I attended a fundraiser yesterday with a very close friend for our local preg.nan.cy counsel.ing ce.nter. I had expected this to be a small gathering but it was very surprised to find out this event was attended by the who's who of Catholic women in our community. There was hardly a parking spot left in the lot. I agreed to attend after my friend invited me several weeks ago. I thought at most this would be an interesting situation where I could ask questions about what the center does. For many years, I've held opinions about centers like these where I perceive the staff have the singular focus of making sure an abortion doesn't happen and paying attention to little else.
At about the mid-point, a very nice looking lady got up to the lectern and delivered a speech. She told a story about one woman who came to their center. According to the lady speaking, this woman was a married mother of two who (and I don't remember where she said this happened) was "assaulted" and got pregnant as a result. The woman's husband was pressuring his wife to get an abortion (this caused a collective gasp in the audience) but after he saw the care and concern from the center's staff, he was so touched, he supported his wife in carrying "her" baby to term. Of course, the family needed supplies and baby c.lothes and the volunteers donated these items to them. And now, there's "a happy baby a part of a happy family" thanks to the support of people like us in the audience. I didn't clap at the conclusion of the speech.
Many things about this story disturbed me and left me believing much of the story is not true. Before the speech, I was talking to one of the lady's at my table and she had volunteered at the center and she talked a bit about her experience. She said there were so many different stories of teenagers, married women, married women having affairs.... So, when the story about the "assault" came along, the lack of words in the speech like "police," "conviction," "prison," and even the main word English speakers use, "rape," made me think that an affair might be the real cause of the pregnancy.
But even if the story were true in that regard, I'm deeply offended that the speaker chose a story of rape to illustrate just how easy it is to talk a woman out of abortion. In fact, the speaker never said the woman considered abortion, just that she came to the center to talk about her situation. Give me a break! Rape is a horrific crime that can cause untold psychological damage to the victim. And not a word in the speech demonstrating sympathy that the crime had occurred. It was just about saving the baby.
The story confirmed my long held fears about pro.-life activists, it's not about compassion for the suffering of women. It's not about looking honestly at the situations of a person's life that gets them to the point of calling or going to the center. It's just about making sure that baby is born. My fervent hope is that there would be even the slightest bit of depth to the work. Sure, prevent that abortion, but don't thrown the woman out with the proverbial bath water. Don't call what is rape, assault. Don't minimize violence against women. It happens every day all over our world. Pay respect and work for the common good and don't whitewash it.