It’s such a peaceful afternoon, and the solitude is something I’ve been craving for weeks. I have pages of notes of thoughts and stories, and had every intention of spending time enveloped in memories of purchasing my own cookware when I was nine or the beauty of a highly dysfunctional family of double-kin, halfs, strays, and ‘dopteds. But a simple post I made on Facebook yesterday afternoon changed things.
My doctor said I was too sick to carry my son to full-term. He suggested an abortion - said it was the smart thing to do. My son is 26 now. It was one of the best choices I've ever made.
Within a few minutes, several people had clicked the “like” button, while a few commented that I had made a good decision, and how my decision reinforced the importance of a woman’s right to choose. One particular statement – “I think Ronne's testimony is wonderful. The whole point was, she had a choice. She made the right choice for her.” – made by a woman I respect and admire, resonated with me.
I did indeed have a choice. When Dr Turner, the OB/GYN who believed I would miscarry, encouraged me to “take care of things rather than face the inevitable,” I could have said “yes." But I was pregnant, carrying an innocent, vulnerable human life who didn’t have a vote. Scripture after scripture told me that, even though the pregnancy was unexpected (I was actually in the hospital, hooked up to IVs while the doctors determined whether or not a hysterectomy was necessary), my baby was not an accident, not a mistake. So my decision to NOT have an abortion wasn’t the right choice for me – it was the right choice for him. He deserved every opportunity to experience life, even if the road to get there was difficult. And it was. I was in the hospital for several days as they monitored his heartbeat and health. I almost miscarried at six months, and I still carry the battle scars of a difficult delivery. But it was absolutely worth every moment of laughter and pain.
I also had a choice when I was 18. A bright-eyed freshman at the University of Oklahoma with big plans and the attention of a handsome, smart guy named Chris, I plunged head-long into a dating relationship. He and I met at a frat party (he and I were both pledge class presidents – he of the fraternity and me of the auxiliary “Little Sister” organization), and we rarely spent a day apart. I chose to have sex with him. And I got pregnant. I remember weeping as I told my mom, remember the long conversation with Chris, remember the highly logical “pros/cons” list created used to judge the value of the life I was carrying. He planned to be an attorney, and I had aspirations to be a network television anchor – and the idea of being burdened by a baby just didn’t seem palatable. So, on a chilly December morning, after finishing my first semester finals, Chris and I drove to the doctor’s office and paid our $250 (plus an extra $50 for a RhoGAM shot to protect me just in case the baby’s blood wasn’t O- like mine). I changed into a hospital gown and was moved to a room with an examination table. Placing my feet in the stirrups, the doctor told me everything would be “back to normal” in a few minutes. A long tube was inserted, and I then heard the sound of the machine. I wasn’t asleep, so I witnessed it all - literally felt life being sucked from my body. Despite the pain medication given to me, I felt every contraction as I watched the tube fill. I wanted to scream, but knew it wouldn’t matter. So I kept telling myself, “it’s all going to be better soon.”
There was no counseling before, no counseling after. No one talked to me about other choices I could have made – open adoption or keeping the child (even without the boyfriend in the picture). No one talked to me about possible medical complications that could arise from the act of abortion – medical complications that, for me, would eventually result in an inability to have children. No one talked to me about the guilt I would ultimately experience when I realized the choice I made that was “right for me” ended another person’s life.
Call it what you want. Debate the “viability of life” and “when a human becomes a human” and a woman’s right to choose and who gets the short straw in the “my life or yours” decision. Discuss at length all the variables about health and safety, and include the “incest or rape” factor that affects 1% of all women. I'm not saying choice is a bad word - remember, I've made choices. But when all is said and done, abortion is still defined as “termination” – an ending of potential for someone who didn’t get a vote.
I remember hearing a story once from a man who was on vacation in Florida with his family. They were enjoying time on the beach when they came to a fenced area with huge “CAUTION” signs posted. At first glance, nothing appeared to be inside the fence. As the family grew closer, they could read the smaller lettering on the sign. The fenced area was protecting a nest of sea turtle eggs. More than 200 eggs were under the sand, safe and sound from predators courtesy of the environmentalists who believed each of those turtles had value. Those who tampered with the nest were threatened with stiff fines and possible jail time.
I wonder what would happen if we valued human life as much as those environmentalists valued the lives of those unborn sea turtles.
Note: I have forgiven myself for the decision made so long ago. I believe with all my heart there is a precious daughter awaiting me in Heaven – perfectly whole and wholly perfect. I know she and my son will have a wonderful time getting to know each other some day.