Today, October 30, 2012, volunteers from various local churches and organizations were holding an anti-abortion protest/vigil on West State Street in Bristol, Tennessee. A visit with these peaceful, praying protesters from 40 Days For Life shed an interesting light on the “abortion” issue outside of politics and, frankly, outside this writer’s preconceived ideas.
The word “abortion,” almost always sparks an immediate emotional reaction, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you find yourself. Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in American politics today, yet little of the work done by Congress or the President actually involves abortion. It is still the most important issue in this 2012 Election, according to women voters. CNN has that story.
As we step outside the box regarding the discussion of abortion for a few moments, don’t be misled. Most, if not all, pro-life groups and organizations see the repeal of Roe vs. Wade as the ultimate goal. The 40 Days For Life in the Tri-Cities have the following purpose stated on their official literature:
“People of faith are praying that, with God’s help, this effort will bring an end to the tragedy of abortion.”
The end of abortion, of course, would involve politics and quite a lot of it at many levels. The next president may possibly be faced with more than one Supreme Court appointment to decide, and most consider that to be the Holy Grail in the “Fight for Life.”
When asking any of the people standing in the cold, drizzling rain today what was the important message they wanted most to get out, I was truly surprised. In the spirit of the 2012 Election, I expected a political message about abortion, but I was surely wrong.
The pressing message that they wanted to relay to women in the Tri-Cities area was simply that help is available. They didn’t try to affect my vote for or against anything, but they wanted to be sure women understood that they have choices when faced with an unexpected, ill-timed pregnancy. Women do not have to abort their babies anymore.
In the midst of the imaginary “War on Women,” these gentle soldiers holding a prayer vigil in front of Bristol Regional Women’s Center, were armed with print-outs. These print-outs were not shocking photos or political messages, but merely a list of eleven local agencies within a fifty mile radius offering help and support for pregnant women.
A discussion with Julianne Wiley of Saint Mary’s Church in Johnson City, Tennessee, was most enlightening. She was one of the two braver participants on the side of the street right in front of the medical office, and she made her way across the street in the rain to chat with me. There was a press event scheduled today for 2 p.m., but so far, no other media had arrived. Since I was not dressed for the rain, she offered to climb in my car to talk to me.
As Ms. Wiley removed several hats and hoods in order to better hear me, she mentioned the various local churches and groups working together in this 40 Days For Life effort. We smiled about how this movement has placed Catholics and Baptists and many others on the same side of the issue, working together to save lives.
The most striking thing about this conversation was that Ms. Julianne Wiley expressed an understanding and love for women facing an unexpected pregnancy that would shock and surprise opponents of the Pro-Life movement. She expressed how women who have abortions don’t do so because they are heartless, but because they feel that they have no choice. She said, “Most of them would not hurt a kitten!”
This may be somewhat of an “Aha!” moment, though certainly not a deeply philosophical argument. Most women love babies, and most mothers have an innate love for their baby already, but some may not understand that they have a choice. Even the Democratic Party has stated that abortions should be rare. (Actually, they say, “safe, legal, and rare.”) Most women given a choice of keeping their beautiful, cuddly baby would choose life, but they are not aware of the resources available to them at that time.
Julianne Wiley again reiterated that she wanted women to know that there were almost a dozen agencies locally to provide assistance to them. The agencies have different directives, but she made it clear that many different types of resources are available for women and their babies, and this help doesn’t necessarily end at childbirth.
This group of folks who have been praying, fasting, and standing vigil since September 26, 2012, want women to know that help is available. Women truly do have a choice, and this 40 Days For Life movement and vigil is all about giving pregnant women a choice besides abortion.
40 Days for Life Tri-Cities
Silent No More Awareness: A campaign whereby Christians make the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women and men.