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The Catholic New World

A regular feature of The Catholic New World, The InterVIEW is an in-depth conversation with a person whose words, actions or ideas affect today’s Catholic. It may be affirming of faith or confrontational. But it will always be stimulating.


Mother brings pro-life message to the sidewalk

Marykay Hastings, 48, has six kids ranging from 25 to 6 years old, one granddaughter, two dogs and a rabbit. By any measure, the St. Paul of the Cross parishioner has a full schedule. But she makes time to stand outside a Des Plaines abortion clinic every Saturday to try to talk women on their way in out of going through with it. She has been cursed at, yelled at and harassed. She sat down in her kitchen-with her 8 month old granddaughter, Charlotte-to explain why she keeps doing it.

TCNW: How did you get involved in pro-life causes? How did you start sidewalk counseling?
MH: When I was 12, my mother took me to my first march. I have always been pro-life, and I always knew I wanted to sidewalk counsel, but I didn't know where to begin. When Johnny-my youngest-was 3 or 4 years old, I knew it was time. . I went to this pro-life dinner that I'd never been to before, and there I met three women from my church who were on the pro-life committee-I had no idea we had a pro-life committee.

TCNW: Where do you go to sidewalk counsel?
MH: I go over to the Des Plaines clinic, where we were really needed. It is a horrible, horrible place. You can't get to anybody. There is a driveway, and the clinic itself is way back here. You have like 10 seconds to talk to them (in their cars). We were doing so well and having so many saves that the owner hired a security guard to make sure we didn't stop the cars. Then there was a huge fiasco with a police officer from Des Plaines-that was bad-then the security guard's three months was up, so now they're asking for volunteers. When we try to talk to anybody, they come and surround the car so we can't talk to them.

TCNW: What do you do if you can't talk to anybody?
MH: We still get saves. A couple of weeks ago, 9 o'clock comes and they all go in. Then at 9:05, someone pulls in, almost like they're following, and we got her. She stopped and talked to us, and she didn't go in.

TCNW: How do people react when you approach them? MH: Sometimes they flip you off or scream at you. They can be very, very angry. But you can't take it personally; they're not angry at you. They're angry about their situation, about what they're about to do. Some of them won't look at you and they are very, very cold. They're just shut down. Then there are the ones that are like the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz," when they're getting ready to attack the witch and they ask if he needs anything, and he says, "Yes, somebody to talk me out of this." They are just wishing for somebody to talk them out of it. Once we had just made a save and I was sitting with the girlfriend of this girl when she went in for counseling at the Women's Center (an organization that provides aid to pregnant women) and the girlfriend turned to me and said, "Where were you when I had mine?"

TCNW: You have five sons, and you said you're good at talking to the boys at the clinics. What do you tell them? MH: We forget the men are really important. They are losing a child, too. I know two men who were devastated by it. One was a young man who has just turned his life around. Another was a friend of my son's who got a girl pregnant without really knowing her, and then she calls him and says she's having an abortion the next day. We called her and tried to talk her out of it, but she did it anyway, and now he's living with the fact that his baby is dead. It might not hit her for another 10 years. I think you either know it's a baby or you don't. If you know it's a baby, then what could be worse than knowing you were part of this?

TCNW: How do people react when you tell them you are a sidewalk counselor?
MH: Well, first I had to talk to my husband about it. When we had the incident with the police officer, we had to talk about the real possibility that one day I could be calling him from jail. … He asked me why I was doing this, and I stopped and thought about it and said, "Because I really love these women." He said that was what he needed to hear. My children are all right with it. One said I could say he thinks I'm doing something significant. My mother was all for it. Then you have the people who have the middle of the road reaction; they know about it, but they don't really want to talk about it. Then you have the people you don't want to bring it up with. But I have all the bumper stickers on my car; anybody who really knows me knows.

TCNW: If you could sit young people down for five minutes and talk to them, what would you say?
MH: I would tell them that they really do have a choice, and they have to know their options-and they do have options. I would tell them that what they are doing is a reaction, not an action. An action is when you think about something and decide what to do; a reaction is when you're feeling trapped and scared and you don't know what else to do. They always say, "I can't give up nine months of my life," and I ask, "Are you going to cure cancer tomorrow? What is it that you're doing that is so important you can't spend nine months nurturing this child?" I get a lot of, "I could never give my baby up for adoption." And you can let them suck it out through a vacuum hose? I was adopted, and my brother was adopted and my sister was adopted. I know a lot of women who have given up their babies for adoption. . I found my birth family. My father got my mother pregnant with me, divorced her and got another woman pregnant. My mother had me; the other woman had an abortion. This close, this close I was. This generation is the first generation to survive abortion, the first generation in history. They don't get that. I would tell them, you don't have to do this. It is a human being. Don't tell me it's an embryo. Embry means young one. Young what? It's a human being. . When do they think it becomes a human being? On Day 47 at 4 o'clock in the afternoon? People don't know one-third of African-American children are aborted; we say you fought slavery tooth and nail because they killed your children, and now you're paying them to kill your children. There are talking so much about 3,000 soldiers dying in Iraq; 4,000 died today at their mothers and supposed doctors hands. The soldiers are volunteers-not to take anything away from the heroism of their deaths, but they're volunteers. They signed up for it. These babies didn't.

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