While doing pro-life outreach, we are usually reaching out to the people walking by us, trying to engage them in conversation. We stand in one place, holding onto our signs and making eye-contact with passers-by. However, one person on the team is responsible for safety, watching out for potential trouble, and holding onto a video camera in order to document any issues that come up.
A few weeks ago, I took over the video camera and spent several hours watching and listening. It can be difficult to watch peoples’ faces as they come into contact with abortion victim photography for the first time. A look of shock and then disgust appears on the faces of most. Some look away quickly and swallow hard. Others are fighting back tears. Some cover their mouths and others laugh nervously, hurrying their friends forward. Some rush past us, refusing to make eye-contact, already trying valiantly to forget what they just saw.
It’s difficult to see wounds uncovered and pain bubble up, and it can be even more difficult to see how people respond. While many people stop to engage in conversation, so many others rush by, muttering things under their breath or to their friends. As people struggle to deal with the horrific reality that is abortion, their anger is often directed towards those exposing the injustice, rather than those perpetrating it.
“These people are filth,” one young man told his friend.
“Oh, I hate these people,” a girl exclaimed.
“Why,” I wanted to ask them. “Why do you hate the messenger and still struggle to embrace the message?”
I heard a group of three friends talking, trying to be casual and joke around. The guy said in an unnaturally loud voice: “I’m so glad my girlfriend killed that fetus!” He laughed awkwardly and the girls giggled nervously along.
I know we all struggle with what we hear and are unable to respond to. The arguments are the same, and we aren’t surprised by any reaction, but they still weigh heavily as we try to accept that we can’t reach everyone. It’s hard to have the answers ready when so many seem to not want to hear them. “Just talk to me, please, just talk to me,” is the silent plea voiced in the question: “What do you think about abortion?”
Ultimately, the reactions of anger and disgust can be hard to deal with, but are not disheartening. Images of abortion inspire negative feelings; our goal is to help people recognize that these negative feelings are not because they are shown an image of what abortion looks like, but because something as brutal as abortion is allowed to continue.