|But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. (Psalms 22:9-10)|
Do Pro-Life vigils outside abortion clinics do any real good? Are they seeking notoriety? Or are they just wasting their time? The little story which follows dramatizes a story told to me as I stood outside a San Antonio abortion clinic. After you read it, perhaps you will better understand what motivates men and women to interpose their own bodies between the unborn child and the abortionist's curette?
A word of caution. This piece contains strong language and harsh images of sex and violence. The imagery is important, I believe, to set the tone of the work. The reader must share, if only vicariously, the emotions of the victim in order to have a better understanding of the emotions which may lead a woman to the abortionist's chamber. Hopefully, I make these points:
Mary Ellen was happy. She hummed a little tune as she pulled the cover over her word processor. It was Friday evening, and she had finished the last project in her in basket. It had been necessary to put in a few hours overtime, but it was worth it. Now, she could enjoy her vacation without having to worry about unfinished work back at the office.
That funny little tune was running through her head as she closed the office door and walked toward the elevator. It was a catchy ditty; just right for someone about to spend two gorgeous weeks in Hawaii.
She did not notice the light over the fire stairs was not burning.
Mary Ellen's mind was filled with thoughts of sand and sun as she waited for the elevator. Oh! What a grand time she was going to have at Waikiki Beach!
The elevator arrived, and she started forward.
She was aware of a dark shadow moving toward her from the direction of the darkened stair well. Mary Ellen started to turn, but was stopped by a powerful blow to her left kidney. The breath left her in a rush, and she fell, gasping, to the floor.
"Don't look at me," her assailant warned, his voice a rasping wheeze. "You see my face, and I got to kill you."
Struggling to breathe, her lungs refusing to work properly through the hurt, Mary Ellen fought against panic. Tbe man intended to rape her, perhaps kill her. She tried to scream, but did not have the wind. She kicked out blindly, hoping to drive her attacker off. The office keys were still in her hand. She reached behind her, in an effort to scratch his eyes. Nothing worked. He was too strong. His sudden attack virtually had destroyed her ability to defend herself. She continued to struggle. He hit her again, knocking her unconscious.
When she came to, Mary Ellen found she could breathe, though the act caused her pain. She looked around, and was surprised to see she was back in her office. He had used her keys to get in.
"It's about damned time you woke up. I am tired of waiting."
"Please, please, don't hurt me",Mary Ellen pleaded. "I've got money in my purse. Just take it and leave. I promise I won't call the police."
The man drew close, no longer worried she might see his face. His features were blurred by a mask made from pantyhose. Her pantyhose! "You need to be awake for what I am going to do to you," he whispered, as the shadow of a grin distorted his features still more.
After what seemed an eternity, the man tired of tormenting his victim. As he walked out the door, he turned back to face her and growled, "You call the cops, and we'll meet again".
Unable to move, her body wracked by pain, Mary Ellen lay on the office floor and cried. He had hurt her physically, she knew, but that was not the reason for her crying. He had violated her! He had used her body in terrible, humiliating ways, and her great shame caused her tears. What had she done to bring this devastating punishment down on herself?
Gradually, her sobs became less violent, and her breathing returned to normal. Sleep came over her, and her ravaged body began to heal itself. She slept for hours, but was snatched awake by horrible nightmares. In her dreams, she re-lived the most terrifying moments of the rape.
Gathering her ruined clothes about her, Mary Ellen again left the office. Her mind was far from Waikiki, and evil images fired her thoughts. On her way home, she stopped at an all-night grocery store to buy first aid supplies. She had heard stories of how police treat rape victlms, and she did not believe she could stand much more abuse. She could not go to a hospital emergency room, for they surely would notify the police. She would have to take care of herself.
As soon as she arrived in her apartment, Mary Ellen tore off her clothes and ran to the shower. She stood under the scalding hot water until it ran cold, and still she did not feel clean.
After drying herself, she turned her attention to her injuries. The ugly bruises on her thighs and torso would go away, she knew, so she paid them little heed. She was mostly concerned that he had damaged her internally, perhaps infected her with some loathesome disease. She douched with a packaged product, and then with an antiseptic solution. The antiseptic burned like fire, but she felt better for having cleansed herself of the last vestiges of his savage assault.
Oh! She hurt badly!
Her ablutions and first aid ministrations completed, Mary Ellen took a bottle of chablis from the refrigerator and poured out a glass of the chilled white wine. She drank that in a single swallow, then poured herself another, which she also tossed right back. Continuing in this manner, she soon emptied the bottle.
The wine helped. She walked to her bedroom, turning on all the lights in the apartment. She fell across the bed and, once again began to cry. After a while, she fell asleep.
It was afternoon when she wakened, and the sun cast a bright pattern on her bedroom wall. A terrible pain savaged her battered body. Pain such as she had never known. She tried to rise from the bed, but doubled up in agony and fell to the floor. She hurt everywhere. Her thighs ached. Her back throbbed in time with her pulse. Her face hurt where he had punched her. The worst hurt seemed to originate deep inside being.
Still unwilling to face doctors and police inquiries, Mary Ellen dragged herself to the bathroom, where she kept the aspirins. She gulped down a handful of Anacin, lay on the cold tile floor, waiting for the pain killers to do their job.
"Everything will be fine tomorrow," she said to herself. "I just have to get through today, and I'll be okay."
Mary Ellen had always thought of herself as tough, a woman able to deal with anything life could throw at her. She had been wrong! In the middle of the night, the pain became more than she could bear, and she dialed 911.
Nothing happened the way she had been told it would. The police dispatcher was courteous and concerned, as she gently probed for information. The police team arrived quickly, and were very tender with her. When the emergency medical team arrived, they were gentle and professional as they examined her and tended to her injuries.
No one acted as though she were responsible for what had happened. Instead of derision, she encountered compassion. How wrong she had been not to seek help immediately.
At the hospital, the emergency room doctor examined her. He assured her the physical damage was not permanent in nature. There should be no complications, should she want children at some later date. They had found no indication of venereal disease, However, she would need to test for HIV exposure every three months or so.
Because she had not reported the rape immediately, and had showered and douched, there was no possibility of obtaining semen samples for use in identifying her attacker. Without that physical evidence, the police investigator informed her, it was unlikely the rapist, if caught, would be tried for his crime. It simply would be his word against hers, and that would not hold up in court. They would be in touch, the policeman said, as he left the emergency room.
The next person to talk with Mary Ellen was a counselor from the rape crisis center. She explained that Mary Ellen was in no way responsible for what had happened, that she had no reason to feel ashamed. Intellectually, Mary Ellen understood all that, but she could not rid herself of guilt.
Mary Ellen spent her vacation in her apartment, only going out for groceries and other essentials. When she returned to work, she told her friends she had changed her mind about Hawaii and had gone to the mountains instead. To explain her slight limp, she said she had slipped while hiking a wilderness trail.
Her period was due to start about the time she returned to work. It didn't. Mary Ellen was not too concerned about the late period. She had been late before and she had ample reason to be late this time. It was when the next period did not come that she began to worry.
"Oh! Hell!," she groaned. "The bastard got me pregnant."
Mary Ellen did not know where to turn, or what to do next. She did know, and that was for certain, she did not want to have the rapist's baby. The counselor at the rape crisis center said she could not help in this matter, and referred Mary Ellen to a counselor who worked for a women's rights organization.
This new counselor had all the answers. She understood Mary Ellen's attitude, and agreed she should not have the baby.
"Get, rid of it," she argued. "You don't need any reminders of what that monster did to you. Later, when you are ready for a child, you can always have another baby."
That sounded like good advice. Mary Ellen called the women's clinic the counselor had recommended, and made an appointment to have the pregnancy terminated.
"We never say 'abortion'," the counselor had told her. '"That word drives the anti-women's rights fanatics nuts."
Mary Ellen did not want any of her friends to know she was having a "termination", so she scheduled her appointment for Saturday morning.
When it came time to set out for the clinic, she was nervous, but determined to end this problem pregnancy. It was a simple procedure, she had been told. She would be able to return to work Monday as though nothing had happened.
As she approached the clinic entrance, Mary Ellen was dismayed to see a pro-life demonstration underway in the parking lot. She drove closer, and soon was able to make out some of the signs the protesters were carrying.
ABORTION KILL BABIES.
ABORTION IS MURDER
Some of the signs had the most horrible pictures of broken bodies and disconnected heads. Surely, abortion is not like this!
"Miss, Oh, Miss. Please stop and talk to me", pleaded an attractive young woman. "Please, give me a just minute before you go inside. I have some pictures I want you to see."
Mary Ellen decided to listen to what the young woman had to say.
She never did go into that abortion clinic.