In the fight against abortion, there is a need to go beyond the legal dimensions and help those who are most vulnerable. Aid to Women, a pro-life crisis pregnancy centre in downtown Toronto, is an example of a successful organization that reaches out to individual women who are considering having abortions.
Opened in the late 1980s, the organization has saved over 2,000 babies from abortion and continues to rescue an average of two to three babies per week. Aid to Women is right beside the Cabbagetown Clinic, an abortion facility on Gerrard Street. “We’re very blessed to be located there,” Frances Keet, general manager and counselor at Aid to Women, told The Interim. “We can see from one end to another who’s coming in.” This allows the sidewalk counselors to quickly approach a woman or teen planning to have an abortion and encourage her to come to their office next door.
From 7:30 to 11:00 a.m., the time when most abortions are conducted, Aid to Women provides sidewalk counseling. Workers at Aid to Women try to dissuade women going into the facility from having an abortion by informing them of fetal development, the abortion process and consequences. They also offer help to women coming out, handing out pamphlets and referring them to organizations specializing in post-abortion help. Aid to Women also provides material assistance and counseling ranging from diapers, clothing, and cribs to information about financial aid, legal assistance, and doctor referrals to pregnant women, even if they are not considering an abortion.
“We are motivated by love and compassion for (these) women,” said Keet. Although it is tragic when an abortion takes place, Keet believes the unborn child will be with God in heaven. She is concerned, though, about what happens to the women. “They’re not the same after they had the abortion.” Abortion victims often become depressed, angry, and even suicidal. Not only is the child’s life gone, “it’s the woman’s life, the father’s life.”
Women are not properly informed about the procedure and its consequences at the abortion facility. They have the option of reading and signing papers to get more information about the procedure, but they are not encouraged to do so. Rather, they are persuaded to go through with the abortion. The ultrasound of the baby taken at the facility is frequently hidden from the mother’s sight. According to Keet, “They would have half of their clients gone” if women were told everything, which would lead to a loss in their major source of profit.
Working at Aid to Women can be challenging. Counselors are spit at, sworn at, and accused of being crazy or religious. Their funds are limited, as they operate on donations. The hardest thing for Keet, though, is “to see (the women) go in…your heart drops.” About three out of four women go in to have abortions even after receiving counseling. Keet remembers when the pro-life counselors dissuaded a girl from going into the clinic and got her to get an ultrasound to see her baby. Two weeks later, the girl had the abortion anyway. Counselors have to take days off to care for themselves. “You need that time to revive and to pray.”
The experience can be emotionally rewarding, too. In one case they talked to a 29-year-old mother who was about to go into the abortion facility. They were able to convince her not to have an abortion and her husband, who was listening nearby, admitted that he never wanted his wife to abort, but he figured, “who was he to tell her she shouldn’t go through with the abortion?” Another success was an engaged woman who had no idea about the specifics of the abortion. She was “surprised how big the baby was, what happens,” recalled Keet. In the end, she was very grateful that she did not have the abortion.
The service of Aid to Women is important in spreading public awareness about abortion, even to passersby. One person can be instrumental in warning others of the consequences of abortion. One girl, inspired by the pain her own abortion caused her, dissuaded five people from having one. This shows, to Keet, that God’s plan is not necessarily restricted to just saving individual babies. “We don’t know (if) what happens could prevent many other abortions from happening.”
Women use different excuses for seeking abortions, such as the need to finish high school or university, to having to care for their other children, to concern about what a parent might think.
Aid to Women helps abortion-minded women to realize there are alternatives. When the media, many doctors, indeed most of society pushes women toward abortion when the slightest difficulty or challenge arises, Aid to Women ensures they are not alone and that there is help.