I don’t see the expression on his face, but I can hear the smugness in his voice.
"It's kind of sad don't you think, that there's so much hate in the world, to be putting that out instead of acceptance?"
The student says these words to me as I kneel below him, trying to pick up a stack of fallen pamphlets with half-numbed, gloved hands. He’d just watched another student kick my sign to the ground and send the pamphlets tumbling.
He asks for two pamphlets. Knowing exactly what he wants with them, but also unwilling to be rude, I offer him one. For my trouble I get to listen to him proselytize about “hate” while he rips the pamphlet to shreds and drops the pieces next to my fallen sign.
Hate is perfectly okay, it seems, so long as it’s pro-lifers on the receiving end. Acceptance is a nice-sounding word that echoes emptily when two students blocking your sign discuss ways to most effectively hurt you.
“The eyes and the throat are the most vulnerable,” a male student muses after being told he can’t dump ice water on us in the below-freezing temperature. The young woman he’s chatting with had informed him he couldn’t—not because she thought it was wrong to harm others, but because she knew from experience that we call for security when attacked.
You won’t hear any pro-life volunteers whine about how mistreated we are or try to paint ourselves as victims. We’re not helpless, and though some people seem to think all bets are off where we’re concerned, the law protects us from harm as much as any other person.
The point, however, is that pro-lifers are so willing to endure harassment—both mental and physical, one-time and ongoing, both general and specifically targeted—not because we think we’re martyrs deserving accolades for our sacrifice, but because we have seen what happens to those whose very bodies are the battleground in a war whose weapons are suction tubes and clawed forceps.
The difference between pro-life people and the group of people we are speaking out for is that we can speak out. We may be harassed, but when that harassment goes too far we have recourse to legal bodies that can defend us. We may be assaulted, but we can protect ourselves and seek justice for those who harmed us.
The pre-born have no recourse. No defence. No justice.
The call of the assaulted, spit-upon, hit, yelled-at pro-lifer is not the call of personal victimhood. It’s as one of our volunteers said after experiencing pro-choice aggression: That little suffering I went through is nothing compared to what three hundred children go through every day. I would gladly go through that again if I could see more lives saved.
We are not like the non-violent Civil Rights Activists who endured brutal beatings that, when televised, engaged and enraged a nation, catalyzing social change. Our personal suffering does nothing to further the cause we fight for, because it does not expose the reality of the injustice we fight.
Rather, a closer analogy could be made to the British abolitionists of old—those who fought against not their own suffering, but the suffering of others. Threatened to the point of attempted murder, they roused the conscience of a nation to the suffering of others, most of whom lived and died across the sea, unseen and unheard by any other than the perpetrators. The abolitionists made the slaves’ reality known in the rattling of chains presented as evidence, in the disturbing image of the slave ship Brooks, through the etching of a black man in chains, calling out—Am I not a man and a brother?
We are not the victims. The children are.
At “Choice” Chain, I hold onto my sign as another pedestrian passes by and ask, “What do you think about abortion?” He takes the brochure I offer him and opens it as he walks away. Inside he sees a picture of an aborted baby, victimized and killed before she was ever born, before she could ever fight back.
Being there, and enduring whatever comes, has given this baby and so many more a voice. We will gladly go through that again, so we may see more lives saved.