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The lady doctor casually snacked on a package of nuts

It was in the Fall of 1972. My boyfriend climbed out of his little blue Datsun. I followed. He threw his car keys at my house in a rage of temper, as if that would undo the fact that I was pregnant. Before I had even suspected my condition, he had adamantly announced to me one day that he did not want any children.

We went inside. I half-heartedly asked him, "How about a temporary marriage?" which I thought to myself would have saved face for me and still saved the baby. To my question, he replied, "What about child support?" Without protest I gave up the argument; I sensed this was out of the question for him. He was usually short of cash which appeared to be the result of his hobby of gambling. I knew then that neither I nor the child was wanted. That left one option, going it alone. How well I knew that route. My first marriage had been extremely difficult; my husband had mostly withdrawn from me and our adorable baby daughter. Seven years of marriage had turned into seven years of drudgery with me keeping the house up almost entirely by myself.

Now I found myself face to face with more years of feeling tied to the house, this time entirely alone. I felt a prison sentence of loneliness and more drudgery about to slam down on me. Instinctively and selfishly, I realized my hopes for a new husband would lessen. Who would want a woman with two small children?  The loss of my new-found freedom from my recent divorce was too much for me.  I felt stifled and trapped.  My mind raced to every conceivable solution.  I considered renting my house out and moving temporarily out of the state to stay with my mother and sister.  I knew though that emotionally and physically I could not cope with the responsibilities of entrusting my home and furniture to strangers, looking for a temporary job in another state, and learning new duties on the job while experiencing morning sickness. Also, I doubted if anyone would hire me if they knew I was pregnant.

In another selfish state of mind, I could not bear to give up a child of mine for adoption and live with the fact that I would never know where the child was or if it was all right.

My strict puritanical religious upbringing in my grandparent's home brought its own set of fears. I could never face anyone unmarried and pregnant. I had put on too good a mask of decency. It hid the emotional scars I carried from the years of sexual abuse my sister and I had suffered from our father right in our grandparent's home. My grandmother, who knew the situation but lived in denial, had managed to maintain her reputation as a respected member of the community and I was now doing the same thing. I had worked hard to become a "normal" good person. I couldn't face more shame.

In the early 1970's, babies born out of wedlock were not as commonplace, and I was 32 years old. Old enough to know better. My fear sealed any hope of turning to anyone in my family. We had never known how to ask each other for help, and I knew if I told one person, I would never be able to carry out the decision I had made. I had had to survive too long on my own and I just did not know how to let anyone help me.

In a last ditch effort, I appealed to my boyfriend with tears, explaining that, "all I had ever wanted was someone to love."

Unmoved, he stoically kept his ground. When I finally realized he absolutely would not change his mind, I felt my heart harden towards him. I told him, "You do not have to worry; I will not force you to do anything for me." And I meant it. But anger and hatred for him seethed within me and I knew it was over for us. Inwardly, I vowed I would never have anything to do with him again.

One day at work, I left during my coffee break and drove to a phone booth. My heart was pounding, I was so afraid. Trembling, I made the appointment with the hospital. All I could think was if I got it over quickly, surely it wouldn't be a real person, that I carried inside of me.

A lady doctor gave me no encouragement or alternatives when I searched her out with the words, "I don't really want to end this pregnancy." As if she had more to say about it than I did, she matter-of-factly replied, "You aren't married, you know." "What a strange paradox," I thought, unconsciously she is placing a moral judgment on me for not being married, but not on herself for ending a life. It didn't matter. Her comment was my Achilles heel. My futile appeals to my boyfriend and to my doctor had led nowhere. The decision was made. I did not know about pro-life groups or if any existed at the time. The process proceeded with an appointment with a second doctor as a matter of procedure.

Then one night, I had a dream. The face of a beautiful young girl child with long, wavy, dark hair hovered above me.  Her features were distinctly like my boyfriend's as was her black hair.  She never said anything, but I sensed the girl could be representing the face of my unborn child.  It was as if God was showing me the seed within me was a real person after all. But even He couldn't penetrate my fear and hard heart.

The night before I was to keep the appointment at the hospital, I lay in bed and cried out to God. I begged Him, "If there is any way at all, please don't let this happen!" I thrashed my head back and forth desperately as tears of frustration and helplessness flooded my pillow.

The next morning my boyfriend picked me up and drove me to the hospital. Inside we went through the preliminary paperwork. The only form I remember was the one releasing the "fetus" to them for whatever they wished to do to it. The admitting clerk said not to leave any valuables there. So my boyfriend took my purse and left.

Then came a turn of events. When I was asked for the forms which I had to fill out, I suddenly realized I had left them in my purse. I was advised the abortion could not take place without the forms. I waited in a back room with some other women who must have been there for the same reason, I thought, as there was an ominous silence about us. As the hours passed, the lady doctor finally came to me and said she could not wait any longer. Her children were sick and she had to go home. I pondered how any woman with children of her own could perform abortions. I dressed and waited for my boyfriend's return.

The next day was a weekend, so we would have to wait until Monday for a new appointment.  I hoped against hope that he would change his mind.  Instead, he seemed to know what I was thinking as he had when somehow he had sensed I was pregnant.  He said, "I know you are hoping I will change my mind."  His anger boiled again and my hopes dissolved. By then, I was so nauseated, even with a prescription, that I didn't care if I lived or died. The jostling of the car was unbearable. I was in no condition to make a rational decision the way I felt and could only think if I had the abortion at least I would escape this unbearable sickness. As it was, the only relief I had from it was when I was asleep.

Even then my subconscious was aware that maybe God had answered my prayer although I could not admit it to myself for several years. I had asked Him to prevent this abortion and it appeared He had, not in just one way, but in three ways: He removed the necessary forms, sent the doctor home early to her sick children, and provided a weekend for additional time. Even in my own denial, I felt God was telling me I had choices; I was not a victim and that He did care enough to answer my prayer sensed also that it might have been more than just coincidence that a kindly, fatherly pastor from a neighborhood church I had visited, dropped by my home when he had. I was impressed by his sensitive, sincere, almost sad countenance. He seemed to be a man who had carried his own share of woes. I was touched by his effort to befriend me, although I numbed myself inside and refused to reach out for help even when it came right to my front door.

I remember being wheeled down a hall by silent people.  Silent nurses stood by to assist the doctor.  The lady doctor casually snacked on a package of nuts.  I thought to myself, "How can she eat when she's getting ready to do this awful thing?"  We were of two different minds.  She was the one person I would have listened to for a way out. 

I awoke in the recovery area. The nurses' voices were deafening. I felt an unbearable restlessness and could hardly restrain myself in the bed. Perhaps it was the anesthesia. When I finally dressed, a nurse wheeled me to the front door. My hatred must have shown, because later my boyfriend knowingly told me, "That look on your face... "

I tolerated him for a short time, then cold-shouldered him out of my life. I don't know how he dealt with this incident in his life, but for my part, I finally forgave him when I realized my responsibility in making choices for myself.

However, if it were not for God's forgiveness, I could never have forgiven myself for allowing a defenseless life to be ended.  I receive reassurance from David's story in the Old Testament. If God could pardon David for killing Bathsheba's husband, then surely He would pardon me. (II Samuel 12:13).

Many years have passed since 1972. 1 could dwell on the un-birthday that falls on September 25th but choose to remember how God was there for me and my unborn child when I was too weak to help myself, and how He showed me I can make choices in life that are right for me.

"God's ways are as mysterious as the pathway of the wind, and as the manner in which a human spirit is infused into the little body of a baby while it is yet in its mother's womb." -Ecclesiastes 11:5

Priests for Life
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