Woman second-guesses her 'choice' after seeing shocking images at house next to abortion mill
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
Editors note: This is the fifth and final article from The B.C. Catholic's Chosing the Culture of Life series.
Usually graphic pictures of abortion get a negative reaction. The "Culture of Death" says that this method of protest doesn't work. However, for a woman named Rachel, several images depicting abortion held her back from ending her child's life.
"As my boyfriend and I parked down the street and I walked up to the abortion clinic, I saw a house with pictures of babies and information about why abortion is wrong, which I knew in my heart," she said, speaking about that fateful day in 1999.
Rachel (not her real name) stared at a picture in the window of Gianna House, a resource centre for vulnerable women owned by staunch pro-life supporter Cecilia "Sissy" Von Dehn.
The house, named after St. Gianna Beretta Molla, used to be next door to the Everywoman's Health Centre, the abortion clinic at 44th Avenue and Victoria Drive. The clinic has since moved to Commercial and Broadway. Von Dehn nicknamed her house "Everywoman's Help Centre."
"This story is more evidence that graphic signs work, and while we may never know how often they work, occasionally we are given a small glimpse of their effect on people," said John Hof, director of B.C. Campaign Life Coalition.
"We rarely hear about these events anymore," added von Dehn. "Every day we would put signs and tables out in front of the house with information on abortion."
Rachel came to Vancouver from the Okanagan in 1998 to attend college for a six-month course. She already had two children. While at college she dated a man and became pregnant after she graduated. He urged her to have an abortion.
"My reasons for agreeing to the abortion were: I was unmarried, I had a student loan I needed to pay off, and I had two children already," she confessed, "and, to be honest, I was at the point of wanting to break up with my boyfriend and didn't want his child."
After staring at the picture in Von Dehn's window, Rachel got cold feet, but she went into the clinic anyway, though she couldn't go through with the abortion.
"I ran out of the clinic, crying, down the street. I left my boyfriend standing there."
Rachel ran back to the car where she continued to cry with her boyfriend staring at her angrily. "He still wanted me to have an abortion, but there was no way that was going to happen."
Rachel calls that daughter, born in January 2000, a "miracle," and is still horrified by the thought she nearly terminated that pregnancy. They now live in the Okanagan.
"I am so glad I didn't go through with the abortion. I have the most beautiful little girl that I love so much!"
Secularists and the mainstream media sometimes paint von Dehn's activism as villainous. In 2009 von Dehn and fellow abortion protestor Donald Spratt were arrested outside the Everywoman's Health Centre for entering the clinic's "bubble zone."
The Access to Abortion Services Act, passed in 1995, prohibits protest within a "bubble" around the clinic.
Von Dehn perseveres in spite of the years of attacks from pro-abortionists. "If we hadn't been there Rachel wouldn't have stopped her abortion. It's funny how the other side talks about 'choice,' yet they don't talk about the choice of not having an abortion."
Rachel thanked von Dehn in an email to The B.C. Campaign Life Coalition in September 2011. "Thanks so very much. I really appreciate it, and I am sure my daughter does too!"