Once your eyes are open to the tragedy of abortion, you cannot “unsee”
By Dr. Jean Garton
Long after time passes, it is often the little things that remain in a person’s memory. One of my favorite “little things” took place in a very big setting – Australia.
My friend, Molly Kelly, and I were there on a speaking tour when, one afternoon, driving to our next engagement, the sun was beginning to set. As I glanced out the car window I said, “Oh, look. Molly, there on that hill are those unusual trees I like so much, and with sunlight shining behind them they look like open fans or peacock tails.”
My artistic description did not impress Molly at all because, after a pause, she grunted and said, “They look like broccoli to me!” Two people looking at the same thing but seeing something different.
That is how we are about many topics–especially political or social issues. Fortunately, in most cases of “seeing” things differently, 56 million human beings don’t end up dead as they have in the case of abortion. Next week on the 41st anniversary of the legalization of abortion on demand, what some people see in the womb has led to a staggering destruction of human life, untold numbers of women experiencing guilt and pain, disenfranchised fathers and a coarsened view of human life at all stages.
Yet, on this 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the American people increasingly are “seeing” the abortion issue with a clearer vision. We can be more hopeful than ever that the youngest, most defenseless members of the human race will once again be protected by law from the moment of conception.
My involvement in the abortion battle began on the “choice” side back in 1968 when I found myself pregnant at 40. We already had three children and number four was definitely not on my agenda. “Every child a wanted child” claims the pro-choice slogan, and this child wasn’t.
The practical solution was an abortion. However, where I lived the State law prohibited abortion so I joined an abortion-rights group to help change the law. What changed, however, was that that unwanted pregnancy became a very wanted child.
I eventually became a convert to the pro-life position and, in 1973, found myself speaking at a U.S. Senate hearing because, as the old line says, “Once you see, you can’t unsee.”
However, there were a multitude of great and wise teachers along the way whose “little things” have encouraged, enlightened and energized me for the battle.
There was John Cardinal O’Conner, who responded to the charge against pro-lifers that unless we are feeding the hungry or housing the homeless we are hypocritical. He said: “You can be hungry but alive! You can be homeless but alive! You can be in a wheelchair but alive! You can be handicapped or injured or battered but alive! But you can’t be killed and be alive.” 
His response was a “little thing,” but it affirmed and strengthened my belief that to put one’s energy into simply keeping unborn babies alive is a natural, needful and noble work.
Then there was Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham, speaking to a few of us at her home where she made a powerful point through the “little thing” of telling a story from the past.
There was a small village in Europe during World War I, she said, where all the men and boys were off to war. One day the townspeople saw the dust of the approaching enemy army. The women gathered their children, the old people collected their prized possessions and off they ran in the opposite direction to hide in the hills.
One little old lady, however, with a broom held high in her hand, ran out into the street in the direction of the oncoming army. “Crazy old lady,” shouted the fleeing villagers. “What good will a broom do against tanks and guns?” “Well,” she replied, “it might not do any good but at least they’ll know whose side I’m on.” 
It is a mighty and powerful broom we hold in our hand when we walk into a voting booth, when we witness to others about the sanctity of life, or when we financially and prayerfully support those on the front line of this battle. As President Ronald Reagan once said, “Evil is powerless when the good are unafraid.” 
A name not found among well-known pro-life warriors is Matthew Dulles de Bara whom I came to know only through national news reports.
The story told of a young couple bound for Disney World with their 3-year old in tow. A short time into the flight, the woman–7 months pregnant– went into labor. A flight attendant used the P.A. system to locate a doctor on board while other passengers relocated so the woman could stretch out across a row of seats.
Within minutes the baby was delivered but, with the cord around his neck, he wasn’t breathing and was turning blue. A nearby paramedic shouted for a drinking straw which she used to suction fluid from the baby’s lungs. A man gave his shoelace to tie off the umbilical cord. Other travelers took turns amusing the mother’s three-year old daughter while the remaining people stayed in their seats in order to keep the aisle clear.
The plane finally landed; the passengers cheered; and the baby was stable. The parents named the little boy, Matthew, which means “Gift of God.” He was given the middle name of Dulles after the airport where the plane made its emergency landing. On the birth certificate where it states “Place of Birth,” little Matthew’s reads “In Flight.” 
Matthew landed safely because of help from a lot of people who contributed whatever was necessary to help him live – from medical skills and child care to a shoe lace and drinking straw. Life is intended to be like that, and when human beings live out a sense of community, as we do in the pro-life movement, that is much more reflective of the history and heart of the people of America than of the heartless individualism inherent in abortion.
So, here we are at the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. No doubt some pro-lifers are frustrated at the seemingly slow pace of progress. Others are experiencing burnout after so many years.
Yet, the reality is that we have not really been at this effort all that long. We are actually a very young Movement and have made great progress given the many obstacles we face. Read NARAL’s “Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States” and your heart will leap for joy. NARAL understands that the Pro-Life Movement is alive and well at the state and federal level.
That is no “little thing!”
It all comes back to people looking at the same thing but seeing something different. After 41 years and 56 million abortions, we could ask that famous question from the Benghazi tragedy: “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
It makes no difference unless you believe there is a difference between duty and silence, between truth and falsehood, between honor and shame, between life and death. In the really big scheme of life, those are not “little things.”