January 22, 1973. Roe v. Wade. Abortion laws overturned in the United States opening up abortion on demand.
I had to run my calculator just now to count the years as my brain couldn't wrap itself around the fact that this landmark Supreme Court decision happened thirty-five years ago.
Ten years into the abortion debate I found my life increasingly speckled with pro-life activists. Materials were given to me as I was pregnant with my second child, information that made me physically ill. Even as precious life grew inside of me I learned about gruesome procedures designed to terminate life within a woman's womb, about court rulings upholding the 'right' to do such things. I became aware of innumerable political activists on both sides of the issue marching, writing, and fighting.
I am a passionate woman. I am a mother. Babies have always been mysterious, beloved wonders to me. I didn't pick a side in the debate, it picked me. As sympathetic as I am to women who find themselves pregnant against their desire, allowing death is not something I support, barring life-of-the-mother type scenarios, which are extremely rare.
In 1983 I found my newly abortion-aware self invited to become co-director of our county Right-to-Life. When the woman who'd been director of the organization had to move out of state, my friend, Karen, agreed to take over, and she asked me to help her. I talked it over with Tom. Together we decided I should join the cause in this capacity.
It'd been awhile since this group had met, connections had shriveled along with communications. Karen and I jumped right in. In no time we created a Board of Directors which consisted of a doctor, a lawyer, pastors from two denominations, a couple of teachers, and the two of us. We talked. We educated ourselves. We planned. We organized. We got to work.
Both Karen and I had dabbled in journalism in high school and college so a newsletter was a natural step. From scratch we created a monthly six-page periodical filled with political and support information, medical news, book reviews, local events, opportunities for involvement, interviews with people of note on both sides of the issue, editorials, and more, all written and compiled by the two of us in our kitchens and living rooms. The response was huge. The mailing list grew.
Money came in without our asking, money we used to fund our printing expenses, pay for materials, and to support local crisis pregnancy centers.
Soon we found ourselves invited to speak to youth groups, study groups, churches, and schools. Our talks, coupled with films and guest speakers, led to invigorating question and answer sessions. A local radio station invited us for a lively on-air two hour interview complete with an extensive Q & A session with its radio listeners. We found ourselves repeatedly interviewed on television. People of all ages were thirsty for information and we were happy to help them sort it all out.
One moment vividly stands out in my mind. After one of our out-of-town speaking engagements I was approached by a gentle young woman in the parking lot as I made my way to my car. She carefully pulled a limp newspaper clipping from her wallet and handed it to me. It was a letter I'd written to the editor of the local newspaper she subscribed to, a letter stating my views on abortion and the reasons why. She said, "I just want you to know that I was completely, actively pro-choice until I read this letter of yours. It opened my eyes and changed my heart. I keep it here in my wallet where I see it every day. It inspires me to speak up for mothers and babies whenever I can."
My mind and body seemed to stop when I realized what she was saying to me. I had changed her life through my words. It took me a long time to grasp the implications of that. I am ever thankful that she took the time to tell me the impact I had on her for it taught me that no effort is too small to make a difference. As far as I know this dedicated woman remains a tireless champion of the unborn.
After more than two years of long days and nights spent writing, answering mail, keeping the books, lecturing, attending meetings, and taking long phone calls at all times of the day and night by people eager to learn from me or tell me their stories, I was pretty much burned out. I had two sons of my own to raise and a patient, supportive husband. They needed all of me. I resigned, leaving the organization in very capable hands, the baton successfully passed.
Each January 22nd I pause to size up the advances made in the effort to protect the unborn. I've always felt that most people will make the right choice if they know exactly what they are dealing with. Education is the key. As knowledge increases, abortions seem to decline.
A lump forms in my throat when I contemplate human beings rationalizing the killing of innocent life for their own convenience or reputation. I know it's not an easy decision for most, that those who abort often agonize over their situation. I am sympathetic, I am. But at the risk of sounding bland, two wrongs don't make a right.
It's my hope that one day we as a civilized people will look back on these days of women sacrificing their unborn children as a dark, dark era in the history of humanity; that human life will be restored to its place of honor and mystery.