I’m standing on a street corner in Toronto, holding a sign with an image of a first-trimester abortion victim on it. Many passers-by tend to avoid my gaze and the pamphlets in my outstretched end. A few pause to vent about why my colleagues and I are atrocious human beings who should have been aborted. A man stops in front of one of my shortest colleagues, but not to talk. He spits. She’s an easy target. It covers her face, her hair, even her arm. My eyes go wide, I fumble for my phone to film, but he’s already passed on. I rush over to help her.
I’m standing on the exact same street corner, probably even holding the same sign, more than a month later. I ask an older woman what she thinks about abortion. “I had one years ago,” she tells me quietly. “I regret it to this day.” I try to stammer out some words of sympathy and support, but she crosses the street. Out of my reach. Around 20 minutes later, she crosses back to my corner and stops in front of my sign again. “There was no one doing this when I had mine,” she says to me. “Thank you for being here.”
No one had been there to share the truth about abortion with her when she needed it.
I’m sitting in a coffee shop in London a week later. I’m trying to keep my mind off the abortion debate, and on the task at hand: preparing a presentation for one of my classes. I forget that the bold “EndTheKilling.ca” sticker on my laptop makes me an easy target for questions. The man in the booth across from me asks, “What killing? Is it about the seal-hunt?” I’m momentarily confused, then realize what he’s asking about. “No, not about the seal-hunt. It’s about the killing of pre-born children,” I tell him. “Ah, abortion,” he says, and I nod. “Yeah, you can find more information on the website if you’re interested.” I smile, and try to return my focus to my work.
A couple minutes later, he gets up from his booth, and says, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.” I glance up and see the tears in his eyes, hear the choke in his voice. “We lost a child—and—I shouldn’t have asked.” He’s about to go out the door. Out of my reach. I hastily say, “I’d be happy to have a conversation if you have a minute.” He stops, I get up, and ask him more about the situation. It was decades ago, he tells me. They got pregnant and they weren’t ready. She didn’t want to embarrass her family. So they got rid of the problem… “It only dawned on me recently,” he tells me through tears, “that it was a person.” I ask some questions about their situation, offer words of sympathy and support, and tell him about the group Silent No More. We shake hands, exchange names, and then he has to leave.
We get so little time with people. So little time to speak truth, to show love, to share our message. But we must share the life-saving truth—with as many people as possible. That’s what the images do. Nothing communicates the truth about abortion as quickly or as effectively as abortion victim photography. No one can tell the story of the aborted pre-born child like she herself can.
When Pope Francis referred to the Armenian genocide as a genocide—when he called the evil what it was—he provoked outrage from political groups who found that statement very politically incorrect. He refused to shy away from the truth and instead stressed the need to share it: “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”
The truth about an injustice can be so hard to accept. Our culture is so deeply wounded by abortion, and so desperate for healing. But no healing will begin unless it first takes place in the light of the truth. And no one will receive the truth unless we first have the courage to share it.