Saturday morning on San Mateo Blvd. in Albuquerque looked very familiar on August 22, 2015….until you traveled north or south between Lomas and Central. For blocks, on both sides of the street, the Pro Life community stood silently, prayerfully, to do battle with Planned Parenthood.
It was a national call to Protest Planned Parenthood, yet the attitude and determination were decidedly local. Pro-Lifers of all colors, gender, age and denomination gathered near the Planned Parenthood facility to make a loud statement to defund the organization.
At its peak there were over 500 individuals…the majority with signs….standing silently in the morning sun. Pro-lifers covered both sides of San Mateo, but predominantly populated the west side of the street. Cars slowed on their way up and down the street…many honking in support of the protesters.
In the median Father Stephen Imbarrato, Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in downtown Albuquerque and Pastoral Consultant for PriestsForLife, megaphone in hand, continually encouraged those gathered with reminders of why they had gathered.
There have been protests of Planned Parenthood at this site in recent weeks, but none the size of this gathering. One woman who protests frequently at the San Mateo facility wept as she described the encouragement in seeing so many out to protest the killing and selling of baby body parts. Her prayer, she said, is that Saturday’s turnout will lead to more people standing for life on Tuesday’s and Friday’s—the days Planned Parenthood performs abortions.
In a post protest news conference Tara Shaver, of Protest ABQ and Pro-Life Witness, made it clear that New Mexico law forbids the sale of human body parts and specifically forbids the sale of the body parts of aborted babies.
Father Imbarrato made a statement, echoed by others and reflected in the signs on San Mateo, about the silence of Governor Susanna Martinez and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. This at a time when other governors around the nation have made moves to defund Planned Parenthood.
Two Pastors, Clarence Washington of Albuquerque Bible Church and Brian Alrid of Passion Church, spoke at the press conference. Pastor Washington asked for members of the African American community to stand against abortion. Pastor Alrid declared Biblical injunctions to come to the rescue of the weakest of society.
A vocal handful of Planned Parenthood supporters walked the length of the protest line carrying signs and, occasionally, shouting, “My Body, My Choice”. At times these protesters attempted to engage the Pro-Lifers in argument. Most didn’t take up the challenge and remained steadfast at their position, silently, prayerfully holding their signs.
One young man told of an encounter with a Planned Parenthood supporter who yelled at him for an extended time. As she vented to him and he quietly listened, he said it was, as if, he could see the pain in her eyes. After a time she quieted and he talked to her about his position on life and manhood. He apologized on behalf of the men who had hurt her over the years. Her concluding remarks were, “You should be on our side”. He laughed at the thought, but was thankful he had listened to her broken heart.
May we take a lesson from this young man…that as we speak…we never forget to hear the cry of the broken hearted.