Amid the rows of 167 white wooden crosses carefully placed outside the nation’s most infamous abortion clinic, Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, Kansas, an angel statuette sits nestled in the brownish fall grass. While the crosses are numbered to represent the lives lost at George R. Tiller’s abortion clinic in a month, the angel stands in silent memorial to one special life. It was placed there by a bereaved grandmother in memory of the grandchild whose life she could not save, the victim of a coerced abortion.
On a breezy November afternoon, a middle-aged woman we will call “Mary” stood at the abortion clinic gate crying and praying for the life of her grandbaby. Her teenaged son had gotten his girlfriend pregnant, she told the sidewalk counselors who were offering help to women that day. She knew it had been a mistake, but that did not stop her from loving the child and wanting to be a part of his or her life. She offered to pay medical expenses and raise the child until such time as the young couple could marry, if that was what they wanted.
The young man and his pregnant girlfriend wanted to keep their baby as well, but the pregnant teen’s mother would not hear of it. In fact, everyone in the two families wanted this baby except the maternal grandmother. The more the family pled for this child, the less the girl’s mother seemed to listen.
“Mary” had gone to the clinic in one final desperate effort to save her grandbaby’s life. As she spoke with the sidewalk counselors, the awaited car pulled into the driveway carrying the obstinate woman and her pregnant daughter. The women at the gate called out, but she would not stop. They begged her to reconsider, but she would not listen.
The sidewalk counselors cried with “Mary,” and the women prayed, but it was to no avail.
Against the wishes of the pregnant teen, the baby’s father, and the father’s entire family, the baby was aborted, a victim of coerced abortion.
“So much for a woman’s right to ‘choose,’” said Operation Rescue spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger. “In this case, there was no reason to abort the child. There were family members who had the means and the desire to care for both the young mother and the child. But it is often extremely difficult for some teens to stand up to the pressure from a parent or even a boyfriend, especially if they feel threatened in some way.”
“This kind of forced abortion happens more than people want to believe,” she said. “By the time the poor girls are brought in by whoever is coercing them, they are so worn down that they just detach themselves from the process. Sure they sign all the appropriate forms and do as they are told, but it is only because they believe they are powerless to say ‘no.’ I have seen it happen over and over.”
“Unfortunately, the woman who submits to a coerced or forced abortion is the one who suffers the most from it. The regret and guilt over not being strong enough to save her baby can be very destructive,” Sullenger said. “Family members are not doing their loved ones any favors by forcing them to the abortion mills. It does far more harm than they can imagine.”
Four days after her grandchild was aborted, “Mary” was seen at the abortion clinic again. Without a word, she placed the small statuette of an angel in the grass as a memorial to the precious life that was stolen from her.
“We see this kind of thing from time to time,” said Sullenger. “We have seen a father tearfully write his dead child’s name on a cross, having the need to show an act of love in the midst of his helplessness and inability to overturn his wife’s abortion decision. Grief-stricken family members need some way to acknowledge the baby they will never have an opportunity to love, and bring some kind of closure to their grief. It is very sad. There are so many programs to help the post-abortive women, but little in the way of help for the family members who deeply feel the loss of the aborted child. The fact that the abortion was forced upon an unwilling family member makes it exponentially worse.”
The angel still stands her silent vigil today, frozen in mute prayer, a witness to the hidden tragedy of coerced and forced abortion and its devastating effect on families. Pro-lifers have vowed to make sure the reminder of this precious child’s life remains at the abortion clinic gate every day with the hope that it may touch the heart of some other abortion-bound woman, and perhaps give her the strength to resist the pressure to abort her baby. If even one woman turns, it will not diminish “Mary’s” loss, but it may mean that her grandchild did not die in vain.
Come to Wichita January 19-22!
Operation Rescue is sponsoring a national pro-life witness at George Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services on January 19-22, 2007, to pray and draw attention to Tiller’s heinous abortion practice. For more information about Wichita ’07 — A Cry for Justice, please click here.