The following is my account of two pregnant women who were persuaded to turn away from Morgentaler’s Toronto abortuary, as well as an account of an abortion aftermath in a hospital. All three stories are true and all took place in November 1985.
In early November, a young couple heading toward the Morgentaler abortuary, were approached by a picketer-counsellor who persuaded them to come to The Way Inn, the headquarters of Choose Life Canada, a pro-life organization adjoining the abortuary. From there they accepted a ride downtown to the offices of Toronto and Area Right to Life.
It was here that I first encountered the couple. The young woman led me to believe that she understood no English, while her boyfriend (speaking broken English) blamed himself for pressuring his girlfriend to have an abortion. Both were Asian. A priest was found who spoke their language and they had a conversation with him on the phone. The priest agreed to see the couple and assured me that they would not go through with the abortion and that he would provide them all the help that they needed. I offered to go with the two to meet this priest but the pregnant girl said she did not want to see him.
I accompanied them half-way home, when, as we were about to catch a bus, the girl walked away. Her boyfriend ran after her but she just shrugged him off. He continued to try and persuade her to rejoin us but his efforts failed. My immediate suspicion was that the girl was returning to the abortuary.
In her absence, the young man confided to me that his pregnant girlfriend spoke better English than he did and that it was really her decision to have the abortion. He said that a friend at her workplace lent her the cash for the abortion and that she had it with her.
Now certain of where she had gone, the young man and I headed back to the abortuary. I showed him the back-alley door and instructed him to present himself as “the boyfriend.” So he could make his way past the guard and persuade his girlfriend to leave.
He went through with the plan only to discover that his girlfriend indeed had been there but was too late for the abortion and she rescheduled an appointment.
We then went to the couple’s residence and found the girl waiting outside for her boyfriend to unlock the door. She refused to in while I remained with them. In every respect, their living environment was extremely impoverished.
I passed the couple’s address on to two other counselors who went to meet the couple the next day and immediately arranged a better place for them to stay. They have moved into these quarters and now indicate that that they are looking forward to the birth of their child. The very persistent but always loving efforts of the counselors have resulted in a dramatic change of attitude in the couple. They are very grateful for what was done for them.
The second child
Later that same month, two pro-life counselors briefly encountered a couple heading for the abortuary to make an appointment and managed to obtain the boyfriend’s phone number.
I called him that evening and discovered that his girlfriend was afraid to tell her parents about the pregnancy. I arranged to meet the couple at a subway station. The following evening, accompanied by another counselor, we waited at the rendezvous point ahead of time – hoping and praying that the couple would keep the appointment. They arrived, and, on time.
That day, the girl told us, she confided the news to her mother who told her to “get rid of it.”
After going through the reasons why abortion is an unthinkable solution to the couple’s many problems, I persuaded the girl to direct us to her home to meet her family. (It is worth commenting, that, in the work of saving a baby’s life, especially one at Death’s door, it is essential to ensure that the baby’s mother is not permitted to return for even one night to a home atmosphere hostile to the life of a child.)
It was late when we reached the apartment, the girl pointed to the door and I entered alone. Introducing myself, I explained why I was there and discussed facts about the pre-born child and why abortion is no solution. I discovered that the family would be willing to accept the child. At this point I brought in the daughter and her boyfriend. (This was the first time the family had met their daughter’s boyfriend.)
The remainder of the evening was warm and friendly and consisted in persuading the family not to rush through with a “shotgun marriage” but to wait until the baby is born in order to make a free decision about marriage.
Near the end of November, a pro-life supporter called to tell me about a girl seeking an abortion. She was pregnant with her third child from a boyfriend with whom she was living. Adding to her any troubles was a Metro Toronto social worker who told her she would be “cut-off” from her welfare payments if she had the third baby. She went to a hospital for an abortion. They told her to come back in two weeks. (The baby was at this time too big for ordinary suction curettage or a D & C. The postponement was necessary to allow the child to continue to grow so that enough amniotic fluid could build up to permit a saline abortion.)
When I first heard of this case, the girl was supposedly going for the abortion the following day. I went with another counselor right away to her home only to discover the abortion had been performed the day before and the girl was still in hospital. The counselor phoned her at the hospital and persuaded her to accept a visit from a priest who “had had much experience in helping women after an abortion” (myself).
I went straight to the girl’s bed in the hospital without interference by the hospital staff. Mindful of the possibility that she might be facing another unplanned pregnancy soon I tried to put her at east by expressing my concern for her. In this way I came to know something of her background. She was not practicing any religion. We discussed the abortion. Her feeling was that she just could not take care of another baby. I mentioned adoption but she expressed the opinion that to give up her baby would be “much worse” than the abortion.
I had to explain what is really wrong with abortion. She readily accepted that a child before birth is a human being and that human beings have an existence beyond this present life. She also agreed that if, like animals, human beings were all to go to dust at death, human existence would be absurd and meaningless. I said that if she had given her baby for adoption, she would have had the satisfaction, as the years went by, of knowing that her child had the opportunity to grow in love of God and neighbour, especially by loving the adopting couple (perhaps a mother much like herself). However, abortion kills a person in a spiritually dwarfed condition denying that opportunity to grow in love by following conscience.
Understandably, the girl’s response to this was that I was making her feel guilty. My reply was that I did not want her to go into morbid guilt but that I did want her to face the truth because “The truth shall make you free.”
Abortion is an “idea”
The idea of “abortion” is a drug of false promise, like alcohol or any addicting substance. I suggested the following analogy (to which she related well). I did so to express why true compassion for her required that I give her the truth:
Often an alcoholic cannot face the fact that he is a slave to the bottle. He has to conceal this painful truth from himself and others by asserting more and more forcefully that he is in full control of his drinking and that all the problems are due to others (family members, etc.). So, rather than reinforcing his dream-world thinking, true compassion would require that one lead him to face the truth about his enslavement.
I explained to the girl that reinforcing her dream-world thinking that an “unwanted” baby is better off killed like an unwanted animal (as the pro-abortionists had done to her) would lead her to a schizophrenic life. This life would demand that she deny the humanity of the child before birth or reduce human life to a purely animal existence. Also, by not facing the truth she probably would lead others into the same dream-world.
Gradually, she did face the truth about what actually happened in the abortion – her baby died, radically deprived of the opportunity to love.
Abortion: dead-end drug
I stressed that only she knew how she stood in conscience before God. Only she could know whether or not she violated her conscience. If indeed she had violated her conscience, she could repent and receive God’s forgiveness. I assured her that God still loved her and, through her, wanted to help other women and girls to avoid the dead-end drug of abortion, just as rehabilitated alcoholics can help addicts.
We had talked a lot and had come to a real understanding, I thought. But, I still considered the very real possibility of her experiencing another unplanned pregnancy, perhaps sooner rather than later. I explained the hidden evil agenda implicit in contraception, especially sterilization. Contraception, I said, leads a society to identify sex with gratification in the same way that taking pills to destroy the nutrition in food in order to control weight leads a society to identify eating with gratification. I mentioned premarital sex as being highly destructive. I urged her to pull her life together by insisting on no extramarital sex.
The girl looked at me and sincerely asked me to pray with her. I gratefully complied.