October 2019 – In 1988, President Ronald Reagan designated October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month to recognize the grief parents experience in the early loss of a child, either by abortion or by natural causes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 24,000 babies are lost to stillbirth (after 20 weeks gestation) annually in the U.S., about the same number lost to various other causes during the first year of life outside
According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Department of Gynecology, 10 to 15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. And induced abortion ends about 18% of pregnancies annually according to CDC. The aftereffects of abortion can be particularly complex. An overpowering sense of regret and shame often restricts the mother’s capacity for grief. Post-abortive counseling programs and Bible studies meet these women at their point of need to assist them in the grieving process.
Key to their healing are memorial services acknowledging the reality of life and death while giving permission to experience sorrow and forgiveness.
One southern city has pioneered this initiative.
Responding with prayer
In 1985, 10 years after the opening of the only abortion clinic in Chattanooga, Tennessee, concerned Christians became involved. They prayed outside the clinic, reached out to the women entering, and opened a pregnancy resource center across the street. A small group of men began fervently praying outside the abortion clinic every Sunday morning. They implored God to close the clinic.
Within a two-year period, both clinic owners were stricken with cancer. Though area Christians sought opportunities to reach the two women with the gospel, their efforts were rebuked or ignored.
Both owners died, and in 1993, the surviving husband of one of them was in the process of selling the clinic to Dr. Ed Perry, an abortionist determined to extend the clinic’s 18-year legacy of death.
Repurposing for life
When Pro-Life Majority Coalition of Chattanooga (ProMacC) learned of the impending sale, it had less than two business days to raise funds to outbid Dr. Perry’s $249,000 offer. A bankruptcy court auction presented a suspenseful opportunity for God to show Himself faithful. Through miraculous selfless giving of community members, ProMacC barely outbid the abortionist.
In May 1993, ProMacC took possession of the property. Less than a year later, the pregnancy resource center moved into a completely remodeled half of the former abortuary. The other half became Chattanooga’s National Memorial for the Unborn, the first of its kind in the U.S.
Chattanooga has since been free of an abortion clinic. As many as 3,000 clients are seen annually at the life-affirming pregnancy center.
Emotion floods my being as I enter the iron gates. I pass into an outdoor space – once the interior of an abortion clinic where mothers would sit awaiting the deadly procedure that would forever change their lives. A portion of the original wall remains, and rocks line the floor, representing 35,000 babies who were massacred there.
Reality intensifies as I move into the room where the gruesome procedures occurred.
Today, that room is transformed into a sanctuary for mothers, fathers, and family members to honor babies who died through abortion (at any location). A granite wall displays some 3,800 brass plates identifying those babies, and the area beneath the wall is lined with memorabilia and letters expressing grief, regret, repentance, and ultimate hope in Christ.
Beyond the parameter of the original abortion clinic is a garden where brick pavers acknowledge infant loss due to miscarriage and stillbirth.
– Anne Reed
Memorialize your lost child
Brass name plates can be purchased for the wall at memorialfortheunborn.org.
A private on-premise memorial service can be requested. A list of 16 affiliate memorials for the unborn is available on the website.