“It’s freezing out. Why don’t you c’mon in for a cup of coffee while you wait?”
The tall woman waiting alone outside the Germantown abortion clinic shivered. She’d taken a taxi to the clinic, and arrived early, a good half-hour before it opened. Standing, pacing, stomping her feet to stay warm, the tall woman stole a glance across the parking lot, towards the voice. It was a “sidewalk counselor” from the pro-life pregnancy center across the way, and she was gesturing to a warmly lit, friendly office. The tall woman’s fingers were already stiff with cold, and she wrapped her coat tighter around her belly.
The cold won. “All right. Thanks.”
Moments later, she was inside the pro-life pregnancy center, warming her frozen fingers as she gripped a steaming cup of coffee. Little by little her story came out.
She was three months pregnant and suddenly homeless. Her father was in jail and the baby’s father was unreliable. She was twenty-something, had one child already, and no job. Her own mother would tell her to get an abortion, if she knew, but her mother was knee-deep in troubles of her own.
Abortion seemed like her only option. The tall woman knew nothing about the clinic’s abortionist, Dr. LeRoy Carhart, nothing about his chilling defense of partial-birth abortion, and nothing about the women who had suffered serious complications, even death, from his abortion ‘care.’ Those issues meant little compared to her own overwhelming troubles.
But over coffee, and warmed by the volunteer’s compassion and energy, the tall woman changed her mind about the abortion. An hour and several phone calls later, she had a place to stay, a doctor’s appointment, and transportation.
In the following months, the volunteers became the tall woman’s support system, driving her to prenatal appointments and dropping everything to be there during childbirth. They helped her find a job and child-care and shared her worries and joys. These days, the tall woman stops by for coffee and conversation when she can, and even spent a morning doing sidewalk counseling outside the clinic. She empathized with the women who found themselves at the clinic’s door. Cradling her one-month old son, she became the voice across the parking lot, urging vulnerable women to choose life.
“Choose Life.” It’s been the pro-life movement’s cry for decades. And yet Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, has left a gruesome legacy after 40 years: 55 million tiny lives extinguished—poisoned, dismembered, stabbed, and suctioned into pieces.
But “life” will prevail.
In fact, the abortion landscape has changed markedly.
- Courageous state legislators passed record numbers of new abortion restrictions in 2012.
- Few doctors do abortions anymore, with only four U.S. doctors hard-hearted enough to perform barbaric third-trimester abortions.
- Americans cannot deny the humanity of the unborn child as new ultrasound technology captures their breathtaking images in the womb.
- Better pro-life media and investigative journalism have shaped public opinion favorably: Eighty percent of Americans believe third trimester abortions should be illegal, and 64% say the same about second trimester abortions.
- Young people are driving the pro-life bus, confounding pro-choice elites. It’s hard to demonize a generation that’s passionate enough to travel hours by bus, sleep on church basement floors, and brave chilly weather to raise their voices against abortion at the March for Life. And this pro-life generation understands “the pain that abortion causes women,” and cares as much about women as their unborn babies.
But as important as those factors are, the pro-life position will prevail for a deeper reason.
At heart, the pro-life movement is about people, its message intensely personal: “You are loved. You have infinite dignity and value. And we will care for you.”
Resonating deeply in the human heart, this is the truth that vulnerable women need to hear, for themselves and their babies.
It’s a message best delivered person-to-person—and young people know this. Their generation, halved by abortion, shares its stories, feelings, and experiences of abortion in intensely personal language and images, in social forums from Twitter to Snap Chat to YouTube and Facebook. It’s powerful and effective.
So too is the work of pro-life pregnancy centers. Years ago, as a law student, I was part of the first team of counselors at the Women’s Care Center, a crisis pregnancy center in South Bend, Indiana. The Center opened in a tiny, donated house right next to the city’s only abortion clinic. Our small group of volunteers worked in a spirit of prayer, with a clear mission: to welcome each woman who walked through our doorway, offering care and support even if she chose an abortion next door.
From one tiny house, offering simple pregnancy tests, practical resources, and loving attention, the vision took wing. The Women’s Care Center now has 19 different locations in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin and serves nearly 22,000 women annually. Abortion rates in those communities have dropped and Women’s Care Center clients deliver healthier babies than their peers.
Today, U.S. pro-life pregnancy centers outnumber abortion clinics nearly three to one (twenty-two hundred pro-life centers compared to 724 abortion clinics). And because successful pro-life pregnancy centers threaten the abortion industry’s profits, abortion advocates have sued (unsuccessfully) to muzzle or close pro-life centers.
Remember the tall woman, and the cup of coffee that changed her life?
Abortion will end, because pro-life volunteers really care whether a pregnant woman stands cold and alone in front of a gritty abortion clinic. And they care enough to offer not only an easy-pour cup of coffee, but also hours of dedicated time and resources throughout her pregnancy and beyond.
Will you help pro-life centers reach women like “the tall woman”?
Please consider a donation, large or small. Because somewhere, standing in the cold, is another young woman who needs a good cup of coffee…and your support to do the right thing.