OFFENSES AGAINST HUMAN DIGNITY CONVERGE
By ALLISON MADDOCK ‘22 CSMA
P assion took precedence over discernment in the early days of my commitment to the pro-life movement. In the winter of my junior year of high school, I began pacing the sidewalks outside an abortion clinic in downtown Minneapolis, training to be a sidewalk counselor. Sidewalk counseling involves offering oneself as an alternative resource for women entering clinics, attempting to compassionately persuade them not to follow through with their scheduled abortion, and communicating alternative options when no one else can. Needless to say, there was a lot of pressure. After shyly following my trainer around for a couple stressful months, I had an encounter that will stay with me forever. A clinic escort (the volunteer counterpart to pro-life sidewalk counselors)
was shepherding a woman and her father away from us as my trainer tried to encourage the woman not to be pressured by her father into getting an abortion. The father kept repeating, “This is her choice. This was her decision.” He also told us they had prayed about it. The woman never spoke. They disappeared inside. Half an hour later, the father came outside to smoke a cigarette. (I never knew his name, but I’ll call him John.) My mentor began to call out that it was not too late for John to save his unborn grandchild; it wasn’t over until it was over; he could help his daughter get out. John’s first response was to feign deafness to her words, but then he decided to have a loud conversation with his escort about the wonders of the abortion business.
My mind whirled, attempting to sort through the disparity between John’s earlier claim that they had prayed about this decision and his current words that were so plainly meant to shock and offend. At last I found my voice. With tear-filled eyes, I said in a half-whisper, “You really think this is what God wants?” My question made him uneasy, and he became defensive. He then let slip the real reason he had brought his daughter there for an abortion. With the air of one presenting a challenging moral dilemma, he turned directly to me and asked, “Would you keep a Black child?”
THE CATHOLIC UNDERSTANDING
OF HUMAN DIGNITY My young self had never encountered such blatant racism.
Page 16 stthomas.edu/catholicstudies
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