Have you ever gone to an event expecting one thing only to find out that it was something entirely different? That was my day on Friday and I don't think I'll ever forget it.
I was invited to attend a gathering of pastors and pro-life leaders in Louisville where I thought they'd be praying outside the EMW Women's Clinic. As I drove down West Market Street and approached EMW, Kentucky's lone remaining abortion facility, it wasn't a prayer vigil I discovered but rather protesters lining the sidewalk with large signs. Some said "Look to Jesus." Others were more graphic.
The box truck parked across the street had a larger than life photo of an aborted fetus too grisly to describe. People walked up on down the sidewalks on their way to work in the heart of Louisville's business district. But it was the man's voice ringing through the cold 20 degree air that jarred the average person in the neighborhood. His message was a mix between exhortations and a sermon.
My heart skipped a beat. "Do you really want to be involved with this?" I saw what nobody should ever have to see. "Might as well keep going and spare yourself the controversy." At the same time, if what was going on inside the doors of the clinic was true, it was something that everybody should understand.
I ended up parking around the corner, caught my break and regained my composure. I buttoned up my wool coat and put on my scarf. As I turned the corner, a man dressed in an orange emergency-type vest stood with his back against the building, posted like a guard. He was a clinic escort and would walk the women leaving their cars to the entrance. Was I in a war zone? Some of the pro-lifers would undoubtedly say yes.
There as a group of black women facing the clinic and praying out loud. They were on one side of the white line. The other side of the line said Private Property. Immediately next door to EMW was a pro-life pregnancy care center called A Woman's Choice. Another of their offices was located across the street.
I was able to capture some audio and video for a story. Where was the other media? This didn't happen there everyday. Dozens of pastors and protesters came from across the country to expose what they believe a travesty and voice their support for life. Operation Save America, a ministry based out of Dallas, Texas, organized the event. Their goal is to outlaw abortion.
Abortion is legal in Kentucky and until a few weeks ago, late term abortions after 20 weeks were allowed as well. I've always questioned the wisdom and effectiveness of publicly waving posters of graphic images of dead babies. So I asked Angela Minter, the Executive Director of Sisters for Life in Louisville, a pro-life ministry that engages in sidewalk counseling to persuade women to choose life. She was there that day and surprisingly wasn't opposed to the signs. Full disclosure Minter is a personal friend and board member for my organization.
She agreed that the images are disturbing, yet necessary to help people understand the reality of abortion. She relates it to the images from the civil rights movements of the 1960s, “When the media actually saw the water hoses and blacks being mistreated they saw what was actually happening to the black community.”
She believes mothers need to see abortion for what it really is, “I think people really need to know what’s being experienced by the child. And the mothers need to know this is what the abortionist plans to do to your child.” She's not speaking callously or theoretically either.
Minter has had two abortions. She was about to have a third abortion when her father—then a state representative— found out, and told her she'd better not. She listened to him and because of that I got to meet her daughter Ryan later that day.
This column appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Feb. 14 and the Cincinnati Enquirer on Feb. 16.