us and then progressed to yelling expletives. As she moved down the road one of the counsellors asked her gently if she would like to take a leaflet and she began to verbally abuse the counsellor. However, the counsellor stayed calm and gave our perspective about the life of the child and showed the leaflet with the stages of development on it.
It transpired that this woman was pro-choice because she herself had an abortion at the same type of clinic as this. The counsellor asked if this might be why she was so angry; she was not angry with us- she was still angry about her abortion and being reminded of it caused her pain.
She gave the counsellor her name and agreed to take a leaflet with a contact for proper post-abortion counselling . I think this was a big breakthrough for her. She also gave her name in order that we could pray for her- she does not believe in God - but never mind I am sure he believes in her!
Please pray for Carol (the woman in question) and all women, all mothers, affected by abortion.
May bitterness and anger never have the last word.
It would be easy to write something the length of a book about the women I watched walk up the steps to that place today and to talk about the expression on the faces of women leaving. Some were with boyfriends, others clearly with friends and some young girls were obviously being marched in there with parents; bewilderment and distress on their faces- still just children themselves.
Pray for all women, all mothers, who abort their children
Pray for all women who abort their children under duress from parents or partners
Pray for those who enter into willingly abortion
This is the hardest thing that I saw happen today. I don't even know how to recount it but I will try. A woman arrived with her partner and began speaking with the counsellor. It became clear that the woman's boyfriend did not want his partner to have the abortion- they already had two children. They talked with the counsellor. The women went in BUT a few minutes later she came back. She spoke with the counsellor again. Things seemed to be going better. She said she no longer wanted the abortion and he partner was relieved BUT she needed to go back and tell them she would not be taking up her appointment.
She never came back out of the clinic. When she went back in the staff in the convinced her that she did want the abortion after all. She phoned her husband on her mobile to tell him "I'm sorry I'm going up" by which she meant "up" to have the abortion carried out.
Please pray for all families torn apart apart by abortion.
Please pray for all vulnerable mother's preyed upon those who promote the culture of death.
The ray of hope - LOTS OF PRAYERS NEEDED
After that story it might be easy to become downcast but there was so much grace to be felt in the prayer today and this was increased by a chance encounter. A man pulled over in a van and asked one of the counsellors for help. His girlfriend is due to have an abortion next Friday but he so wants her to have their baby. He asked for all the information he could get. The counsellor told him everything he could, gave him lots of literature and told him we would pray. So.....
Please pray for Darren and Jessica, that Jessica will turn away from abortion and realise the humanity and beauty of her little child.
I am aware of the death of fifteen babies today. I stood outside the building and prayed while these children's lives were taken legally and silently. The world carried on around us none the wiser. This was just one clinic. This afternoon I went to central London to Westminster Cathedral and somehow everything seemed a little absurd-people out having a great time in this big, heaving city so unaware. How can the events of this morning happen each day and everyone be so oblivious?
It is because the unborn are easily disposed of. They have no voice and no way to make their cry heard. So let that be our job. (See earlier post for text on this WITH A LITTLE BIT OF GRACE - FOCA )
Please pray for the little children who were murdered so quietly today behind the closed doors and rolled down blinds of abortion clinics.
Please pray for all those babies at risk of having their lives snatched from them through abortion.
Please pray that our laws will prevent these deaths and reveal the true meaning of respect
A linked post which will tell you a little about my families experiences WALKING THE WALK - CHOOSING LIFE