The numbers don't lie.
According to New York City's Department of Health, nearly 60 percent of pregnancies among African-American women there end in abortion. Nationally, 37 percent of pregnancies among African-American women end in abortion.
The numbers prompted Life Always to place a billboard ad, featuring a lovely little black girl in a pink dress with the caption "The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb," at the corner of Watts and Avenue of the Americas in New York City. The ad then directed people to the www.thatsabortion.com website.
The billboard immediately garnered public notice and vociferous complaints, and was removed after just a few days.
The billboard wasn't intended to be an indictment of African-American women, nor was it in place to shame them. According to Life Way, the intent was to open the lines of communication, the discussion opening with the question, "Why?"
The question deserves an answer.
When I was covering Melissa Ohden's presentation last month, I was astonished to see the clock on the wall at the end of her talk. It seemed she had only just started speaking, yet she had held her audience's enthusiastic attention for more than an hour, and accepted questions from the audience after that.
Her story gives the intimate details of the failed abortion attempt that thrust her into the world at approximately 31 weeks gestation. Her biological mother had estimated that she was about 18 weeks along in her pregnancy when she entered the medical center in Sioux City, Iowa, for a saline infusion abortion.
Melissa of course knew nothing of any of this until she was 14 years old. She had always known that she was adopted and in fact reveled in knowing that she had been "chosen" to be her adoptive parents' second daughter.
The details of the abortion technique used are horrific, as is the fact that too many babies survived is the only reason it is no longer used.
Adding to the horror that is abortion, the antagonistic statements that Melissa has heard in her travels as she attempts to give the children who have died a voice in the cultural wilderness that spawned "choice," are notable.
"Just because this happened to you, it doesn't mean you have to be pro-life."
"How dare you make up such a lie!"
"You're just in it for the money!"
She knows the depth of the wounds left by words that cut like a knife and she knows the depth of the wounds inflicted when you discover that you nearly died because your parents weren't ready to be parents.
"At first I was angry with my biological parents. I had never imagined that they would even consider abortion.
"I felt unloved. Unwanted. Worthless. I was sure that there was something somehow 'wrong' with me," she said.
Eventually, she came to a position of compassion for those who choose abortion because they cannot see any other solution. And she speaks passionately for those mothers, addressing their need for forgiveness and reconciliation, even while lobbying to have that desperate choice removed from the equation.
The statistics are staggering. Since Roe v Wade became the law of the land on Jan. 22, 1973, approximately 52 million pregnancies in America have ended in abortion. And even though the end result is the same in those 52 million cases, only the most horrific cases make front page news. Such was the case when law enforcement officers discovered evidence of only a few of the atrocities perpetrated against babies and mothers in Philadelphia. That's where Dr. Kermit Gosnell (and I use the term "doctor" reluctantly), faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of a woman and seven babies who were born alive but then killed when their spinal cords were severed with a pair of scissors.
Where did Gosnell perpetrate his crimes? According to news reports, his facility, in West Philadelphia, is in a poor section of that city, a three story brick edifice that has obviously seen better days. When officers raided the clinic, with the duplicitous name "The West Philadelphia Women's Medical Society," they discovered fetuses and body parts in garbage bags, plastic boxes and bottles. Even though Gosnell reportedly earned millions performing late term abortions over a span of some 20 years, he obviously didn't reinvest any of those funds in the clinic ostensibly created so that women wouldn't be forced into some back alley to be subjected to dubious medical treatment.
It seems that legalizing abortion hasn't had quite the positive impact on women's health as its proponents hoped, and still tout every time legislators and others try to stem the red tide of death, that harms, at minimum, at least two in the process of destroying one. Did the proponents even imagine the magnitude, the sheer number of babies that would be slain on the altar of choice, among them approximately 10 million African Americans that never drew breath? Did they know that this altar would lead to the enrichment of far too many doctors across the land while impoverishing the soul and the spirit of an entire nation?
The battle continues. Melissa will tell her story until it is no longer relevant. In fact, she prays that one day, soon, she'll be "out of a job."
But Melissa, and people like her will continue to speak for the never born. She has pledged her life to be a "Voice for the voiceless."
Her closing words last month demonstrate her undaunted confidence in her God-given mission, "I do believe we are winning -- but it's a long hard battle -- and we need everyone in the fight."
As Sondra Jonson of Cambridge, an organizer of the event that featured Melissa, said, "There is, according to the writer of Ecclesiastes, 'a time to be silent and a time to speak.'"
The time to speak for those who have no voice is now. The time to speak for those who believed that they had no other choice is now.
"From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God." Psalm 22:10 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.