Guilty As Charged

I asked my good friend and mentor Barb Smith to share some of her story about making the choice to have an abortion when she was 15.  My prayer is that there will be hope and healing in this for many.  

Thank you for your blog on October 30th, 2012.  I appreciate the value that you place on life.  I certainly am not educated or well versed in the political ponderings of the pro-life or pro-choice agendas, but I understand the strong pull on both sides.  My purpose in responding is not to stir up controversy.  Rather, to offer a look at my experience and possibly help someone making their own decision with the life growing inside of them.

I was 15 years old in 1973 and felt very grown up.  It is funny how I felt like I was in control of my whole world, but I didn’t even have a driver’s license.  I was also pregnant with a child I didn’t know, and didn’t want.

Like most 15 year olds, I sought the counsel of my closest friends.  Most of my friends had already had abortions; so of course, this was the logical solution to my problem.  It was so easy.  They told me who to call.  They told me where to go.  They told me how to lie.  I was only 15, so I had to tell the clinic that I was 16.  It was already past the 3 month cut off, so I had to tell them that I was not that far along.  I had to tell them that it would be a problem if my parents found out, and that would put me in danger.  None of these where true, I simply had to jump through a few hoops to get what I wanted.

My sister found out what I was planning on doing.  She found a pay phone in the middle of the Sierra NevadaMountains during a backpack trip to call me, trying to persuade me not to go through with it.  She told me it was not my child, that it was God’s, and I didn’t have any right to end a life.  I refused to acknowledge that this group of cells in my body was a child so I would have none of that argument.  It was mine, not God’s.  It was in my body, and I had the ultimate say in whether it lived or died. Strange isn’t it, how if it is not alive, that you have to kill it to get rid of it…

Stranger still was the fact that my boyfriend wanted me to keep this baby.  Really, how could a guy who smoked too much pot and worked at a gas station, provide for me and my child?  That was a no-brainer for me, even at 15.  I didn’t want to marry him and spend the rest of my life struggling.  I was unwilling to even consider the option.  He was older than me and begged me with tears not to “kill his child.”  Yet, I was unyielding in my decision to have an abortion.  I made him drive me to a clinic in Los Angeles and wait for me as I underwent the procedure.  He cried the whole way home.

I didn’t cry – not once.  I wasn’t sorry – at all.  I was sure I had made the right decision – for me. Other options were never on the table; this was my only option, and it was my choice. It was a choice, right?

Eventually, I married and had two more children.  I love my family dearly and enjoyed my pregnancies immensely.  Every month, I would follow each child’s development in my womb with great joy, anticipating the day that I would meet the children who were formed out of the love my husband and I shared. It would have been horrendous for anyone to tell me that the children in my womb were just a clump of cells. I knew, from the moment of conception, that these children were alive and loved.

Now, here is my conflict.  I always thought I was a good person.  I grew up Catholic and went to Catechism and Parochial schools, and I certainly knew the Ten Commandments.  However, these things were not enough to hold me steady.  I made a lot of very poor decisions in my life; most of which I was able to justify by saying to myself, “Well, at least I haven’t killed anyone.”  Crazy.  Cause… I did.  I committed premeditated murder.  Yup, I was a murderer and I was in denial – big time.

But God!  That is one of my favorite sayings.  But God…. He wouldn’t leave me in denial.  He is all consuming.  God doesn’t bend the truth to make it more palatable.  He took away every excuse, every justification, and every rationalization that I was using to protect my own heart.  He wanted to be the protector of my heart.  He loved me until I could actually look at the truth with my eyes wide open.  I was a murderer.  The standard I had set for myself had to come down.  I could no longer find security in that measuring stick, that lie.

The funny thing was, I didn’t feel condemned.  I felt loved.  When I was willing to “call a spade a spade,” and see my sin through His eyes, I felt the power of the love of God wash me clean.  I didn’t have to pretend to be a good person.  He made me one.  He made me new.

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