Hearing of Nellie Gray’s passing, a well-known quote from Congressman Henry Hyde came to mind. It’s lengthy, but worth repeating in reflecting upon the legacy of this strong-willed, one-woman whirling dervish:
When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, “Spare him, because he loved us!”
Like many, I’ve marched regularly since my teenage years. My first perspective was when I attended with Students for Life. We found that the solidarity of marching with so many people our age strengthened our commitment to the cause.
Later, as a lobbyist for National Right to Life, I could see the impact of the thousands descending upon Capitol Hill, to give their heartfelt thanks to those members of Congress who had the courage to stand for life, and to politely lobby those who didn’t.
A few years later, my husband was elected to Congress, and he spoke every year at the March. Standing on the stage with him, viewing the vast sea of joyful faces in the crowd, was inspiring. Always bundled up in the bitter cold, it seemed, as if God wanted to make sure everyone was really committed to the cause and willing to march in every kind of weather.
Most inspiring though, is the perspective of marching now with my children. And seeing that the crowd is dominated by people their age, not mine. Nellie Gray has passed the torch to the next generation, and is now listening to that chorus of voices singing out on her behalf.
I can’t recall a conversation with Nellie Gray in which the topic of unity was not discussed. Her main goal and greatest desire was to see people unite in support of the sanctity of life and protection of the pre-born.
She was faithful in this effort, especially in including the women and men from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. As people who have been involved in abortion, we expected her (and all pro-lifers) to ignore us and reject us. Instead, she embraced us and gave us a platform to share our message of regret and hope in the help that is available.
Each year Nellie invited us, as Silent No More women and men, to help lead the March for Life, during which we carry our “I Regret My Abortion/I Regret Lost Fatherhood” signs. I cannot tell you how many people embrace us and reach out seeking help for themselves or family members.
By uniting even those who have personally experienced abortion, Nellie was able to create an atmosphere during the March for Life that continues throughout the years as pro-lifers reach out to both pregnant women and those who have suffered from abortion.
As we approach 40 years of legalized abortion, the encouragement Nellie gave to us who have had abortions has inspired more women and men to be silent no more, and we are dismantling the argument that women need the right to abortion as we share how wrong and bad the choice of abortion has been in our lives.
Our voices, along with everything being done by the many pro-life groups, are uniting to make abortion less acceptable and ultimately unthinkable.