An older gentleman with a white beard and plaid button down shirt was standing at the entrance as I pulled into the parking lot that crisp January morning. He was yelling and waving pamphlets at me telling me to stop. As a young girl, I went with my Grandparents and held signs in protest while they screamed and pleaded with those walking inside to change their mind. I sat in my car imagining the horror on the faces of my family if they were to find out that I was sitting in the parking lot of an abortion clinic.
I trembled as I removed my jeans and panties and covered myself with a paper cloth. The ultrasound began and there it was on the screen – a tiny peanut, only recognizable to me as a baby since I had seen life in my womb before. I kept thinking of my two miracle children that came from this same place inside of my body; I had struggled to get pregnant when I wanted to years earlier. And now, my womb was miraculously carrying life once again. “This shows that you are about 5 weeks along. Would you like me to give you the options for termination?”
The child I was carrying was the result of a hidden affair. I was not only reeling from the pregnancy but the manner in which the affair abruptly ended and how to repair the betrayal my husband was experiencing. What if when this child went looking for their biological father? He was quick to suggest the abortion. I’m on so many medications, what if this baby is born sick or deformed?
When I arrived the next day, new protesters tried to block the entrance. I easily read anger and disgust on their faces. Being on the receiving end of pro-life protesters shameful. They knew nothing of my story, my body, or my personal torment. In that moment I wondered what Jesus might have to say to me. I was desperately searching for Him. Could He be in an abortion clinic? Would He speak words of kindness? Immediately, it was easy to envision Him standing right outside, holding the door for every woman who walked in, with tears in His eyes He embraced them and said, “I love you so much, and I am so sad you are here.”
After two hours of waiting, I was called back with seven other women. I was clearly the oldest woman present and that reality made me want to disappear. I was mortified to discover we were going to be doing this as a group. I longed for a space where I could be alone in a room to have some kind of quiet moment before I swallowed the pill that would end this pregnancy. I wanted to tell my baby I was sorry that I wasn’t as brave or good as I had thought. It was a moment I will never forget; sitting in this grey waiting room, walls cold with watercolor trees painted in lavender and periwinkle with seven other women. Before I put the pill on my tongue, I silently prayed, “God, have mercy on me. Please forgive me.” And then all seven of us swallowed a pill and killed our babies together.
It was the most tragic and awful moment of my entire life.
I took the second set of pills the following afternoon and started cramping. Walking down the hall to the bathroom I felt a heavy rush of blood. Sobbing and wailing I saw the flood of crimson come from my body.
As I sat on my toilet, I heard the familiar hissing voice – How embarrassing to be in this situation at your age. What kind of mother are you? You are a woman with too much desire, you always knew that sex would get you into trouble and here you are!
Between the tormenting voices in my head and the blood pouring from me, I could barely stand to be in my own body. I felt nothing and everything all at once.
I grew up in the church, raised to be adamantly pro-life and believing that abortion should be against the law. The idea that any woman who has an abortion or is pro-choice could never truly belong to Jesus was ingrained into my being like a tattoo on my DNA. “I would never have an abortion” were words I said over and again through the years.
Now that it was me it didn’t seem as black and white. David writes in Psalm 139 about the sacred place where God knits us together, where He sees and knows us before we are born. Our womb is where our sexuality, our soul, and story all come together. As women, we experience life and death inside of us month after month, year after year. That sacredness, the living and the dying our bodies go through for a long majority of our lives, can only be truly understood by the woman. For me, the idea that men or governing authorities should make the choice for me felt preposterous.
My abortion has wrecked my faith and belief system in a way nothing else has. But God knew me before I was born, and He also knew that I would be taking this journey with Him. Empathy, kindness, curiosity and understanding from people have been the arms of Jesus reminding me that I still belong to Him.
This Red Tent woman has requested to remain anonymous. We applaud her courage to risk sharing this part of her story with our community, it is our privilege to honor and protect her identity.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I cant imagine the bravery it took to put the words on paper but by doing so, you have helped someone else xx
Thank you for sharing with such vulnerability and integrity. You are brave and courageous. And yes, Jesus is with you, whispering “I see you and I love you!”
I cannot even begin to imagine the courage this took to put down on paper and share with a wider community. Healing comes when we debride the wounds and let the light in, and that is what you have bravely done here. May your story be the debridement and light other women in similar circumstances find themselves. May we all learn to receive others’ stories of shame, heartbreak, and regret with gentle grace, just as Jesus modeled.
All of this!
You are so brave to speak so transparently about all the complex feelings this experience roused for you. I am so proud that my sisters can show a story like this to the light. I hope it brings you healing, and I am sure it will help others.
I am sorry for you. You chose to end the life of an innocent child conceived during a sexual relationship with a man not your husband. That your husband would encourage you to end this child’s life is disturbing,
Nevertheless, we do know this: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep his anger forever. He will not deal with us according to our sins nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love towards those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father show compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion towards those who fear him.” Psalm. 103: 8-11.
Thank you for sharing. May your trials draw you closer to Jesus.
Courage, dear sister. There is always a place for you at the table. To write with such detail about such gut wrenching losses is awe-inspiring. May we all have such conviction. I hope that you have a deeper encounter with the tender, comforting Spirit than you could ever imagine. 💕
Thank you, brave woman. I love your depiction of Jesus as he holds the door, eyes filled with compassion and sorrow for the pain that brought you to that door – and for the pain Jesus knew would follow. It is rare that a woman makes this decision void of desperation and Jesus knows the grief that will follow. The love and grace of Jesus is sufficient for any of our choices and for all that follows them. May Jesus continue to act as a buffer when the world and the inner critic tries to tell you that you are anything other than beloved, redeemed, and covered by grace. Love to you, dear sister.
I can’t remotely begin to understand the depth and breadth of how this must’ve affected you. Even so, I know what it’s like to find one’s self in a place where you never thought you’d be; especially if that place is a location resulting from our own actions. Still, please, please know that God is a God of infinity, shrouding us in His/Her infinite mercy, grace, understanding and [amazing] love. He/She has promised that there’s nothing anyone, or even ourselves, can do to separate ourselves from His/Her love. On the day Jesus died, he already knew of the challenging valleys we’d have to cross and He gave Himself/Herself so that we’d have the safe passage of His/Her salvation, covering our journey. With Him/Her there’s no condemnation. You are still of His/Her beloved, causing Him/Her to smile from a deep well of compassion every your face comes before Him/Her.
Thank you for sharing your story. So little in life is as black-and-white as we may want it to be. Living in vulnerability, feeling uncertain and being open to possibility can be a difficult lesson to learn. You sound like you are living in that liminal space where Jesus is holding you firmly by the hand–even if it feels like you have stepped off a cliff. Prayers for your healing.
I’m thankful for the way you shared your heart with us here. I’m even more thankful that you have found Jesus’ unfailing love. Nothing can separate us from His love—we are all washed clean and embraced by our precious Savior. God bless you!
Thank you for sharing your story. That took courage! You wrestled long and hard with those choices and I’m glad you had safe choices. As a midwife, I know that this is really complicated; and not a decision that is made lightly.
I am the Husband. I am the man that was there, that wept with his wife and desperately prayed to God that I could endure this pain for her. I am the man that failed his wife. I am the man that wanted to kill the guy she cheated on me with and didn’t. I am the man that God met like Paul on the road to Damascus. I am the man that was saved by God when I needed saving the most. I am the man who forgave her, loved her and stood by her. I am the man that offered to father the baby and make it my own. I am the man that caught her as she collapsed into my arms at the clinic after the abortion. I am the man that carried her to the car and drove her home. I am the man that held her while she screamed at how much she hated herself for doing what she had. I am the man that sat alone sobbing in the living room while I heard her screams of agony in the bathroom as she bled. I am the man that came to faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior because of all of this. Her affair, her choice to end the pregnancy, and the insurmountable amount of betrayal I felt brought me to my knees and to the arms of the One she had always told me about. I am the man that was forever changed by this. And I am the man that has found gratitude in this awful place as Jesus has been faithful to hold her in His arms when mine aren’t enough. I am this man. I am this husband. And I am the man that reminds her every day that she still belongs to Jesus.
This was hard to read. On the one hand you are so very brave to share your story with us and on the other hand it makes me sad that you felt you had to end a life to save your marriage. We are all faced with difficult decisions – crossroads – that had we gone one way, this, or the other way, that. I’m thankful that you are finding healing as you deal with the trauma of the loss of this child and the circumstances surrounding it. God’s peace and blessing to you.