By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — As pro-life supporters entered Our Savior Lutheran Church, they saw a video screen that projected statistics about the Women’s Choice Center, names of speakers for that evening’s vigil, information about abortion reversal and other details.
The vigil on Jan. 22 marked the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the two Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion virtually on demand. In previous years, the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf hosted the vigil. When the center moved across the street into the former Planned Parenthood building, it did not have enough space to hold large groups.
Pastor Keith Piotter, pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church and a member of the center’s Life & Family Educational Trust board, offered his church for the host site. Inclement weather cancelled last year’s vigil, but this year’s snow did not.
Linda Rubey, executive director of the Women’s Choice Center, said it warmed her heart to attend the vigil with supporters. “We join in solidarity and prayer.” She reported good news, a decrease in the total number of abortions nationwide from 2017-18. However, she noted that any life lost is heartbreaking.
The Women’s Choice Center offers women and their families a “peaceful, legal, pro-life presence.” The center also offers free pregnancy tests, limited ultrasounds, counseling and referrals. Its mobile unit travels the Quad-City area. “Today (because of the center), two more (unborn babies) were saved,” Rubey said.
Participants watched a video of singer Kathy Troccoli’s song, “A Baby’s Prayer.” Troccoli has helped with fundraisers for the Women’s Choice Center.
Then the Rev. Piotter spoke. He has served on the center’s Life & Family board for five years. He said his church has been involved with the board since Planned Parenthood announced it planned to build in Bettendorf in the 1990s. “We have prayed together, rallied together and cried together. Tonight is a night of joy,” he said. “We are pulled together by a community of love, faith and a triune God.”
After reading Psalm 130, he encouraged those in attendance to be a light in the darkness. “Pray for healing for the community.” The church’s Glory Bound praise band interspersed songs between talks, including “Amazing Grace.”
Father Jason Crossen, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf, also spoke. He noted that he was born in 1973, the year of the Supreme Court rulings on abortion. “It was a year of great change,” he said. In high school, Father Crossen said he had to choose a provocative topic for debate. “I knew nothing at that point about abortion. I was caught unaware,” he said as he began researching the topic. The debate taught him the reality of human life and that God created all life to exist. Life is a gift that God gives. “It’s not a choice to manipulate.”
Father Crossen talked about the individualism prevalent in today’s culture. He recently talked with an eighth-grade class, telling the students, “We cannot control the world. We are not God.” Individualism causes people to become isolated and disconnected. He said Psalm 130 is a beautiful response to being alone or disconnected.
Both he and the Rev. Piotter had selected Psalm 130 to read, so Father Crossen chose another psalm, Psalm 51, to close his remarks.
Pastor Kris File of Foursquare Church in East Moline, Illinois, said she worked with women in crisis for years. However, she had never worked with a woman who had an unplanned pregnancy or abortion.
She Googled the phrase “post abortive healing” and found a prayer about the cries of every mother and father who chose abortion. “Their child is now living with the Lord,” she said.
Mary Jones, president of Life & Family Educational Trust, said she missed the closeness of the “upper room” at the former Women’s Choice Center, but the praise and worship at the church brought life to the vigil. She said God does not abandon anyone. God calls all to him. Jones asked for prayers to continue to fight for life. “We pray together to see the end to the tragedy of abortion.”