COLUMBIA — People have participated in the Stand Up for Life Pro-life March and Rally for 30 years, withstanding the bitter January weather and the equally bitter words of discouragement from others who say their efforts are worthless.
As pro-lifers gathered on the Statehouse steps Jan. 10, days before the opening session of the S.C. General Assembly, they came with a renewed spirit because of the now-visible fruits of their unwavering service in protecting life.
On the national scene, the signing of a law banning partial-birth abortion was a great victory for the entire country, but South Carolina has its own reason for celebration. While there has been a 17 percent decrease in abortions nationwide in the past 15 years, abortions in South Carolina have decreased by 53 percent.
Also, in the Jan. 10 issue of World Magazine, South Carolina ranked tenth on the list of top 10 pro-life states in a report by Americans United for Life (AUL), a non-profit bioethics law firm based in Chicago. The other states that made the list, in order of ranking, were: Louisiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arkan-sas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
“We have turned the tide because you, the pro-life grassroots people, have worked and prayed and provided for the material needs of South Carolina Citizens for Life (SCCL),” said Lisa Van Riper, the organization’s president.
She presented Bishop Robert J. Baker with a plaque for the Diocese of Charleston’s longstanding support of the efforts of SCCL. The S.C. Association of Pregnancy Care Centers and S.C. Baptist Convention were also commended for their assistance in reducing abortions and providing positive alternatives.
The purpose for the pro-life movement seemed to crystallize when Vera Faith Lord, the featured speaker, began to tell the uncensored and painfully honest account of her abortion experience. She perfectly articulated to everyone that this battle was worth the fight.
“I am the only child of an only child, and I killed my only child,” said Lord, who bravely described the tragic road she had to travel after that regrettable day, 21 years ago.
At the time of her abortion, she said, she was the poster child for the abortion industry because she was in an abusive marriage and battled with her own self-destructive addictions.
“I heard it from all of my friends, my doctors, and God forbid, my minister. They all said, ‘The kind thing to do was to send this child to God. The kind thing to do is to terminate the pregnancy.’ It was all lies, and I allowed myself to believe the lies,” she said.
Sometime after the abortion, Lord said that Mother Nature showed up in the strongest force on earth, her motherly instinct, and at that time every cell in her body became aware that she had committed the most unnatural act.
“No matter what warm euphemism you hid behind, you will one day be confronted with the fact that you killed your own child,” she said.
She said it happens to every post-abortive woman, and “We spend the rest of our lives running away from that reality unless we find healing through Christ’s love.”
She pointed out that she had a dead baby just like someone who miscarried or lost a young infant. The only difference, according to Lord, is that when someone has an abortion, people say, “What baby?” and these women are denied the support and the opportunity to grieve.
Lord said that she slowly began to die inside, emotionally and spiritually, and later found out through her own research that most, if not all, women who have had an abortion suffer from some form of post-abortion syndrome. This pervasive syndrome often masks itself in eating disorders, substance abuse, inability to bond, and obsessive/ compulsive behaviors. Some women are so far into denial or hide their problems so well that even their closest friends cannot see their internal suffering, but Lord knows it is there.
“You can deny that you are in prison, but you cannot melt away the bars,” she said.
After two divorces and experimenting with every religion from Methodism to Buddhism, she finally found a home at an Orthodox Church in Pennsylvania, and it is there that she walked from the darkness. In order to be baptized into the church, she was required to make a confession. Face to face with her pastor, she wrapped up the confession with a quick “and by the way, I had an abortion.”
With these words, tears ran down the priest’s face, and she immediately asked him why he was crying. He said, “I am crying for your baby.”
At that moment the years of suppressing her own grief and guilt finally came to an end as she fell from the chair onto her knees, crying nonstop for an hour, crying for her only child.
“It began my healing process, and I thought that maybe this was what had been ruining my life,” said Lord, who once thought she was alone in her devastating grief but has found more than 22 organizations and several books for people like her.
“According to statistics, if you are a woman and you have reached the age of 45, there is a 43 percent chance that you have had at least one abortion. We are your sisters, your aunts, your mothers and your wives. We are everywhere … but we are invisible, ” said Lord. She has made it her lifelong mission to rip the mask off of abortion and reveal its true face to the world.
This composed, well-dressed and soft-spoken woman goes around the world telling her tragic tale, reliving the pain. For what reason?
“I do what I do so that no one will have to heal from something like this. Help me help your mothers and daughters,” concluded Lord.
After thanking Lord for her powerful testimony, Van Riper said, “Many of us have not walked in the shoes of those who have had an abortion, but we can walk beside them. It will be these women who will close the loop for the battle for life. Let us stand with them.”