I was born in Alabama and raised in Birmingham. I’ve lived in the Magic City for most, though not all, of my life. And I’m aware that the city has a history of arresting peaceful demonstrators and violating their free speech. But at least those arrests from long ago used to make the news. I live here, for heaven’s sake, and I didn’t hear about this until months after the event, and I certainly didn’t hear about it on any of the local or national news shows. Nobody’s even mentioned it at the weekly pro-life prayer group meetings I attend. Could it be that none of them have stumbled upon the story yet? Stumble upon it, I did, accidentally (and providentially) while surfing the web, searching for pro-life news sites. Imagine my surprise when I saw this headline:
Nine members of a team from Survivors Campus Life Tour distributed pro-life literature on the public sidewalk outside Parker High School. And all nine of them were arrested–oh, excuse me, the officers who handcuffed them (and took them to the Birmingham City Jail) said he wasn’t arresting them, he was only detaining them. Uh huh. Um, if they cuff you and throw you in a jail cell, then you just got arrested, okay? Puh-leez, let’s call things what they are. “To cuff and throw in jail” is to arrest. “To terminate a pregnancy” is to kill a baby. Can we please agree to stop this social engineering (or societal disintegration) by way of persistently ridiculous rhetoric?
“We were arrested yesterday because of the content of our message. It’s clear from the attitudes and actions of the police officers that our message of life is not welcome in Birmingham, and prejudice is alive and well in this city…” — Kortney Blythe, director of Campus Life Tour, an outreach of the pro-life ministry Survivors. Full story at Catholic Online.
Ouch. That made me cringe. But it’s true. Only now it’s a different kind of prejudice here. I run into it head-on all the time. After the November election a lot of conversations blew up in my face. I still felt like someone had punched me in the stomach when the most anti-life administration that has ever existed in this country began to form before my eyes. Many of my friends were elated. Even some of my Catholic friends. (?!) I was stunned. I continued then, as I continue now, to speak the truth, gently but firmly. And more than one person who I’d thought of as a friend turned their backs on me and walked away.
But at least I didn’t get arrested for it. I’ve prayed the Rosary outside a local abortion clinic. I marched in the March for Life on a day when the temperature soared to a whopping 35 degrees–as the march ended and I stumbled on frozen feet to the car. I’m a beginner in the pro-life movement, but my commitment grows every day. I don’t know if I’ll ever end up in a jail cell because of it, but if that’s where the Lord leads me, that’s where I’ll be. I’ll keep all my brothers and sisters in the movement in my prayers. Please pray for me as well.