Sixteen years ago my best friend made a decision that changed her life. At twenty *Jean was single, popular, and enjoying the college life while working part time at a law office. She had a boyfriend but nothing serious. She was too smart to get tied down so young. Her sights were set on law school.
Everyone loved Jean, and things seemed to be going according to plan until one morning when everything came crashing down.
Jean had discovered that she was pregnant.
Not wanting to be burdened by an unwanted pregnancy Jean wasted no time planning for an abortion. “At that moment I knew my life was going to change, but it wasn’t the change I wanted. I so wanted to be free. I didn’t feel like I had an option other than abortion,” she shared.
It wasn’t much later that my friend walked into what she thought was an abortion clinic. She had readied herself for the appointment having disconnected herself from the fetus within her. A pregnancy didn’t have to mean a baby.
As Jean entered the Pregnancy Crisis Center a kind woman met her and listened to her story. The woman soon learned that my friend had entered the center by accident. Jean was terrified. The resolve that she had mustered to enter what she thought was an abortion clinic was disintegrating. The counselor asked Jean if she would like to stay anyway. Jean agreed.
Jean relates her encounter and subsequent emotions:
The counselor was patient and answered my questions. She shared information about the development of the baby. I hadn’t allowed myself to think of it as a baby. When I came to terms with the reality that there was a person inside of me, I wondered, “How can I destroy a life?” I just knew I couldn’t. That is when everything really changed. I didn’t know if I should get married, or if the father would even marry me. I was so confused and selfish. I thought terrible things like, “Maybe, if I could just lose this baby. Then I’d be free.” And I knew this meant I had to stop drinking. Even though I didn’t know what the future held I made the decision to keep my baby.
I asked Jean how she feels about her decision now – sixteen years later. “I have a beautiful, fifteen-year-old daughter. She is wonderful. It is only by God’s grace that I walked into the wrong place so many years ago,” she smiled. “I didn’t find the answers all at once, but I did find hope, and I want others to discover that hope. I had no idea that there were people praying for me a ‘wild child!’ And I thank God every day.”
I thank God as well for Jean’s bravery to face the unknown embracing the life that God created, and for her desire to reach out to young women faced with the same challenges she has endured since that life-altering day.
Abortion is one of the most polarizing words in our vocabulary, and today marks the 37th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Many still celebrate this landmark case as a victory for women’s rights, but I see no victory for women here. I mourn this day as we count nearly 50 million lives lost to abortion legally in the United States alone. I mourn the women whose arms are empty or lightened due to our ignorance. The fallout from the taking of these lives along with legislation enacted as a result affects so many more.
On this day and the days ahead may we ask forgiveness for our sin in taking these lives. May we choose to celebrate life and be gentle and loving toward those affected by this tragedy, and may God have mercy on us all.
*The name Jean was used to protect the identity of my friend.