In the Archdiocese of Washington virtually every deacon ordained in the past ten years or so spends one summer of their formation working in a crisis pregnancy center. Now, I don’t mind admitting that I did everything I could to avoid this requirement of formation. I was nervous about counseling women who were faced with an unexpected pregnancy. I was especially nervous because I knew I was trying to save two lives – the mother and her unborn child. I worried mostly that I would do something wrong and the stakes were too high to tolerate my inexperience or mistakes.
As it turns out, it was one of the most remarkable experiences of my formation.
Seeking the light.
Contrary to some popular misconceptions, most crisis pregnancy centers do not “bait and switch” women. In fact, the one at which I worked made it clear, before a client entered, that it did not counsel or refer for abortions. Some women read that statement a left without another question. Many however would respond, “I know; that is why I am here.” I learned quickly that many of the women who came to the center had already suffered the trauma of an abortion and never wanted to experience that pain again. They actually sought us out because we would counsel them toward healthier solutions to their unexpected pregnancy.
One life ended, another one harmed.
The harmful effects of an abortion on the unborn is obvious. It ends a life. But the effect on the mother often goes overlooked. In fact, many women are not warned by an abortionist about the potential emotional harm that comes from ending a life. My passion for the March for Life does not come from a personal experience or even a contrived political leaning. Rather, it comes from a desire to prevent the death of an unborn innocent AND the pain a procured abortion has on the mother.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” – Jeremiah 1:5
Before my ministry at the crisis pregnancy center, I never attended the March for Life. I certainly embraced the teachings of our Church and supported the efforts of those who went but, the passion in my own heart was lacking. This Monday, I will be in downtown Washington. I will go to the Mass at the Verizon Center and I will pray in front of the Supreme Court. I will pray for the women I met, for their children and for those women and children who may become victims of abortion in the future. I also hope that many more of the faithful have their eyes opened to the pain abortion causes to its multiple victims. And, I hope that someone reading this will join me for the first time in Washington on Monday.