Thursday, February 26, was a beautiful day — sunny, warm, very pleasant all around. It would have been a nice day to walk around the City, or even to hang around in City Hall Park and watch the world go by.
But something much more important was happening in City Hall Park, and I was privileged to be present for it.
Several women associated with the nationwide movement, Silent No More, had gathered in the Park at the same time our City Council was meeting. The City Council, you’ll remember, is considering passing a terrible bill that would greatly restrict the ability of sidewalk counsellors who stand outside of abortion clinics and try to offer the women heading in for an abortion some alternatives and some hope. The City Council seems poised to pass this bill at the behest of and for the benefit of the abortion clinics, without regard to the free speech rights of pro-lifers or the real needs of the vulnerable women, who deserve to hear the full story before they make such a momentous decision.
The women of Silent No More came to City Hall Park in hopes that New Yorkers would hear their stories. And what stories they told. Heart-rending accounts of their pregnancies, and the pressures they felt to have an abortion. Regrets that began immediately after — if not during — the procedures. Lingering guilt and shame, years of trouble and difficulties, all traced back to the fateful day when they had an abortion. And finally, stories of healing as they faced the reality of what they had done, turned to God for forgiveness, and even forgave themselves.
Underneath the witness was the unexpressed wish that somebody had been there for them, to tell them that there was an alternatives, that they didn’t have to have the abortion. That there was hope for them and for their baby.
To listen unmoved to these witnesses would take a heart of stone. One can only hope that the City Council heard them. One can only hope that women and men who are still in pain heard them.
One of the shining jewels of the pro-life movement is the effort to bring healing to those who have experienced an abortion. Initiatives like Silent No More help women understand that they are not alone, that others have had this experience and have been healed. Efforts like Abortion Changes You offer women and men the chance to begin the healing process. And here in our area, the Sisters of Life, Project Rachel, and Lumina provide practical, psychological and spiritual resources for healing.
The loss of a child before birth for any reason is a terrible burden to carry. Involvement in an abortion adds even more weight to that cross.
But there’s hope. I saw it in City Hall Park, on a beautiful, blessed afternoon in February.