December 17, 13 (LifeSiteNews.com) – It’s been over 20 years since the abortion, but Jeff Bradford still can’t talk about it without weeping.
Even he seems surprised by this, given that for 15 of those 20 years, he hardly ever gave a thought to that day at the Planned Parenthood clinic, assuming that he and his wife had “put it behind” them.
But then their marriage went through a rough spot, and they decided to seek counseling. And that’s where it all came out into the open.
“We just knew something wasn’t right,” Jeff told LifeSiteNews.com during a recent telephone interview. “We couldn’t put our finger on it. But we would close that door [during counseling] and my wife would cry uncontrollably.”
Jeff was taken aback by his wife’s emotion, and at first thought that perhaps there was abuse in her background that he didn’t know about.
“But as we unpeeled that onion, there was this deep abandonment, and roots of bitterness that had grown over the years,” he said. “And it all really came down to this decision [to have the abortion].”
‘No one was standing in the gap’
Jeff and his wife Tricia were both in their early 20s and mere months away from getting married in early 1993 when they found out that Tricia was pregnant. Afraid of embarrassing their families, they made an appointment at Planned Parenthood.
Jeff remained in the waiting room. Of that day, all he has are “snapshots” from the clinic. “I think I’ve tried to put it out of my mind,” he says. “It was fairly quick, in and out, and we didn’t talk. We didn’t talk about it…not for 15 years.”
But during those 15 years the abortion festered. And it is only in retrospect that Jeff can see how much the abortion contributed to many of the problems that quietly plagued their relationship, including their very difficult first year of marriage.
“That experience and that pain, and that one decision 20 years ago, really had so many underlying consequences in our lives, many that we didn’t even realize, that were just deep roots,” he says.
For Tricia, he says, it all came down to feelings “that she wasn’t protected.” Women “are created for life,” he says. But while his wife “would do anything” for the couple’s other four children, “in this instant, 20 years earlier, there was no one standing in the gap.”
After a pause, he adds quietly, “and especially me.”
‘I began to become enraged’
With the abortion out in the open, Jeff and Tricia were able to begin healing. And for the first time, he says, despite their involvement in Christian ministry after a re-conversion several years into their marriage, they finally “began to understand grace and compassion and forgiveness.”
But even still, Jeff hadn’t fully come to terms with the full reality of what abortion was. That all changed when he met Brian Fisher, the COO of a marketing firm that had hired Jeff, who was running his own consulting business, to do some work for them. One day, after they had gotten to know one another, Brian handed Jeff a card for his other “business” – the fledgling pro-life organization Online for Life.
Jeff admits – “embarrassingly” – that when Brian first told him about his pro-life work, his first thought was, “are these the guys that are blowing up clinics?”
“That was the media that had done such a good job for many people who aren’t involved in this, thinking that pro-life people are some radical group,” he says.
But he took the business card and set it on his nightstand, next to where he charges his phone. There it languished for several weeks.
Finally, however, Jeff started researching how Online for Life was saving babies from abortion using cutting edge Internet marketing techniques. “And it was really the first time in my life that I began to really understand the devastation of abortion,” he says. “I had really hidden from it. God began to really drop the scales from my eyes, and I saw what abortion was.”
Then, he says, “I began to become enraged that as Christians that we were aborting 3500 of our children every day.”
Soon thereafter, Jeff began to volunteer for Online for Life, putting his extensive experience in business to work saving lives. Then, last year, “kicking and screaming,” he accepted a full-time position as Vice President for Development for Online for Life, completing his transition to becoming a full-time pro-life activist.
For him, the work of Online for Life – which, to date, has been directly involved in saving 1,368 babies from abortion – is quite simply “compassion and intervention” – a way to reach lost men and women, like he and his wife were 20 years ago.
“It’s exactly what I would have needed and wanted,” he says, “for somebody to have just stood by me and said, ‘This is a life. You can do this. You have support and help. This is your child.’ We would have made a much different decision.”
‘God is calling men to rise up’
While telling his two eldest children about the abortion was “the hardest thing” he’s ever done, Jeff says that with transparency has come freedom: the freedom to heal, and the freedom to take his testimony and reach others with the message of life and forgiveness.
For him, he says, “the most meaningful” responses to his story have been from other men who come up to him and confessed their own involvement in past abortions and who have become “awakened to this issue again.”
“I believe God is calling men to get involved and to stand up for the child and for women and make a difference, and really call us to be what God’s called us to be,” he says. “And that’s protectors.”
“If a man would stand up for them and say that they are worthy, that they’re valuable I don’t think there’s many women who would kill their child,” he adds.
Jeff says he finds it “amazing” that Americans will go to the ends of the earth to fight for the weakest people, “and yet we’re so cowardly not to stand up for the weakest in the womb which should be the safest place on earth.”
“I believe God is calling men to rise up and begin to make a difference, and make an impact and be men.”