Frank Schubert

The cheaters won: the legal circus that killed Proposition 8

Frank Schubert
By Frank Schubert

July 29, 2013 (The Public Discourse) -  When I was a kid, my brother and I would occasionally go to the Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento and watch the spectacle that was then called “Big Time Wrestling.” It featured all kinds of amazing characters with different story lines. The matches always involved someone who represented the “good guy” against an adversary who embodied the “bad guy.”

People cheered and jeered every move in the ring. The bad guys won a lot of the time, usually using nefarious tactics like low blows, sleeper holds, and brass knuckles, always in front of the crowd but invariably when the referee had his back turned, distracted by some ruse or other. People would be furious when the good guy lost, but they knew that as surely as night follows day, soon enough there would be a rematch where, against all odds, the good guy would mount an incredible comeback and destroy the forces of evil right there in the ring. And secure in the knowledge of the rematch, all in the universe of teenage boys would return to normal.

The legal wrangling over Proposition 8 has reminded me of a Big Time Wrestling match. It’s something I’ve followed with more than a passing interest, since I managed the campaign that enacted the constitutional amendment. Watching Prop 8 careen through the federal court system left me feeling frustrated and sometimes incensed that the system itself seemed so staged, and appeared to be so corrupt.

But I felt, like I did as a kid, that somehow, some way the initiative adopted by over seven million California voters would escape the grasp of slick-talking lawyers and self-interested judges and politicians and emerge victorious—living to fight another day. A rematch, if you will. Alas, it now sadly appears that absent some last minute legal ruling this initiative—and with it a good chunk of the initiative process itself—is dead.

Regardless of whether you see voters defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman as the “good guy” or the “bad guy” in this political drama, the process that killed marriage in California should greatly concern anyone who cares even remotely about democracy and the rule of law.

Judges, Politicians, and Prop 8 Opponents Ignored the Rules

The Prop 8 challenge landed in the San Francisco federal courtroom of Vaughn Walker. We’re supposed to accept that this happened randomly, and that the plaintiffs weren’t tipped off by someone in the court system to file the case at a particular time when Judge Walker happened to be the one who’d get it.

Whether by accident or grand design, it was a fortunate assignment for the plaintiffs. Walker was a judge in a long-term committed relationship with another man—in other words, he was in exactly the type of relationship as the plaintiffs who were bringing suit. Walker never disclosed this critical fact to Prop 8 supporters, or to the public, despite judicial rules requiring such disclosure if even the appearance of impropriety was present.

Imagine if a judge heard a lawsuit by tomato farmers against an environmental law, but refused to disclose that he was also a tomato farmer. The media and environmentalists would scream to the heavens about the potential for bias. Yet, because the issue in this case was same-sex marriage, Walker got away with the low blow.

While the lawsuit stood before a hometown judge, state officials did everything in their power to throw the case. Both then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to defend the law enacted by the people of California, despite their sworn oath of office to do so. The current Attorney General, Kamala Harris, dutifully took the same course.

Of course, the constitution of California does not give to the governor or the attorney general the power to decide for themselves which laws are constitutional and which are not, nor are they free to determine which laws shall be defended and which shall be abandoned. But no matter.

Having orphaned Prop 8, leaving it and the seven million citizens who enacted it defenseless in court, it fell to the backers of the initiative to defend the law in the federal courts. This not only cost the supporters of Prop 8 over $10 million in legal expenses; it ultimately put a sleeper hold on the initiative.

Imagine that, in our tomato farmer case challenging state environmental laws, neither the governor nor the attorney general would defend the environmental law, and the lawsuit went undefended. What howls of protests we’d hear from the left! I can even imagine hearing demands for recalls in such a circumstance. Yet because the issue in this case was same-sex marriage, Schwarzenegger, Brown and Harris all got away with it.

Time and again during the trial Walker issued rulings widely favoring the challengers of Prop 8. Twice his rulings were overturned through emergency appeals—once by the US Supreme Court on the eve of trial—something that is virtually unheard of at the district court level. To nobody’s surprise, Walker ruled that Prop 8—which reflected a point of view on the definition of marriage that until five years before its adoption had been held in every single state in the nation, and virtually every other country since the dawn of time—violated the Fourteenth Amendment and was thus illegal under the US Constitution.

Next the case headed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it became the province of a panel including Stephen Reinhardt, senior judge of the circuit and widely considered to be one of the most liberal (and most overturned) judges in America. I frankly never expected much relief out of what many conservatives ruefully refer to as the “Ninth Circus.” But even I was surprised by the chicanery involved in Reinhardt’s handling of the case.

It turns out that his wife, an attorney with the ACLU, had advised the plaintiffs’ lawyers on strategy before this very case was even filed! Reinhardt refused to recuse himself from deciding the case his wife had participated in, and went on to write a majority opinion finding that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. But not even Stephen Reinhardt could go along with the reasoning of Judge Walker; instead he invented a whole new legal rationale to get the result he—and his wife—so badly wanted.

Before Reinhardt could invalidate Prop 8, he had to deal with the thorny legal issue of “standing”—that is, did the proponents of Prop 8 have the legal right to bring the appeal, or is that something that only state officials can do? Since the governor and attorney general had refused to fulfill their obligation to defend the law, it was the proponents of the initiative bringing the appeal.

Reinhardt felt that the issue of standing rested on whether the state courts allowed initiative proponents to represent the interests of the state when elected officials refused to do so. His panel asked the California Supreme Court for advice on the question, and that court answered unanimously that initiative proponents did have that right under state law. With this answer in hand, Reinhardt did what we expected him to do and he issued his opinion striking down Prop 8.

Finally, the case was headed to the Supreme Court, but would they take it? Many observers felt that the justices would decline to take on the politically-charged issue of same-sex marriage. Yet they not only took the Prop 8 case, they took a case out of New York challenging the federal definition of marriage. I felt elated when the announcement came that review had been granted—thinking that they’d only take the case if they were going to reverse the Ninth Circuit. Otherwise, I reasoned, they could just dodge the issue by not granting review.

It’s impossible to describe the amount of work that the Prop 8 legal team did in representing the people of California before the Supreme Court. They did a phenomenal job. I thought the issue was incredibly well briefed, and superbly argued by lead attorney Chuck Cooper. After the oral argument, I was confident that we would win on the merits.

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The oral argument also convinced me that the Court was likely to invalidate the federal definition of marriage in Section 3 of DOMA using a theory of federalism—that states had the right to define marriage as they wished, and that federal law must follow the states' definitions. This only strengthened my view that Prop 8 would be upheld on the rationale that if New York had the right to redefine marriage, then surely California had the same right to go in the other direction.

I have to admit to extreme disappointment and more than a little bitterness when I read the decisions in the two cases. The Court invalidated the federal law and then refused to decide the merits of Prop 8’s constitutionality, instead punting and using “standing” as their way out.

The Cheaters Won

It’s only natural for people to want to know how I feel about the outcome, not only from a policy perspective but also from a personal perspective. After all, I put my heart into managing (and winning) the Prop 8 campaign in 2008, and since then have spent much of my professional career working on preserving marriage throughout the nation.

Here’s how I feel.

I feel like we were cheated. Just like I felt as a kid watching the bad guy put a sleeper hold on his opponent, or hitting him below the belt or with the brass knuckles while the referee had his back turned, so have the legal system and politicians cold-cocked the people of California—seven million of whom went to the polls to lawfully enact Prop 8. Only this time, I realize there’s not likely to be a rematch. The cheaters won.

I feel like the rule of law has been shredded, and conniving politicians have been rewarded for ignoring their sworn oath of office. Public confidence in the judicial system has been dealt a severe blow. Supporters of same-sex “marriage” may be happy with the result today, but hold on until the tables are turned and a conservative governor and attorney general refuse to defend a law they don’t personally support, and there’s nobody left with standing to defend it. The seeds of that action will have been sown by leftist politicians like Brown, Harris, and Schwarzenegger.

I feel like a broadside has ripped a great hole in the initiative and referendum process itself. I have managed nearly forty statewide ballot initiative campaigns in my career. The initiative process is one of the few viable ways to get a recalcitrant government to respond to legitimate issues that are not being addressed by the legislature or the state administration. By its nature, citizens are often pushing a law that is opposed by those in power.

Now those very people in power—the governor and attorney general—have been given a pocket veto over the initiative process itself. They can invalidate any measure they don’t personally support simply by refusing to defend it in federal court. Such power was never contemplated by the framers of the constitution, or by the people of California, but that is the practical result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop 8. Again—it is marriage today, but tomorrow it could be any other issue on the political spectrum.

I feel a measure of sadness for all the people who worked so hard for something they believed so passionately—a belief shared by millions of people. Campaigns are about ideas and laws, certainly, but they involve real people.

So I think about people like Scott Eckern, a distinguished musical producer, who was forced to resign from the California Musical Theater in Sacramento over his $1,000 contribution in support of Prop 8. I think about Marjorie Christofferson, a then-67-year-old employee at her family-owned Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, who was forced to take a leave from the business over donating a mere $100 to our campaign.

I think about the 80,000 people just like them—moms and dads, retirees, students, husbands and wives—who gave generously of their financial resources to allow us to mount a winning campaign. I think about all the pastors, priests, bishops, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders who put their religious differences aside to work together in support of the eternal truth about marriage—that it is a covenant between one man and one woman, modeled after God’s own covenant with us.

And I think about the 250,000 volunteers in our campaign who walked precincts, knocked on doors, and manned phone banks, including Jose Nunez, a proud immigrant and newly sworn-in US citizen, who was physically assaulted by a Prop 8 opponent while waiting to distribute signs outside his Catholic church.

All of these people paid a tremendous price. They, and the voters, deserved better than to be left undefended before the legal system, abandoned by those sworn to defend them, ignored by judges determined to impose a particular result, and then orphaned by the Supreme Court as the great referee pretended not to see all the nefarious activity going on with the case right in front of them.

The decisions worry me. I am actually less worried about the damage done to the institution of marriage than I am about the damage done to the body politic. Marriage is an eternal truth, and a profound good. Its value to society is inestimable. No government, judge, or politician has the power to change the inherent nature of marriage. In the end, the truth of marriage will prevail, even if the law decides to abandon it for a time.

Democracy, on the other hand, is not nearly so stable. Preserving it depends upon the integrity of our institutions, which are charged with specific functions to serve the interests of the body politic. Legislatures and voters pass laws they believe will benefit society; executives must fairly administer and defend those laws; and courts must impartially interpret the laws. When the votes of millions of people are ignored by the elites in government, when politicians can ignore their oath of office and assume for themselves extra-constitutional authority, when judges can ignore their own internal conflicts and impose their own political views on an issue in direct contravention of the expressed desires of the people, and when the Supreme Court can turn a blind eye to the matter and let the politicians and judges get away with it, public confidence in government is seriously, and perhaps permanently, eroded.

Some of my friends wonder if I regret taking on Prop 8, and my subsequent work in support of marriage, life, and religious liberty. The answer is no, not for a minute. I’ve never regretted standing for the truth, and I don’t regret it now. I’m not worried in the least about any impact on me, and I’ll continue to work on behalf of these critical issues. The answer to those who ask how I am doing is simply this: worry not for me, worry for thee.

Reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse

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Bishop Paul Bootkoski of the Metuchen, New Jersey
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Radio campaign targets bishop in firing of Catholic teacher over pro-marriage Facebook posts

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By Ben Johnson

SOMERVILLE, NJ, March 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Bishop Paul Bootkoski is playing defense these days, as a series of radio commercials urge Catholic faithful around the country to call the bishop and ask why a Catholic schoolteacher may lose her job for rejecting arguments for gay “marriage” on her private Facebook page.

The Lepanto Institute, headed by Michael Hichborn, aired two radio ads during the Rush Limbaugh's and Sean Hannity's radio shows on WOR on two days. “It's wrong that a Catholic school teacher is fired for defending Catholic teachings on a Facebook post,” he said.

Last Friday's ad encouraged listeners to “call Bishop Bootkoski now, 732-562-1990” and “ask him whose side he's on: Catholics who defend our faith or Hollywood liberals who mock it.”

“Tell Bishop Bootkoski to put our values ahead of political correctness,” he said.

Another ad that ran yesterday accused the bishop of “trying to cover up her firing.”

Controversy and confusion has surrounded Patricia Jannuzzi who – depending on whose story you believe – is or was a 57-year-old teacher of theology at Immaculata High School in New Jersey.

On her private Facebook account, she denied that the U.S. Constitution demands that marriage be redefined. The 14 Amendment, she wrote, did not elevate homosexuality to the same level as race or disability, and “We need healthy families with a mother and a father for the sake of the children and humanity.”

Hollywood star Susan Sarandon, whose nephew was one of Jannuzzi's former students, caused the comments to go viral and inspired a backlash calling for Jannuzzi to be silenced.

“The teacher’s comments were disturbing and do not reflect the Church’s teachings of acceptance,” Bishop Bootkoski, who leads the Diocese of Metuchen, said in a statement.

The diocese and Jannuzzi's attorney, David Oakley, are telling conflicting stories about whether the teacher – who is a breast cancer survivor – has been terminated over the post.

In an open letter to the bishop, Michael Hichborn asks for His Grace to be more specific. “What was disturbing about Mrs. Jannuzzi’s comments?” he asked. “What did Mrs. Jannuzzi say that did not reflect Catholic teaching?”

“Was her comment regarding the slow extinction of western civilization disturbing?” he asked. “Considering the fact that no less than five cities (Sodom, Gomorrah, and three others) were completely incinerated for one of the four sins which cry to Heaven for vengeance, it seems that her only misstatement was the use of the word 'slow.'”

“As you can see, Your Excellency, the situation is confusing for the faithful, which is why a clear explanation from you is so needed,” he stated.

Hichborn concluded by saying that “the world is engaging in an all-out assault on the Church’s moral teachings and that our freedom to openly practice our faith is in grave danger. Please reexamine and reconsider the injustice being done to a faithful Catholic teacher in your employ.”

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Noting the respectful tone of Hichborn's letter, Frank Walker, the assistant news editor of PewSitter.com, wrote, “It's unfortunate that we are placed in a position to have to be so gentle and respectful toward such men, is it not?”

“Who has done this to us and what have we done to enable them?”

Contact: 

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect
Congregation for Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni, 00193 Roma, Piazza Pio XII, 10
Telephone: 06.69.88.42.17
Fax: 06.69.88.53.03

Most Reverend Paul G. Bootkoski, DD
Diocese of Metuchen
146 Metlars Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08854
(732) 562-1990 ext. 1711
[email protected]

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Pro-life leaders arrested as they protest ‘betrayal’ on 20-week abortion ban outside Speaker Boehner’s office

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By Dustin Siggins
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Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition said the House leadership's decision to delay the vote on a 20-week abortion ban 'was an absolute betrayal of America's children, and a betrayal of the pro-life movement.' Courtesy of Jill Stanek
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Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek is put in the back of a police van after her arrest for the sit-in outside House Speaker John Boehner's office on March 25, 2015. Courtesy of Jill Stanek
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Pro-life leaders give a press conference outside House Speaker John Boehner's office before they are arrested. Courtesy of Jill Stanek

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Eight pro-life activists were arrested this morning in an effort to put political pressure on House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, to pass a 20-week ban that has stalled in the House.

Operation Rescue's Troy Newman, Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, and blogger Jill Stanek, along with five other activists, were arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) at approximately 11:45 a.m. EST in a combination press conference and prayer vigil.

Spokespeople for the police told LifeSiteNews that they arrested eight protesters, who "were charged with violating D.C. Code 22-1307." 

This part of the D.C. code makes it "unlawful for a person, alone or in concert with others...to crowd, obstruct, or incommode...the use of or passage through any public building or public conveyance." The law also makes it illegal "to continue or resume the crowding, obstructing, or incommoding after being instructed by a law enforcement officer to cease the crowding, obstructing, or incommoding."

Punishment for this violation can lead to a fine of as much as $500, up to 90 days in prison, or both. The spokesperson was not able to tell LifeSiteNews what would happen to Stanek, Newman, Mahoney, and the others, noting that they were still being processed at approximately 1:00 p.m. EST today.

The activists were protesting what Newman and Mahoney called a "betrayal" by the House GOP over its unwillingness to pass H.R. 36, the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act." The bill, which was promised passage during the 2015 March for Life, was held up by concerns by several Republicans members who said the rape exception was too narrow.

The exception would have allowed late-term abortions only if the victim reported the rape to police before trying to abort her child.

"What happened on January 21 this year by the Republican leadership ... in the House was an absolute betrayal of America's children, and a betrayal of the pro-life movement," Mahoney told news outlets that attended the informal press conference in the hallway in front of Boehner's personal office in Longworth House Office Building.

According to Mahoney, the pro-life movement "walked hundreds of miles" and "donated millions of dollars to give Speaker Boehner the historic majority he has in the House today. And for all that incredible hard work, we were promised on January 22nd that a vote would be held banning abortions after 20 weeks."

"On the eve of that vote ... that vote was shelved. Hundreds of thousands of people on the streets, and suddenly the ban is pulled. There's no other way to look at that, but betrayal."

Mahoney said that Republicans would not be able to count on pro-life efforts in 2016 "if we are going to be treated in such a fashion. Stop ignoring the children and the people who helped get you elected. We are four months into the new year, and they don't even have language for this bill."

Asked by LifeSiteNews why being arrested was a more effective form of protest than praying and protesting without being arrested, Mahoney said they were speaking for the unborn. He told LifeSiteNews that he believes abortion victims would say that "no business should move forward, everything should shut down, until this legislation is passed."

Newman told LifeSiteNews, "The pro-life movement needs to instill a sense of urgency in the fact that this bill must be passed."

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"While [Republicans] are in spineless mode, in cowardly mode, children are dying," he added. He said the activists who risked arrest were intending to "stand in solidarity with these children" and "sacrifice just a little bit of freedom" to "help Speaker Boehner grow a spine."

Stanek said that while she has been in the pro-life movement for 16 years, she has “never felt convicted to be arrested. I've always felt my voice was well heard speaking and writing. But when this bill failed to be brought forward on January 22, I was just so frustrated and disgusted with our Republican House leadership that they would just abandon these babies over political maneuvering, that I decided right then and there that I was willing to be arrested."

LifeSiteNews videos of the arrests showed Stanek, Newman, Mahoney, and the other five activists engaging in respectful dialogue with police as they were brought to paddy wagons outside of the Longworth office building. When asked by LifeSiteNews if police were treating them well, two activists gave an affirmative answer, with Stanek saying "very well," and another activist said that "D.C. cops are the best."

In a statement given to LifeSiteNews earlier today about the sit-in, Boehner spokesperson Olivia Hnat said, “Congressman Boehner is 100 percent pro-life and, indeed, the most pro-life speaker in the history of the House. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act remains an important priority for the pro-life majority that he leads in the House.”

Not all pro-life activists were behind the effort, however. LifeNews blogger Andrew Bair tweeted: "I miss the days when #prolife people protested pro-abortion politicians, not our allies who are working to pass #prolife bills."

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For a fleeting moment, I wondered if this was my punishment. I had convinced her to kill her first baby. Now she had killed her second baby. ADF video screenshot
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We were looking forward to adopting her baby. Then I got the devastating phone call: ‘I had an abortion’

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By Abby Johnson

I don’t remember the exact year. I wasn’t running the clinic yet. I was still working as an “abortion counselor.” I was contacted one day by a friend of mine who had a 16-year-old daughter. He was telling me about how wild his daughter was…she was into drugs, very sexually promiscuous and had now found herself pregnant. He needed me to talk her into having an abortion. 

That was a normal scenario for me. Parents would call or come in. They would try to convince me that having an abortion was absolutely the best thing for their daughters. It didn’t take much to convince me. I was confident that no teenager needed to be a parent. I was sure that abortion was pretty much always in their best interest. 

My friend and his daughter came into the clinic and when I saw her, I was absolutely sure she needed to have an abortion. She had tattoos all over her arms and chest. I could tell she had gotten them to cover up her cutting scars. She had dyed, jet-black hair, piercings in her face, and it appeared as though she had not taken a shower in about a week. Yes, this poor girl did NOT need to have a baby. It looked like she couldn’t even take care of herself. It wasn’t tough to convince her that an abortion was really the only option that made sense. She was 16…she had no job, she had no money, she was already failing at school, she did drugs, she hung out with the wrong people, not to mention that her dad had threatened to throw her out of the house if she didn’t have the abortion. 

I could tell that she really didn’t want to go through with it. But I just tried to ignore the tears that were welling up in her eyes. She didn’t know what she wanted and she certainly didn’t know what was best for herself…that’s what I told myself. 

They came back a couple days later for the actual procedure. Labs were done, paperwork was complete, and money was collected. I remember her asking me if I could come back and hold her hand during the abortion procedure. I could tell she was pretty nervous. “It will only take about five minutes,” I reassured her. 

For a fleeting moment, I wondered if this was my punishment. I had convinced her to kill her first baby. Now she had killed her second baby...the baby who I had already grown to love in just a few short days…a baby that I was going to raise as my own.

We got her back to the procedure room and got her hooked up to our monitors. The IV sedation was administered. Because she used recreational drugs, we had to give her a few more vials of the sedation in order for it to take effect. The ultrasound showed that she was about 10 weeks pregnant. Phew. I was glad she wasn’t too far along to have the abortion at our clinic. I wanted to make sure that we took care of this for her since I knew her dad. 

The procedure was done in just a few minutes and I wheeled her back to the recovery room. I got her all set up with a warm blanket, put her feet up and let her rest. I knew the recovery room nurse would be getting her up in about 20 minutes, so I figured I would come back to check on her around then. 

About 15 minutes later, I walked into the recovery room and she was still sleeping. The room had gotten pretty full, so the nurse asked if I could get her dressed and give her the discharge instructions. I had done that hundreds of times before, so I said that I would be glad to help. I grabbed her brown paper bag and sat down on a stool beside her and woke her up. After I gave her the instructions, I checked her vitals. Everything seemed to be pretty normal and she said she felt okay to stand up. I grabbed her arm to help her stand and I heard a literal splash on the floor. I looked down and saw blood everywhere. It was running down her leg, like water out of a faucet. I looked at her face and she was white as a ghost. She looked like she was either about to faint or vomit. I started yelling for the nurse…she had stepped out for a minute to grab a taco to snack on. I sat her back down in the chair. I knew both of our procedure rooms were full. I needed to get her back into one so the doctor could see her. I grabbed a wheelchair in the hall and kept yelling for someone to help me. 

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Finally, with a mouth full of food, I saw the nurse casually walking back to the room. I guess when she saw me she realized there was an emergency, as I was outwardly panicked. I had stepped in the blood all over the floor. My bloody shoeprints were everywhere. It looked like a crime scene. I put her in the wheelchair and she fainted. 

The doctor had just completed an abortion on the patient in exam room number 2, so I knew I needed to get her in that room immediately. But there was all that blood in the recovery room. I told the nurse to stay with her. I ran back to the recovery room, grabbed two handfuls of blue absorbent pads and started spreading them all over the floor. I couldn’t clean it up at the moment, but I could at least cover it up. 

We carried her out of the wheelchair and set her up on the exam table. Blood was still pouring out of her. The doctor’s assistant put the ultrasound probe on her belly and the image of her uterus we saw on the screen was black…it was completely filled with blood. The doctor turned on the suction and started suctioning the blood. Within seconds, we watched her uterus fill back up with blood. More suctioning…more blood. Soon, the doctor had filled a whole jar of blood. I unhooked the tubing, ran into the POC lab and dumped the blood into a biohazard bag. Blood splashed all over my arms and scrubs. I ran back into the room and hooked the jar back up to the tubing. 

She had regained consciousness, but was in and out. I knew we needed to call an ambulance. I was begging to call. “NO, no ambulance,” our doctor said. They were pushing more and more vials of sedation into her IV. I knew she was WAY over the maximum dose, but they just kept giving her more and more. Her blood pressure was dangerously low. I looked at my supervisor and said, “Please let me call the ambulance.” She was quick to tell me no. “We don’t need an ambulance pulling into our parking lot with all of those protestors outside.” I remember yelling back at her, “I don’t need my friend’s kid dying on this table.” The doctor started giving injections of a blood coagulant directly into her cervix. He was packing her uterus full of gauze. 

Finally after about an hour, the bleeding stopped. The doctor had perforated her uterus during the abortion procedure. I got a wet towel and wiped her off. I wanted to get as much blood off of her as I could. I wheeled her back into the recovery room. 

I knew we needed to clean up the exam room. I knew we had more patients to see. We were now backed up and behind on our schedule because of this mishap. I turned the corner and I’m pretty sure I let out an audible gasp. The exam room looked like a war zone. There was blood soaked gauze all over the floor. Blood had splattered everywhere. The end of the table was covered in dried blood. The ultrasound machine had blood all over it. I didn’t even know where to begin. After about 30 minutes, the room was back to normal. Our receptionist came to tell me that her dad was asking about the time. He wanted to make sure everything was okay since it was taking so long. I couldn’t tell him the truth. I was counting on her not remembering because of the amount of sedation she received. I was covered in blood, so I knew I had to change before I went to talk to him. Luckily, I kept a pair of extra scrubs in my desk for situations just like this one. 

I changed my clothes and walked out to the waiting room. I reassured my friend that everything was totally fine. I told him that we were just really busy and had gotten really behind. He accepted that answer…because of course he would never suspect that his friend would lie to him. 

Another hour went by and I saw that she wasn’t in her recovery room chair anymore. I was so pleased to find out that she was getting dressed and was about to leave. “We dodged a bullet on that one,” I thought to myself. But I was still really bothered that we didn’t call the ambulance when I had KNOWN that she needed it. Oh well. She was going to be fine. And my boss was right; those protestors would have had a field day if an ambulance pulled up at our clinic. Better not give them another reason to make us look bad. I assured myself that we did the right thing. 

After she was dressed, I sat down at the table with her while she was eating crackers and drinking juice. I asked her how she felt. I remember her saying that she felt really tired…and that she was “surprised” that the sedation had actually worked on her. Thank goodness. She didn’t remember a thing. We had really gotten away with it this time. I walked her out to door, gave her to her dad and they left. I knew I would see her dad soon, but I would just act like nothing happened. We didn’t need to talk about it anyway. It was over. 

A few months later, I got a call from this young woman. She started telling me horrific details about her life…things that were honestly hard to believe at first. To make a long story short, it turned out that she had been terribly abused by her father…my “friend.” He turned out to be a person who I really didn’t know at all. 

She came to live with me and Doug for quite some time. She would come, she would get her life in order, she would move out and then she would fall back into the same dangerous lifestyle. Then she would come back. I kept telling myself that one day, she would really work everything out for good. She would get thrown in jail, and I would bail her out. I just couldn’t give up on her. I grew to love her very much; like a little sister. I felt like I needed to protect her. She had been hurt by so many people. And I think I knew in the back of my mind, that I was also guilty of hurting her. 

This relationship went on for years. Things had appeared to get a little more stable in her life and I was really proud of her. Yes, she was still a little rough around the edges, but I had complete faith that she was going to be a success story. 

In January 2012, I got a phone call from her early in the morning. Doug and I were off to the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco. We had just gotten into our car and were headed to the airport. I had just entered my second trimester with my son, Alex. When I answered the phone, I could tell something was wrong. 

“I’m pregnant,” she said. I wasn’t prepared for those words at 8am…not from her. I looked at Doug and told him what she said. I wanted to be careful with my reaction, so I just asked her, “How are you feeling?” She told me that she was really scared, but that she wanted to have the baby. She said she didn’t know how she was going to raise a baby, but that she didn’t want to have an abortion. I felt a huge sense of relief. I asked her if she knew how far along she was and it turned out that she was two weeks ahead of me. We started talking about options. We ended up deciding that maybe open adoption would be the best option. But she wanted me and Doug to adopt her baby. I thought that was a great idea. I told her that we would start gathering information about private adoption. I still remember the last thing I told her on that call, “I will be back in two days. Try not to worry. We will discuss all of this as a family when we get back. I love you so much.” 

We got off the phone and I think Doug and I sat in silence for about two minutes. We would have two babies…maybe two weeks apart. The reality was sinking in for both of us. Finally, Doug said, “This will be great! It will be like having twins!” I couldn’t help but laugh at his optimism. But yes, it would be great. A baby is always great. 

When we got to San Francisco, we started talking to some adoption attorneys that we knew. It seemed like the whole process would be a piece of cake. I think Doug and I were actually getting really excited about the idea. Things seemed to be falling into place in just a few short days. I knew I still wanted her to talk to an adoption counselor. I wanted to make sure that she was comfortable with this decision, so I started lining up that meeting. 

About 48 hours later, we were on our way back to Texas. I called her to let her know. No answer. No big deal. I figured she may be at work. I left a message and told her I would call her as soon as we landed. And I did. Again, no answer. I left another message. I felt sick. I tried to shoo off my fears. 

I could hardly sleep that night. I woke up and called again. No answer. I left another messge. I knew. I knew in my heart what had happened. She had an abortion. I didn’t want to know it. I didn’t want to even consider it. But I just knew. Another call. Another message. And again. And again. 

Three days had gone by. She finally called. She was crying. “You are going to hate me,” were the first words out of her mouth. I remember fighting back tears as I said, “I will never hate you.” 

“I had an abortion.” I felt like my heart stopped for just a second. I couldn’t get any words to come out. She said she was going to come over. 

A few minutes later, I heard her come in the front door. I wanted to hug her…but I wanted to slap her. I wanted to tell her it was going to be okay…but I wanted to scream at her. How could she do this? She knows what I do. She knows that we are pro-life now. She knew that we were going to do everything we could for her and her baby. I hated her selfishness. I knew what this was about. She didn’t want the lifestyle change. She just couldn’t stand the thought of going without drinking and partying for nine months. It felt like she had taken something that was mine. 

I quickly reigned in my judgmental thoughts as soon as I felt her fall into my arms. She was sobbing. I realized at that moment that the “why” didn’t matter. I had to focus on her in this moment. I had to meet her in her brokenness. 

We sat down on the couch and she just laid her head on my lap. I just kept running my fingers through her hair. I didn’t need to say anything. It felt like we sat there in silence forever. Her baby was gone. She couldn’t go back now. 

She ended up telling me about how her boyfriend really wanted her to have the abortion. I thought back in my own life and knew that feeling all too well. I also had a boyfriend who pushed me to have an abortion many years before. I always said that I looked at her like my little sister. But instead of learning from my poor decisions like I had hoped she would, she had followed in my misguided footsteps…unstable relationships, controlling boyfriends and now two abortions. 

I couldn’t help but wonder about the “what ifs.” The biggest “what if” that plagued my mind was this: what if I had told her the truth about her first abortion? What if I hadn’t kept that a secret from her? What if she knew the harrowing details that I had failed to disclose to her? 

For a fleeting moment, I wondered if this was my punishment. I had convinced her to kill her first baby. Now she had killed her second baby...the baby who I had already grown to love in just a few short days…a baby that I was going to raise as my own. Maybe God was getting me back. But I knew God didn’t work that way. I pushed that thought to the side. 

There were two things behind her decision to abort: free will and secrecy. Her free will…my secrecy. She deserved to know what happened during her first abortion. She deserved to know how we had damaged her body. But I was too cowardly to tell her. 

I have since told her everything that I just wrote above, but sadly, it was too late. Now, she and I are sharing this story together in hopes that it will shatter any secrecy that you hold on to. Scripture is clear about secrecy. When we hold onto secrecy in our lives, Satan has power of it. 

Maybe you have an abortion in your past. Maybe you talked a friend into getting an abortion. Maybe you drove a family member to an abortion clinic. And now, maybe that secrecy is between you. Secrecy changed the path of my friend’s life. You have heard the childhood saying that “secrets hurt.” Yes, secrets can hurt, and they can also be deadly. If I hadn’t held on to my secret, maybe her child would be alive today. Maybe we would have another child in our family. Maybe my children would have another sibling. I will never know. 

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