Called to Help, Called to Heal

  Jodi Stein, Regional Coordinator
Illinois,  United States

I grew up in a very small town where everyone knows everyone.  My mom and dad were teen parents with a very rocky relationship.  I have one brother who was born when I was eight.  I suffered very severe physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my mother growing up.  I read a quote that said, “Very often, an abortion is just one more non-choice for a woman who has never had the choice to decide her own destiny.”  In my case, I believe that is true.  I moved from hometown to a larger city in my early 20's and met a young man.  We attended the same Catholic church.  We dated for nearly three years.  During the course of our relationship, I had moved further north into the Chicago area.  When I became pregnant, the young man did not believe he was responsible for the pregnancy.  He informed me that he intended to get married in the cathedral that his grandparents, parents, and sisters had married and that my pregnancy did not fit into those plans.  I was devastated.  He then called to tell me that he would be coming up the next weekend to take me for an abortion.  He said he would pay for it.  I wasn't sure what all that meant, but I did not want to lose him, so I did as he said.  I was so broken from the loss of the relationship that I didn't even consider what we had just done in terminating the pregnancy.  I was placed under twilight sedation for the procedure and I have no memory of it.
A few years later, I began seeing a young man from my hometown.  I had just moved back to the area after having a child.  My daughter had been born with a birth defect and I came home to seek support from my family in raising her by myself.  The young man was verbally abusive and controlling.  He often threatened to kill me and any of my family that got in the way of his intentions toward me.  He was very clear that he wanted me to have a baby right away.  We finally broke up after a few volatile months and then found that I was pregnant.  I didn't intend to go back to him and I felt I couldn't raise his child without having him in my life. My mother suggested that I have an abortion.  She drove me to the clinic where I was frequently informed that I was "doing the right thing" and "it was just a bit of tissue anyway at 7 weeks".  I felt reassured that I was making a good choice.  Sadly, a few months later, I found myself back in relationship with him.  He had begun stalking my workplace, my home, and my daughter's sitter.  I didn't feel in control of my life and that left me open to repeating my past mistakes.  I broke up with him again after a couple months and moved a little further away.  I then discovered I was pregnant again.  This time, I drove myself to the abortion clinic and terminated that pregnancy with the same reasoning I had used the last time.  No one even knew I was pregnant.  The doctor at the clinic was very nasty to me and said something to me about "doing the same thing and expecting different results.”  I broke down and cried on the table during the procedure. 

My life was completely turned upside down after those painful experiences.  I knew that I had make terrible mistakes and I felt I was damned to Hell for my choices.  I lived the next several years of my life in a fog of depression and deep self-loathing.  I got married to drug addicted, physically violent man, who abused me MOST while I was pregnant with our two children.  He was abusive to my eldest daughter because of her disabilities.  After five miserable years of marriage, we finally got away from him.  I obtained an order keeping him from our home and our children. 

Two days later, I went to church for the first time with my childhood friend.  Having grown up Catholic, this non-denominational setting was very different for me, but I embraced this new relationship with Jesus and became a born-again Christian.  When I stepped out of the baptistry, I felt all the sins of my past were washed away and forgiven.  I didn't think I'd ever have to talk about my abortions and I was finally free from the guilt.  Some time passed and I felt a calling to minister to women at the local Pregnancy Care Clinic.  I went in to talk to someone about volunteering and received the packet of forms.  One of the first questions on the form was whether I had ever had an abortion experience...I was too embarrassed to admit that so I threw the packet away.  I kept feeling that urging though, so I went in a year later and got another packet.  That same question turned me away again.  Yet another year passed and I knew I could not ignore God's calling any more.  I walked into the clinic and asked to speak to the Director.  She had been coming to my church for a few months and I felt comfortable with her.  I told her about my experiences and asked her what to do.  She said it was a policy of the clinic that anyone who had an abortion and wanted to do any volunteering had to complete a post-abortion recovery program.  I knew I was being called to help women, so I reluctantly agreed to go through the program. 

The woman that called me about setting up an appointment was the first person I had ever talked to who openly admitted she had abortions in her past.  I was stunned.  I began the study, "Forgiven and Set Free" with her the next week.  It would be an understatement to say that study changed my life, but it is certainly the truth.  I realized the grief and emotional pain I had been suffering for years were due to the guilt and shame I held from my abortions.  I was able to move past those feelings and truly accept God's complete and total forgiveness.  I began to heal and it changed me.  It became clear to me that the call to volunteer at the clinic was more than that.  I believe I am called lead people with an abortion in their past to the healing in Jesus Christ that I experienced.  It hurts me deeply to think of anyone suffering in silence the way that I did.  It is my mission in life to support pro-life groups and speak out against abortion.  I continue to volunteer locally, but I knew it was time for me to reach out beyond my city and county.  I am so thankful to find an organization with the same mission and calling that I feel. 


Priests for Life