by Cecelia Cody
We are all familiar with “First Responders,” heroes who work to protect innocent life, whether it be rushing onto a burning building to rescue a handicapped elderly or trapped person or storming into a school where there is an “active shooter.”
This month we pause to remember and thank another group of “First Responders” Often these people are not only not celebrated as heroes; they are sometimes marginalized and ridiculed, maligned by the media, society and even their family, friends and occasionally even faith communities. I’m speaking of all those involved in pro-life work, who devote so much of their time and efforts to protecting all innocent human life, from fertilization to natural death.
They are the folks who answer the “Help Lines” for pregnancy centers, counseling women considering abortion. They are the lawyers I call, often late at night and on weekends, who often offer their services pro-bono, obtaining restraining orders and who subsequently go to court to keep hospitals and medical professionals from imposing “futile care protocols” and ending the lives of our sick, elderly and handicapped. These are the people who stand outside abortion mills in the cold, rain/snow, and heat of summer as sidewalk counselors and prayer warriors: the last bastion of the battle to save the life of the baby in utero from abortion.
Most of us are aware of the trauma those who protect us from fire, natural disaster and crime experience, and the post-traumatic stress they suffer. “Pro-life First Responders” experience similar post-traumatic stress.
It was a Saturday morning outside a local abortion facility. Joyce (names changed to provide anonymity) and I were the only ones out on the sidewalk. Joyce, an experienced pro-lifer, had a long conversation with a woman who was going inside to abort her baby. The woman was under tremendous stress and didn’t see how she could have this baby. Joyce provided all sorts of resources; however, the woman still went inside. Since we didn’t have anyone else coming that day, Joyce and I stayed several hours. When the woman came out, Joyce totally fell apart. I ended up spending the rest of the day with her.
Rachel had developed an ongoing relationship with a pregnant mother. They had gotten resources and planned a support network so the mother could parent her child. Then abruptly the communication channel went dead. Rachel later learned that the mother had aborted her five-month gestation child. Rachel was devastated by the news.
William stands outside the local abortion mill for hours every abortion day. He has tried to get his friends to join him, but they are all too busy. He had even gotten some pushback from some associates about “wasting his time” and “persecuting those women in difficult situations.” William continues to do his “little bit” as he says; however, he commented it does affect him.
Even answering our office phone or sitting at the mall table can be stressful. Every phone call is a possible “emergency” needing immediate action. A life may hang in the balance, whether a baby in the womb or a patient in the hospital who is only hours away from being “unplugged” when a family member calls seeking legal assistance on a so called “futile care” case.
Repeated exposure to situations in which the pro-life person is unable to save an unborn child, while continuing to face hostility or indifference of the wider community, can lead the pro-life person to a tipping point. The repressed grief and pain emerge in many of the same symptoms that impact the lives and relationships of other first responders. Sometimes it is a single event, as in the case of Joyce, often it is cumulative and thus harder to spot.
I invite you to offer a prayer for all those; perhaps you yourself are one of the Pro-Life First Responders.”
Prayer for the Healing of Pro-life Advocates Lord, You call us to defend the lives Of our youngest brothers and sisters, The children in the womb, And to bring an end To the violence of abortion. Today we pray for strength and healing For ourselves and all who work to end abortion. We know, O Lord, that despite our faithful efforts And our most effective strategies, There are many children who are killed each day by abortion. We could not reach or save them, And we are wounded by the violent act of abortion That took their lives. Lord, we entrust these children to You, And we grieve the loss of their lives, Knowing this is a loss not only for their families, But also, for us. Heal us of the pain of this loss. As we feel the weight of these abortions, Never let us be crushed by it; As we experience sorrow because of these deaths Never let us despair. Bless all pro-life advocates. Enable us to mourn in a healthy way, Rather than to be absorbed by bitterness, anger, or discouragement. Bless all those who counsel pregnant moms, In pregnancy centers or on the sidewalks; Bless all those who educate, teach, and preach, And who elect pro-life candidates and pass pro-life laws. Bless every facet of the pro-life movement And every variety of pro-life work. As all of us in this great movement do this work, Enable us to endure misunderstanding, ridicule, and persecution, With the patience and joy That mark those who are filled with your Spirit. Lord, as we work to change the world, Let us also be changed by You. And as we defend life, May we find life eternal. And as we rejoice In the lives that are saved, Continue to increase in us the hope That comes from you And that points us to the day When all death and violence Will be conquered by justice, love, and peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen! ©2019 Silent No More Awareness Campaign