By Dave Andrusko
Many people stopped NRLC staff and echoed what one participant in the Thursday evening session had said about, “Sharing Our Stories: How Abortion Affects Women’s Lives”: that it was “historic.”
National Right to Life 2016 brought together a genuinely unique panel. Two women–Sarah Zagorski and Melissa Ohden—survived abortions. Two more women—Jewels Greene and Catherine Adair—had abortions and went on to work in abortion clinics.
One other woman—Olivia Gans Turner—underwent an abortion as an unmarried college student but went on to found NRLC’s American Victims of Abortion. A.V.A. is now celebrating its 30th year as an outreach not only to women who have aborted, but also to fathers, siblings, grandparents—all those family members affected by the loss of that unborn child.
Melissa’s story is familiar to many pro-lifers. She survived a saline abortion in 1977, a gruesome process that took place over five days, and now has started an outreach of her own to abortion survivors. Melissa added details most of the audience did not know, including that for 30 years, her mother thought Melissa had died from the abortion. Her story of a gradual reconciliation with her birth mother, who, she learned, had been coerced into having an abortion by a family member, as well as other family members, was extraordinarily powerful.
Sarah Zagorski’s early years were exceptionally grim, filled with abuse. She was rescued by foster care and adoption. “Playing God”—aborting a child because of real or perceived difficulties—“doesn’t solve anything,” she explained.
Jewels Greene told a story of being raised by an “aging Hippie mother” in a totally pro-choice environment. But when she became unexpectedly pregnant, her first instinct was to care for her baby—she described herself as “intuitively pro-life.”
Her boyfriend did not push abortion initially, Jewels explained, but as the other woman he had impregnated grew larger, he began to push Jewels to abort.
Jewels’ reaction, after her abortion, was “swift and severe.” She even tried suicide, really wanting to “be with her baby.” But instead of becoming pro-life, Jewels became a “hard-core pro-abortion feminist.”
Her story of attending the 1989 pro-abortion march in Washington, DC and then working in an abortion clinic was riveting. She quit once, but went back to work at the abortion clinic even though she was herself pregnant at the time.
Her moment of truth, her pro-life conversion, came after a surrogate mother learned she was carrying a baby with Down syndrome. When the biological parents offered to pay her in full if she aborted, she did. Jewells likened it to a “mob hit.”
She explained that once she “was able to say that this abortion was wrong,” she began to ask herself about abortion in general. Then the question arose: “What have I done?”
Both women who worked in abortion clinics talked about the importance a of non-judgmental, loving witness by pro-lifers who were at the clinics, in bringing them into the Pro-Life Movement.
The stories each woman told were immensely telling. In the final Q&A with host Lynda Bell, the importance of their stories came out clearly. The media tries to stifle those stories because they don’t fit the narrative.
They illustrate that abortion is not a cure; that it is not done on behalf of women but to them; and (perhaps most of all, as Catherine Adair explained), their stories expose that the abortion industry is “anti-woman.”