Early One Morning

by Danielle Versluys

On May 18, 2013, a sweet little baby was killed in England.  

A little baby who wouldn't ever have a chance to be born, to go to kindergarten or high school, to drive his first car (or ride the Tube), to celebrate his 18th or 80th birthday.

This little one could have died without me knowing he existed, just like the thousands of other babies who die each day in England and around the world.  The difference between this baby and those many other innocents is that I heard his heartbeat just hours before he was killed.

I saw his mother face the wall, away from the ultrasound monitor, unwilling to allow the image of his little body kicking and squirming to be indelibly imprinted on her brain. I heard her cry and watched the tears pour down her face as she insisted there was no way she would keep this baby, because the father was no longer a part of their family.

This little baby was alive when I last saw his mother, climbing into a cab which would take her to the airport. 12 hours later, he was almost certainly dead and bagged as medical waste in a legal clinic in London.

On Friday, May 17th, as we celebrated the completion of our 5-day prayer walk in Ireland, Brandi and I received a call from Carolyn at Gianna Care in Dublin.  She asked if we would join her for a last-ditch effort to save this baby's life.  

The mother (I'll call her Amy) was on her way to England for an abortion, pregnant with her 4th child. Amy asked for an ultrasound to confirm gestational age of the baby, because if she was later than 15 weeks, the cost of her abortion would increase significantly and the mother couldn't afford the difference.  She wanted to know her baby's age before she got on the plane to London; if the baby was over 15 weeks, he had a chance to live.

We arrived around 11 and Amy arrived almost an hour later. Carolyn made ready the waiting/counseling room, while I heated up the ultrasound room upstairs. The plan was for Carolyn and Brandi to welcome Amy and feel out if she was open to any offers of help and support in order to keep her baby.  As I sat upstairs, listening to the murmurs of voices beneath my feet, I prayed for all four people below.

It was early Saturday morning when Amy came in to have the ultrasound.  Brandi followed behind her, shaking her head sadly to me to indicate Amy's resistance to any alternatives to abortion. We sat quietly as Carolyn set up the machine and prepared Amy for the ultrasound.  We smiled when the distinctive whoosh of a baby's heartbeat came through the speakers, praying the sound alone would shake the mother's resolve.

Sadly, Amy would not be moved.  She resisted seeing her baby, but after many minutes she turned and looked hard at the monitor and the moving little person depicted on the screen.  Brandi and I talked later about how we could see the strong reaction in her face, even as she tried hard to hide her emotion.  Amy had framed ultrasound photos of her first three kids on her fridge at home, and yet something inside convinced her this fourth baby was not worthy of such an honor.

I was privileged to watch Carolyn of Gianna Care allow the Spirit to speak through her, as she did everything humanly possible to convince Amy her tiny baby should live.

As Carolyn discovered, much to our dismay, the baby was far under the crucial 15 week age.  He was only 10-11 weeks old, plenty young enough for his mother to afford an abortion.  Tiny enough that his fragile little body could easily be sucked through a cannula into the waiting jar.

Amy cried some more, refused all last-ditch offers of help, thanked us for our time and left around 2:00 a.m., taking a cab to the airport for her 8:00 a.m. flight to England.  Carolyn, Brandi and I together begged God to intervene in the life of this hurting woman who so desperately needed His love, and asked Him to protect the little one we met just minutes earlier.

I don't know for certain Amy's baby is dead.  I probably will never know one way or the other.  God could have worked a miracle and opened Amy's eyes to the truth with seconds to spare.  I do believe He can do, and often does, things like that.

I'm certain though, that even if the miracle occurred and Amy's baby still lives, many other babies carried into the abortion clinic in London did indeed die that Saturday morning. And I wonder: how many of those babies' mothers would have missed the appointment if they had first heard their child's heartbeat as Amy did?

Why did we get sent the "hard" one?  The woman whose child was doomed to die except by heavenly intervention? The woman who saw her baby, living and healthy, and still chose to carry out the worst crime a mother can commit against her own flesh and blood?

For every Amy, there are many women who would be swayed by the image on the ultrasound monitor. Women for whom, like me, the sound of a baby's heartbeat whooshing through the speakers precipitates instant, intense joy unlike any other.

Those women are the ones I want to reach through Stanton Healthcare.  Women who think there is no option but abortion, that there is nothing inside them but a blob of inanimate cells.  I want to reach them here in my country, in my town, because I know they will choose right and choose life if only given the opportunity to meet their baby and given the assurance of knowing there is help.

At the same time, I also want to reach women like Amy.  

The 5-10% who aren't convinced by the ultrasound.  

The women who see their babies and hear the facts and still choose abortion.

I know, regardless of what she chose to do that May morning, Amy will never forget the hands of Jesus on the person who held the ultrasound wand on her soft belly.  And no matter the litany of awful crimes she may ever commit, she will always know there is a Voice who speaks with love and not condemnation.  I hope that, sooner rather than later, she won't ignore Him any longer and will find peace.

What I saw that early morning in Dublin was a shattered woman in the clutches of despair, a woman who needs Jesus. Who better to show Jesus to her than me, a woman who has been and would be in despair but for my Savior's love?

A sad day for Ireland

by Danielle Versluys

In May, I participated in a 5-day, 100-mile prayer walk from Belfast in Northern Ireland to Dublin.  The purpose of the walk was to pray and fast against the impending legislation being debated which would open the door to legalized abortion in the Republic of Ireland.  Ireland, until this year, has been a strong defender of the preborn child, recognizing the preborn human’s right to life in their constitution. 

Sadly, on July 11, 2013, the Irish government approved the abortion legislation.  The right to life for all Irish citizens is no longer recognized. 

As part of my trip to Ireland, I represented Stanton in Belfast and Dublin along with Brandi Swindell, founder and President of Stanton Healthcare. I was honored to meet fellow workers who fight tirelessly for the lives of babies and the well-being of their mothers by offering free, life-affirming medical care in Ireland.  I was blessed to share the mission of Stanton Healthcare and our plan for united affiliate clinics with local pro-life leaders who caught the vision. 

You can read more about my trip herehere and here, and continue to pray with me for the fight for life in both America and abroad.  

Representing Stanton in Dublin, Ireland

by Danielle Versluys

Our prayer walk team had arrived in Dublin on Thursday afternoon.  Even after the long week of walking, we didn’t have much of a chance to rest.

Instead, we had a full day on Friday, busy with Stanton meetings.  

On Friday morning, we went to Gianna Care, a pregnancy medical clinic in Dublin. We were there at the invitation of clinic director Carolyn O’Meara, an RN and mother of 2 who has worked incredibly hard to build Gianna Care. She invited us to speak to her volunteers at the clinic, who welcomed us with enthusiasm as we shared about the Stanton Healthcare vision and encouraged them in their ministry.

Brandi, Carolyn and I checking out Gianna Care's ultrasound machine

Carolyn and her volunteers reach out to abortion-minded women who are entering the Marie Stopes abortion referral agency – literally just down the street from Gianna Care.  They invite the mothers to come to Gianna Care for a free ultrasound (and a cup of tea), offering them kindness and compassion instead of an airplane reservation to England to kill their baby.

I so enjoyed meeting Carolyn and her sidekick Federica, both beautiful young women (and mothers) who have the passion and drive to see Gianna Care succeed and many lives saved.

We left Gianna Care to return to the Youth Defence office where Brandi and I met with Bernadette Smyth and her husband Derek about the pregnancy medical clinic they are working to open just above the Precious Life office in Belfast. 

That couple is a riot. 

Bernie breezes into the room, a talking tornado on 6-inch heels, while her dapper husband follows behind with supplies (food and paperwork) in his tattooed hands.  Yes, I said “dapper” and “tattooed”.  Derek works hand in hand with Bernie at Precious Life, and together they are getting things done in Northern Ireland. 

We had a great discussion and were so encouraged by Bernie’s identification with the Stanton vision of free, professional, life-affirming medical clinics around the world.  Brandi and I looked at each other in awe after the Smyths left the room for another meeting; we were so excited by the prospect of a new life-affirming clinic opening in Belfast that we high-fived each other. And then we hugged each other for good measure.

God is good, and He knew what encouragement our Irish friends would be as we continue to fight the fight here in America.  He knows our willingness to promote the vision of Stanton across the world: compassionate, life-affirming, Christ-centered care for women and their babies.  We were grateful for the opportunity to do so on Irish soil, in a country where babies are not killed for profit - a country that serves as inspiration to America and others.