Let your heart out of prison

Missouri,  United States

I stand here before you today with deep regret, yet joy and peace.  I thank God for His unimaginable mercy and forgiveness.

It was in January of 1976, 37 years ago, that I participated in the abortion of my son, whom we have named Ryan Paul. I was only 17 and on a dangerous yet ignorant path of sexual exploration with the young love of my life. We knew we were in love, but we did not consider the consequences of our growing intimacy. When I learned that she was pregnant, we were stunned, and things happened very quickly.

I should have been responsible enough to know better. I should have been responsible enough to protect my unborn son, and to protect the mother of my child from a horrible, misguided, irreversible choice.

Today and every day, I ache with a deep pain over the most significant choice of my life, one that I can never reverse.  Today I would do anything; give up anything to have that choice back, to have had the courage to say, NO.  Instead, I said nothing.  I was afraid, timid and complicit by my silence.  Our entire family support system was swallowed into a surreal acceptance of abortion as a silent, secret solution, the quick fix for this problem. Had there been anyone, friends, or parents, anyone to have offered a choice, an option, and some support we might have listened and chosen life.  Deep, deep down inside, I knew the truth. This was our baby, not just cells. But no, I said nothing, did nothing but accompany her along with her mother to Planned Parenthood to destroy our child.  During the procedure, I felt numb and helpless. For this monumental failure as a father, I take full responsibility.

From that moment on there was a chilling silence about the abortion.  It was not spoken of again by anyone, for many, many years.  My response to the pain was to block my emotions with a hardness of my heart.  I also felt trapped into accepting the lie of “choice” the supposed right to choose death over life.  You see, to believe otherwise would mean facing my own guilt.  Because of this personal experience, I understand the trap of choice that imprisons so many.

This young lady and I somehow endured and God blessed us with Marriage five years later.   But over the next 20 years or so, we have struggled through her bouts of depression, low self-esteem and the buried guilt of her lost motherhood, the life that had been sucked away and forgotten by everyone else, but not her.  I now understand and believe that a woman’s love for her child is stamped in her heart by God.  Her baby cannot be ripped away without devastating and permanent consequences.  The wound is forever.  The “problem” not solved.

About four years ago we found repentance and reconciliation through an amazing retreat program called Rachel’s Vineyard. We learned that despite our horrible sin, that God still loved us that he had forgiven us long ago.  Finally, we were able to forgive ourselves and those who were involved.

The healing process continues with my standing here today as another huge step for me.  I know there are millions of men like me in pain or living with a hardness of heart that they may not even recognize.  I want to tell all men who have participated in an abortion or had their children aborted against their will to let your heart out of prison.  Help and healing is available.

I thank God for His strength, and His courage within me to speak out and to defend my child and his dear mother.  The pain of my lost fatherhood remains with me every day.  But now, through God’s grace, I live with the joy of forgiveness and peace.  Now, by being silent no more, I want to help stop the madness.  One by one, with healing, and by speaking out I believe we can.   Thank you, and God bless you for being here.

Priests for Life