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I don't know what hurt more, my surgery or my heart.

[As a young girl] I found out from my sister that my mom had divorced my dad. No one ever told us or explained anything to us. I was hurt. I felt betrayed by my own mother. I became angry and bitter toward her. This continued for years. I didn't get along with my siblings and couldn't stand my mother, so I asked if I could go live with my dad, [but] I was sent to live with an aunt. Not exactly what I had in mind. I had been my dad's little girl, but now he had a new woman in his life and I had become secondary. Another disappointment. So after a year of this arrangement I asked to be sent back.

At about age 14 I began to hang out late at night with friends. I was desperate for love and attention. This led me to have my first boyfriend. I was still a virgin at this time. My lifelong dream was to be married as a virgin. He pressured me, but I never gave in, mostly from fear of the unknown. Eventually we broke up and at 15 I began to go to a teen nightclub. There I met "Number 1." He was fun, funny, I "fell in love" and this time, when he pressured for sex; I gave in, out of fear of losing him. There went my virginity and with it my dream of being married in white, being married a virgin.

The night I gave him my virginity I cried. I was disappointed in myself and then, realizing my dream was gone for good, I settled it in my mind that it would be like this from now on. Sex became routine. It became the normal thing to do with your boyfriend. After all everyone was "doing it."

A couple of years passed by and it was getting close to graduation when I found out I was pregnant. I was scared, disappointed, and ashamed. How could this happen to me, I thought. I couldn't turn to my mom or anyone in my family for that matter. I had always said I was going to be "someone" in life, not a loser like them. My mom and sister had also become pregnant at age 17 and I just knew that wasn't going to happen to me.

The pressure was on; I had to make a quick decision. With no one to turn to I ended up confiding in a girl from school. She gave me the name of an abortion clinic and assured me that it was a quick and painless procedure. My boyfriend's cousin also urged me to have an abortion. She was a single mom and she shared with me how difficult it was to raise a child alone. It seemed easy and a quick solution to my problem, so I scheduled an abortion. My boyfriend went along with my decision, not showing any feelings one way or another.

At the abortion mill, I was given a form to fill out and then asked to wait. Soon I was called in, directed to a room and instructed to undress. I received no counseling, was not told of possible complications, and not given an ultrasound, nothing. I was just told that it "would all be over quickly." That's what these doctors feed on ...the crisis of the moment. To them, you have a problem, they have a solution. And for $175.00 you can buy that solution. That's how much it cost me to kill my unborn baby, $175.00. I remember getting emotional before the procedure, but not much else. I was given the general anesthesia and it was all over.

They were right, it was quick and painless. Except they didn't tell me how much it would hurt inside my heart and mind. Initially, I felt relieved. The problem was settled, but as time went on I couldn't get it out of my mind. I hated what I had done. I hated myself. I hated my boyfriend for letting me go through with it. I hated my mom because inside I desperately wished she would of noticed something was wrong and asked. I know that she would not have let me kill my child. The months went by, I graduated from High school and moved in with my boyfriend. It didn't last very long, after the abortion we fell into this type of love/hate relationship. We broke up and I moved back home.

I began to drink more and live a self-destructive type of lifestyle. I drove drunk. Went to places I had no business going to until one night I was drugged and raped. God, in His graciousness has spared the memory of that night. The only thing I remember was the awful hang over. I was 19 and going nowhere. That morning as I recovered I saw a commercial on TV for the army. I remember how much hope that little tune gave me. "Be all that you can be..." and I decided, right then and there that I would join. What did I have to lose? My life was a wreck, I had no desire to go to college, I was bored at my job, and I was becoming a drunk. How much worse could it get?

In Feb. of 1990 I left for basic training. The first couple of weeks were difficult, but once I understood that it was all a mind/discipline game I began to excel. I was named platoon leader in basic and then went on the to be soldier of the month in my advanced training. I loved the rules, the discipline, the structure, and the routine. It gave me a sense of security. For once in my life I knew what to expect and what was expected from me. I completed my training in July 1990 and was sent to Germany. In August 1990 the problems in the Persian Gulf began and we were deployed that December.

While in Saudi I began to date a young man. He was handsome, strong, smart, friendly ...I was in love. Once the war got started I remember laying awake at night listening to the bombing. The floor would tremble. I thought about life and death. But the war ended and in mid April I got a "dear Jane" letter. I was devastated. After all we had talked about marriage, kids, I had met his parents via video. I couldn't stop crying, at least until I began to experience sharp pain in my lower right abdomen. I ended up in the hospital and there it was discovered that I was pregnant.

The ultrasound, however, revealed that the pregnancy was not in the uterus. The doctors feared and ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg gets stuck in a fallopian tube due to some kind of obstruction, such as scar tissue caused by the vacuum used during an abortion. Gone untreated an ectopic pregnancy can burst and cause internal bleeding leading to death. A laparoscopy was ordered immediately and then an emergency surgery ensued. There was apparently no choice but to remove the right fallopian tube. The Dr. later told me that I would now only have 50% chance of ever conceiving again.

The days that followed were a nightmare. My routine consisted of walking, going back to bed, sobbing and then falling asleep from exhaustion. No one knew I was in the hospital. I had one visitor, one time...my ex. I was alone, depressed, desperate and miserable. The rest of the time I just cried, walked and slept. I remember promising God that I would never have sex again if He would just take the pain away. I don't know what hurt more, my surgery or my heart. I just knew that He was punishing me for the abortion. I would cry and tell Him, "Ok, we're even, you got me, can you please take the pain away now?!" I was a wreck, once again.

The physical pain gone, but the emotional still there, I began to drink and make foolish decisions once again. At this point I began to date a married man. [Back in the USA] while running one day I began to experience some sharp pains in my lower abdomen again. Scared of another possible eptopic I rushed to the Dr. and after a quick blood test, it was determined I was pregnant.

I told the "father to be" about the pregnancy. His first suggestion was abortion. Oh no! I thought, I'm not doing that again. Been there, done that. I already paid for that. I was afraid of what God would do to me this time if I killed another baby. I was determined to have this baby no matter what, even if I had to do it alone. The relationship with #3 ended two months into the pregnancy. So there I was again ...alone, ashamed, humiliated, scared, lost.

With time I began to feel a sense of hope again. Maybe this baby is what I needed to be happy. I devoted myself to eating good, exercising and reading up on motherhood. This gave me a temporary sense of satisfaction. I had a healthy 9-lb. baby boy…

I finished my tour in the service and went back home to be a full-time single mom. The joy of motherhood wore off quickly and soon I began to realize and resent the huge responsibility attached to mothering. I hated it. I resented my son and hated the fact that I had no other choice but to live with my mom. I had become a miserable, empty, and angry human being. My son often suffered the brunt of my outbursts of anger and bitter words. One day I lost my temper and hit him. I slapped him so hard that he fell to the floor and began to cry. I ran into the bathroom and began to cry also. As he banged on the door crying out to me, I cried out to God. I said, "If you are really there, please help me. I hate who I've become. If this is the way life is going to be, then I don't want to live."

About 2 weeks after that incident a long lost friend from high school showed up at my doorstep with a Bible in hand. He went on and on about this church called Calvary and how the Bible had changed his life. I accepted his invitation to attend a Wednesday Bible study. That night the pastor was teaching a study called "Finding Faith or Finding Fault." I, like the Samaritan woman, was in amazement at how this man "told me all things that I ever did." I felt as if I was the only one in the whole sanctuary. Half way through the teaching I began to sob. I don't know how, but God was speaking to me right through this man. At the end, when the pastor gave the invitation, I practically ran to the altar. That night I received Christ as savior and invited him to be the Lord of my life.

I began to attend services, Bible studies as often as I could. God immediately took away my filthy language and the desire to go out and party was gone. Soon after I began to feel guilty about the sexual relationship I was in and told this "Christian" man that we could no longer continue this way. As I began to learn more about Christianity and the Bible, I became increasingly self-righteous and pious. Time went by and as I continued to sin sexually, I would experience a spiritual roller coaster. One minute I was up the next I was down. This Christian walk became somewhat discouraging. At one point, I recall telling God that He was going to have to prove Himself to me because I was starting to think that this whole Christian thing was just in my head. After one particular encounter with my boyfriend #4, I determined to give it my best shot. I broke up with the guy, was baptized and went on a ladies' retreat. Life was starting to look up. I had hope and I could tell that something supernatural had happened inside of me.

When I returned from the women's retreat I realized that my menstrual cycle was late. "It must be all the excitement and newness of life, I thought. But then this fearful thought hit me. I ran off to buy a test at the local drug store and took it. I was pregnant! "How could You do this to me," I cried out to God. Hadn't I just gotten baptized and "turned a new leaf?"

The first person I called was my ex and his first suggestion ...abortion. It looked like I was in for another lonely, depressing pregnancy. Here I was again, scared, ashamed, disappointed confused. What in the world was I going to do? That was my question to God as I sat in the back of the sanctuary sobbing, feeling completed humiliated. The Lord was merciful. That very day, He answered that question with just one word, ADOPTION. "When, who, how, where?" I thought.

When I finally confided in a lady I met at the women's retreat, she directed me to a counselor at church. She lovingly, but firmly discipled me and helped me to develop two plans. One for adoption, another for parenting. The next nine months were spent praying, crying, researching, studying, crying, talking, growing, and crying some more. God became very real to me. His hand was as clearly involved in the whole adoption process than mine was. He led us every step of the way, from deciding on what avenue to use, to what family, to the name.

For example, when it came time to pick a family. I was home looking over the portfolios I was given by the adoption agency and began to talk to God. "How could I possibly choose a family, I know nothing about these people?!" Becoming frustrated I decided to rest my mind and read the Bible. I was currently in the book of John, right in the area where Jesus comes to the town of Bethany. That name Bethany, I had heard it somewhere before ...oh yes it was the name of the little adopted girl of one of the families. I continued and came to the part where it says that Jesus came to the house of Martha and Mary. "Funny," I thought, Bethany's adoptive mom's name is Mary. Then I remembered that Mary had a son also. His name was John. I was reading the book of John. Coincidence? So I picked up that family's portfolio again and began to make a list of questions I would like to ask the agency about them. A few moments later the phone rang and it was my social worker from the adoption agency. She was there with another social worker, the one that represented one of the families whom I had a portfolio of. Guess what family? She got on the phone and began to answer every question I had, without me asking them. As she spoke I began to weep, knowing that this was the family God had chosen.

[My daughter was born.] I remember one particular time, one of many, that I was crying and asking God how was I ever going to go through with the adoption and He responded, deep in my heart. "I gave my Son for you and He was beaten, bruised and hung on a cross. I know the pain." …I dedicated my little girl to the Lord …and dedicated this Scripture to her: "I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore." Psalm 121.

Eccl. 7:8. It says, "The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." It is true that the beginning looked like a disaster, but the end ...well the end was a faith firmly grounded in Christ.

Since that time I have failed many a time, even into sexual immorality. Now I am happy to say that I live a life of purity daily by the grace of God. But there was still unfinished business in my life. In late 1998 I attended a seminar to develop skills in counseling women/girls in crisis pregnancies. There I was confronted with my abortion.

In order to be a counselor you had to go through a post-abortive Bible study first. I knew I had been forgiven and I thought that was enough, but it wasn't. Every time I talked about abortion, even my own, there was still a feeling, deep in my heart of guilt and shame that I couldn't seem to get away from.

In January of 1999 I attended the post-abortive Bible study. There I understood that forgiveness at salvation is just a first step. Just because I had been forgiven of my sin, including the abortion didn't mean I was healed from the years of emotional wounds the abortion had caused. There was forgiveness on my part that had to take place; there was anger, depression and bitterness to be dealt with. There was also grieving, acceptance and closure to be experienced.

It's taken time, but the healing process has brought me inexpressible freedom and joy. I'm free to love, free to forgive, and free to move on. Before the study I had difficulty loving my son, as a mother should, I still resented my mother; I was stilled weighed down with the consequences of my sin, the abortion. Today, I love my son more than ever. I treasure him; I'm even growing to love motherhood. My relationship with my mother is being restored, as God loves her through me. God is pouring His grace and mercy on me by enabling me to love others, I'm finally free from the guilt and shame of my abortion, and God has given me boldness to speak about His wonderful, immeasurable grace and mercy. And one more important thing, God has shown me how important every individual life is to Him. The two babies that died as a result of the abortion are with the Him now and He calls them by name. He has been gracious enough to reveal to me their names: they are Matthew and Sarah.

God's greatest commandments are two: love Him with all your heart, mind, strength and soul, and love others as yourself. Apart from God's Spirit this is impossible. Salvation is the first step and most important one, but if you desire an abundant life, then healing is the next step. Sin and the consequences of sin keep us bound. Satan and his friends keep us busy "chasing after our tale" the fruits of unforgiveness, bitterness, anger and the like. Until we willfully and supernaturally forgive others through Christ and the enabling of His Spirit, we will forever remain bound and fail to enjoy the abundant life that Christ came to give each and every one of us.

You took away my clothes of sadness, and clothed me in happiness. Psalm 30:11

"The first step to joy is a plea for help, an acknowledgement of moral destitution." Max Lucado

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:3-4

"Where the grace of God is missed, bitterness is born. But where the grace of God is embraced, forgiveness flourishes ...the more we immerse ourselves in grace, the more likely we are to give grace." Max Lucado

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord. Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud, or in those who worship idols. I have told all your people about your justice. I have not been afraid to speak out, as you, O Lord, well know. I have not kept this Good News hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness. Lord, don't hold back your tender mercies from me. My only hope is in your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Psalm 40:2-4, 9-11

Priests for Life
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