I was driving home from running some errands when I saw it. A person holding a sign standing beside the road. Then another, and another. It only took a moment to realize what it was. I honestly don’t think it took any cognition. I just knew.
Sign after sign held high for those in passing cars to see. For me to see.
Abortion Kills Children.
Pray to End Abortion.
Abortion Stops a Beating Heart.
Person after person after person lined up beside the road, one after another. And the children. Children holding signs, children standing by their parents.
I have no idea what group or organization started this, but every year on the first Sunday afternoon of October thousands of people who oppose abortion across the country line up beside main roads in their towns and hold up anti-abortion signs.
The reason I instantly recognized what it was is that, well, I’ve been there. Every year without fail, mom and dad would bundle us up and march all eight, ten, or twelve of us children downtown to join other abortion opponents along a main road. We picked up our signs and stretched out along the sidewalk, one after another after another.
“Let Faith hold the ‘Abortion Kills Children’ sign,” my mother would say, gesturing to my two-year-old sister. “No one will be able to look at that and not be moved.”
Growing up, I always looked forward to Life Chain. For me, it was something I could do. Every time I thought about abortion, which I had been taught to see as the holocaust of millions of babies, I felt sick to my stomach, more so because I felt helpless to do anything about it. But Life Chain was taking an actual action. It was actually doing something. We children always saw friends of ours there as well, the children of other Christian homeschooling families. We stood together and held up our signs so that people in cars passing by could read them. It provided us children with social time. While some of my siblings grumbled about being dragged along, I never did.
Sometimes cars honked at us in a friendly fashion, and we waved back. Other times people yelled out windows, hateful people with hateful looks on their faces.
It’s funny how much your point of view affects how you understand what you see, because this year I was the person in the car tempted to yell something. From this side of the fence, things look very different than they used to on the other side of the fence.
Today, when I look at those who would like to see abortion banned I am painfully aware that what they want to control my reproductive choices. And I am painfully aware that they care more about controlling my access to reproductive choice than they do about caring for children born to poor families, or making sure that I have access to paid maternity leave and affordable child care, or helping decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies through making contraception more available.
As I looked at the people along the road this afternoon, I felt anger rise in me. I wanted to yell something. to make known my opposition to what they were doing. But I knew it wouldn’t do any good. It wouldn’t help. I would be the hateful woman with the hateful look. Because mostly when I looked at the people along the road I saw the children. And when I looked at the children, I saw me as I was ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. I rolled up the window to avoid the temptation.
And as I passed the last of the protesters with their signs, I was reminded once again of how much my life has changed.