Tag Archives: Abortion

I Am a Reluctant Watchman

The Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is offered by guest bartender Lynn. She is asking us to write about what the watchman sees. I decided to take my first line from the Isaiah verse she quoted, with a slight modification. This prompt was actually perfect for me this week as I’ve been writing more (in prose/essay form) about my personal experience with abortion. I’ve felt a little like the watchman, though a reluctant one.

I Am a Reluctant Watchman

Go set a watchman; let her announce what she’s seen
Declares the Lord our God
It’s not about me, knows the watchman, but where I’ve been

I don’t want to play watchman in our world today
I tell the Lord my God
It’s not about you, He replies, you must go this way

And so I speak the atrocities I’ve both seen and done
Trusting the Lord my God
Then I share the compassion of Jesus the Son

Murder I see and murder I’ve perpetrated
Grieving the Lord our God
For our own convenience children are daily terminated

Lies I was told and deception reigns supreme
Angering the Lord our God
I wish I could say this is only a horrible dream

But He’s set me a watchman to announce what I’ve seen
Glorifying the Lord my God
With the truth I learned when I was just seventeen

Choices made out of fear can never be undone
Whispers the Lord my God
But they can be forgiven by the grace Christ has won

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Why I Did the Unthinkable

Stories of women doing the unthinkable—killing their own children—often make headlines. See this article for a list of 20 such women. There is a collective outrage and feeling of disbelief when women kill their children and we call for the most severe punishment. Often these women have reasons, ranging from mental illness to wanting to free themselves to be available for a boyfriend or spouse to cashing in on an insurance policy.

Well, I confess that I’ve done the unthinkable, too, as have thousands of women who never make headlines. The difference is our children—living children with their own DNA and blood type—were still in our wombs at the time.

And we all had our reasons. I know I had mine. I was young. I had my whole life, my college and career plans, ahead of me. I didn’t want to be connected in any way to the father, who was an older man with a wife and kids, and a rapist to boot. I didn’t want to end up like my friend who got pregnant at 15, had the baby, got married, and now lived with an abusive husband. I didn’t want my mother to be disappointed or angry with me.

The sad thing is none of these reasons justified killing my innocent child. She didn’t do anything wrong. As much as society told me it was okay—the U.S. Supreme Court had even said eight years earlier that I had a legal right to kill my pre-born baby—the knowledge deep in my heart that it was wrong haunted me. It haunts me still. And it compels me to now write about my experience in the hopes of saving even one young woman faced with the difficult circumstance of an unwanted pregnancy to understand that there is no justification that will fully satisfy a mother’s heart.

I held a deep belief that I was worthless. I wasn’t sure where this vision of myself as worthless came from, because by outward appearances I was a successful young woman. I was a college and law school graduate—because in college and law school I could immerse myself in my studies and bury the truth deeper in my heart. I was married to a wonderful man who knew about my past and loved me nonetheless. But I was fooling myself as much as I was the rest of the world.

After law school, the attempts at fooling myself and everyone else came unraveled. I spent seven years living with debilitating depression and social anxiety. I didn’t understand why—I just thought I was broken beyond repair. And I was broken. My spirit was grieving and broken over my own sin and I was mired in a sea of unforgiveness towards myself and others who had hurt me. I knew I was guilty and nothing I did or said, no reasons I had at the time, could justify what I had done.

But thankfully, God has made a way for this woman who was guilty of killing her own child to be justified—to be declared guiltless or innocent—and that is through the grace of Christ. Through His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus paid for my sin; He also paid for the sin of every other mother.

If you have had an abortion and been plagued by the regret and the guilt, take heart. God loves you still. Like the prodigal son who was welcomed back after squandering his inheritance on wild living, you will be welcomed back into relationship with God. Even as you are far off, He will run to you and celebrate your return.

You are not worthless. Your life is of great value to the King of kings and He desires to heal your wounds.

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It’s Not about Women’s Health

I’ve been avoiding writing this blog post for about two weeks now, but I can’t avoid it any more. If this is truly going to be another fearless year, then I have to write fearlessly, even if that means getting into a difficult discussion with someone over a blog post.

The thing that finally pushed me to write this today was this article I read on the Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM) website while I was eating my lunch. It is about the Planned Parenthood (PP) protest this past weekend in Portland, Oregon. There were 300 such peaceful protests across the nation, but this one happened to be where I live and where the headquarters of EPM is located.

I loved one of the pictures in this article because in addition to people holding a sign that says “Planned Parenthood Kills Babies” there were others holding a sign that says “Planned Parenthood Deceives Women.” As I’ve written before, although I am saddened by the culture of death and the many murdered children at the hands of PP, my heart is with the many women who have had abortions and lived to regret that decision. Many of those women, like me, were deceived by PP and are also victims.

The pro-choice voice claims that the right of a woman to have an abortion is a women’s health issue and that PP is about women’s health. These claims couldn’t be further from the truth. Pregnancy is not a disease that needs to be treated or cured. It is not healthy for a woman to have an abortion. In fact, having an abortion increases a woman’s risk of major depression and suicidal tendencies by 30% to 40%, it increased the risk of breast cancer by 30%, and it increases the risk of future miscarriage.

But it was my experience that PP didn’t disclose any of those risks. I didn’t find out about them until after I’d suffered with seven years of major clinical depression (following many years of low-grade depression), been suicidal, and had a miscarriage. So far I haven’t also gotten breast cancer, but with my family history of this disease, I certainly did not need to increase my risk.

The “health care providers” at PP were not concerned with my health; they were concerned only with getting my money. They weren’t concerned with who the father was or the fact that he had been an older man who raped a teenage girl; they didn’t even ask. They didn’t provide any pre- or post-abortion counseling, they didn’t advise me of the health risks of having an abortion, and they didn’t even schedule a follow-up visit. What doctor doesn’t schedule a follow-up visit after an invasive medical procedure?

I left the PP clinic that day, headed off to a Future Business Leaders of America camp, and bled so much that I thought I was going to die. (In fact, when I bled that much after my miscarriage years later, the emergency room rushed me back to an exam room without even checking in first—that’s how serious that kind of bleeding can be.) But PP didn’t warn me about this possibility or tell me what to do if it did happen. I was a scared 17-year-old with no one looking out for my health—PP certainly wasn’t.

Tell me you think a woman has a right to choose to kill her own baby—if you think that’s a defensible position—but don’t tell me that right is a women’s health issue. It quite simply is not.

If you want to champion women’s health, then help women find the spiritual and emotional health to deal honestly with a pregnancy they don’t want. Help them understand that whatever the circumstances that led to their pregnancy, God loves them and their child. There are options, including adoption, which are far healthier for them—and definitely healthier for their baby. What finally got me healthy after the trauma of being raped and having an abortion was the love of Jesus. I only wish someone had helped me find that love before it was too late for my child.

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Stop Throwing Stones

If you spend any time on social media and have conservative Christian friends or follow conservative Christian feeds, then no doubt you have seen numerous posts lately decrying the murder of innocent babies. Especially with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the release of undercover videos of meetings with Planned Parenthood officials, it’s impossible to avoid these posts. I will admit that I’ve shared or liked a few myself, though I am always careful that the right message is coming across in the post when I do.

I see a huge problem with the way the pro-life position is presented in social media. If not done carefully and gracefully, it amounts to throwing stones at hundreds of thousands of women who have had abortions and lived to regret that choice. We know what we did was wrong and have lived with the shame of our choice—some of us for decades. We can’t undo what we did and your insensitive posting of “Abortion is murder” messages only causes us more shame and guilt, delaying the healing for many. Even those of us who know God has forgiven and redeemed us can be hurt by these posts.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a conservative Christian myself, in the sense that I believe the Bible to be the Word of God and that it contains the whole truth about God and how His people should live. I am also pro-life, though I was not always. But on the abortion issue my heart is more concerned with the women who were lied to or were in a situation where having an abortion seemed like the only possible choice, and are now suffering from depression, suicidal tendencies, or PTSD, or who are just living a life of fear that someone might learn their secret.

One social media post I saw recently that illustrates the type of insensitivity I’m talking about is this cartoon:

birthday

Frankly, I don’t believe this is the scene in Heaven. Why would a baby in Heaven wish to be on earth? Why would a baby in Heaven “wish” anything? Wishing is for those without faith. People who know God pray, not wish. And these babies know God—they rest in His tender care.

I believe all of the babies who died as the result of an abortion are instead kneeling before the throne of Christ interceding for their mothers. I believe they are asking God to have mercy and praying that the Church would show them grace. I believe they are asking God to remind the Church of His words: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7). I believe our children want those of us who killed them—either because we didn’t know what we were doing or because we were between a rock and a hard place and couldn’t see any other option—to hear Jesus say: “Then neither do I condemn you. . . Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).

The Church—meaning the people of God and each individual one of us—has to stop throwing stones at women who have had an abortion. We have to choose instead to show them grace and mercy, to help them heal in Christ. I say this as one who needs that grace and mercy every single day just to survive.

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Not Just a Statistic

The prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a poem in common meter, but to use some of the tricks that Emily Dickenson used to make common meter a little more interesting. I love an opportunity to sort of break the rules of form, but only a little.

The topic of this poem is one that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I decided this challenge was the time to trot it out.

Not Just a Statistic

Statistics are eye-opening
But overwhelming—sad
Three thousand babies killed each day
Yet women’s rights can’t cede

Statistics belie tragedy
Each single data point
A mother—and a single child
Ever a mournful plaint

Behind each dreaded statistic
Individual lives
Each one suffering painfully
Waiting to know God loves

Let’s look beyond the statistics
Open our eye as well
To all the hurt souls who need us
Provide hope as they wail

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The Philosophy of Choice

The prompt at dVerse Poets Pub yesterday was offered by Brian Miller, back from a 5-month break from the pub. During his absence, he took a philosophy class and so is calling us to write about philosophy, with the requirement that our poem be titled “The Philosophy of ______” or “A Philosophy of ______.”

When I first read the prompt, I thought of writing something lighthearted and funny. The title “The Philosophy of Dogs” came to mind, but that’s as far as I got with that idea. I remembered that Bjorn once commented on one of my poems that my writing is better when I write from the heart. Although I do love dogs, and mine in particular, what is really on my heart these days is something much more serious. And so this poem was conceived.

The Philosophy of Choice

The philosophy of choice says
that the convenience of one life
is equally as important as
the continued existence of another

I once bought into this philosophy
and  I chose convenience
I had my whole life ahead of me
my college plans, my career, my life

And so I chose my convenience
and her death

I thought I was justified because
the conception was not my choice
It was forced upon me and so
I shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced
by this life I didn’t want

It was supposed to be so simple, so easy
but no one told me about the regret
the shame and the anguish that would come
that would inconveniently lead to depression
stealing seven years of my life
coloring every day thereafter

The tears I’ve cried over that one choice
would drown a small army of giants
Perhaps I had to cry every tear
she never got the chance to cry

The time for choosing is long past
But if I had it to do over again
I would choose my inconvenience
and her life

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Monsoon of Mercy

At dVerse Poets Pub today, Abhra tells a tale of the monsoon season in India. The “prompt” for the day is fairly vague, so I drew from Abhra’s story about how the hot, dry summer is followed by the monsoon. And I tapped into the discussion in the comments to Anthony’s post Pub Talk: Poetry and Making a Difference. I’ve written this as a Kyrielle because I’m finding a like this form a lot. It has just enough repetition to suit me.

Monsoon of Mercy

Sin and shame deeply scorch my soul
Freedom from consequence my goal
But my choice left me dry, not whole
Healed by Your monsoon of mercy

She was the victim of my choice
Never will I hear her small voice
Yet in His arms she can rejoice
Healed by His monsoon of mercy

Now there is no condemnation
Only grace for Your creation
Regret remains a grave fixation
Healed by Your monsoon of mercy

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Unheard – A Sedoka (Sort of)

The deafening sound
of a cry unheard, silenced
‘ere it had a chance at life

Echoes whispering
in a mother’s heart and soul
aching to hear what’s unheard

* * * * *

2/25/14 Update: Shared this for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night today because I haven’t had time to write a new poem for today.

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A Voice for the Voiceless

One of my favorite verses in the New Testament is James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” In Biblical times, orphans and widows were the voiceless victims of society. Unless someone spoke up for them and looked after them, they had no recourse for their helpless plight.

God has always been concerned about the voiceless and needy. “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV). He calls His people to do the same.

There have long been those who would take advantage of the voiceless, who seek to crush the orphan and the widow. The Psalmist reminds us of what such people do:

They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob takes no notice.”
Psalm 94:6-7 (NIV).

In our society today there are many who defend the cause of the widow and the orphan. Our laws protect these citizens who historically have been voiceless. Our churches have risen up to provide food and clothing to those in need. We have a long way to go to reach the point when the cause of all has been defended, but we have as a people heeded this call of our God and do our best.

Still, there is another voiceless segment of our society that does not enjoy the protection of our laws. There are even some groups within the church who do not defend their cause. They need someone to be their voice, to defend their right to live.

Today’s voiceless are the unborn who have no legal right to life. Even though an unborn child has her own heartbeat, her own internal organs, and can even have a different blood type than her mother, she has not been given the legal right to live if her mother decides to have an abortion before she is born.

I understand the right of a pregnant mother to choose. As I mentioned in a recent post, I used to be strongly pro-choice. I also understand that there are circumstances when the rights of a pregnant woman to not have to carry the child of her rapist to term or to not have to carry a child to term when her health is at risk might outweigh the right of the unborn child to life. The decision of whether to have an abortion is not an easy one, and it shouldn’t be. It is a balancing of the rights of two individuals who are connected by a bond the human mind cannot fully understand.

What bothers me about the pro-choice stance is that it claims that there is only one person with rights to be considered. I agree that a pregnant woman has and should have rights, but those who are zealously pro-choice cannot pretend that they have not made a moral decision that her rights are greater than that of her unborn child. Her child is not just a lump of tissue, like a cancerous tumor, that should have no rights and can simply be discarded without consequence.

Each unborn child is a voiceless human being. God has called us to defend their cause. If we are going to make a choice, let’s be honest about what that choice is.

Note: I wasn’t going to write this post. My post about abortion last week was going to be my first and last. I’d said my peace and thought I was done. But then I kept seeing cartoon posts on Facebook suggesting that if Mitt Romney were elected we would be setting back the rights of women by 50 years because of his pro-life beliefs. I was particularly surprised because a number of these posts were by friends who are Christians. I couldn’t seem to set aside my frustration that anyone would reduce this difficult topic to a one-liner cartoon. It is an issue that deserves more.

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Courting Controversy; Trusting in Love

Normally on my blog the only really controversial subject I write about is my belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation. It is a subject I feel strongly about and feel led to share about.

There is another controversial subject that I have never written about here, but that has been on my mind a lot lately. In fact having this post rattle around in my head taking up space for the past month is a big part of the reason I took a month off from posting. I have wanted to avoid this subject because no matter how I approaches it, there is bound to be someone who takes offense and reads something into what I’ve written that was not what I intended. It is a subject that is typically “discussed” with sound bites and angry one-liners.

In the end, I’ve decided to write about this subject in terms of my own story as well as adding a bit of a book review in the mix. This controversial subject is abortion.

For much of my life I was strongly pro-choice. I even attended a NARAL rally with my sister in Portland, Oregon many years ago. I was (and still am) a strong proponent of a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body, and I believed that making sure a woman could have an abortion any time she chose to was the best way to protect that right.

But then something happened that changed my heart and mind on abortion. My son was five years old at the time and I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled because we had been trying to get pregnant with our second child for four years. We were so excited that we told everyone when I was only six-weeks along.

About a week later I started having some spotting so I went to see the nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office. She sent me for an ultrasound. I had never had an ultrasound before except when I was almost nine months along with my son, so I was not really prepared for what I saw. The ultrasound technician pointed out my little baby and his or her heartbeat on the monitor. The baby was very small, but the human shape and the beating heart were unmistakable.

Unfortunately, the ultrasound also revealed that my placenta was tearing away from the uterine wall. I was directed to go home and rest, and I hoped that it would heal and all would be okay. Two days later I had a miscarriage.

In my grief over the loss of this child I cried out to God, but I found comfort in the thought that someday I would meet my little baby in heaven. Suddenly I realized how hypocritical and illogical it was to mourn the loss of this child only seven weeks after his or her conception while simultaneously believing that to abort a child at the same stage of development involved only the mother’s body. I realized that what Dr. Seuss once said through the words of Horton the Elephant was true: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Several years later a friend loaned me a book titled Won by Love by Norma McCorvey. It is her autobiography as Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade. She tells the story of how she became the poster child for the pro-choice movement, worked in an abortion clinic, and was ultimately won over by love to the realization that abortion was not a right worth fighting for. Her story is heartbreaking and compelling. In her first-hand recounting of her time working in an abortion clinic, Norma exposes the truth that abortion clinics and doctors were more concerned about their bottom lines than about the health and care of women facing crisis. Her story is worth reading.

Then when my son was in the eighth grade he took a communications class in which he was required to prepare and present several speeches. When the persuasive speech assignment came up, he was randomly assigned the pro-life position on abortion. As he worked on his speech he shared with me the research that he had found in the school’s article database. The research showed that women who have an abortion with their first pregnancy are 30% to 40% more likely to suffer from depression, attempt to or successfully commit suicide, and to get breast cancer than women who brought their first pregnancy to term. I wondered if these risks are shared with women facing this choice by clinics like Planned Parenthood. Based on Norma McCorvey’s story I suspect that they are not.

When all is said and done, I find that I do not advocate for making abortion completely illegal. This would only lead to those who profit from this industry to go underground and abortion would become even more dangerous than it is.

What I do advocate is that when faced with a decision about what to do with an unplanned pregnancy, women should be given all the information necessary to make an informed and logical choice. They should not be led to believe that the only option is to abort their child, because adoption is also a viable option. They should be made aware of the fact that the child inside them is a living being with his or her own heartbeat. They should be informed that having an abortion increases their risk of depression, suicidal tendencies, and breast cancer by as much as 30% to 40%. They should be made aware that the child they are considering aborting may be destined to be a woman who also deserves the right to choose.

But all of the facts, statistics, and rhetoric in the world will never be enough to change a person’s position on this issue. My position was changed by love – by the love I felt for my lost child and the love of God. Norma McCorvey’s position was changed by the love of the folks at Operation Rescue that moved in next door to the abortion clinic she worked at and the love of God. Ultimately it is love that will win the day in the battle for the lives of unborn children who have no voice of their own.

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