It was Monday morning and I was eager to begin my work day when the phone rang. I picked up the line at the pregnancy center and heard the question, “Can I come in for an abortion?”
The question wasn’t uncommon. It’s one I’m asked often while working for a non-profit pregnancy resource center. However, I’m always taken aback when I hear it.
When I told the woman on the other end of the phone we don’t perform abortions, I expected to hear a dial tone. Instead of hanging up she listened to the other services we provided. I offered her a pregnancy test and she told me she’d be in that afternoon.
Before she took the test I listened to her story. I asked her about her feelings regarding the pregnancy and she said, “I already apologized to God. I asked him to forgive me in advance for the abortion.”
“What made you want to apologize?” I asked, desiring to better understand her beliefs. ” Well, because I know abortion is bad and God says it’s a sin.” After hearing more of her personal convictions I asked, “If having an abortion goes against your faith, what makes you want to terminate this pregnancy?”
The answer I received from the beautiful twenty-something year old was, “I just can’t have this baby.” A combination of a lack of finances, a boyfriend who didn’t pull his weight, children at home and fear of the unknown convinced her abortion was the only choice.
Since she was open to discussing her other options, I shared the material resources, emotional support and quality care we could give her. I let her know if she decided to carry to term we would be there during her entire pregnancy and into the first couple years of her child’s life. I told her we could provide a brand new crib, throw her a baby shower and assist her boyfriend in finding work. I also spoke with her about adoption and the empowerment that can come from making a plan for her child’s life. I acknowledged her fears and told her that though I was far from a miracle worker, I would do whatever I could in my power to assist her.
She listened and took it to heart. She agreed to come back for an ultrasound and have a serious talk with her boyfriend about the things we discussed. After the appointment I asked if our conversation was helpful to her. “Oh, yes,” she replied. “I’m glad we talked.”
When she left the center I went into my office, stared at the wall and sighed. I thought about her circumstances and how challenging they were. I remembered the way she looked when I was talking to her. At some points in the conversation it seemed she was daring to let hope break into the strongholds of uncertainty. I pondered how the discussion of a pregnancy decision could be so much like making a negotiation over a life. She had power, given by the government, to allow the life inside of her to be taken or make a sacrifice for it to be brought forth. I, on the other hand could only listen, offer loving support and pray for the best.
The visit was a sobering reminder of the ways in which Roe v. Wade has hurt women and families. Motherhood has been reduced to an option which can be rejected for any reason deemed fit. A child, invited into the world through actions of his parents, can be discarded because of hard circumstances. A woman is too often pressured by fear to betray her own conscience and make a decision she may regret.
I wished that day for a world where a child’s existence wasn’t up for negotiation. I longed for a society that would assist a mother in need and erase her reasons for wanting to terminate her child. I hoped for a government that would recognize the value of preborn lives and establish laws to keep them safe. I shuddered inside because I knew that the world I wished for is not the one I currently live in.
After I paused, I called our sonographer to schedule the ultrasound appointment. I settled in my heart that although I couldn’t change all the circumstances in this woman’s life, I could do something. I would arrange for her to have a glimpse of the new life inside of her.
Let’s hope that small act makes a big difference.