Just over forty years ago, I was born at a United State Military Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia. My parents and grandparents served in the US Army protecting our basic constitutional rights. Several months later, our government and organizations like Planned Parenthood began selling a product called abortion. This product was somehow supposed to benefit women. All of us women on this stage bought into it. And, ladies and gentlemen I would suggest that regardless of whether or not you’ve participated in an abortion in your lifetime, on some level, we’ve all bought into it. For instance, there was a time when pregnant mothers were “with child” today they are “expecting” a child.
Last year I experienced first-hand how this product has conditioned and groomed even the most pro-life amongst us to somehow view a fetus as something less valuable than a born child. In fact, that experience almost prevented me from being here with you today to share my testimony. It was only a week ago that I decided to make the trip, mustering up the courage to come back and hoping perhaps to rejoice in the beautiful memories I do have of my little boy. If you were amongst this crowd last year, you may recall my sharing that I have 8 children, 4 who were in heaven, 2 because I bought into this product of Roe v. Wade, and 2 the result of miscarriages, 3 beautiful children at home, and one, who at the time I shared that testimony, was 17 weeks old, in my womb. Last year, when I shared my joy with you, little did I know that my precious baby boy had already died. On January 30th, one week after standing here on this podium, at 18 weeks pregnant, I delivered a stillborn Jonathan Caleb Kilhoffer. My Doctor assured me that it was not the trip or the March that caused his death and I want to believe him. And if I’m honest with myself, I still battle with the guilt that perhaps had I not been here he would be alive today. So, today is a milestone for me in my healing journey.
My nightmare did not begin with finding out that Jonathan had died. It wasn’t even the part where I delivered him. But that awful product we know as abortion came back to haunt me soon after Jonathan was taken from my arms. My placenta would not deliver, and I was losing a lot of blood. My doctor, who knew my history, came in to tell me that they couldn’t wait any longer, and had no alternatives, I would have to undergo a DNC. My husband had gone to the cafeteria to eat, believing everything was fine, and the worst was over. As they were wheeling me out of the room, a nurse asked me to sign a release form. In that moment, I was the same scared young girl who was about to have an abortion more than 20 years ago. But this time, I knew better, I couldn’t sign the form. I told myself “It’s okay, it’s not the same. He’s already gone. You held him.” I wanted to throw up, I asked where my husband was, I wanted him to sign it as if that would somehow release me of responsibility for the terrible act I was giving permission for. Two very different circumstances had collided and I couldn’t comprehend reality. The nurse said, we can’t wait for him, you have to go now. I scribbled my name on the paper and began sobbing. In the hall I could hear a baby, who had just been delivered, crying and I pulled the pillow over my head to drown out the sounds. I remember doing the same thing in the recovery room after my 2nd abortion, but the cries I was drowning out then were the cries of other young women who had also bought into this product that was supposed to help us. When I arrived in the OR, I saw my Doctor alongside another man who handed me a plastic cup and let me know it would put me in a twilight sleep. As I began drinking it, I saw him placing stirrups on the OR table and I remember feeling pure terror. That was the last thing I recall.
I didn’t see my doctor again until the next morning. I complained that my back hurt. He explained that it was likely because I fought them in the OR when they tried to position my legs in the stirrups.
Even after years of rejecting the product of abortion, and years of healing, accepting and giving forgiveness, in the blink of an eye, the ever present reminder of my choice was right back in front of me. I had re-lived my 2nd abortion, which had been completely lost in my subconscious mind until that very moment, in the midst of a heart breaking loss.
I mentioned earlier that on some level everyone has bought into this product. Let me explain. I knew because of my weekend at Rachel’s Vineyard the healing that would begin with a Mass and Memorial Service for our son. We began planning a funeral for Jonathan and he was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. These amazing women from Silent No More were there to support me, along with my friends at JFA, and there were others. But there were more, some who were family who that couldn’t understand why we would spend money we didn’t have to bury a fetus. It didn’t make sense to most that there would even be a funeral. It was as if because he wasn’t full term or a born child, it was more acceptable to throw him out with the medical waste than to celebrate his short life at a Funeral Mass.
This product and the language used to describe the unborn human have numbed us all to the reality of what abortion really is. If we all agree that this product kills a living human being, than there should be no compromise, no matter of more importance than to reverse Roe v. Wade. Politicians, voters, parents, friends, boyfriends, can no longer sit by and watch as yet another generation of women is sold a product that clearly harms both her and the human life she is responsible for. We as a people must stand united and protect our daughters. We as a society must protect all human rights. It is our duty as a civilized nation to protect those who cannot protect themselves. United, together we change the future.