On the Front Lines

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

You look in the bedroom mirror, small enough to deny self-adoration, and pull your brownish hair into a ponytail. Tight, like Mother used to do it, just the right way. You turn to the bed. Your clothes are laid out on sheets held taut by perfect hospital corners. You dress in practical layers, to accommodate the variable temperatures of the daylong vigil you perform every Thursday. First, your underthings, then flesh-tone tights and a plain white t-shirt. Next, the pleated blouse Mother used to wear, when you held the vigils together, and ski pants, a modest one size too large. Finally, a nice worsted wool skirt you found at Goodwill for a dollar. It’s a bit matronly, but you top it off with your 12-week ultrasound hoodie.

fetus dollsYou strap on your choose-life fanny pack, loaded with crisis pregnancy tracts and embryo dolls; take the bigger-than-life-size fetus parts poster in one hand and your calico-covered Bible in the other; and you march to the local abortion mill. Battle ready. Here profit motive thrives under Satan’s leering eyes and abortions are marketed to the vulnerable—to provide lucrative embryos for ungodly research. You believe this with all her heart because that’s what the tracts tell you.

You bungee-cord the poster to a tree and take your position between the clinic entrance and the parking lot. You’re armed with the assurance that you’re doing God’s righteous work, as Mother taught you, witnessing for life, sidewalk counseling would-be abortion victims, guiding them away from mortal sin, toward salvation. You adjust the bunched-up layers around your waist while you await the poor misguided mothers, bearing their precious preborns to slaughter. You know they will come, as they do every week, in numbers that torment your heart with the horrid image of God’s beloved innocents torn asunder by evil and torturous tools in the hands of Death’s doctors. But you are stalwart, determined to rescue a life from the great abyss of immoral destruction.

The clinic opens, the women and girls—not so much younger than you—begin to arrive, and you gird your supplies. They are comforting. Mother was so much better at this.

You take a breath. “Excuse me,” you say as you step before the nearest sinner heading for the door. The young woman looks sad. She wears immodest jeans from which she’ll soon burst forth in the full flower of maternal fertility—if you can lead her to Jesus.

"How many weeks are you?" you say.

“Huh?” the girl says, wires dangling from her ears to a front pocket.

"How many weeks pregnant are you?" You give her your kindest, most eager smile.

“Hmm?” The girl frowns, pulls a phone from her pocket and, without looking up, says, “What?”

“Do not renounce God’s miracle growing within you,” you say. “Already it feels. Already it knows life. Already it loves you."

She stares at you, says nothing. She needs you.

“I know you’re scared and confused, but don’t succumb to the fear of your situation, to the temptation of an easy solution. In truth, it is not easy. There are better ways. God has sent you his love and support—through me. Choose life for your preborn child.”

The girl pulls the wires from her ears. “What did you say?”

“Choose life,” you repeat. You put down your Bible and pull a tiny plastic embryo from your fanny pack. “Look, this one, this one here is probably the size of yours. Choose life for the blameless gift God has given you, and you will receive his endless blessings. Choose life for your baby and heavenly eternity for yourself.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” the girl says and steps around you.

“Please wait!” Mother taught you how to deal with denial. You must use extreme counseling technique. You grab the girl’s hand and drop to your knees. “You needn’t be afraid. Turn your heart away from the evil of abortion. God’s innocent fruit grows in the garden of your womb. Don’t let them suck it out to rot in the bowels of evil!”

“Gross.” The girl pulls away from you.

You hold on tighter. “Don’t do this,” you say. “We’ll help you through your pregnancy and then—”

“Yeah?” the girl says, “and then what?”

“Then the lord will provide.”

“Yeah, right.” The girl snickers and pulls harder. “Let go of me.”

“No, please.” You try not to, but you cry. “Listen to me.” The girl hesitates. Your nose drips. You look up at her and think of Mother. “Before God formed the sinless one in your womb, he knew her. His hands shaped and made her. Would you now turn from the wonder of his love?” You wipe your nose on the sleeve of the ultrasound hoodie and wrap yourself around the girl’s calves.

“You’re nuts.” The girl struggles against your embrace. “Let go—let go!”

“I can’t. Jesus wants me to save you. Please don’t murder your baby! Give your preborn the gift of life!”

The girl yanks one leg free, puts her foot against your chest and pushes you backward. “Cool your shit,” she says. “I’ve got a killer UTI—stay the fuck out of my way.”

You gather yourself and get up from the sidewalk, brushing dirt and leaves from the nice Goodwill skirt, tidying your ponytail, and you wonder if the clinic switched the weekday it murders unborns. Nausea quivers through your belly at the thought of having to change your routine. The routine you and Mother performed together every week. Mother, who didn’t abort you.

“Have a blessed day,” you call after the girl.

She’s already inside.


Previously published by Writers Resist.


About Kit-Bacon Gressitt

January 22 is the anniversary of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision guaranteeing women the freedom to make their own private reproductive decisions. It's also Kit-Bacon Gressitt's birthday, which has long seemed significant to her. Spawned by a Baptist creationist and a liberal social worker, K-B inherited the requisite sense of humor to survive family dinner-table debates and the imagination to avoid them. As a result, she’s a feminist writer, she supports unrestricted access to affordable abortion and other reproductive health services, and she’s an LGBTQ rights advocate. She also birthed a child of color, who’s taught her a lot about white privilege and intersectionality. An erstwhile political columnist, K-B now has an MFA in Creative Writing.

Because it's unlikely the nation will see anything from the new administration akin to President Obama's 2016 commemoration of the Roe v Wade decision, it is reprinted here:

The White House January 22, 2016

Statement by the President on the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Today, we mark the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which affirmed a woman’s freedom to make her own choices about her body and her health. The decision supports the broader principle that the government should not intrude on private decisions made between a woman and her doctor. As we commemorate this day, we also redouble our commitment to protecting these constitutional rights, including protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her right to reproductive freedom from efforts to undermine or overturn them. In America, every single one of us deserves the rights, freedoms, and opportunities to fulfill our dreams.

Photo credit: Anthony Easton via a Creative Commons License.