Saturday I traveled to West Springfield to help volunteer at the Massachusetts Citizens For Life booth at the Big E. This was my first time attending the famous event that attracts over one million people annually, and it was my first time volunteering at a pro-life booth. While heading to the fair, I was wondering how receptive the crowd would be to seeing us boldly pro-claiming the pro-life message.
After working my 6 to 10 PM shift, I can honestly say that I left the fair knowing we are making a difference in this state, and the general public is opening up to the pro-life message, even here in Massachusetts.
I worked with Terry, a resident from the Pioneer Valley, who has volunteered at the MCFL booth for years and is truly a veteran at this yearly event. We had many conversations with individuals, some of which I will never forget.
The first and only encounter I had that would be considered confrontational was with a young woman, roughly twenty-five years old. She said “I know why you are here. So what do you tell women who have been raped and have an abortion. I was raped. I was forced to have an abortion. I didn’t have an option!” As I began to talk with her, she started to speak again. I stepped back and did the best thing I could: listen. She never raised her voice, but she was clearly in pain – tears building in her eyes.
After letting her vent, the two of us had an amazing conversation. I explained my reasoning for not supporting abortion, even in the 2% of abortions that are performed as a result of rape or incest. I told her that I did not judge her and that my presence at the booth was not to judge anyone – that is never my job. I could see the tension leaving her body. I told her I was there to show individuals that life should be protected from conception to natural death and that there are many resources available to women and men who find themselves in any situation where they believe abortion is their only option. When our conversation ended, she took a lot of our materials, even the free twelve-week-old fetal model we were giving away. I gave her a brochure for Project Rachel, a post-abortion counseling project that has helped countless men and women. Before she left, she said the abortion “was the worst thing in my life. I would never do that ever again.” She thanked us, and walked away.
Another conversation that inspired me was with a young couple who two months ago had their first child; it was on their first “date night” since her birth. Our display showing the unborn baby’s development in the womb caught the father’s eye. He approached me and took one of our free fetal models and showed it to his fiancée, who later said she was a nurse. They asked many questions. They were shocked after asking how later abortions can be performed. “Are you serious?!” is all they could say when I told them abortion is legal on demand until the moment of birth. They asked questions about resources available to pregnant mothers who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy. What reassured me that we had done our job effectively was when the couple reached out their hands to thank us for what we were doing. They took some of our literature, signed the sheets to request more information, and said they were happy they stopped to talk with us.
We had many conversations with people of all ages and from all walks of life. The question I was asked the most was “how late can abortions be performed.” Everyone guessed wrong and was mortified when they were given the answer of until the point of birth. Other questions were about the Planned Parenthood videos and laws that were in the works. Terry and I saw many pregnant mothers at our fetal model display saying “That’s what my baby looks like,” or mothers who brought their kids over and said “that’s what you looked like in mommy’s tummy.”
The night was a huge success, and I applaud all of the volunteers who dedicate their time, energy, and gasoline to make the trip each year to staff this amazing booth. They are spreading the pro-life message to the millions of people who attend this event each and every year. As I said, I truly believe we are making a difference in this state, not only with the Big E, but through all of our educational efforts. The public is hearing our message and it is resonating with them.
I cannot stress enough to students and adults who are interested in becoming pro-life activists the importance of educating yourself on the many pro-life issues. My National Right to Life Academy training definitely came in handy on Saturday night. Massachusetts Citizens For Life offers educational programs for students and adults throughout the year and upon request. If you are interested in one of our many educational programs to educate yourself or a group of students or adults, please be sure to contact the MCFL office for more information at 617-242-4199.
(The picture above was taken after a very successful day at the Big E, after the crowds had left at 10 PM. We had so many conversations with people we almost forgot to show you our booth!)