By Georgette Forney
Every year on January 22, this country remembers Roe v. Wade, one of two Supreme Court decisions that gave women the right to abortion as a means of dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. (A second case, Doe v. Bolton, extended the right to abortion to the entire nine months of pregnancy.) Approximately 54 million abortions have been performed since 1973, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
This year over 50,000 people in San Francisco gathered to Walk for Life, expressing a love for life and concern for the women affected by abortion. Two days later on Jan. 23 more than 250,000 people attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Both events included thousands of young participants.
As president of Anglicans for Life and cofounder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, I attended the events and hosted gatherings on both coasts. People involved with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign who have experienced abortion carry signs that say I Regret My Abortion or I Regret Lost Fatherhood. After the walk and march, 60 women and six men described how abortion affected their lives and the help they found in Christian-based healing programs.
At the March for Life, 45 people marched with Anglicans for Life, including members of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia; St. John the Evangelist, Churchville, Pennsylvania; and others from the East Coast. The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey of the Anglican Church in North America’s Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic joined in supporting the sanctity of life and marched under the Anglicans for Life banner.
This year’s Walk for Life and March for Life saw an increase in the aggression of counter-protesters. In San Francisco, the walk stopped for seven minutes while police removed 10 people who were blocking Market Street. Once these protesters were moved to the sidewalk, they made profane comments as families with small children walked past.
In Washington, a prayer service held in front of the Supreme Court Building before the march was interrupted as protesters screamed in the face of the people praying and singing. And during a youth conference Saturday night, protesters entered the conference during the keynote address and would not leave until hotel security escorted them out.
One other protester had a different experience. Jeanie, one of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign participants, told this story:
I wanted to share this story about the beautiful young [woman] who held the sign Abortion on Demand. No Apology. She was alone, stoic, and defiant. When I first saw her I was angry and in my mind I thought, ‘She has no voice. She does not belong here. She needs to go away.’ As I kept watching her, I saw a Silent No More woman … speak with her and then hug her. I was stunned and walked over to this woman and asked her what just happened. She told me that this young woman was a victim of rape and felt that God had given her permission to abort her child. My heart broke for her. I was no longer angry. I was also asked to pray for her, which I immediately began doing. At this moment another women from Silent No More shared her testimony of rape and the subsequent abortion of her child. I turned to look at the young [woman] holding her sign to see her crying. She was trying so hard to wipe the tears from her face but they just kept coming. I was drawn to her out of compassion and asked her if she would like a hug. She reluctantly agreed. I gave her a brief gentle hug and told her that I was glad that she was here.
While the counter-protesters sought to undermine our stand for life, they could not squelch the energy and enthusiasm expressed by our under-30 compatriots, who now represent the largest contingency of pro-life activists.
Their presence stems from an awareness that a quarter of their generation is missing. Many also recognize that siblings and family members have been aborted, while some express concern for their mothers or fathers who have been involved in abortions and suffer still. They are indeed a generation touched by abortion in a unique way, and I believe their generation will ultimately make abortion unthinkable, unnecessary and illegal.
Next year we will commemorate the 40th year of legal abortion in the United States. Mark your calendars now for Jan. 25 in Washington and Jan. 26 in San Francisco.