One hot, humid day last summer, Ann Wilson, then the director of downtown Toronto’s Aid to Women office, heard yelling on the street below. Such commotion is not unusual, given the location of the office next door to an abortuary, in a red-light district and surrounded by drug activity. Still, she wondered what was going on.
A new sidewalk witness, Vanya Gobbi (a summer volunteer visiting between her European travels and home out West) was on the street carrying a sign that read: “Mommy, go home. I want to live.” This was her first venture as a sidewalk witness, causing her some trepidation.
When she had first volunteered with Aid to Women, she was expecting to help Ann in the office only. However, as she learned more about the problems of distressed pregnant women, she summoned up the courage to try to reach more of them by going public on the street with her sign. She would not regret her noble decision.
As she stood on the sidewalk across from the abortuary, she noticed a small Asian woman, head bent, just leaving the abortuary. Suddenly, a man appeared from nowhere, yelling at her in their own language. Apparently, unknown to the woman to that point, the man, her husband, had followed her to the abortuary, disapproving of her action. Then, he disappeared just as quickly.
Vanya, who had witnessed all of this, waited a few minutes and then gently approached the woman, inviting her upstairs to discuss her situation with Ann. Cautiously, she agreed to do so.
With her consoling manner, Ann soothed the woman, Jen, who told Ann that she definitely wanted an abortion. Jen, a last-year university student, and her husband were penniless and unemployed. She just could not have this baby, she believed. Still, she agreed to view fetal development videos and accept Ann’s pamphlets. Suddenly, as they were talking, they heard someone running up the stairs. It was Jen’s husband. He came in to emphatically declare he did not want his wife to have an abortion. Then, he left just as suddenly.
Again, Ann soothed Jen and asked her what was her most pressing need at the moment. Jen replied that she needed a job, so Ann arranged an interview with a job counsellor who volunteers at Aid to Women. Then, before Jen left, Ann said: “Remember to do what is good and right and God will bless you.”
Afterward, she didn’t hear from Jen for awhile, so she phoned her. Delighted to receive the call, Jen announced that life had much improved since their visit. She and her husband had found a job to share as apartment building superintendents, which allowed them to live in an apartment rent-free. Moreover, her husband had placed an ad in their local Asian newspaper, offering English tutoring, and he came to have several students, extra income and the start of a business. Their baby was to arrive in a few months.
Jen exclaimed: “You were right, Ann. Like you told me, this baby will bring me good luck.”
To some, a saved baby is good luck. To others, like Vanya and Ann, he or she is a miracle.