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At Birthright, We Love Them Both

Connecting with an abortion-minded woman during a four-hour shift at Birthright in Kansas City is a very real possibility and one in which all volunteers are trained to handle.

Being prepared to receive the distressing question: “I was wondering if you do abortions there?” This question happens to be one of the reasons we are at Birthright.

Remembering our response is to a crisis, we must make every effort to listen intently to the woman who has a story on the other line and let her feel loved and heard. “Sounds like you are looking for help with a really difficult situation. Do you have time today to meet? It might be better to talk about what is going on in person.

There is always a blank space of time where she is thinking about what she has confidentially requested or shared. Sometimes there is no more time, and the other line falls silent. In those first few moments on the phone, it is imperative to tell her we are not here to judge her but just want to understand what is going on and how Birthright might help.

There is a natural breaking in time to ask, “Do you know what Birthright offers?” I explain the emergency financial assistance, maternity clothes, newborn gift boxes and baby clothing donations up to size 2T. I let her know we have many contacts available in a Resource Book filled with pages of agencies/services. Shifting back to her original inquiry, I restate her question: “Oh, so you are looking for money to have an abortion”.

Since I am not able to help with this funding support, I offer:  “Sounds like you have set your mind to complete this abortion. Would it be okay if I call you next week as I will be thinking about you?”

As I hang up, I write with a bold black Sharpie a note to other volunteers: “Please pray, scheduled for an abortion this weekend.”

There is the hope and power of prayer to overcome this woman’s crisis. Any volunteer is trained to assist with communications and encouraged to share conversations.

Days later, attentive volunteers continued to pray on their daily shifts, my next weekly shift is here, and I promptly checked to see if possibly she contacted us again. I steady my heart to find the courage to dial her number.

She answers and is beyond grateful.

No medical staff has called her after her abortion was performed at 24 weeks. In fact, she is so taken aback by my call, she proceeds to tell me more. She recounts many of the details and she begins softly crying. She confesses it was not okay.

I tell her she did what she thought was best at the time. How could this confident woman be so broken in a week’s time? I am mystified that this mother of a 6- and 4-year-old could be so shaken. I reassure her that her baby will not be forgotten. I let her know there are abortion healing programs and counseling is important to help her through this great sadness and grieving.

Gently, I remind her God loves her so much, and He knows she is truly sorry. It will take time to forgive herself.

She is distraught and adds; “The staff gave me an ink-stamped card of his tiny footprint. I guess it must have been time to go because I was ushered away, still woozy with drops of blood on my shoes as they got me into my taxi. There was even a hallway lined with all the women’s pictures smiling taken after they had abortions. It was like we were celebrities”.

Many weekly and then monthly calls later, for nearly a year, we stayed in touch with this mother. She lost her job due to depression and had a hard time coping with raising her other kids. Her relationship with the father of the aborted baby suffered too.

I had consulted with Patti Lewis at Alexandra’s House and we both talked to this mother. Patti provides grief counseling and assists and prepares women who have had traumatic infant deaths and miscarriages. Texting and short calls to check in were always initially well receive until the father of the baby caught on and this ultimately ended all future communication.

Louise Summerhill, the founder of Birthright, knew very well the care and concern we show to these women especially the deeply wounded.

“Each time I hear the story of betrayal pour from the heart of a sobbing girl, I feel once again the deep pain of my friend’s betrayal and desertion. When a girl whispers of her love and pain, I also feel am oppressed, and her pain, indeed, becomes my pain. We need first-hand experience to produce in us this personal responsibility to another person’s suffering”. (p.15, The Story of Birthright – The Alternative to Abortion, 1998) Summer of 1968, 54 years ago, Louise understood then what sadly has remained the same though the US Supreme Court did overturn the legalization of abortions in US; but not in every state; as she professed: “Today, we look to abortion as a means of helping the single pregnant girl and we lose our sense of values and principles. It seems that our generation is so selfish and self-centered that it will not make sacrifices for tomorrow’s generation. This is indeed a very great tragedy…In Birthright we help rather than abort and are, indeed, proving that abortion need not be the way of the future”.

Many calls later, I have been blessed to help more women choose life. No matter their choice, we must do our best to let all women know we are serious about caring for them. We do follow up phone calls and continue ongoing conversations during and after pregnancies.

Our authentic efforts make them feel loved, this is and has always been the mission and vision since Louise Summerhill’s inception of the Birthright organizations which grew from Ontario, Canada to the United States and Africa.

For more information, visit Birthright.

by Christy Staker


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