Wish you could respond to pro-abortion advocates in a manner that stands a chance of converting them?
Wish no longer! Instead, tune in to “When They Say, You Say” at 6:30 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, Oct. 5-9 on EWTN, www.ewtn.com/channelfinder. This EWTN original mini-series – with Olivia Turner, director of American Victims of Abortion, part of the Outreach Department of the National Right to Life Committee – is destined to become an EWTN classic – and readers of “Inside EWTN” are the first to learn about it!
This special program is based on an idea developed by Turner and Mary Balch, NRLC state legislation director. The two women believe that everyone can become a good speaker and advocate for life; that all of us can learn to do this well, regardless of previous experience.
EWTN President Doug Keck first heard Turner speak at the National Right to Life Conference a couple years ago and was blown away by how good she is. Turner is much in demand having spoken in all 50 states and 17 countries as well as at Oxford, Cambridge, the United Nations, the European Union, and more than 52 universities and colleges, including all of the Ivy League. She has also testified at Congressional hearings, filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court, and appeared on Nightline, Fox News, National Public Radio, NBC, ABC, and CBS, among others news outlets.
However, as you will learn from this behind-the-scenes interview, her outspokenness was birthed as a result of the pain of her own abortion. She stresses that she was only able to speak effectively about this after experiencing God’s healing grace and mercy.
“I am one of the original women who came up through the movement in the early ‘80s when the first comments about post-abortive syndrome were made,” Turner said. “I was one of a small group of women who created an outreach called ‘Women Exploited By Abortion.’ That did well, but couldn’t be sustained because we all still had so much to learn about the damage done by abortion to our lives.”
In 1985, the National Right to Life Committee gave Turner an opportunity to work out of their offices to develop an official program. Initially, Turner had a hard time finding women who could go on television and radio shows and speak intelligently about their abortion without crying.
“Pro-life people are sometimes very moved by someone who is still emotionally wrung out,” she said. “But that woman has not completed her healing journey. God’s design is not to lock us into this place of pain and sadness. Finding people who were in a place to speak with passion and real sincerity, who could bring people to understand what we know now, but do it in a way that didn’t make you worry about their tears, but hear the actual message [was key.]”
Turner says the pro-abortion movement was not prepared to deal with all the post-abortive women who regretted their abortion.
“[Back then], when an abortion was performed, they believed they silenced two people. Now, they try to discredit our experience [saying], ‘I’m so sorry you had a bad experience, but your experience is not necessarily representative of all women.’ However, I know that my experience is the experience of abortion for the vast majority of women. I can speak on behalf of every women that ever had an abortion because our experiences are so universal.”
Turner says the media has spent decades successfully ignoring these horrific stories. Decades of legalized abortion “means our society is so injured, so wounded, that actually allowing ourselves to hear the truth behind the sad stories means coming to terms with our own social grief. Everybody’s family is somehow grieving a loss. This has absolutely been a culture wreck! The presence of individuals who are able to speak compassionately about this experience will help begin this cultural healing.”
However, Turner also knows that the pro-life movement needs to do more than tell the stories of all the women who have been hurt by abortion – especially the women who are often victimized again when the media ignores their politically incorrect pain.
What is the pro-life movement to do? Turner has an answer. She is currently coordinating her program with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Cleveland and Baltimore. A lay community has evolved out of the initial program.
“They work on the concept that this isn’t about healing from abortion. It’s about teaching the woman to have a spiritual life. We wouldn’t have been in this situation if our spiritual life had been good. We involve spouses. The women work, share and heal as a community. They are not just supporting each other in their grief, but in their walk closer and closer to the Crucified and Risen Jesus. It’s the third day! The cross is behind you! Move on!”
Turner also recommends Project Rachel – and she says she had a great conversation with a priest about the healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and reconciliation to the Communion of Saints.
“Nothing is more valuable than getting back to the Eucharist,” she said. “I knew enough to know that that was where my child was – at the Communion of Saints. But I couldn’t go there unless I could be cleaned [through the Sacrament of Reconciliation]. That’s the journey!”
Turned is especially gratified that EWTN’s mini-series, “When They Say, You Say”, is coming out at this time.
“I know we were some of the first in this country to experience the desire of many in the Church and society to extend a true, compassionate hand of loving mercy, despite the awful things we had done,” said Turner, who has both given and received such mercy. “It has been amazing to live in that grace.”
In the upcoming Year of Mercy, Turner hopes viewers of her series – especially those still suffering from their abortions – will have their lives changed, as she did, by that saving grace and mercy, which are, as always, an undeserved gift from our loving God and from His Church.