By Mary Rose, assistant campus outreach director
Another afternoon, another high school dismissal. Foothills High School, Bakersfield. The bell rang as I arrived at my assigned gate. I piled most of my literature on the sidewalk and cursed to myself as it began to slide into the street. I scrambled to re-stack it, barely managing to hold my sign against the pull of the wind. Finally, I grabbed a handful of pamphlets and straightened up to greet the first few students coming out of the school, their eyes wide with horror at the image of an abortion victim.
“Hi, did you get one of these?” I asked, somewhat breathless, beginning to distribute the literature. “Sure, I’ll take one. What is that?” “That’s what a baby looks like after an abortion. Have you ever seen anything like that before?” “No.” “What do you think about it?” “It’s wrong.”
The students began to come thicker and faster and the stack of literature shrunk. The comments flew around me. “That’s abortion?” “Abortion is wrong.” “I would never get an abortion.” “Pro-Choice!!” “You think that’s okay?” “What is that?” One student with glittery mascara waved the literature away – “I’m gay so I can’t have an abortion.” I called him back. “You can still be informed and have an opinion.” A couple of girls stopped to ask questions. After we finished, I made sure that they knew about the crisis pregnancy center contact information inside the front cover of the pamphlet. The flow of students began to slow. The buses began to pull out and I turned my sign so the students could see even if they hadn’t had a chance to talk to any of the team or receive any literature.
An administrator came out to talk to me. “You can’t block the students exiting or the buses, so you’re going to have to move across the street.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t block anyone.”
“No, you have to move across the street.”
“I’m sorry, but I have a right to stand here and I will not move across the street.”
Disgusted, he made a call on his radio and walked back inside the school. I overheard two students who had watched the encounter, “Yeah, she has a right to stand there. She’s not doing anything wrong.”
A few minutes later, since most of the students were gone, the security guard closed and locked the gate. I picked up my sign and what was left of my literature and started down to the corner where the rest of the team were and where a few students were standing around, waiting for their ride.
A student was debating with Kristina when I arrived. Since they were about thirty feet apart, and I was now directly in front of the student, I took over Kristina’s end of the discussion. He refused to define what a fetus was, beyond “It’s a fetus!” Finally, after Socratic-type questioning, he admitted that whatever it was that was removed during an abortion was a) alive – because if it was dead it wouldn’t be growing and there would be no incentive for an abortion and b) was a human being – because it couldn’t very well belong to any species other than the human one. Since he now admitted that abortion kills people, he began to try to find cases where it was justified.
He started with the Plan B pill – “Would you really say that that is equivalent to killing someone?” – and tried to distract with arguments like – “So you would prefer that this child is put up for adoption and ends up in foster care and has a terrible, abusive childhood?”
I went through all his arguments one by one, noticing that not only was he listening very closely for someone who had already made up his mind, but several other students were gathering around to listen. I described several abortion procedures from chemical birth control – which is designed to thin the lining of the uterus so if the woman does ovulate and become pregnant, the new little embryo will be unable to implant or absorb nutrients – to the RU-486 abortion pill, the Dilation and Curettage abortion, and the Dilation and Extraction abortion. The students were riveted. They were absolutely horrified. They had never heard how an abortion is performed. The first student left, taking a pamphlet and promising to read it. The other students came closer to talk more. It started to rain and, a few minutes later, everyone had dispersed.
The team was only outside that high school for about half an hour. In that time I distributed around 250 pieces of Human Life Alliance’s engaging and persuasive literature. I’m sure every other member of the team interacted with an equivalent number of students. Our team was at a college for the middle part of the day, too. Who knows how many people we affected that day? Who knows how many people I affected that day? That’s why I’m on the Campus Outreach Team – because we affect countless people every day.