Carol Everett. Anthony Levatino. Beverly McMillan. Joan Appleton. Joy Davis. McArthur Hill. What do these people have in common? All of them used to work in the abortion industry. Doctors Levatino, McMillan, and Hill used to perform abortions themselves. Joan Appleton was an abortion clinc nurse. Carol Everett and Joy Davis were abortion clinic administrators. Along with many other former abortion providers, they have all spoken out publicly about how they came to be pro-life. I thought about these former-abortion-industry-workers-turned-pro-lifers when Jill Stanek reminded me that this Saturday, March 10, is the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. What can we as pro-lifers do to counter this “Appreciation Day”? Lots of things, I suppose, but the first thing that comes to my mind is prayer. Prayers offered for the general conversion of everyone involved in the abortion industry are always good, but even better than that would be specific prayers offered for the conversion of the staff of the abortion clinic nearest where each of us lives. (You can find a nationwide listing of abortion clinics here.) And, even better than praying for the conversion of the workers of a specific abortion clinic is to offer those prayers outside the clinic itself, especially if there are sidewalk counselors outside these clinics. As any experienced sidewalk counselor will tell you, having prayer supporters on-site makes a world of difference to their ability to reach abortion-bound women and convince them instead to choose life for their babies. (One word of caution, however: Never stand outside of an abortion clinic alone, even if it’s just to pray, since you will have no friendly witnesses in case the clinic staff lie to police about your peaceful presence there. Always have at least one other person with you.) A couple years ago, Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, happened to be driving by a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood. Outside the clinic were several members of the St. Mary of the Angels Parish Young Adult group, who often pray outside the clinic on Saturday mornings. Two days later, the cardinal sent them a letter:
Dear Members of the St. Mary of the Angels Young Adult Group: This is a letter that I did not know I would have the pleasure to write until just a few days ago. Last Saturday, October 2nd, I happened to pass by the intersection of Division and LaSalle Streets on my way to celebrate a late-morning Mass for the Chicago Marian Conference. It was moving, inspiring and uplifting for me to see so many of you gathered in silent, peaceful prayer in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. I’m sure that many of you had errands to run, housework to be done or you could have just slept late on a cool fall morning. Instead you chose to give an hour of your time to standing up for the dignity of the unborn, opposing the culture of death and reminding women and men who come to Planned Parenthood that the Church offers life-saving alternatives to those who have been led to believe that abortion is their only option. The sight of you praying on that street corner on the first Saturday of Respect Life Month remained vividly in my mind as I celebrated the Archdiocesan Respect Life Mass later that afternoon where I commissioned pro-life leaders from our parishes. Since I was unable to stop and thank you last Saturday, I wanted to let you know that your efforts do not go unnoticed. I am deeply grateful for your faithful witness to the truth our Church teaches about the dignity of all human life. Your trust in the power of prayer, as well as your generosity to Catholic crisis pregnancy centers, give evidence that Christ remains faithful to his Church by sending his Holy Spirit to guide us in living as his disciples. May your example invite other young women and men to return to the practice of our faith. I will remember you in my prayers, and I ask you to remember me in yours. May God bless you. Sincerely yours in Christ, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.