A Life Saved

September 14 will always hold a special place in the hearts of both my wife and me. On this day, four years ago, my wife and I had our first save. (For those of you unfamiliar with sidewalk counseling, a “save” happens when a mother, just steps away from entering a clinic where she has an abortion scheduled, decides instead to choose life for her baby.) Exaltation of the Cross This was an especially fitting date for this manifestation of God’s infinite goodness, as September 14 is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. For several months, my wife and I had gone on Saturday morings to stand outside of an abortion clinic on Chicago’s northwest side to join others in prayer for the abortion-bound mothers, and for the sidewalk counselors who speak to them to warn them of the dangers abortion poses to them personally. On this particular day, we had just finished praying the rosary, and were about to head home. Just then, one of the veteran sidewalk counselors spoke a few words to an abortion-bound mom who had just arrived with another woman, and hastily called for my wife and me to come over. Both women spoke only Spanish. The sidewalk counselor knew only a few Spanish words, but knew that my wife and I spoke more than she did. (Neither of us is fluent, to be sure, but I speak it better than I understand it, and my wife understands it better than she speaks it, so between the two of us, we can communicate with someone who speaks only Spanish fairly well.) I don’t remember what I said to this woman — her name was Blasa — but it was clear that she did not want to have an abortion. All I remember is that we offered to bring her to a place where she could get real help (a pregnancy resource center just around the corner). Just steps away from the abortion clinic entrance, it took less than a minute for Blasa to decide that she was going to keep her baby. We then offered to take her to the PRC. At that point, Blasa’s friend, who had brought her to the clinic, made no attempt to persuade her otherwise, but told her she had to leave. Blasa looked at us somewhat worriedly, and we assured her that we would be able to give her a ride home. We were able to get in right away at the PRC, and at that point, we expected that they would be able to take it from there, and we could sit in the waiting room until she was able to speak with a counselor about the services and assistance the PRC offered. But then we found out that the center’s Spanish speaking counselor was running late, and wouldn’t be in for another hour. That left my wife and me to serve as translators between Blasa and the counselor. I’m convinced that that day the Holy Spirit gave us — my wife especially, as she did most of the talking — a modified form of the gift of tongues, as we were there for at least an hour, hearing and using words we never knew we knew. As I mentioned, it was clear from the moment we first spoke with Blasa, she didn’t want an abortion. (No woman really does, as any sidewalk counselor can attest. That’s precisely what makes abortion advocates’ preferred label, “pro-choice,” so cruelly ironic, considering how often those of us who have done sidewalk counseling have heard from abortion-bound women remarks to the effect of, “I have no choice.”) In Blasa’s case, she scheduled an abortion because she was scared, and because she had been lied to. Blasa had come to the U. S. illegally from Mexico about five years prior. When she found out she was pregnant, she called a health clinic — she couldn’t remember its name — which then referred her to the abortion clinic. The abortion clinic then told her, over the phone — needless to say, without having even conducted a pregnancy test — that there might be “something wrong with the baby”. She was also told that she should make an appointment for an abortion as soon as possible, because if the baby was born in a hospital, the hospital would find out she was here illegally, and she would be deported. (When she called the abortion clinic, I can’t imagine that Blasa would have volunteered that she was in the U. S. illegally; they must have asked her about her immigration status directly. Since then, I’ve often thought that it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Spanish-speaking abortion clinic workers as a matter of course ask all of their clients about their immigration status, and, if they are undocumented, tell them the same lie this clinic told Blasa.) We told her that this was not true, and that no hospital would do this — an assurance that brought her visible relief. We also told her that it would have been impossible for the abortion clinic to have been able to tell if there was anything “wrong” with her baby — a diagnosis, it bears repeating, the abortion clinic made over the phone. And although she was determined to keep her baby regardless, she wanted to know if her baby was healthy. So we called a nearby medical office that performs ultrasounds, and made an appointment for her half an hour later. We drove her to the appointment, at which Blasa looked, with tears in her eyes, at pictures of her beautiful, healthy baby. We then gave Blasa a ride home, and left her our phone number in case she ever needed anything. She was overflowing with gratitude. And all three of us were overflowing with joy.

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