It’s time. It’s time to share my secret, and I’m full of sadness. It’s been at least 38 years and I still wish I could undo that choice that I made on that horrible day when I killed my baby. I’ve often thought about why I want to share my story. Today when I woke up at four in the morning I began to think about a comment a friend of mine who is pro-choice made during his assessment of those who are pro-life. He said, “It’s not my womb,” even as he acknowledged that a baby in the womb is a life. No, it’s not his womb, but oh, how I wish someone had told me, “It’s a life! This is your baby! Give that child a chance to live!”
I realize as I read all the opinions about abortion and other ideologies that most of us are first and foremost informed by our experiences. I want to put a personal face to the belief that abortion should be a woman’s right to choose. I want to share my story so that maybe even one person that reads it will change their mind about abortion, that maybe one young woman will keep her baby because she will hear how painful it has been for me to know what I did all those years ago, that I have regretted that decision ever since the day that I made it. I finally told my four grown children just two years ago that they have a sibling that they did not know about, that I chose to snuff out that life because I was afraid of what others would think, and that I wasn’t married and was ashamed and scared. They cried. I told them individually, one at a time, because I could not bear to have this conversation with more than one of them at a time. It was too hard, and the scar still hurts me… and now I had to see it hurt them, too.
My abortion, the killing of my first baby, has informed my belief that abortion is fundamentally immoral and wrong. I am outraged that at 17 I could go into a clinic, and without any counseling or information, kill my unborn child. I don’t remember all the details of that day so long ago, but I remember that they were worried I might be too far along to do the abortion. I think I had to come back on another day after they confirmed the pregnancy. To be honest, I don’t even remember if they did an ultrasound, but guaranteed I was not offered to see the baby, nor was I given any information about the gestational age, what my baby looked like, or anything that might have persuaded me to change my mind. I got dropped off by my boyfriend’s sister and endured that horrible procedure alone. After it was over, I had no one that I could talk to about it, but I knew what I had done.
I often wondered how I could make that decision, when at the time, I knew that it was wrong. Looking back, I would say that two things informed that decision. First and foremost was my own selfishness — my fears and my inability to see beyond my current circumstances into my future. The second was the fact that when I was 13 years old, someone close to me told me that she was pregnant and that she was going to have an abortion. Without me being aware of it, killing my baby became a choice for me at that point in time. I never talked to that person again about the repercussions of her choice, but keeping that baby would likely not have had the devastating result in her life that we feared it would, just as having my baby wouldn’t have ruined mine. Of course, I can’t know what my life would have actually been like if that baby had been allowed to live, but I know that not long after, I got married and had a child. I was a good mother even though very young and not much had changed.
How I wish it had not been that easy — that someone would have given me options, or that they would have told me about the regrets and pain that I would carry for the rest of my life if I made that choice.
“It’s a woman’s right to choose,” “It’s not my womb,” “My body, my choice” — these all sound so plausible and reasonable, but the voice of the unborn child is not heard, and there is no concern that basic morality tells us that this is murder, or that we don’t have the right to take the life of another who is completely innocent. We also have turned a deaf ear to the thousands of women who have gotten abortions and suffer with regret and anguish over their decision.
I read recently a quote from Chip Ingram that said, “Abortion may be the most important moral issue, not just of our day, but in all history.” I believe he is correct. What makes this so gut-wrenching is that as a society, we don’t even recognize this fact. We are so far away from having an intact moral fabric as a culture that the deaths of over 50 million babies since 1973 does not faze many of us. We cannot even begin to know the cost of this tragedy, this great wrong that we have committed.
I recently heard Mia Love discuss her parents’ choice to not choose abortion. “They chose life,” she said. “They didn’t choose what might have been; they chose what is to come. They went and followed and fostered that life, and the future and the dreams that baby would bring.” Love also said, “Each child born and unborn has the potential to open up our world and take us to places and spaces we’ve never imagined. Each living child carries with him or her the potential for greatness.”
Love said that every time a child is killed by an abortion, the potential of the country is killed as well: “Every time we kill a child, we, all of us, suffer,” Love said. “We lose a little of ourselves and a whole lot of our future.”
I lost a lot of myself on that fateful day over 38 years ago; I lost a lot of my future. I will never know the potential that child had or the grandchildren they may have borne me. So much was lost and I didn’t know.
I realize that trying to fight this battle against the onslaught that says there is no absolute truth, that everything is relative to our experiences, that no one can tell you anymore what is wrong or right may seem utter foolishness to many. But I cannot give up hope that truth will win, that true love puts the other first, that it is not just about me, that having a “voice for the voiceless” first and foremost means speaking out for the unborn to give them a chance. And maybe, just maybe, more of us will choose to release the potential for greatness that we have as a people by sacrificing for the greater good of all.
Editor’s Note: This article has been edited for clarity and was originally printed at A Sojourner Bound for a Heavenly Kingdom. It is reprinted here with permission.