Now and then we are asked to put our money where our mouth is and that time came for me at the end of October, when the first Canadian Operation Rescue took place in Toronto.
Although I agreed a couple of weeks before to take part, I remained far from convinced that I could actually carry out my commitment. I am, essentially, a law-abiding person; risking arrest filled me with apprehension. Even though I am deeply opposed to abortion, my brain seethed with all kinds of reasons to avoid acting on my convictions.
Then I head Joan Andrews speak. How could my petty worries and fear influence me after listening to a woman whose commitment, sincerity and humility shines like a golden light? If, Joan explained, we truly believe that our pre-born brothers and sisters are in immediate danger, our only choice is to act to save them.
Will writing a letter to the local newspaper, or voting in an election (or, for me, getting out The Interim each month), save these children? Of course not. These actions will, we hope, influence the future, but the children in immediate danger will die.
If I see a child running across a busy street, with cars bearing down at speed, what do I do? Do I run out to try and rescue the child, or do I start an impassioned campaign to put a crosswalk on a dangerous Street? You see the point.
On the morning of the Rescue I was still trying very hard to wriggle out. Then I listened to Anne Packer, one of the leaders, at the pre-rescue rally. Anne, whose husband David was fired from the Toronto police force for refusing to guard the abortuary, knows all about commitment. Yet she was apologizing for not taking such direct action earlier. Her motive on October 29 was simple: she had known for years what abortion is, now she could act on her knowledge.
Yet I still held back. I actually did not make a commitment until I was with the group going through the back alley to the Morgentaler death camp. We were urged to hurry before the gate could be closed, blocking us. I ran with the others, and before I knew it I was standing in front of the back door.
For those of us out back, the rescue was more peaceful than for those blocking the front. The feminist-incited riot was confined to the front; we were able to prevent many of the workers from going into the building and (helped by the police a couple of times) we prevented the mothers from going in to kill their babies.
We were not unaware of the activity out front. Small groups of pro-abortion females appeared from time to time, hurling abuse at us and, obviously, looking to start a second riot. We could hear the noise and confusion from the front, chilling, because we could not see what was happening. I can now dimly imagine the feelings of the early Christians, listening to the roar of the crowd as they waited their turn in front of the lions. I cannot speak for the others, but I was terrified.
As it turned out, I was not arrested. I am grateful that I was not. It is not the point of a Rescue to be arrested, but you accept it if it happens. I cannot, honestly, say how I would have behaved if I had been faced with arrest.
I can, though, say I am glad I was there. I learned a lot about myself and about the people who take part in these seemingly radical actions. A Rescue is not that radical, really. After all, what other response is possible if you believe that children’s lives are endangered?
This has been the most difficult column I have ever written. I have torn up several versions because I cannot put into words exactly what happened to me. However, just after the Rescue, a friend sent me a poem which describes what I am unable to say. It is attributed to the National Association of Pro-life Nurses, and called “The Lord Said Go.” Here is it:
“And the Lord said, Go
And I said, Who me?
And He said, Yes, you
And I said – But I’m not ready yet
And there is company coming
And I can’t leave the kids
And you know, there’s no one to take my place
And He said, Your’re stalling.
And the Lord said, Go
And I said, But, I don’t want to
And He said, I didn’t ask you if you wanted to
And I said – Listen I’m not the kind of person to bet involved in the controversy.
Besides my family won’t like it.
And what will the neighbors think?
And He said, Baloney.
And yet a third time, the Lord said, Go
And I said, Do I have to?
And He said, Do you love me?
And I said – Look I’m scared. People are going to hate me. And cut me up into little. I can’t take it all by myself.
And He said, Where do you think I’ll be?
And the Lord said, Go
And I sighed – Here am I. Send me.