As the crowds begin to mount in Washington, D.C. — indeed, all across the country…
How can we better help women?
Do you know about 40 Days for Life? It’s the prayer campaign that happens every fall and spring. There’s even a 365-day campaign that some of us try to participate in. It’s a prayerful presence outside abortion clinics. I sometimes invite people on social media to join me in praying for miracles of love and life, hope, healing and conversion. For an end to abortion. For women to be embraced with love and resources so that life — theirs and their baby’s — can flourish.
I often wish I could adequately convey my love for girls — so many of them I see are — and my sorrow that it has come to this: an appointment for an abortion. I’m usually outside Manhattan’s Planned Parenthood. I weep in prayer sometimes that the pro-life movement doesn’t have something as accessible, as well-known.
I know the forces of evil are against us, but we could be wise and creative and relentless and unceasingly in our love and prayer for women and men, girls and boys so drowning in the culture of death.
A few months ago, I heard a song that was already years old, the kids told me — everything I know about pop culture I’ve learned from FOCUS missionaries in the city. “Rude Boy” by Rihanna. It’s all about using so as to not to be used. Act like the most lecherous man. Then you’ll have power. Then, no doubt, you’ll find yourself getting birth control from Planned Parenthood and eventually scheduling an abortion as birth control.
I’ll tell you a sad-turned-blessed story — and I ask you to pray. Back in May, I met a young girl outside the clinic I frequent. Two of us sidewalk counselors wound up talking with her as she was leaving, having taken the first pill for a chemical abortion. It can be reversed with hormones, and the other sidewalk counselor was urging her to do so.
She said true things about the regret she’ll feel and about the life of her unborn child. She was overwhelmed. Her mother was telling her she had to finish high school first — she’s 17. She said she’s against abortion, and her boyfriend would love to be a dad. She was open to talking to the Sisters of Life, who are a short Uber ride from the clinic. She, however, had to pick up her little sister amid an abortion!
We wound up connecting her with two sisters who made an appointment with her and a doctor to guide the process for a little later in the day. But the phone was taken away from her, and she never showed up at their Visitation Mission that day. Fast forward to September. She’s pregnant again. She called Planned Parenthood and, by the grace of God, the person to whom she talked to make an appointment talked about the process, which would involve first stopping the heart of the baby. Upon hearing that, she would have nothing of another abortion. She found the number of the other sidewalk counselor and finally made it to the sisters’ Visitation Mission and is going to go through with the pregnancy. Please pray for her. Her mother is supportive this time.
The story has so many lessons in it, the most important being: God has these girls, loving them, seeking them — if only they can see a little window, a little door to walk into, straight into his arms. A seed was planted that day, a day I thought was a complete failure. But there’s always hope with faith.
Now, sidewalk counseling requires training, and it is not what 40 Days for Life is about, which is prayer. The presence can be powerful, prompting women to reconsider. And this year, all of us, wherever we are, should make part of the campaign adopting a women’s care center — a pro-life alternative to abortion in Texas. The new law has everyone talking about ending abortion. But how can we better help women? That has to be a priority alongside prayer.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review.