A baby girl stared at me from across the street with lifeless eyes. For a moment, I didn’t know if she lay on the sidewalk or in a picture – her head lay inches away from her body, an arm lay severed from her torso which was open at the top, exposing parts of her body that were once underneath her skin. I felt helpless, knowing that if I ran, yelled, and shouted, people would not listen to me, even though that seemed to be the only appropriate response to seeing a photo of such a little girl killed in such a tragic way.

A few weeks ago, I travelled across Eastern Canada with CCBR’s Faces of Abortion Tour, to bring our culture face to face with the victims – the way I was that day.

The faces of abortion victims don’t just horrify us, they speak to us and call out from within us a response.

The testimony of almost every pro-life activist affirms what Dr. Monica Miller said, “When we gaze upon such an image we are not simply looking at what abortion does, but are confronted by a someone who by that image takes his or her place among us and calls us to bring an end to the ideas and the actions that sought to cast them out of the human family to begin with.” 

As we travelled, we witnessed a range of reactions on the faces of the viewers – from disgust, to indifference, to defiance. The reaction we all share is discomfort, and our discomfort leads us either to justify, try to forget, or join a growing resistance movement that refuses to be still and allow injustice to continue.

I’ve discovered that the more people I meet in this resistance movement, the more I want to keep meeting. I want to introduce you to a few of the people I met over the last few weeks.

Innocence and Violence

Jeremy is a new father. He told me excitedly about his baby while we were standing in cold, rainy Newfoundland weather. He was enthusiastic to have conversations with people about abortion, and I soon found out why. His whole face lit up whenever he mentioned his wife and baby, and it was because of them that he became convicted to do street outreach.

His baby was the same age as Baby Daniel, who was scheduled for an abortion at 38 weeks gestation in Montreal. He described to me what it was like to be in the hospital with his wife who was labouring to deliver their biggest blessing while updates flooded the internet of Baby Daniel, whose mother would labour soon too, but he would be born still – intentionally.

The same age, the same country – both healthy pre-born children, until one of them was born, and one of them was dead.

I can’t imagine looking into the face of my first child who I loved so deeply, and seeing a contrast between the fragile, vulnerable innocence in my arms, and the violence enacted on another child his age.

A child’s face is one of the most moving things one can see. The face of a healthy newborn sleeping soundly has often brought grown men and women to tears, and there is something particularly tragic about injustice reflected in the face of a child.

The tragic contrast between pure innocence and brutal violence is what motivates those who work and volunteer in the pro-life movement – because when one comes face to face with the victims of abortion, it’s impossible to forget.

They Can’t Wait

Maureen is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. The first time I did pro-life outreach with her, I listened to her start a conversation with a lady with compassion and interest, and I saw them hug each other before she left. Maureen later told me that the woman had opened up about her abortion as a teenager, and how she had never healed. She found in Maureen a friend–a confidante–even though moments earlier, she had been a stranger. She was someone who listened to her story, validated her experience, and affirmed her worth.

Halifax needed someone to start bringing abortion victim photography to the public square, and to rehumanize the victims of abortion who have been dehumanized in our society. Most people are pro-choice, and while there have been active pro-lifers in Halifax for a long time, the faces of abortion victims themselves have been out of sight and out of mind. Maureen was deeply troubled by this. She told me and my colleague over dinner about her family and her grandkids, her garden and new recipes she was trying, and why she had decided to become a pro-life leader,

 “I know that I’m not qualified. I know that I don’t know everything I need to know, and I don’t have all of the skills I need to have, but the pre-born can’t wait for a few years for me to learn those things, so I am going to start now.”

Maureen didn’t ask if she was the right person for the job – she only asked if the job needed to be done. Since the answer was yes, she put aside her nerves and found the courage to be the one to do it – proving that she was, in fact, just the right person for the job.

Everyone would have understood if she hadn’t, but she decided not to do what was comfortable, but rather, to do what was necessary. She told us, “If I can’t do at least this for the pre-born, then what has my whole life been about?”

What has my whole life been about? I hope someday I will look at my life, as I know Maureen will someday, and feel that I had reverence for humanity. I hope I will have been a confidante for strangers and a defender of innocents because when I looked at the faces of the other human beings around me, I truly saw them in all of their unrepeatable mystery, and understood my responsibility toward them.

A Life Worth Living

At one of our evening events, I had just finished speaking, and the first person who spoke to me asked, “Would you like a coffee?”

We spent a good 40 minutes exchanging stories of our experiences having conversations with people about abortion. Some very sobering encounters, some humorous, and some inspiring, but the most memorable story he told me was his own.

Born at 3lbs – he was the same age, size, and level of development as some of the children on our signs. He fought for his life, like those children probably did, but he was fighting against nature, not a suction machine or metal forceps. He had a chance, like those children didn’t.

Autistic – he felt that he was one of the children who many would say should be aborted, since children are often aborted as a result of having a disability. His life was difficult. His parents’ lives were difficult. But ask him now if his life has been worth living? Ask his wife? His colleagues? His friends?

He would look at you like you’re crazy–of course it has.

His life, in those early moments, was so fragile. It could have been lost so easily, but the strength of a tiny 3lb spirit and the effort of those who loved him ensured that he made it.

This is the story of so many of us. When we’re small, life just is the way it is, but we realize as we grow that our life is a blessing amidst tragedy. So many of us don’t find out how fragile we were, and what sacrifices and suffering our parents and others endured for us until we are older.

The Presence of a Hero

One of our first tour stops introduced me to a young woman who would share a little bit of her life story with me – just cracked open the window enough for me to get a glimpse.

Just into her 20’s, she was passionate and committed to standing up for the rights of pre-born children. She had every reason to be pro-choice; having seen the horrors of the foster care system firsthand, becoming a teenage single mother and fighting custody battles for her children, one of whom was conceived in a violent sexual encounter.

She told me she didn’t like to dwell on the difficulties she was facing, instead, she focused on giving of her time and skills to protect pre-born children who might be killed because their parents faced situations like hers. I’ve been inspired by many strong women who overcame difficulties and chose life for their children, but as I looked into her eyes as she told me her story, I realized that I was in the presence of a hero.

She was currently living the difficulty that these other women had overcome and left in their past. She was doing the hard thing that we ask women to do when we show them the faces of abortion victims–photos that challenge them that there must be another way.

She is living it right now in a way that her children can be proud of when they get older, when they realize what she did for them. She is living it in a way that should challenge all of us.

I had the privilege of meeting these four people because we shared a desire to see pre-born children protected. Having seen the faces of abortion victims, we could never forget what we had seen.

In order to make abortion unthinkable, we need our culture to form a human connection with the victims of abortion. To look at them and truly see them, to see in their faces what every new parent sees in the face of their child, and to be horrified at the violence done to them.

The Fifth

I’ve written about four people I met on this tour. Four people I connected with as I saw them face to face–as they told me their stories and inspired me by their courage.

The fifth person whose life I would love to write about, I can’t. Or at least, her life story is very short.

For every four children born in Canada, one is killed by abortion. The fifth one’s life story is that she began to live, and for a few weeks she was safe, healthy, and growing, until one day her life was ended by a sterile tool that pulled her body apart in pieces. She was never named and no one ever knew her; unlike the other four, she didn’t tell me her story.

I saw her picture and I knew.

The only way her story can be told is if her face can be seen.

She has a right to be seen. Children like her are scheduled to die today, and tomorrow, and every day this week. That should shake us.

We ought to be unsettled by the faces of the victims of abortion, and be stirred to a response. As Maureen said, they can’t wait a few years. They need us now.

The story told by the faces of the victims is one of violence and tragedy, but the story is changing.
As more people join the story of resistance and show the faces of the victims to the public, there will be fewer photos of the victims – replaced by faces of the survivors.

4 thoughts on “Five Faces in the Fight Against Abortion

  1. Matthew Chapman says:

    The only time I deam an abortion necessary is If the pregnancy is dire and that one of them or both of them are going to die and the choice has to be made to save a life. But honestly in my opinion the oldest should be the one to be terminated as they have had a chance to live a fuller life

    • Keturah Dumaine says:

      I definitely understand that dilemma, Matthew! If both lives are at risk, it’s a very difficult situation, and both the mother and the child are valuable human beings with rights. I think most people aren’t aware, however, that with modern medicine, we don’t need abortion to save women’s lives. This is a very helpful video where Dr. Anthony Levatino (who was a former abortionist) explains that reality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysl1tRnk-ig

      There’s also a document called The Dublin Declaration, which has been signed by over 1,000 medical professionals in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, and it states that “Direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.”

  2. Vince says:

    Keep abortions legal. Woman have a right to bodily autonomy. You have the right to your opinion, but no the right to control others.

    • Keturah Dumaine says:

      Hi Vince, I agree with you that women do have a right to bodily autonomy, (as a woman, I’m very grateful for that!) and that I don’t have a right to control others. Would you mind if I ask you a question along those lines? Since we agree that women have rights over our own bodies, I assume you would support my rights both to consume alcohol and to drive a car. However, would you support my right to do both at the same time?

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