NEW YORK — A woman who miraculously survived the attacks the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was able to share her story in court last week, and also explain why she feels compelled to reach mothers outside of an abortion facility in Queens.
Angela Braxton was working on the 80th floor of One World Trade Center when the attacks took place. By the grace of God, she was able to make her way down the stairs, choking on the smoke as she went, to the underground mall beneath the complex.
When Braxton arrived at the mall, she felt a rumbling and was tossed by a force that she describes as being like “a tornado” from the impact of Two World Trade Center collapsing. Terrified, Braxton began “screeching for God not to let me die,” she told the court.
In a statement last July, Braxton also recalled that before the attack, “I went about my daily business. I never thought about where I would spend eternity or if this would be my last day. Twenty-four hours later, I begged a God I did not love, did not thank, did not think about, did not serve nor bring glory to, not to let me die.”
Braxton was captured on camera as she and others successfully made it outside, covered head to toe in debris dust. Click here to see the photograph, which is now displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Following the traumatic experience, Braxton, who experiences health issues from the terror attack, turned to Christ. She later became active in sharing the gospel on the streets, and in the midst of her evangelistic involvement, felt compelled to spend her Saturday mornings reaching out to women who are contemplating abortion.
Braxton, who herself has suffered several miscarriages, told the court that her work is out of personal experience in suffering the loss of a child, as well as a natural desire to share the gospel with her neighbor.
“I believe [it’s] because of what I went through as far as wanting so many children. … It’s the worst thing. It’s never healed. You always long for them. And I wanted other people to know that,” Braxton testified.
“But more importantly, God saved me when I was a sinner. Christ died for me. He gave me a new heart, and He gave me a heart to love Him, to love my neighbor,” she added. “Why wouldn’t I love my neighbor enough [to share this]? That’s my belief, and I believe God’s Word is true.”
As previously reported, Braxton is more than a dozen pro-lifers who were sued last June by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for urging women outside of Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica not to kill their babies. Schneiderman, an abortion advocate, has accused Braxton and the others of harassment, and wants the court to order the creation of a buffer zone around the building.
Some of those involved, Schneiderman claimed in his legal complaint, approach vehicles when they arrive and lean into the window to offer literature, or follow patients closely on their way into the building, at times handing a pamphlet to the accompanying child and asking him or her to “give this to your mommy to read.”
Schneiderman also took issue with the verbal speech of the pro-lifers, who he said call out “vitriolic” statements such as, “Don’t go in there; they will convince you to kill your baby—that’s how they make money,” “You have the blood of dead babies on your hands” and “They are killing babies above your heads.”
He further asserted that the men and women were disseminating false information, pointing, for example, to a pamphlet that reads, “We know you are probably upset and confused. To save the life of your baby, the laminaria (seaweed sticks) can still be removed. Please don’t do anything now that will hurt your child because you will later regret it.”
Last month, U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon seemed to question Schneiderman’s assertions during oral argument as she said that his use of the word “harassment” was vague.
“[The defendants and their attorneys] have got to know clearly what harassment means,” she stated to Assistant Attorney General Sandra Pullman. “What is it? This is a little troubling. I don’t know what it is.”
When Pullman pointed to the dictionary definition of “repeated or persistent behavior that annoys or alarms someone,” Amon replied that if harassment charges were legally able to be filed for being annoying, “I could sue all of you here today.”
Her remarks drew laughter in the court.
According to Courthouse News, during the hearing, Judge Amon presented a number of scenarios to try to ascertain what Schneiderman’s office considers “harassment.” She asked if someone followed a woman and said repeatedly but politely, “You should consider keeping your baby,” if that would be considered harassment.
What if the person remained several feet away? What if someone followed a person to repeatedly tell them that they liked their haircut? Is that harassment?
Amon also noted that the distribution of pamphlets is a “form of really protected speech,” and that sidewalks are considered the “quintessential public forum.”
Attorneys with the Thomas Moore Law Center (TMLC) have asked Amon to dismiss the case. A decision has not yet been made on the motion.
“Angela Braxton is a prayerful, peaceful, sidewalk counselor who compassionately speaks to women as they approach the abortion clinic. After years of investigation, the attorney general’s lawsuit against Angela Braxton could not name a single person who was ever harassed. This is because it simply did not happen,” said Jay Combs, an attorney with TMLC.
“Rather than fulfill his duty as attorney general to protect the First Amendment rights of Angela Braxton, the attorney general, in his press conference, lamented what he called ‘a sense of entitlement by protestors to run their mouth.’ This chilling statement shows that the New York Attorney General is so blinded by his desire to see abortions performed that he has forgotten that the ‘entitlement’ to speak on behalf of the lives of unborn children is a constitutional right protected by the First Amendment,” the organization also said in a statement.