Amazingly, amidst the commotion and distress at Aid to Women over a pepper spray incident on Aug. 27, four expectant mothers who were first headed for the abortuary next door, changed their minds about abortion and will have their babies. This is the story of that momentous day.
Rosanna, a beautiful East Indian mother of four, dressed in an elegant sari adorned with gold jewellery, headed for her appointment at the Cabbagetown Women’s Clinic abortuary in downtown Toronto. Tina, a sidewalk counsellor, offered her a pamphlet on fetal development.
Rosanna was not interested. Curtly, she informed Tina, “My doctor told me what’s inside of me is just a blob.” For an instant, she glanced at the baby pictures, appeared surprised and somewhat perplexed, but then moved on. Tina called to her, “We have something for your baby if you’d like to come and talk with us upstairs.” Rosanna shrugged and walked into the abortuary.
Tina took out her Rosary, believing this to be a lost baby. A half hour later, Rosanna strode out of the abortuary, spotted Tina and asked to come upstairs to talk.
Rosanna told Tina and Joanne, another counsellor at Aid to Women, what happened inside the abortuary. She told the abortuary staff, “What I’m carrying inside of me is not a blob, but a baby.” Scoffing, they asked her why she thought so. She replied that a woman on the street had shown her pictures of her baby’s development. Angrily, they scolded her, “We warned you not to talk to those people on the street.”
That was enough for Rosanna. She cancelled her appointment and left.
Earlier, at home and in her distress, she had told her seven-year-old daughter about her pregnancy, but suggested that she might not complete it. Her daughter pleaded with her, “Oh, mommy have the baby. I’ll take care of it.”
Reflecting on this moment, and on the harsh attitude of the abortuary staff, combined with seeing the fetal slides, it was not long before Rosanna declared that she would have this baby.
She left the office taking one of Mrs. Notten’s prayer blankets and sleepers for her five-year-old. Joanne thought that she seemed financially secure and probably had resources, so she may not be heard from again. It was enough to get the information on the sidewalk that day.
On that same morning, outside on the street, Tina noticed Peggy, a petite blonde woman who seemed tearful and troubled as she approached the abortuary. Tina asked if she had thought about options to abortion and invited her upstairs to talk. There, Peggy told Tina and fellow counsellor Robert that she and the baby’s father – to whom she was not married – were in the armed forces and were in transition as they were being transferred to another base in Ontario.
Before they moved, abortion seemed a “practical solution” to their problem.
Still, she was crying and ambivalent about the idea. After an hour of talk and seeing pictures of fetal development, Peggy made her decision. She wanted to have her baby.
Calmer now, she said that the army had the resources she needed. She left with a prayer blanket, probably not to be heard from again.
Also that morning, Robert spotted a smartly dressed, young black woman heading for the abortuary. Friendly and open, she accepted Robert’s pamphlets and even agreed to come upstairs to talk about options to abortion.
Gloria and her boyfriend were engaged and had set a wedding date. The “problem” was that with this unscheduled pregnancy, she would be “showing” by the wedding. She thought that abortion would solve the problem. After seeing the abortion slides and pictures of children in the womb, she quickly made a decision. She would have her baby.
She left, thankful for the truth about her growing child and with a prayer blanket. Gloria had her own resources and will likely manage on her own.
Yet, this amazing day was not over.
In the early afternoon, Kim kept her scheduled appointment with Joanne. Earlier, she had called, thinking Aid to Women was the abortuary. Joanne told her it was not the abortuary, but that it was a counselling service.
On a visitor’s visa from Korea, Kim was visiting her sister in Toronto, where she met a white Canadian man whom she soon married. He became abusive and refused to continue sponsoring her in Canada.
Very upset, she believed abortion was the only solution to her problem. She was adamant about not returning to Korea with a child of mixed race because the child would be an outcast.
Facing these challenges, Robert and Joanne got to work. Robert brought her a lawyer, who suggested the possibility of a visa extension. Joanne contacted representatives within the Korean community to look for possible adoption placements in case Kim was deported after delivery. Aid to Women staff promised Kim that they would work with her until her problems were addressed.
Aug. 27 was unprecedented: four babies at Aid to Women were saved on the same day. The staff feel consoled and blessed.Perhaps the Good Lord was sending a message to affirm that their difficult, stressful work of saving babies on the street is indeed God’s work.