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(LifeSiteNews) — The following is a letter by jailed rescuer John Hinshaw, one of the “D.C. Nine” pro-lifers, who was prosecuted by the Biden administration and sentenced by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to 21 months in prison for a peaceful pro-life rescue at a late-term abortion facility in Washington, D.C.

On radical identification with the second victim of abortion – the moms

In the waning days of 1991, in the serene atmosphere of northern New Jersey autumn, pro-life rescuers descended on an urban abortuary and settled in to save lives and, hopefully, close it for the day. Bi-State Operation Rescue Network (BORN), the New York-area rescue network uniting New York City, New Jersey, Hudson Valley, and Long Island pro-life rescuers, held forth at the doors of the abortuary. Since the New Jersey leaders at the abortuary doors were running the rescue, it being their turf, the leaders of the other areas in the BORN confederation were assigned other tasks of assistance.

Thus it was this day that I, as a Long Island leader of 33 rescuers, was assigned to the perimeter of the rescue to monitor police interaction and to protect rescuers. Only 18 months before, in a previous New Jersey rescue, the homosexual group ACT-UP had physically assaulted seated rescuers, necessitating leadership to protect future rescue perimeters. This was the same ACT-UP that would, days later, conduct the shameful profaning of the Eucharist in St. Patrick’s Cathedral of New York City. In violation of their own Church’s tenets, Catholic leaders have chosen to forget that assaultive profanation. But it happened.

With this as important background information, I return to autumn 1991 and my place on a rescue perimeter. This placed me close to the sidewalk counselors who we brought to every rescue to help the women showing up for their scheduled abortions. A young African American woman arrived with a young African American man trailing behind her.

The young lady pleasantly received the approach of our sidewalk counselor, and they were speaking together for about five minutes when the young lady stepped back and declared loud enough for the young man to hear: “Thank God you’re here today. I don’t want this abortion. He’s making me get it.” Since he heard it from several yards away, so did I. And it confirmed what every sidewalk counselor has experienced: the woman, head down, tearful, hurrying into the abortion mill, already regretting the abortion! The great post-abortion researcher Dr. David Reardon has taught us that most women DO NOT WANT THEIR ABORTION! They believe they have NO choice. Alternative information is kept from them. Reardon even has a great quote applicable: “With all the concern about ‘unwanted pregnancies,’ what about all these unwanted abortions?”

In this case, the couple were accompanied to a local crisis pregnancy center and months later, we heard the heartening news that a baby boy was born to them, praise God! We will leave this courageous mother and the now regretful father to their blessed lives and follow now to the radical identification that pro-life rescuers make with the second victim of abortion: the mothers.

I noted in my previous article that a woman in a crisis pregnancy experiences a crushing state of aloneness that is more devastating than the commonly lamented loneliness. Loneliness can be experienced among many people, but once a woman becomes pregnant in a disadvantageous situation – unmarried, unemployed, poor, with unstable housing or health and, most importantly, abandoned by the child’s father – she WILL find herself truly alone.

Abandonment by the child’s father does not just mean actual flight, where he leaves and never sees her again. Abandonment also means pressuring the mother to abort, which carries the implicit threat of the father leaving her if she doesn’t do what he wills. Since women have a much keener understanding in communication than men, the mother also hears as abandonment, the dry, unfeeling statement of a man pretending to be gallant: “I’ll support whatever you decide.” While feminists convinced men that this is an acceptable response, two minutes of pondering its true meaning shows it is a stark declaration of “You’re on your own, babe.”

Compounding the abandonment by the baby’s father are the family members (frequently parents), friends, doctors, teachers, and even human services workers, who all see abortion as the solution. Who walks with this mother if she chooses life in this time of trial? She IS alone.

In the face of this, we see “loneliness” as a melancholy, while this “aloneness” is a deep mourning. Mothers mourning their lost baby, their lost man, their lost families (both of them), lost friends, and lost surrounding professionals. All of them believing that since abortion is available, they don’t have to be.

It is in this sahara of suffering that pro-lifers want to be. If only we could get to these mothers, we would walk them toward life, cherishing their babies. Our crisis pregnancy center and sidewalk counsellors, our maternity home workers and all pro-lifers stand ready to help, if only the mothers know. And pro-life rescuers are ready to share risks with that mother to preserve her baby’s life.

In the old days of rescue, there was a popular comparative chart showing reasons why a woman “chooses” abortion on one side and why a pro-lifer would choose not to rescue, on the other side. From memory I can recreate some of its points: Both the mother and the non-rescuing pro-lifer may have been convinced by the people around them that the baby is not worth the risks of giving birth and rescuing.

The pro-life rescuer announces with his or her actions that the baby’s life is worth the risks that the mother already knows. The rescuer proclaims with his or her actions that the changes in his or her life by rescuing are worth undertaking in service to a baby’s life. A mother choosing life knows the same thing. A pro-life rescuer accepts months, perhaps years of discomfort, uncertainty, even imprisonment. A mother choosing life accepts discomfort, uncertainty, and perhaps even health confinement. A rescuer accepts that a rescue might imperil his education or employment. A mother, choosing life, accepts possible disruption of her education and employment by having a baby. A pro-life rescuer trusts in God, knowing that whatever suffering endured will be temporary and God will reward the sacrifices offered in His Holy Name. A mother, choosing life, trusts in God and is rewarded with her baby through all her sacrifices in His Holy Name.

There are more examples of identification but I will stop now to close with a last reflection. Like everyone, I have friends who have had an abortion. I am not speaking here of the courageous women of the pro-life movement who share their stories to save lives and help the healing of post-abortive women. These women, healed in the Blood of Christ, have the ability to lead us where we need to go.

But I am speaking of two other friends, unconnected to the pro-life cause: The first tells me that her abortion experience was a horror, but because of what she did, she has no “right” to speak to the evil of abortion.

The other, a loving mother of three sons, tells me in the emotionless tone of a heart forever broken: “That abortion was the daughter I always wanted.”

More aloneness I cannot imagine.

With the mangled bodies of babies and the mangled hearts of their mothers, is it any wonder that nine pro-life rescuers sit in jail pondering the next rescue upon release?