Anniversary Of Roe v. Wade Sparks Sympathy And Prayers For Unlikely Victims
By Alicia Colon
January 31, 2000
Originally Published in Staten Island Advance
On the nniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, I'll probably be in Washington with thousands of other pro-lifers marching to the Capitol. It will be the third time I've made this trip and I can't really say I'm all that thrilled about it. The Temperature will probably be frigid and my non-existent knees will give out halfway down the mall. My body will be stiff as a board from the bus ride and I'll keep asking myself - Why am I here?
I am not your stereotypical pro-lifer who pickets outside abortion clinics carrying gory signs of mutilated fetuses. The only time I actually participated in such a demonstration was when I was asked to join a protest outside then Congresswoman Susan Molinari's office because she had voted for the Freedom of Choice Act.
When I heard the leader of the group condemn Ms. Molinari to hell for her vote, I knew I didn't belong there. I'm much too busy trying to save my own soul to worry about who's losing theirs. Certainly, most pro-lifers that I've met are far less judgmental than the aforementioned misguided leader of the Molinari protest.
In fact, the Right-to-Life organization is rife with strange bedfellows. Regardless of how different we pro-lifers are, we are all united in one belief- abortion stops a beating heart. Many of us are very committed to the cause and then they are the part-timers like myself who get aroused from their lethargy when special appeals are made.
In 1992, I was moved by Cardinal John O'Connor's appeal to all pro-lifers to join him for a prayerful march to an abortion clinic in Manhattan. All we had to do was pray the rosary and march. That was it. Seemed like a fairly easy thing to do and I do admire the Cardinal very much so I went. What an experience!
As my fellow-marchers and I turned down Madison Avenue, we were greeted by jeers and angry howls of abortion rights advocates screaming at us to go back where we came from. Looking up at the buildings, I saw women baring their breasts and taunting the praying marchers with curses and spitting. I looked at the faces of the protesters, especially the men, and I was taken aback by the fury on their faces. At one point, I was certain that there would be violence and I imagined for a moment what it must have been like for a '60's civil rights marcher in the Deep South.
What on earth caused such anger and fear of peaceful demonstrators? Chants of ``Get your rosaries off our ovaries'' and bongo drums blared outside the doors of St. Agnes while we were inside attending Mass. Did they honestly believe that praying could overturn a United States Supreme Court decision? Apparently so.
Abortion is such a highly charged issue that not many medical professionals feel comfortable discussing it. But not that long after the legalization of abortion, I read an incredible article in Esquire magazine written by a doctor coming to grips with the growing practice of abortion.
This doctor had ambivalent emotions about abortion until he passed a procedure room where another doctor had just injected a saline solution into the uterus of a patient. The doctor writes that the sight of the needle protruding from the woman's abdomen riveted him. At first the needle stood perfectly still and then after a few minutes as the solution entered the womb, the needle seemed to jump and then it moved back and forth and shook violently for some time. ``It's fighting for its life'', the doctor thought and when the needle finally stopped, so did the doctor's ambivalence.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson was a co-founder of NARAL, National Abortion and Reproductive Action Rights League and as a director of one of the largest abortion clinics, presided over 60,000 procedures. He later converted to the pro-life advocacy and is frequently seen narrating the controversial documentary called, ``The Silent Scream.''
Dr. Nathanson says that it was viewing an ultrasound of an aborted child silently screaming during the procedure that changed his mind about his work. I've always had trouble deciphering what's on an ultrasound so I can't say that it had much of an impact on me.
What did impress me in this film was the testimony of several abortion providers who, like, Nathanson, had had a change of heart. Oddly, enough, it's these providers that I found most affecting since I had never given much thought to their feelings before.
One ex-provider related how he just couldn't do his job anymore. He couldn't get the images that resulted from his handiwork out of his head. He had been making huge amounts of money, had a beautiful home and the requisite new Mercedes but it didn't matter anymore. Now, at last, he could sleep at night.
When I was in the labor room at Bellevue Hospital awaiting the birth of my son, Matthew, my husband and I heard loud screams coming from another room. The screams were coming from a woman in obvious agony. When a nurse came into the room to check on my progress, we expressed our concern about the other woman. The nurse scowled and told us that the other woman had just had an abortion. She seemed disgusted and muttered, ``This is not what I became a nurse for.''
Doctors and nurses at abortion, I mean, women's clinics, have to deal with the human refuse on a daily basis and it must have some effect on their psyches. Images of torn limbs and crushed fetal scalps are not easy images to erase and I feel sorry for the mental battle with principles they have to constantly undergo.
They must weigh the issue of a woman's choice against the burden of human debris they must discard daily. Since the majority of abortions are preventable, one would imagine cynicism and depression become part and parcel of the job.
Some of the people I'll be marching with tomorrow may not sympathize with the angst of the abortion provider but as for me, I believe they are also victims of the euphemistic credo called pro-choice.
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Copyright 2000 by Alicia Colon. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.