Pro-Life Activist has Conversation with Abortionist

Pro-life activist John Cavanaugh–O’Keefe was with 5 other protesters at an abortion facility when the abortionist came out and they had a conversation. He recalls:

“About an hour later, I saw the abortionist drive past the abortion clinic and go up a hill nearby. Presumably he wanted to avoid being noticed. I followed him up the hill, and was there when he parked. He stayed inside his car for about 10 minutes, probably waiting for me to go away. When he finally got out of the car, I approached him and introduced myself. He responded immediately and angrily, “Who are you and what right do you have to accost me in this manner?” I responded that my name was John and that I was a human being. And on that basis, we struck up a conversation.

As we walked down the hill, he told me that I should rejoice that I was alive. I assured him that I did rejoice that I was alive, and also that he was alive. Together, we both rejoiced that we were both alive. It was incredibly banal. But the odd thing about it was that these banal remarks were pertinent, because we disagreed explicitly about whether to rejoice about the lives of the preborn children at the foot of the hill.

I urged him to take the day off. It was a beautiful day, a spring day in Washington. It was the day before Easter, and it was also near the Jewish Passover. I said that babies and growing things and springtime and beautiful days all go together, and that he should take the day off just to rejoice in the life all around. He listened but did not respond. I pointed out to him that he had no real desire to do what he was about to do. I reminded him that he was a free person, and that he could do as he saw fit. I reminded him that he was responsible and could make decisions. I urged him to make a free responsible decision to let those children live.

For a split second, his eyes lit up. And then, it seemed to me, I saw the bars of a prison fall back across his eyes. His shoulders slumped and he continued to walk toward the abortion clinic. I followed him and kept talking, but after that moment I did not expect to make any headway…

With every fiber of my being I hate the work that he does, and I spent many of my waking hours fighting that work. But by God’s grace, I have been prevented from hating the people who are involved.”

John Cavanaugh–O’Keefe Emmanuel, Solidarity: God’s Act, Our Response (2000) 33-34

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Author: Sarah

Sarah Terzo is a writer for Live Action and a member of the board of The Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians and Consistent Life. She lives in NJ.

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