Last week I enjoyed the privilege of spending a couple of days with a man who for years has devoted himself to sitting in front of an abortion clinic. John Barros arrives every day of the week throughout the entire year at the Orlando Women’s Center. He comes not to just sit passively and pray. Nor does he engage in “picket and yell” tactics that lack sobriety and genuine concern. He daily pours his soul into prayer, preaching the word of God, and into intimate interaction with mothers and fathers as well as doctors and nurses that disappear into and later emerge from this human slaughterhouse.
On this particular day the temperature was nearing one hundred degrees. I imagine this is commonplace for John during the balmy Florida summers. He took the occasion to point out to me that many of the people coming and going from the clinic were wearing sweaters and jackets. He went on to explain that the odd phenomenon was not without gruesome explanation. Put simply, cold, dry temperatures helped to curb the smell of death within the tiny building.
Patiently waiting inside, one may not hear the mortal remains of the voiceless, but that does not mean the senses are avoided altogether. In addition to suppressing the truth of God in their hearts, those within the walls of the clinic seek also to suppress this aroma of death. After all, it is only once a week that the special vehicle arrives to cart away a week’s worth of mutilated corpses.
Soon after the clinic was “open for business” one of these women clothed in a jacket solemnly approached the front door. Her face was unusually hard. It was more cold and determined than empty and her countenance seemed to communicate a blind resolve. We began to speak to her as if she were the one showing up for an abortion. It was soon clear that we were mistaken as moments later a young teenage girl joined her at the front door.
The girl, seemingly in her mid-teens also wore a light jacket. Yet, her expression revealed something different. I do not know how to describe it. Nor would I pretend to understand the internal feelings conveyed. All I can say is that she appeared to have less resolve than her mother. Less determination. More confusion. Yes, more confusion.
Not that I could be ready for any of this, but I was not at all prepared for who came next. In the group there appeared a third face. Shuffling along behind mother and daughter was another woman. Unmistakably, this was the grandmother of the young girl. Her countenance implied something different altogether. Her face was empty. Where mother and daughter looked dense with feeling, grandmother appeared altogether hollow. Yet she was present.
Was this a show of support? Was mother present to press for the murder and grandmother present to “be there” for both mother and daughter during a “difficult” time? I cannot know. I do know how tangled and depraved we become in our thinking when rebelling against our creator.
Either way, what we were witnessing before us were four generations. Three visible and capable. One not visible, being carried helpless and voiceless to their death. Just months away from being brought into the world. It would have been four generations in the world.
The three emerged hours later from the same front door of the clinic. Two of the three women had the very same expression. One had changed.
Walking through the door all three shared something in common. They all had live children. The one whose countenance had changed was the one who no longer laid claim to such a status. Her’s was now dead. Her face now different.
The young girl’s eyes met the eyes of my wife on the way out the door. Being just feet from one another, the girl spoke. Her speech elevated into yelling. You see, we had brought three of our own children that day to pray with us and witness the reality of abortion. Some of the best homeschooling happens outside of the living room and we decided this needed to be a family affair.
The girl began to yell. In a burst of rash obscenities she told my wife that she was a sick and horrible mother for bringing her children to sit in front of the clinic. The girl’s confusion had given was to a fury of guilt and she was taking it out on my wife. It is as if sheer insanity set in. These three women had arrived that particular morning to take the life of their blood kin and yet they proceeded to label my wife as the “sick woman”. The woman who accompanied her husband and children to pray and plead for life was cursed and ridiculed for bringing her kids and “ruining their childhood”.
Through all of this, grandmother and mother remained silent. They drove away with the young girl’s head hanging out the window, still screaming. Still fighting to erase the events of the day.
In all of this one question kept coming up again and again in my mind. Perhaps it was the question of the day. Where were the men? Three generations of mothers and was there not even one man?
Three women that day; each with a particular demeanor; each having grown up in a different world; each with their own perspective. Yet, in their uniqueness they all shared that one thing in common. There was no man. Only four generations, perhaps of women…almost.