I Said No to an Abortion

Me at 17

I am a statistic. A statistic for women who chose not to have an abortion.

I was seventeen. Most of the people I knew pushed for me to have an abortion, pressured me to, in fact. This was only a few years after the Supreme Court passed Roe vs. Wade. Unlike today, a teen pregnancy ruined reputations. It generated scandalous gossip. We lived in a small town. People talk.

Prior to becoming pregnant, I held no strong conviction about abortion. My church taught that life began at birth.

For the first time in my life, I stood against the wishes of my parents, community, and friends. I said no to an abortion. I didn’t expect to make this decision at that age. I had graduated high school a year early and started on the fast track for college and a career. I expected to go beyond a four-year degree, maybe even get a PhD. I wanted to find a career that allowed me to help people and gave me the opportunity to write.

With an abortion, I could stick to my plan. Without it, I waved good-bye to my dreams.

Still I said no.

Because I said no to the abortion, I can point to five people in my immediate family who wouldn’t exist.

FIVE PEOPLE!

Heidi Cox

Heidi, photo by David Blue

My beautiful daughter, Heidi, would never have drawn her first breath. She is a gifted and talented actress, screenwriter, and producer. She has the most beautiful singing voice, but an abortion would have snuffed out her voice within a few minutes. Many people benefit from her sweet and kind heart. She helps people with special needs, whether Alzheimers patients or autistic children. She inspires people with her own story. She is my Starshine.

If I had chosen the abortion, I would not have married Heidi’s father. Even though I divorced him a few years later, without that marriage my second daughter would not exist. Yes, Tisha struggles in her life now, but she has an exuberance for life and a smile that lights up a room. Tisha gave birth to three of my grandchildren. My grandchildren bring joy to my heart every day.

My children and me three years after my divorce.

My children and me three years after my divorce.

Five living, breathing people in my life that would have never drawn a breath.

I can not imagine life without them.

Two of my grandchildren on the first day of school

Did I give up on the goals and plans for my life? That’s one of the reasons most people list as a reason to make abortions available.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?  Matthew 16:26

I did not give up on my goals. I altered the plan. I chose to be responsible for my poor choices and not to become a victim. I pursued my dreams anyway. I worked hard and got my Bachelors and Masters degrees. In my career, I’ve helped people in various ways including:

  • running a welfare-to-work training program
  • conducting crime prevention and safety seminars
  • training adults how to communicate with each other with respect
  • helping adults develop the skills they need to advance in their jobs which, also, helps them support their families
  • teaching families how to get out of and stay out of debt
  • sharing my story through this blog
  • speaking to people about finding faith in the midst of tragedy
  • sharing my faith with church groups
  • empathizing with hurting people

I doubt I would be good at any of these if I had the abortion.

When I refused to have an abortion, tongues wagged. So what? I bet tongues wagged in Nazareth when Mary became pregnant. People eventually move on and forget, especially if we move on and show them the value of the lives we’ve saved.

Many more people walk this earth because someone else said no to an abortion. I know quite a few of them.

How many do you know?

Note: If you’ve had an abortion, God still has a place for you. I am not here to condemn you. I’m here to help people understand that abortion takes away more than one life. Many of my friends suffer because they made the other choice. If I can help, please comment below. Your comment will not be seen unless I approve it to appear on the blog. Just tell me what you prefer.

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Teenage Pregnancy: When It Happens To You

The Face of Teen PregnancyI snuck out in the middle of the night to be with him…

And got caught.

Not right away, but long enough for my mother’s first words to be, “At least tell me you used protection.”

My response shocks me to this day. “It might be too late for that,”  I said, then looked away.  I couldn’t meet her gaze.

The rest of my summer went downhill from there.  Mom took me to a doctor in another town, and the pregnancy test came back negative.   He gave me some pills to restart my cycle, stating that the stress I’d been under probably interrupted it.

Relieved, I got on with my plans to enter college in the fall.

But, my cycle didn’t start back.

A few days after moving into the dorms, I returned to the same doctor who, this time, confirmed my pregnancy.  These days, you can find out quickly, but back then, if you weren’t far enough along, the tests weren’t accurate.

My life got worse.  My parents pushed for an abortion.  His parents, and he, pushed for me to keep the baby.  No one cared what I wanted.  They cared about what they wanted. Before you judge either side, you need to know that neither side loved the situation.  My parents hated the idea of an abortion, but they hated the idea of their daughter’s life shifting to motherhood just as she embarked on her college years.  His parents hated the situation, too, but abortion went against everything they believed.

I was caught in the middle.  No one asked me how I felt.  No one talked to me about my options in a caring manner.

Yes, my parents made me talk to our minister, who showed me a very thick file folder. Each sheet in the folder represented a marriage due to teenage pregnancy. He told me every couple in that file was now divorced. My minister assured me that our church believed in life at birth.  He advised an abortion.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?  Matthew 16:26

Although no one asked me, I stood firm on this one.  I don’t know why because I had no strong religious convictions at this time, but I chose life.  I chose my baby. It felt like the right thing to do.  Was I tempted to take the easy way out and carry on as if my life hadn’t changed? Yes.  But I chose life, and I don’t regret it, even though the marriage this forced me into catapulted my life further along this horrid trajectory.

We got married.

Healing From Trials and Hardships

I screwed up.

Everyone knew what I should do and told me.  Every One.  No one asked what I wanted to do or discussed my options with me.

I stood on the cusp of my life, gazing down the path my family and I had planned:  college, advanced degrees, a career and family.  My mistake, one little stumbling block, stood in the way.  I got pregnant.  No matter what I did, the trajectory of my life would change forever.

My family said stick to your plan.  You can have the life you wanted.  It’s not illegal.

His family said protect that life inside of you.  Keep the baby.

My minister showed me a two inch thick folder of unwed pregnancy cases.  Each sheet, he said, represented one case.  Not one of them stayed married.  Stick to your original plan.  It’s the best thing for you.

No one ever really discussed my options with me.   They told me what to do.  Abort or marry, those were my options.  At seventeen, all accusing fingers pointed my way, and I had no friendly corner to turn to.  I knew I couldn’t go through an abortion, so I fled to his family and the option they provided:  marriage.

And for four years, we were the exception to the rule in my minister’s file.  But I soon learned that my husband hated me for the decision.  He took it out through anger and violence.  After four years and two children,  I divorced him.

Some days I wondered what if.  What if it never happened?  What if I chose a different path?  What if someone suggested adoption?  What if?   What if?  What if?  It doesn’t work and makes you a sad, sad person.  My what if game became impossible to consider as the stakes of what I would lose increased.  I don’t play what if anymore for many reasons.  One is the five people who exist in the world today because I made the choice I made.

Another is that I have a good life.

In the midst of the mess I created at seventeen, I found God.  My faith took a lot of hits in the early years, but I can look back and see that He stood with me and supported me throughout all of this.  No matter where I look in my life, I see His handprints everywhere.  Romans 8:28 says:

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God:  those who are called according to His purpose.

God took my screw-ups and used them for the good of others and me.  He molded me into a servant.  Everywhere I turned, I found people struggling with similar experiences.  At the ripe old age of twenty-two, I understood teenage pregnancy, domestic violence, poverty, divorce, and single parenting from a personal point of view.  He placed me in positions to help others and gave me the heart to do so.  That’s never changed, although my list of hardships stands much longer now.  He always found a way to take the most difficult challenges in my life and heal me through serving others.

Eighteen years after this happened to me, I faced the other side of the teenage pregnancy situation, my worst fears realized.  One of my daughters became pregnant.  I tried to let her know her options and make her own decisions.  I won’t claim perfection in that role, but I believe I handled it better than when it happened to me.  She chose adoption.  No matter what choice a woman makes in these circumstances, it hurts.  The day the baby went home with his parents was one of the darkest days in our lives.  For us, it was a little easier…my brother and his wife, who couldn’t have a child, adopted him…God works for the good in all situations!

And so, God added more areas of understanding for me to help others.

I’ve found if you examine the difficult times in your life, almost always, if you listened to the leading of the Spirit, opportunities to grow and heal yourself while serving others appeared in your life.  Did you accept them or turn away?

Healing comes through acceptance.