Last week 40 Days for Life began their Spring campaign. I signed up to be at the Richmond Women's Medical Center - an abortion facility run by Dr. William Fitzhugh - on Saturday.
I've been there many times before. Typically on a Saturday I would see about a dozen women go in to abort their children.
This week there were zero!
The Richmond Women's Medical Center was closed all day without explanation. Dr. Fitzhugh's BMW was in the parking lot the whole weekend next to the padlocked gate to the building. Someone came by and picked the vehicle up on Monday and the business continued operating yesterday and today. I was a little disappointed that they opened back up. I was hopeful that it might be closed permanently.
While out on the sidewalk, I got to meet some really great pro-life people. I saw my friends Roger and Greene again, and Bill and Dave were there as well. I also met some wonderful ladies who came to pray the Rosary and stayed until they couldn't feel their toes anymore.
In addition to talking with great pro-life friends, I also got to talk to a few people passing by. One woman came with a box full of pastries that she had purchased and was planning to deliver to the abortion facility.
The woman didn't talk to me at all. She pointedly ignored me when I told her, "I think they're closed today."
I have never seen someone deliver pastries to a medical clinic unannounced before. I don't know what would have happened if they were open. Would they have accepted such an unexpected present?
I only know what was in her box because she told some other pro-choice women who were much more willing to talk to me.
Undeterred by the locked gate, this woman took her pastries and called out to three other pro-choice women that she was going to take them over to Planned Parenthood just down the road.
I didn't think things would get stranger than that interaction, but I was wrong. The three pro-choice women who were still there had a lot to say to me.
"Are you pro-life?" The first asked me when they first walked up. "Yes, I am." I responded. "I'm Sean." I said, extending my hand to the woman who addressed me. There were two other women with her, but she was the only one who responded. "I'm Cathy*." She said, smiling and halfway laughing sarcastically. "Why don't we just distribute contraceptives and make this whole problem go away?" Cathy asked, with an eagerness in her voice that indicated she was itching for an argument. I dodged the question as best as I could. "That could possibly help. Contraception is never perfect, there will always be women who are seeking abortions. Why do you support abortion in those cases?" She actually grabbed my arm with both of her hands (one hand on my elbow, the other on my wrist) and earnestly - somewhat frighteningly - told me that we shouldn't have to fight over this issue. We should just encourage mass contraception. (Not her actual words...)
"I'm pro-life because I believe that every human being is equal and should receive the equal protection of the law - no matter what age they are." I said, turning the subject back to the question of abortion.
"Why aren't you with them?" Cathy said, gesturing towards a family of four who came by to pray the Rosary for an hour.
"They're praying." I responded. I really should have said, "They're praying as a family." or "Because then I wouldn't get to talk to you, Cathy."
But all I said was, "They're praying."
I felt weird. Was I distancing myself from prayer? Am I embarrassed by prayer?
Not really, no. I don't think so. I wasn't talking about prayer at the moment. I was trying to make the Equal Rights Argument to demonstrate that abortion is wrong. (I was not doing it well. Cathy's energetic gesturing and distracting comments got me off track repeatedly.)
During the ensuing discussion I remember that Cathy brought up the "little Venezuelan girl" who got pregnant by rape and had to undergo a Caesarean Section delivery of the child. "Do you agree that she should be forced to suffer the trauma of rape?" Cathy asked me, and followed up by pointedly asking, "The trauma of pregnancy at a young age? The trauma of a C-Section?" The three women were always poised to walk away, and so I answered very quickly. "I only know this: the girl survived those things, but the child who is aborted does not survive."
That's when one of Cathy's friends interjected with her own opinion. "Well, I don't know about that." She said. I almost didn't realize what she was saying. She was literally saying that she didn't know whether an aborted child was destroyed by abortion!
"I think," she went on without pausing, "that God will put them back into another person."
My gasp was audible. "Why, that's a Religious claim!" I said.
"No it's not," the friend responded. "It's a Spiritual claim."
I am struggling to find a meaningful difference when applied to the statement she made about God putting aborted babies back into different people in the future. It is a bizarre claim, whether it's Religious or Spiritual.
"Ok." I said, conceding that the statement was Spiritual rather than Religious. "I don't think we should base our public policy on spirituality."
Cathy's other friend at that point said she needed to get to some other event, and Cathy apologized for her haste in leaving. They all three departed without further discussion.
A box full of pastries and spirituality were the ways that these women came to show support for abortion today. One woman came out of her way with a box of pastries that she bought to give out to complete strangers at a medical center. Three other women stopped their walk to engage a pro-life man on the sidewalk and tell him about their spiritual beliefs. "You'll find that we are a tight-knit wall of support." Cathy had said to me when I asked about the pastry delivery.
The pro-abortion movement does appear to be that. They are united together in support of abortion no matter what.
*Not her real name.