‘The single biggest mistake of my entire life’: a letter from a post-abortive woman
The following unsigned letter was received by a priest friend of mine following a pro-life homily. Her message is a powerful one that deserves to be heard by and shared with all young women and parents in a similar situation. I am happy to share her witness with you:
Do you ever hear a homily or Bible verse and feel as if God is directly speaking to you?
This weekend I wasn’t sure if I would go to church or skip it for the week. I was tired, I had a long week and frankly, I didn’t want to be out in public dealing with arguing and talkative children who have to go potty just to get out of their seats.
In spite of my brain saying to skip Sunday Mass, my heart forced the keys into the ignition and I found my way to church.
As I sat in the pew with my little family, I listened intently as the uncomfortable topic of abortion came up. At that very moment, I knew God was talking to me. Sharing His forgiveness and unconditional love and also sending a message by tugging on my heart that I need to share my story.
I am one of you. I am Catholic, a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend. I am a sinner, and by the Grace of God, I am forgiven. I could be sitting next to you at this very moment and you don’t even know it. I am one of those people you would never guess had a dark story behind me. While I don’t feel compelled to disclose my identity, I do feel the story behind the person is important and should be shared.
Abortion is one of those subjects that make people squirm in their seats and rightfully so. It is an act that destroys virtually everything we’re taught to respect in the Bible. Our bodies, love between all parties (including the baby), the sexual act itself and especially the fact that once conception has occurred, there is a human being where there once was none.
So many people try to convince mothers facing an unintended pregnancy that the “product of conception” (aka: the baby) is simply “tissue”. Pro-choice individuals attempt to dilute the fact that once the sperm fertilizes the egg, there is now a living human being; a very tiny person who already has a purpose and dignity given by God.
When I was 15, I found myself going out with a boy who I came to truly believe was the love of my life. We knew more than our parents and defied every attempt to keep us apart. Sneaking out nightly to meet somewhere between his house and mine was more common than not and very soon thereafter, I found myself giving him the most sacred gift God had given me.
I absolutely had the mindset that “it won’t happen to me.” I knew how pregnancy happened and I knew we weren’t using any contraception, but I still was in denial that I might find myself pregnant.
I will never forget the feeling that went through my body as I sat in the bathroom of the grocery store after taking that pregnancy test and seeing two very bright lines come up in the little square. My legs went weak. I felt like I was going to faint. I was shaking uncontrollably. I was crying.
I called out for my boyfriend who was waiting outside the door and he came inside. It was the middle of the night and nobody was even around to notice a guy walking into the women’s bathroom to hold onto a young girl now facing a very adult situation.
We left the grocery store and headed to his sister’s house. Once we got there, we called my parents. They did not realize that I was even gone until the phone rang. They thought all along that I was in my bed sleeping. Through my hysteria, they guessed that I was pregnant after a few questions. This is where the situation could have gone one of two ways, and unfortunately, it went downhill and very fast.
It was made clear that I was a shame to the family. It was continuously reiterated that if I chose to continue with the pregnancy, I would not be allowed outside of the house for nine months. I had brought such disgrace to our family and I now wore the Scarlet Letter.
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Feeling as if I had already done such an injustice to the family name, I felt pressured to “get rid of the pregnancy” to save face and spare the family any more humiliation than I already caused. In spite of my parents telling me they would not force me to make a decision either way, I felt as if I had no choice if they were going to ever love me again.
It wasn’t the baby that I didn’t want. I simply didn’t want for my parents to hate me anymore.
The first appointment I made was to hear a doctor tell me I was not far along enough to “achieve the goal” of termination due to a tilted uterus. He sent me home and told me to return in four weeks.
As time went on, I endured daily comments about how disappointed my family was that I had chosen to gallivant around and get myself pregnant. I had horrible morning sickness and was so thin that I was already starting to show. My parents now forbade my boyfriend to have any contact with me whatsoever and my friends wanted nothing to do with me. I sat in my room and cried every hour that I was awake.
Another appointment was made for me and I went to the same doctor who had told me to return in four weeks. He tried to perform the abortion that day in the office, but due to my uterus being too far tilted still, he was unable to succeed. It was painful and terrifying. He referred me to an “abortion specialist” and I left his office, for the second time, still pregnant.
The night before my appointment with the specialist, I vividly remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom crying until I had no tears to cry. I knew what I was about to do was wrong. My heart hurt so badly. I wanted to have the strength to say I would not have the abortion but I was desperate for my parents love and approval again. As I sat there curled up in a ball crying, I physically and very clearly heard a strong yet soft man’s voice in the darkness of my bedroom.
The only words spoken were, “Don’t do it.”
The day of my abortion, both of my parents took me. I was led to a very cold room and given an IV to put me to sleep. I don’t remember anything of the actual abortion itself.
When I woke up, I was told it was over and was given Oreo cookies and orange juice. Immediately I regretted what I had just done. I had 13 long weeks to make this decision and it was suddenly crystal clear that I made the wrong choice but I could no longer go back and undo it. To this day, the abortion is the single biggest mistake of my entire life. My dad carried me out of the building and the details afterwards are very foggy.
Seventeen years later, there has not been a single day go by that I haven’t wondered about the baby whose life was cut short because of a choice. I look at my children now with the knowledge of having robbed them the chance to have an older sibling that they have never even heard about. Knowing I took the only opportunity for the father of the baby to have a child of his own. Living with such mental and emotional distress that not only I, but my husband now has to deal with, and finally, wondering each day if I am truly forgiven and if I will be allowed into heaven after I die.
I can say with 100% conviction that absolutely nothing positive came from my abortion.
Looking back now that I am an adult, I find myself asking what my parents could have done differently once I was in the situation that may have led me to keep the baby or put him or her up for adoption by choosing life. I’ve played over a hundred times in my head what I will say to any of my children if they come to me pregnant or having gotten someone pregnant.
If you are the parent to a pre-teen or teenager, please rehearse what you would do if your child finds themselves facing an unintended pregnancy, and talk with your spouse about it. So many parents say “not me, not my child,” but I am living proof of being a teenager who would go to any length to do what I wanted to do. My parents did not realize I wasn’t even a virgin until the night I called to tell them I was pregnant. Sure they asked me, but I lied and they believed me. They had no idea I had been sneaking around seeing my boyfriend at night.
If your child comes to you and tells you that she is pregnant, or that he got someone pregnant, please reach out and hug your child. Hug her with depth, sincerity and love. Hold her and let her cry. Cry with her and let her know everything will be okay and that you will stick by her and make the right choices with her. Most importantly, remind her that she is loved by you and God, No Matter What.
At this point, what’s done is done and your child is already scared. She has already judged herself and feels horrible for letting you down. She needs your support and she needs you, in your maturity, to think clearly for her and to do everything in your power to not allow her to have an abortion. She will regret it and if you allow it, someday, you will wish you had your grandchild to celebrate with. Some regrets are so painful they cut deeper than a knife and leave scars that never heal.
If you are a teenager listening to my story, please realize that someone has been in your shoes before. I’ve been “in love” with a boy who cared more about physical desires than my true well being.
If a boy or girl truly loves you, he or she will support and encourage you in putting God first and staying out of situations where you may find yourself feeling very alone and scared with another life on the line.
If you are currently facing an unintended pregnancy, know that God chooses to make every single baby inside each pregnant womb and He makes no mistakes. All conceived children have meaning and purpose, regardless if the timing is right for you or not.
To this day, 17 years later, I know in my heart, the voice I heard the night before my abortion was the voice of God. I will never get over knowing that I heard, out loud, the voice of God who told me not to do something and I chose to do it anyway.
I don’t know how many of you will remember my story, but if I can positively impact the life of only one person, then it was not written in vain.
Remember that it is never too late to start over. It is never too late to turn around and decide to make the right choices going forward. It is never too late to come to God and decide to walk the right path, even if the one you’ve been on isn’t the best.
The message to take away from my story is that abortion is wrong. You know it, I know it. I knew it and did it anyway. Seventeen years later, I am still suffering the consequences of it.
No matter what, know in your heart of hearts that it is not, hasn’t ever been, and will never be “just tissue.” From the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg, there is a human being with purpose, with meaning, created by God. Please do not deny God’s gifts and please learn from my horrible mistake. You will be glad you did. I promise. Some things cannot be undone. Ever.
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Arland K. Nichols is the National Director of HLI America. He writes for the Truth and Charity Forum, where this letter first appeared. It is reprinted with permission.
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Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business
DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.
Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”
The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.
“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.
As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.
“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.
American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.
“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”
That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.
Be loving and compassionate, he said.
“Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.
Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.
Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers
MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.
Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.
DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.
DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.
She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.
“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”
Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.
“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.
After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.
“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”
Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.
"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.
DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.
Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.
Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.
When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”
DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary.
The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage
May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.
Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.
This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.
Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.
“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:
In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.
By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”
That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”
Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.
And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.
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