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Monday, January 28, 2013

Why I am Silent No More

My Testimony for the 2013 Walk for Life West Coast
January 26, 2013, San Francisco, CA

My name is Karen Williams from Phoenix, AZ.  I was 21 years old when I made the worst decision of my life: to take the life of an innocent, human being.  I bought a product that a previous Supreme Court determined was a safe, effective and legal remedy to a crisis pregnancy.  I now believe I was sold a bill of goods that ended the life of my unborn child, and that severely affected my life, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for almost 2 decades.

I was a junior at Michigan State University in when I visited the “WomanCare” Planned Parenthood clinic in 1987.  The stunning confirmation of my crisis pregnancy was delivered to me while I stood in a hallway surrounded by strangers.  Life as I knew it, had just changed for the worse.  Through hot, angry tears, I sobbed that I could NOT be pregnant. I would have no part of a baby-limited future.  I was in a disconnected panic.  Confused and alone, I turned to Planned Parenthood—it’s catchy name appealed to some sense of logic in me… “I shall plan my parenthood; they care for women here”.  Abortion was not the ideal, but it was a solution…an easy way out that could be kept secret.  A choice. It all sounded too good to be true.

A very attractive clinic employee clad in business attire assured me that I need not feel afraid or guilty for choosing the product of abortion. She herself was a satisfied customer with a testimony that seemed to indicate gratitude for the ultimate power of being able to control the size and spacing of her family.  This was my final edification. Even though my boyfriend agreed to marry me, I would make the final, fatal decision for our baby. I chose my body, my plan and my convenience over his life. I bought an abortion…but I was never made aware of all of the small print.

So on a bleak January day 25 years ago, I was given a small pill and told to relax. 15 minutes later, my tiny, 10-week old son, his small frame captured on ultrasound only a week earlier, was now a red liquid sitting in a plastic container at the doctor’s feet.

I am reminded often that Abortion is still “good for women”; that it is a solution to the problem of a crisis pregnancy.  That it prevents us from being punished with unwanted children.  Let me tell you that this is a bold-faced lie. I was duped. The sights, sounds and smells of that day in January still haunt me. There was no one around me to advocate for the life of my son; no one to speak for him; to break into his mother’s crisis of the moment.  The choice didn’t really feel like a choice at all.  I wasn’t choosing between Cheerios or Frosted Flakes.  I was in a desperate place and I did what many, young, unsupported, college women do when faced with a desperate situation—I purchased an irrational, illogical and fatal procedure called abortion. And my child paid for this with his life. When a surgical procedure ends the life of any other human being in any other situation, someone usually pays a hefty lawsuit, not to mention faces criminal charges. Will PP pay for my mental health counseling? Will PP pay for all the years that I lost with my child? Will PP restore the life of my family member? Has PP ever been held accountable for the fraudulent services they are selling to unsuspecting “customers”.  Where is the class action lawsuit?  Where is the Amicus brief?  Where was the Supreme Court in protecting Michael’s rights?  

The years following my abortion included inexplicable depression, anxiety, alcoholism, addiction; and divorce. They can all easily be traced back to the death of my child at a PP abortion clinic. I am a living statistic. But thanks be to God and His grace working through people just like you, my story does not end there.

I found miraculous grace, healing and recovery from our Great Physician, Jesus Christ and the Sacraments of His church.  Telling my story, first in the confessional and later to others whom I trusted thrust my secret out of the dark cavity of numbness where I had placed it and into God’s marvelous light where I could find forgiveness and healing.  The dirty little secret of abortion must be exposed for what it is – it is a failure of love; a failure with fatal consequences.

We all deserve better than the lie that is abortion. Women are not in a position to make life and death decisions when they are isolated in a desperate crisis.  What we do need is support and love…real woman care.  I stand before you today to offer my personal experience as a woman who still mourns the loss of her unborn child. Out of love for my son and my obligation to you; the real truth must be told about abortion and its countless victims. Abortion is not a choice, it is a deadly procedure that causes death and multiple casualties. It is a product with lethal consequences. If it were really examined for what it is, there is no package large enough that could contain the disclaimer. There is no law firm stable enough that would defend its claims in court. There is no commercial spot long enough that would adequately explain all of the risks involved.  Abortion is not good for consumers.  It is not good for men, women, families or any member of society.  It must be condemned and banned.

We are our brothers’ keepers.  We are all responsible for creating a just society where the most fundamental rights of our unborn brothers and sisters are protected.  Let us continue to work together to end the killing.  It is my hope that I can be a light and witness to others so that the horror of abortion will exist only as a sad and futile relic of a bygone era in our nation’s history.   And this is why I am Silent No More.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Faith, Hope, Love, & Memory...1-22-13

January 22, 2013 Phoenix Rally for Life Speech, Sandra Day O'Connor Plaza
Faith, Hope, Love & Memory

 “At every moment, do what love requires”. These are the often-quoted words of St. Therese of Lisieux. And they are appropriate words of commemoration this afternoon as we gather to remember…to commemorate… the 55 million souls lost over 40 years to abortion.

Memory is an important root of the word commemorate. Memory is not only key to helping recall who we are and where we’ve come from, but it is essential also to our healing. Love requires that we be here today accompanied by faith and hope and because our unborn brothers and sisters did not die in vain. Their lives, as short as they were, are priceless and eternal and we honor them today as members of our own body.

But how do we commemorate 55 million souls? This was the question I was asking myself as I considered today’s historic importance.  We have many examples of commemorations in our culture: the Pearl Harbor Arizona Memorial, the Berlin Jewish Holocaust Memorial, the Viet Nam War Memorial; the Twin Tower remembrances. Each year, thousands gather to pay their respects to our fallen dead. To remember them is to honor their memory and respect their personhood. These rituals are vital to the integrity of our culture and help us to draw strength from one another; to find meaning in the midst of woe. But even these important remembrances pale in significance to the sheer numbers lost to abortion. Where is the memorial to our unborn? And how do we account for the staggering number of dead?

Further confounding us is the identity of the “bad guy”. In war time it is easy for us to recognize the villain. Not so easy with abortion. In the cultural evil of abortion the enemy is us; it is mother or father against child. Self turned inward against self.  Society still sits in the shadows of denial spouting the toxic platitudes of reproductive freedom and misunderstood biology. Most do not fully comprehend the radical holocaust of the unborn, taking place in our midst. But you understand this. You are awakened. You are doing what love requires… remembering the Michaels, Nathans, Matthews and Marys who are gone but not forgotten. We are on holy ground.

Our imaginations and our memories provide only the thought-material of our lost children. There are no baby shoes, blankets or lockets of hair. Who was my baby? Was it a boy or girl? What color eyes would they have had? What did his voice sound like? What might he have become had he been given the chance to live? Some of us get lost in that drab, gray loss of what never will be: In my son, Michael’s case: I can only imagine a first day of school, band concerts, baseball games, picnics and proms; A wedding or an ordination, perhaps…..I can only imagine….. My abortion in January, 25 years ago reminds me of the stark reality that behind every procedure is a person, a being, who had a future.

I have the special privilege today of working with post-abortive moms and dads in the beautiful odyssey of healing. We eventually arrive at this conclusion: that our babies were a WHO, not a what.  Our children were unique, beautiful, sacred gifts from God. Trying to accept that terrible sense of loss can paralyze us if we do not take bold steps to reconcile with God, with our communities and with our past. Ironically, it is this same recognition of our children’s personhood that also gives us great hope. God reminds us to have hope because in God’s economy nothing is ever lost. It is redeemed.

This hope now, a generation later, must be a catching force within our wounded community; A time and a place that you and I are part of not by any coincidence.  We are all in this together. The culture of death didn’t just happen spontaneously from nothing; it evolved across generations of pride and selfishness.  We are all post-abortive when you think about it. We collectively bear the scars of the society that has permitted it. It will be defeated through God’s grace and the virtues of honesty and courage across generations, starting with ours: Honesty by those who have had abortions and speak out about them, and courage for each one of us to take their passion for life to a new level.  I notice that when I sometimes shed tears about my unborn son, so do you. That’s a beautiful human thing to do. If we have become so wounded and blind by abortion in society then isn’t it reasonable to think we can heal as a society as well? I would like to hope so. Death is not the final victor; love is. That is why we join in commemorations. We allow love, hope, memories & faith in God to be the shared elements that glue us back together.

In the movie Les Miserables, the protagonist, Jean Valjean struggled with his tattered identity. Wounded by a marred past, he lived a half-life until he encountered a man who believed in him and ransomed him from a wayward path.  As a society, we are like Valjean at this crossroads.  We stand heavy under the weight of what we have allowed since 1973. We are left with the profound reality of who we are. Though we have, at times, wandered far astray; we are never beyond God’s mercy. We have new opportunities every day to change our world, to change our lives. To turn back to our Lord and His saving grace. We are a people redeemed. We are a people who have been given a chance to live and to hope. We are a people who are free.

As we commemorate our lost loved ones today may we offer special prayers to those who suffer with the trauma of abortion. May we continue to shine the brilliant light of hope so that they, too, may someday be free and embrace the new life that God has in store for them.

And let us always remember our beloved dead. Their lives are not in vain. Thank you for honoring and respecting them with your presence here today. May their prayers for us sustain our hope and strengthen our resolve to fight with all our hearts for a culture of life. May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them.

Karen Williams

Monday, January 21, 2013

A.M.E.N. (Abortion Must End Now)

The Living Rosary at St. Joan of Arc Parish at 6:30pm this evening on the Vigil of Roe vs. Wade Commemoration. "So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why I love Flannery

This is glorious. She speaks to our deeply flawed human condition with truth and clarity. it also explains why daily Mass is a necessity (por moi). Our memory is short; our tenacity is fleeting and our minds are darkened. In other words:  I NEED ALL THE DERN HELP I CAN GET!

What Flannery O'Connor Got Right: Epiphanies Aren't Permanent

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Author Jim Shepard's favorite passage from "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" highlights a sad truth: A moment of clarity only lasts a moment.
Jim Shepard's own well-studied copy of Flannery O'Connor's story. (Courtesy of Jim Shepard)
By Heart is a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature.
Flannery O'Connor's classic short story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" moves from satiric family comedy to brutal revelation as a grandmother leads her exasperated family on a wild goose chase in rural Georgia. While looking for the site of her girlhood homestead, she inadvertently brings her whole family to their deaths at the hands of a tortured killer, The Misfit. He displays an odd regard for the grandmother, who forgives him right before she dies:
"She could have been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been someone there to shoot her every minute of her life."
For Jim Shepard, author of Love and Hydrogen and You Call That Bad, this line has been cause to contemplate what it means to be good—and the value of goodness when it's merely fleeting. If human beings can muster startling flashes of selflessness and generosity, why do we revert so quickly to our flawed, limited selves? And does the fact that we do relapse into old patterns diminish what we are in our best moments? O'Connor's story helps Shepard wrestle with these questions as he crafts his own imperfect characters, who catch glimpses of how to become better—but are often not quite strong enough to change.
Doug McLeanShepard is one of America's foremost story writers: His work has appeared in magazines like The New YorkerGranta, and Harper's, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. His collection Like You'd Understand, Anyway(2007) won the Story Prize and was a finalist for The National Book Award. He's a professor of English Literature at Williams College, and he spoke to me by phone from his home in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

When I first encountered "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," I read it the way many people do when they first encounter the story—a kind of social satire that veers over into random violence, plus a little spasm of hard-to-sort-through theology at the end. But when you spend more time with it, it becomes clear the story is a hugely powerful acting-out of a theme O'Connor said was crucial to her work: the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil.
Writers talk a lot about epiphanies—what O'Connor, in her Catholic tradition, called "grace"—in short stories. But I think we're tyrannized by a misunderstanding of Joyce's notion of the epiphany. That stories should toodle on their little track toward a moment where the characters understand something they didn't understand before—and, at that moment, they're transformed into better people.
You know: Suddenly Billy understood that his grandmother had always gone through a lot of difficult things, and he resolved he would never treat her that way again.
This kind of conversion notion is based on a very comforting idea—that if only we had sufficient information, we wouldn't act badly. And that's one of the great things about what The Misfit tells the Grandmother in the line I like so much. He's not saying that a near-death experience would have turned her into a good woman. He's saying it would take somebody threatening to shoot her every minute of her life.
In other words, these conversion experiences don't stick—or they don't stick for very long. Human beings have to be re-educated over and over and over again as we swim upstream against our own irrationalities.
(There's a great line in Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane, where one of the protagonist's enemies says to him: "You're going to need more than one lesson, Mr. Kane, and you're going to get more than one lesson.")
Now, O'Connor really believes that we can flood, momentarily, with the kind of grace that epiphany is supposed to represent. But I think she also believes that we're essentially sinners. She's saying: Don't think for a moment that because you've had a brief instant of illumination, and you suddenly see yourself with clarity, that you're not going to transgress two days down the road.

O'Connor's view of humanity in these stories is that almost everybody's going to be found wanting much of the time. And we are. But you still want to cherish those moments when someone shows you they have the capacity to be better.I find this idea enormously useful in my own work. My characters are all about gaining an understanding of the right thing to do—and avoiding it anyway. That sense that we can be in some ways geniuses of our own self-destruction runs, in some ways, counter to the more traditional notion of the epiphany—which tells us that stories are all about providing information to characters who badly need it. Epiphanies are, in some ways, staged and underimportant.But you still don't want to write them off. The fact that there's a brevity to human connection and human empathy—the fact that it goes away—might make you feel that we should not make a big deal that it was there at all. But of course we can't do that. We have to value the moments when a person is everything we'd hope this person would be, or became briefly something even better than she normally is. We need to give those moments the credit they're due. The glimpse of this capacity is part of what allows you to write characters who are so deeply flawed. Given that so much great literature is about staggering transgression, knowing that that capability of striving for something better is crucial for keeping you reading.