This year, the pro-life ministry I lead has reached a special milestone: twenty years ago, we at Priests for Life initiated, in partnership with Anglicans for Life, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
The Campaign originally launched as part of our efforts to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the tragic (and now reversed) Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
We wanted those who had lost children to abortion to speak for themselves about what kind of experience it was, why they did it, how it impacted them, and how they found forgiveness and healing.
We wanted the voices of experience to become louder than the political rhetoric, the worn-out soundbites, or the ongoing chorus of voices talking past one another on abortion.
Fruitful debate on abortion is usually stymied because what one side has in mind when they say the word (women’s rights, healthcare, freedom) has no connection to what the other side has in mind when they say the same word (killing a baby, dismemberment, decapitation).
We wanted to find a better common starting point for the discussion: the experience of those who bought the product; the impact of the “choice” on those who actually underwent it.
Letting these voices be heard can be a challenge, because many who have had abortions just find it too painful to talk about.
That is why the dynamic of our Silent No More Campaign is to invite people to healing first.
Then, among those who have made substantial progress in that lifelong journey of healing, there are those who will feel called to share their stories.
We help them to discern whether they are ready to do so, and we then give them the opportunities to make their testimony public. They do this at rallies and marches – most notably at the conclusion of the annual March for Life in Washington, DC and at the start of the annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco.
Testimonies are also shared in Churches, on TV, radio and internet, on social media, and even in legislative hearings, where the testimonies of those who have had abortions can be very helpful to legislators as they assess reasons to regulate or prohibit it.
Political campaigns, too, know the value of stories to make a point about policy.
The growing chorus of these testimonies has been heard around the world, and has been noticed by the US Supreme Court. Back in 2007, when the Court upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion in the Gonzales v. Carhart decision, the Court made reference to these testimonies, many of which were included in the Sandra Cano brief referred to in the following excerpt of the decision:
“While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. See Brief for Sandra Cano et al. as Amici Curiae …. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow. …. It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form. “
We can certainly attest to that. So many who share their testimonies tell us how angry and disappointed they were to realize that nobody told them who this baby in the womb is, what abortion does to that baby, and what alternatives and after-effects there are.
Moreover, these Silent No More testimonies are from many groups of people impacted by abortion: the mom and dad, of course, but that is just the beginning. Grandparents testify to their grief, as do the siblings and other family members of the aborted child. Friends who bring friends for abortion grieve their role in the killing, as do many abortionists and clinic workers who have repented of their complicity in the killing.
Our Campaign calls these multi-faceted wounds the “shockwaves” of abortion.
Christianity itself has spread through the world via testimony. Jesus is the testimony of the Father; many who were healed by Jesus shared their stories far and wide, and Christian history is shaped by testimonies like those of St. Paul, St. Augustine and countless others.
In the words he writes directly to women who have had abortions, St. John Paul II, in The Gospel of Life, points out that after coming to healing, they can be “among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life” (#99).
The voices of those who have lost children to abortion shapes every aspect of pro-life work. All of us in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign invite you to be part of it. Let’s continue bringing countless people to healing and let’s continue to amplify their persuasive voices of experience.
About the author
Frank Pavone is national director of Priests for Life and the national pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. The books he has authored include Abolishing Abortion and Proclaiming the Message of Life.
The post Fr. Frank Pavone: Twenty Years of Amplifying the Voices of Those Who Have Had Abortions appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.