This is the Hillcrest Women's Medical Center on 1709 N. Front Street in Harrisburg, PA. I've gotten to know this place pretty well over the past six months. It is the closest abortion facility to Lebanon, where I currently live. As a sidewalk advocate, I was eager to find this location as soon as I moved back to Pennsylvania. I first visited this place during the 40 Days for Life campaign stop there last fall. I've been going every Wednesday and weekend possible since then.
Few people passing by this building realize what is going on inside. Nestled between an alternative school and a law office, Hillcrest fits right in with the other medical, dental, and mixed purpose buildings up and down the Susquehanna river. People regularly jog passed this place on a river trail. Most of them are surprised to learn that abortions are being done here.
I met a woman like that today. She has lived in Harrisburg for seven years, but never knew about this abortion facility. I met her just two doors down. She was walking into her orthodontist, and I was circling around to get back to the back alley where we do most of our sidewalk counseling. God timed it perfectly.
"I agree! I agree!" She told me as we passed. I realized that she was talking about my sign, which I was casually holding in one hand at my side. It reads, "Pray to end abortion," and is printed with the 40 Days for Life logo on it. I hadn't been trying to shove it in her face as I passed, but she was curious about what I was holding. We started talking, and she asked me why I was in the area. She was shocked when I told her that abortions were happening just two doors away from where she was picking up a retainer for her son.
"I'm Sean, by the way." I introduced myself after talking at length about the devastating consequences of abortion and the importance of electing political leaders who will oppose it. "I'm Terrie*." She said, and then apologized for assuming that I was a teen. (She asked me how old I was after learning that I am an attorney. She had assumed that I was younger.)
After picking up the retainer, Terrie came over to our Undefeated Courage garage, which is in an alley opposite the rear of Hillcrest. She wanted to learn more about what we do at the abortion facility. While we were describing the work that we do, a man brought a young woman to the clinic and let her out in the parking lot. Terrie got to hear Becky reach out to the woman as she was walking into the building.
"I don't know why you're here," Becky began, "but we have resources to help you with anything you need."
"I'm not pregnant, lady," the woman responded with a big shrug, "I did the job two weeks ago."
We were all surprised by this casual pronouncement. Becky continued by trying to tell the woman about Rachel's Vineyard, but the woman didn't look back or respond as she marched around the building to the entrance of Hillcrest.
Terrie was stunned. "That just broke my heart." She said.
She continued to talk with us, but had tears in her eyes for the rest of her visit. "How do you do this?" She asked me. "With the help of Christ." I answered. That is the only way that I am able to continue to love. He gives me the strength that I need to go on.
There were three abortions at Hillcrest, today.
Jennifer* came with her niece Jodi*. We at first thought that Jodi was there for the abortion, but she came over and let us know that this was not the case. Jennifer, her aunt, came for an abortion because the father of the child was a "psychopath," and Jennifer didn't want anything to do with the man. Jodi was against the abortion, but couldn't persuade her aunt to make another choice. I offered Jennifer information about Rachel's Vineyard at the edge of the driveway as they left. I told them both that God still loves them, no matter what. Jennifer had tears welling up in her eyes as she mouthed "thank you" to me.
Two other women came for abortions today. One of them took a flyer for Rachel's Vineyard. We don't know their stories or their names, but we pray for them to find healing and forgiveness through Christ.
We are hopeful about a number of other women who left without getting an abortion. Pray for our friend, Casey*, who is texting with Jenn* even now. Jenn went in for an abortion, but left with an ultrasound picture of her baby, who is still alive. Casey was able to connect with Jenn and get her cell number. Now Jenn is texting Casey about other place where she can get real help. We are praying that Jenn never goes for an abortion, but gets all the help that she needs to choose life.
This is what we do at Hillcrest Women's Medical Center. We offer other options to women going inside. We inform the public about the fact that this is an abortion facility. We tell women about the love and forgiveness available in Christ as they leave. We connect with women who are still considering what to do. We pray for everyone who comes and goes.
We pursue life.
*All names are changed unless the person gives me permission to use their names.