A few weeks ago, I blogged about my experience with a difficult pregnancy and the pressure to have an abortion. You can read that blog post here. I keep thinking about the reason I stood strong against tremendous pressure, and I wanted to share that part of my story with you today.
Summer 1972 – A few months prior to the Roe vs. Wade decision
I remember standing at the stove in our teensy apartment, cooking chili and getting ready for dinner. My husband was home from Lowry Air Force Base where he attended school before we shipped to another base. We had been married less than a year. I was pregnant for the second time—the first ended in a miscarriage. We were so excited and looking forward to having this baby.
As I stirred the chili cramps hit, doubling me over. The suddenness took my breath away. I dropped the spoon to the floor scattering droplets of sauce and meat everywhere. Then the bleeding started. Not a little, but a lot. A scary amount.
Because my husband was in the Air Force we had to go to the hospital on the nearby Army base. It was a huge building, and I was whisked into a room. I don’t recall much about the next few hours. Examinations. Intense pain. A doctor who epitomized every bad joke about Army doctors. Cold. Cruel. Uncaring. An intern who showed me kindness.
I woke up before dawn the next morning and found myself in a ward. My bed was closest to the door, but the room seemed to extend forever in the other direction with bed after bed facing a long section of windows. I was so groggy I couldn’t focus on anything. The doctor came in with some other men, who must have been in training. The doctor didn’t say a word to me but threw the sheet off of me and discussed what he’d done as all the men stared at my nakedness. All I could think was their clinical talk meant the death of my baby. The baby I wanted so much. I tried to remain stoic and strong in the face of my grief and humiliation.
After they left, I drifted back to sleep but woke again to hear voices. Two of the women in the beds close to mine were standing at the bank of windows looking out at the city as the early morning light brightened the room. They were so close I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.
At this time, the Army hospital in Denver was one of the few places in the country where abortion was legal. These two women had come to the hospital to end their pregnancies. They chatted in light-hearted tones about how they had all the children they wanted and this was such a relief to not have more. They talked about how much easier life would be without the an extra to worry about.
I began to cry. I tried to hide my tears and sobs in my pillow. I wanted my baby so much and these women threw theirs away like yesterday’s trash. They didn’t care about the life of that child. In fact, they didn’t refer to them as babies. Not once.
But the child of mine that died that night was a baby. For the first time in my life, I had to fill out a death certificate for a baby I wouldn’t get to hold. My heart ached and I wept again as I penciled in answers in those blanks. Not quite nineteen, I was unprepared for this harsh life lesson.
As I pressed my face to the pillow and sobbed, one of the women who had been rejoicing the end of her pregnancy came over to see if she could do anything for me. I know I was rude as I told her not to touch me. I do feel bad about that. Knowing what I do now I realize those women weren’t as carefree over their decision as they sounded. But, at the time, their attitude caused me more pain than I thought I could endure.
Prior to my experience in that hospital, I had no real convictions about abortion. After that night and the following morning, I knew abortion meant killing babies. Bottom line. The baby died.
At this time, I was not a Christian. A few years later, when I became a Christian, I understood another reason why abortion is wrong. Killing is not something we should do. Giving and taking life are in God’s hands, not ours. Children are a gift from Him. (Ps. 127:3)
After the death of my first husband, I remarried. My second husband planned for us to have three children. Two years after our third was born, I got pregnant again. Our fourth was a surprise. Two years later, I became pregnant again. This pregnancy, I joked, was a shock.
Did I ever consider ending either of those pregnancies because we already had enough children? No. Not once. Did we have to make sacrifices because of our larger family? Yes, many times. Not once did I regret that. I can’t imagine what would bring me to the point of killing my baby simply because I had enough children.
As I write this, I am thinking of those women who made that choice to end the life of their child. I may not understand why, but the fact is that many have had abortions. Studies have been done on the negative mental health aspects that come from killing your child. I want you to understand that I forgive those women. They did not truly understand the enormity of what they were doing. If I were to meet them today, I would encourage them to ask forgiveness and to forgive themselves.
What I experienced was beyond difficult. That wouldn’t be my last miscarriage. But the lesson I learned helped to prepare me to be strong when I needed to be. I am thankful for that.
For [God} formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works. And that my soul knows very well. Ps. 139:13,14