“Many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air.”  So wrote the English poet Grey in his famous poem, “Elegy on a Country Churchyard.”

I feel that in the “Pro-life Garden of Toronto,” Aid to Women is a flower which blooms almost – though not completely – unseen, even by many who are active in the movement.  In the past two years, I have, as a picketer and, to some extent, counselor, become familiar with its activities.

Aid to Women was started as a project for helping girls and women with unplanned pregnancies who need sympathetic help in bringing their babies to term.  It is with the latter aspect – the saving of babies’ lives – that I am especially concerned.  The present headquarters of Aid to Women is at 300 Gerrard Street right beside the “Cabbage Town Women’s Clinic,” where Manole Buruiana and his staff commit, on average, 20 abortions per working day. The Aid to Women office is run by Dick Cochrane, a Catholic and two wonderful Protestant ladies, Joanne Dieleman and Linda Gibbons.  I mention the fact that these two ladies are Protestant to stress the fact that the pro-life movement is by no means predominantly “Catholic” as is so often claimed by our opponents.  Joanne and Linda are completely devoted to helping women in need of assistance and are an inspiration to those of us who give a small fraction of our time to saving babies.

I think I am correct in saying that there are two ways in which this organization performs its mother/baby-saving function.  The first is by providing information.  Many pregnant women or their boyfriends or relatives phone seeking facts.  Sometimes they are looking for abortions and whoever answers the phone suggests that the caller come in for an interview.  They are welcomed and shown an excellent video, not of an abortion, but of the development of the baby in the womb.  This can have the effect of making the woman more conscious of her motherhood and of turning her away from the idea of killing her baby.  The counselor will then gently suggest to the visitor that abortion is not the solution to her problem and that Aid to Women can help her to have the baby adopted or assist her to stay with a family.  Or they may arrange for the expectant mother to stay at Rosalie Hall or some other home for unwed mothers in similar situations.  This is often necessary because it is the young woman’s family who want her to abort her child – their grandchild!

In 1992, 18 women and girls were provided with housing.  Money for food, rent and other bills was given to approximately 24.  Home visits were made to 20 women.  Cribs, strollers, baby and maternity clothes were provided in numerous cases.  Visits to a pro-life doctor were arranged, transportation provided and coaching in pre-natal classes made possible.  Pregnancy tests were done at the office and when a young girl is sexually active but her test proves negative, she is shown a video on the benefits of chastity and self-respect.

Every day there are pro-life activists picketing the “clinic” next door.  They carry placards such as “Abortion Kills Babies” or “Adoption not Abortion.”  These are seen everyday by thousands of people who pass by.  Secondly, when women of girls approach the “clinic” an advocate will offer her the only counseling she is likely to receive.  There is never any attempt to stop the person entering nor is there ever an abusive word used.  One of the most effective picketers I have seen was Anglican Canon Bob Green.  His courteous and cheerful manner encouraged many to stop and listen to him.  Of course, many simply pass but in 1992, 96 women stopped and their babies were saved.  This is not a casual guess.  It is on record.  And that also means 96 women were spared the horrible after-effects of an abortion, known as “post-abortion syndrome.”

On reading this you might say, “Well, that’s wonderful.  I admire the women who do such work,” and leave it at that.  Weeds will grow without being cared for; roses and daffodils won’t!  Here is a quick run down on how people could help:

  • Continuous financial support – $10 per month suggested.
  • Side-walk counseling – one hour per week.
  • Gifts of clean baby clothing, knitted baby outfits, blankets and maternity clothing.

The monthly liabilities of the organization average $2200 per month.  No money goes to salaries, as Aid to Women is a volunteer-run organization.

(Donations can be sent to Aid to Women, 300 Gerrard St. E., Toronto, Ont. M5A 2G7)