Raised by strict, traditional parents who practiced Buddhism, Brianna Carter* (not her real name) was safely ensconced in a protected bubble for most of her life. At 18 years old, she met a young man whom she saw as an avenue to escape a rocky home life.
“While I knew he wasn’t the right person, I went to live with him and his family,” Carter told Live Action News. “But soon, I was stuck in a toxic relationship with him and didn’t know how to leave.”
She thought their relationship would improve if they married. Her boyfriend wanted to have a baby, but Carter wasn’t sure she was ready for a child. Then she became pregnant.
“I didn’t think there would be any consequences to having sex,” Carter said. “Not only did I get pregnant, I lost my job at a doctor’s office. I suspect it was because they did not want to pay for my prenatal care.”
Trapped in a toxic home
Now unemployed, Carter hid her pregnancy from her family, too frightened to inform her parents.
“I stayed away from my parents’ home,” she said. “But my boyfriend told my sister, who got very angry with me. Eventually, my parents found out, and my mother insisted I get rid of the baby.”
Her father was more supportive. He was relocating to another state for a job and urged her to go with him.
“I didn’t know much about abortion at the time, and was surprised when my mother implored me to terminate my pregnancy, but to her, I would be ruining my life if I didn’t,” Carter said. “In my parents’ eyes, I had been a ‘failure’ since I was in high school.”
Still living with her boyfriend, Carter was in their bedroom one day when his family began berating her. She felt as if she was being held hostage and couldn’t see a way out.
“I honestly considered jumping out of the window in a desperate attempt to get away,” she recalled. “I called my brother and asked him to call the police. An officer came and escorted me out of the house.”
Distraught, Carter remembers thinking she’d rather die than have her baby. Too much drama surrounded her pregnancy. She had tried to get a restraining order against her boyfriend and his family, to no avail. Her friends advised her to have an abortion. For Carter, it seemed the only way to achieve normalcy.
Encouraged by friends to have an abortion
“A friend drove me to Planned Parenthood where I saw people on the sidewalk standing with signs claiming abortion was murder,” Carter said. “I didn’t understand their anger at the time. All I knew was that I was scared and felt helpless.”
There, Carter paid $500 to get the required ultrasound. As she turned her head to look at her baby on the screen, the nurse admonished her, telling her she might change her mind about having the abortion. “I think I wanted to be blind, so I didn’t look,” she said.
She was told she was 14 weeks gestation, and given a pill which she took that evening. The next day Carter returned to the clinic for the procedure, but she saw nobody gathered on the sidewalk.
“In my heart, I didn’t want to have the abortion and I was hoping the group with the signs would be there to help me,” Carter said. “Sensing my hesitancy, my friend urged me to have the abortion, promising me I’d be free once it was over.”
As a terrified Carter laid on the table, the reticent young woman implored the abortionist to stop. At once, she felt her baby’s movements for the first time, like a bubble floating inside of her. The abortionist ignored her pleas, and soon, it was over.
“I was so angry with myself,” she said. “I wanted to die. I was already dead inside.”
A broken heart leads to attempted suicide
A week later, Carter, who had been born with a heart murmur, took an Ecstasy pill, which triggered a seizure. As she awoke in the emergency room, the doctor informed her she almost died from trauma to her heart.
“I wanted to tell him that I wished I had,” Carter said. “As a result of that seizure, I had to undergo open heart surgery later. The abortion damaged my heart, physically and literally.”
With Carter now living in the Midwest, broken and ashamed, her sister (who had converted to Christianity) became instrumental in leading her to Christ.
“When I accepted Christ, I was filled with joy and had a new perspective,” Carter said. “I got connected to the Christian community, but I kept the abortion hidden. I reached out to a woman who led grief support groups and she got me into a Bible study for post abortive women.”
Moving back to Texas, Carter briefly connected with her former boyfriend. Four years had passed, she was now a Christian, and realized a reunion would not be possible. She needed to move forward.
Seeing sidewalk counselors praying in front of Planned Parenthood ignited a desire inside of her. She wanted to stand alongside them, but the shadow of shame still followed her, and self-doubt lingered. As she sat in church one Sunday, her pastor encouraged the congregation to share their testimonies.
Redemption leads to new purpose
“It was then God whispered it was time for me to speak,” she said. “I wrote out my story for the first time in 15 years and was asked to share it, so I did.”
She was astounded at the outpouring of love and compassion from the church members as a result. One woman tapped her on the shoulder afterwards, and told her she had been set free.
Now married with two daughters, Carter said that carrying her babies to term was cathartic. She believes that God doesn’t waste pain, and has used her experience for a higher purpose.
Finding her voice has enabled Carter to give her testimony at a March for Life event and in defense of pro-life legislation. Governor Greg Abbott requested her attendance at the signing of the heartbeat bill. She has led a team of sidewalk counselors to seven abortion clinics on a rotating schedule to advocate for women in crisis.
“I shared the love and compassion of Christ to these women, and many have chosen life for their babies,” Carter said. “One even invited me to her baby shower. God has blessed me even when I was undeserving. He never holds our sins against us.”