Two words with tremendous power. I discovered this as a young woman of 19.
It’s a difficult thing to share this story. The looks, shame, and silent judgment I’ve occasionally experienced from religious pro-lifers has deterred me. I’ve crossed THAT line and become marked…only my scarlet letter “A” is for abortion, not adultery. Likewise, the pro-choice crowd is likely to dismiss or marginalize my story, because I no longer adhere to the liberal feminist agenda. With the topic saturating the news lately, I’ve been stirred to share my experience and prayed for words that might make an impact on women facing hard choices, but also pro-life and pro-choice adherents alike.
It begins when I was a naïve 19-year-old and became pregnant with my live-in boyfriend, a man 14 years my senior. I looked up to him and trusted him. I hoped the news of a baby would make him responsible, get a job, buy me a ring, and marry me. My naiveté was not so much that I assumed I was incapable of becoming pregnant (after all, we’d shared more than a year of unprotected sex), even though it was true I was naïve about that. My real naiveté was thinking I could change an irresponsible man into a caring husband and father, and we would all live happily ever after. I didn’t yet understand that you can’t change a man no matter how much you love him.
Through declarations of love for me, he urged me to abort the baby. Even in my youthful ignorance I knew it was incongruous for him to tell me he loved me out of one side of his mouth while he wanted me to end the life we created out of the other side of his mouth.
Because I was from the West Coast, I spent many years being indoctrinated on liberal values in public school. By that time I was an agnostic (even though I grew up in church), and my values were decidedly left-leaning. Naturally, I considered abortion as a way of solving this “problem.” It was my body and my choice, after all! I did not want to be burdened with the responsibility of caring for a child who would steal my independence or require any kind of self-sacrifice.
For a few days I thought about my situation. I thought about both of us having fairly heavy drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, my dread of having what I expected to be a child with problems, my lack of resources and education, and of course my boyfriend, who didn’t want the child, and my fear of him leaving me. I thought about trying to raise a child without a support system; I wasn’t sure if my family would have helped, and my pride kept me from asking for it. I had no idea about crisis pregnancy options at the time. I’m not sure many existed in those days.
I don’t know why I was unable to consider adoption. I look back now and know I was irrational and self-absorbed. I didn’t want a drastic change in circumstances at any level, even the temporary inconvenience of a few more months of pregnancy. I wanted to fix the issue and get on with life right then.
So off to Planned Parenthood I went to quickly, quietly, and easily take care of what I rationalized was only a “clump of cells” at this point anyway—and on taxpayer dollars, no less. They made it all quite convenient and at no personal cost or sacrifice to me. I applied for state aid to pay for the procedure and even received the bonus of food stamps I didn’t need in order to provide my body with nutrition for a child I was going to kill in a week. Talk about government bureaucracy at its finest.
A few days later I showed up for my appointment and, because I have never had regular cycles, did not know my dates. I do not know if providing an ultrasound was common practice back then, but I do know mine was necessary in order to establish how far along I was. When I laid there and watched this happening, the nurse would not allow me to look at the screen. She did not want me to see a moving baby inside me, with a head and hands and legs and feet and a heartbeat. Somehow, I maneuvered and managed a glimpse despite her objections.
After establishing me at a surprising 12 weeks (at 5’10” I was hardly showing and without morning sickness), I was told I had to do the procedure that day. I was told a more complex procedure would be required if I went longer, which would only be harder on my body and would require more recovery time. To say I was pressured was an understatement. I have no idea what the laws were then and how much time I really had to make that decision, but this nurse made it seem that if I didn’t do it that day, I’d regret it.
Care to take a guess at what that the staff at Planned Parenthood did not do? They did not provide counseling about other options, they did not talk to me about adoption, they did not warn me about mental health side effects, they did not tell me the baby might feel pain with the procedure and certainly would move and recoil at touch, they did not share with me ultrasound information, they did not provide me with crisis pregnancy resources, and they did not make me go through a waiting period before making this huge decision. Nothing! Just a young girl rubber-stamped through the system.
Less than 10 minutes later I was lying on the operating table, and I had completely changed my mind. ALL IT HAD TAKEN WAS AN ULTRASOUND TO MAKE ME REALIZE THERE WAS A BABY INSIDE ME, AND I COULDN’T GO THROUGH WITH IT.
I told everyone present to STOP the procedure.
The next moment, I felt a gas mask going over my face. I remember struggling as I understood what was happening to me. I awoke a few minutes later, and my first thought was, “I hope they didn’t kill my baby.” I cried out and asked if they had done the abortion, and of course they had. My grief was overwhelming. So was my shock, anger, and betrayal.
This was America in the 1980’s. This was not Nazi Germany. And yet this unfathomable act happened. I often wonder how many other women out there have a similar story? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
The pain of that moment still lingers just under the surface. The tears well up as I write these words and heat rises to my face. Sometimes the pain of it and the depression from my choices washes over me, and I can hardly cope. I had put myself in a situation that created these circumstances, and I couldn’t go back and fix it. On top of that, a crime was committed against me for which there are no witnesses, no recourse. There can never be restitution.
Since then, when I hear or read about the praises of Planned Parenthood and how they provide “healthcare” to women, I am sickened.
They offered no HEALTH for me or my baby. They only sought to steal life and health.
There was no CARE from that organization. Where was their CARE for me? Where was their CARE for my child? Where was their CARE for my desire to stop the procedure? Where was their CARE when I needed time to think? Where was their CARE for my total informed consent? Why hadn’t they CARED to show me the ultrasound?
The next few years I spiraled out of control, hitting rock bottom. They say you can only go up when you hit the bottom, and I managed to start climbing out of the hole of grief and despair of losing my child, my innocence, my boyfriend, and my dreams. One day I met a really great guy who actually is responsible and loving, and we married. We have two wonderful UNPLANNED children together and raising them has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done with my life.
In my mid-20’s I began to have a spiritual awakening. I understood that the God of the Bible was real, that He cared for me and understood my pain and my past, and that I had transgressed His laws in many ways over my lifetime, both small and great—but He also provided a way back to Himself through Jesus Christ. I became a born-again believer.
That’s when things turned upside-down for me. As I read the Bible daily, it was becoming increasingly evident I could no longer align myself with liberal values, particularly when it came to abortion. One of the things I saw so clearly in His word is that it is God who knits together life in the womb at the moment of conception, knowing in advance who we will become and even numbering our days. He cares. He creates and controls life. Why would I ever seek to destroy that based on my own convenience?
For all my prior preaching about women having choice, it dawned on me that I had had many choices before lying on an operating table, telling the doctor to stop. I had a choice to be abstinent (despite cultural norms). I had a choice to go to college and work and stay occupied instead of living a worthless, careless, selfish life, carousing and making poor decisions. I had a choice to only have relationships with responsible men. I had a choice to use any number of different kinds of birth control and even multiple kinds, if I so desired. I had a choice to be happily single, instead of co-dependent upon an addict. I had a choice to woman-up and raise that baby that I had been given as a gift from God (no doubt I would have been forced to grow up in the process, which would have been a tremendous gift indeed). I had a choice to place my child for adoption. I had all kinds of choices through the years. Why did society think I needed to be granted a choice that was not only permanent and evil but also caused lifelong regret, heartache, and depression? Being forgiven is one thing, but one still must live with the consequences of their actions.
So why do I write? Why admit to this past now? By speaking out I believe I am giving a voice to my child, someone who can never speak for himself. That baby is the reason the course of my life changed. Maybe that baby, through my words now, will be able to effect change for someone else as well.
If you are a woman reading this, and you are currently experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, it is my hope that you find help and resources without judgment and without fear. It is my hope that you will embrace the unplanned and let it re-shape your future, whether you choose to raise it or place it up for adoption. You can start over. You can survive. You can even thrive. Unplanned for you does not equal unplanned to God. Turn to Him and seek His direction and see if He is not faithful to turn your circumstances into tremendous victories.
If you are reading this and are religious and pro-life, I would urge you to continue the fight against abortion, but at the same time be cognizant that your words and actions toward women who have had an abortion can sometimes come across very judgmental, harsh, and unsympathetic, thus pushing away the very people to whom you seek to minister.
If you are reading this and are pro-choice and/or thinking about utilizing the services of Planned Parenthood, it is my hope that you remember me and my story and also understand with whom you are dealing. The very name “Planned Parenthood” is a misnomer; they don’t help you plan for becoming a parent, they help you quickly and easily escape being the parent you already are. Nearly every woman entering Planned Parenthood does so for the sake of convenience. The numbers are staggering, well over 90%. They are not a benevolent organization with your best interests in mind; they are in the business of monetizing death. They are not interested in preserving life, listening for total informed consent, sharing the truth (like ultrasound information), or providing resources (adoption or crisis pregnancy resources) prenatal care (they don’t provide that at all). In fact, to Planned Parenthood practitioners, pregnancies are referred to as “clumps of cells” or “uterine contents,” not babies. They have a vested interest to train their staff to abstain from references of any kind of humanity, lest a woman change her mind and decide not to be a party to murder, thus impacting the bottom line.
While Planned Parenthood and leftists spout lofty platitudes about the safety of the mother, rape, or incest, they will NOT tell you these circumstances are the exception, rather than the rule (less than 1%). They will not tell you that even though your pregnancy may have issues, you can choose to deliver anyway. In these cases, you are not required to go through the horrendous process of abortion. You can choose to avoid letting the baby suffer the pain they will experience during an abortion. They also will not tell you a baby is viable outside the womb as early as 23 weeks, so threats to a mother’s health are a moot point; babies are delivered in hospitals every single day when there are problems.
Abortion is a subject that affects all of us. It affects women. It affects men (how many countless fathers wish they could have raised their children?). It affects children. It affects our society. It affects ALL of humanity. Being pro-life does or mean you are against women’s rights. Being pro-life is about being anti-abortion, NOT anti-choice. Choice begins long before pregnancy and should not result in eliminating another’s choice (the baby’s, the father’s, the siblings’, the grandparent’s choices, for instance). Being pro-life means you are pro-human rights; it is about agreeing that ALL life is valuable and deserving of dignity and respect.
At the time of this writing, over 61 MILLION babies have been aborted in the U.S. alone in the 46 years since Roe v. Wade. Those numbers are staggering. We as a nation MUST reverse our course. When we as a society start making these decisions so callously, we are not far from elder euthanasia, killing those with physical and mental defects, or Nazi gas chambers.
Please stand with me in honoring the life God has created and ending abortion in our lifetime!