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.