Is it possible to take private beliefs a step further when you’re 63, a bit shy, and have a head full of gray hair? Is it possible to protest in front of an abortion clinic and actually save a life on an ordinary Monday morning?
“Yes it is,” says Judy.* Here’s her story, as told to Sarah.
“We love you, Stephanie!” Faith, my 70-year-old pro-life team leader, calls to an abortionist as she arrives at Planned Parenthood. “Please change your mind,” Faith calls, “This is not what you went to med school for … You were a baby once too; we’re here for you. We want to be your friend …”
Faith’s kindness to the abortionist is a far cry from the bully who first planted my feet on this sidewalk. But I’m thankful for the bully that showed up at my tennis club announcing that she was “getting a job today at Planned Parenthood.” I’m thankful for how she and the other ladies in the locker room laughed when I explained my pro-life stance.
While the two other tennis players were giving her kudos for “helping” women, I knew I had to speak up even though my heart was pounding in my chest.
“Why would you do that?” I asked. “Just look at an 8th-grade biology book. The unborn are like you and me — they have faces and hands and feet.”
The bully replied: “You’re brainwashed and live in the dark ages. I wish that kid who stole my cell phone last week had been aborted!”
The other women laughed, and I felt a Grand Canyon of distance come between me and my “friends” at that moment. I also suddenly envisioned myself as one of the prayer warriors who stand on the sidewalk in front of the clinic. Funny — the idea didn’t come to me until that very moment!
“Where are all their notions of ‘tolerance’ when it comes to me?” I thought, deeply hurt by the ridicule.
I was even more horrified, however, that my pro-life beliefs were a surprise to some of these women whom I’d been playing tennis with for years. I drove home crying, repenting for my silence at times and wondering how I could have presented my views more clearly. How many times in the past had I “gone along to get along” just to play tennis for exercise and recreation? I asked God to provide a way for me — a grandma in her 60s with heavy family demands (including a chronically ill daughter and a grandson to help raise) – to be a voice for the unborn.
A quick internet search led me to 40 Days for Life. I went through their short but informative training course and have now been a part of a number of sidewalk protests throughout the greater regions of Philadelphia.
Last week, God answered my prayer by placing me in front of a late-term abortion clinic in Chinatown. The other two women who were scheduled to meet me were late, and so I found myself all alone, rosary in hand.
“Get away from here!” The clinic’s receptionist stormed out, screaming at me. Her hands were up as if she were trying to shoo me away. I kindly pointed out that I was standing on a public sidewalk. Then I pointed to my gray hair and frumpy tee-shirt that reads, “I love you and your unborn baby.”
“Am I really that scary?” I asked her with a smile. “I’m just a grandma who loves babies.”
I stood my ground, knowing that just the sight of me and my rosary beads was probably keeping clients from entering. According to statistics, there can be 75% “no shows” on the days when people simply pray outside an abortion facility.
The receptionist stomped off in a huff, and while none of the women who entered the clinic that day took my pamphlets, I did get an email from our team leader that night. “A baby was saved in West Chester today!” the message read. It then told the story of a teenager in crisis who accepted our program’s offer for free health care. The girl then clearly expressed that she’d changed her mind about going through with the abortion.
“We rejoice!” Faith’s email sang, and my heart sang too.
Now when I see that bully on the tennis court who pushed me into the pro-life movement, I give her a great big hug and a silly smile. Because while being pro-life for me is first and foremost about saving babies, marching on the front lines has given me a whole new purpose and vision for my life. How profoundly pro-life!
* Names changed for security reasons. Click here to learn more about 40 Days for Life.
Sarah Robsdotter is a Catholic convert and a homeschooling mom of seven strapping sons. She lives in the coal regions of Pennsylvania with her family, where they stomp through wooded glens and creek beds, seeking out the wonder. Find her at www.sarahrobsdotter.com.