A note from Kendra: This is a guest post by my friend Emily, the Catholic All Year Warehouse manager and my partner on the Liturgical Living Subscription boxes. It’s a beautiful story of how her mother’s crisis pregnancy brought their family together. I’m so grateful to Emily, her mother, and her grandfather for sharing their personal perspective in light of the end of Roe v Wade.
In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the main story of the left-leaning media is what women have lost. The talk of the town (or rather, of Twitter) is that by turning the matter and legalization of abortion over to the states, the government has cost women their lives, their happiness, their choice. I keep seeing people calling it a “setback.”
I’d rather call it a “reset.” What you won’t hear in the news is an account of what has been lost through the years that abortion has been legal nationwide, or in other words, what could have been gained by women all across the country had they NOT chosen abortion.
I’d like to share my personal account of this, fully acknowledging with gratitude that the only reason I’m here to share this story is because my mom chose life, against the odds.
Because this isn’t entirely my story to tell, I’d like to also share some words written by my own mom more than twenty five years ago, telling her side of the story, as well as some thoughts from her dad, my Opa.
From my Opa:
“The reality of how precious that little life is never really affected me until it struck home in my own family. On February 19th, 1994, my wife and I decided to undertake a “Spiritual Adoption” of an unborn baby somewhere in the world in danger of losing its life. We started saying a little prayer each day for our adopted baby, asking God to protect it and allow it to be born. Both of our daughters were grown and gone from home at the time. Our oldest, was living in Orlando and working for Disney Feature Animation. Jenny, our youngest, had moved to Texas at age sixteen to live with her boyfriend. We said lots of prayers for her as well, but that’s another story.
A couple of months later we discovered who the baby was that we had been praying for. She was our own granddaughter, Emily. Before we even knew that Jenny was pregnant we had almost lost Emily on three different occasions.
Emily’s first brush with death occurred about five to nine days after she was conceived. Jenny was taking birth control pills at the time. The “Pill” actually acts as an abortifacient, meaning that it causes a hostile environment to prevent the fertilized egg from implanting itself in the wall of the uterus. Unlike contraceptives (contra, meaning opposed to, and concepto, meaning to conceive), which prevent the union of sperm and egg, abortifacients affect the developing human being after the sperm and egg have been united. Somehow Emily managed to survive the odds against her and she successfully implanted herself in her mommy’s womb.
From my mom:
“It was April 1, 1994. My boyfriend and I went to Planned Parenthood to verify the results of the home pregnancy test. The nurse we saw asked me how I felt about the possibility that I could be pregnant. I let her know that I was excited at the idea but unsure of my future. She honed in on that uncertainty and probed further – what would I do with the child? Could I support it? What would my parents think? These were issues that I had not yet allowed to enter into my mind; I was taking this whole thing one step at a time. Consequently, I could not answer her questions as quickly as she blurted them out. As I floundered for responses, a look of smug resolution came over her face, as if she had already decided what I was going to do. I was a textbook abortion customer to her – young, afraid, and not knowing where to turn. She thought that all she had to do was prey on my worries and shoot down my childish dreams of being a “mommy,” and she could add another abortion to the paperwork. I, however, had other plans.
When my positive test came back, the nurse shook her head and tried to look sympathetic. “I’m sorry, Jennifer”. I was confused by her apology. I remember the dismayed look on her face when I began to smile. She grasped again at my concern, desperately trying to save her sale. She reminded me of my age and of my state in life. I knew I could not support the child on my own, so I asked her for a number I could call for government assistance. She claimed she didn’t have one to give me. It struck me as odd that she couldn’t provide me with a point of contact. Surely other women had been in this same situation before me and had needed information on how they could get help to keep their children, as well. Why did Planned Parenthood, then, not keep such an important number handy?
I asked the nurse to give me a list of doctors from which to choose, as I felt the next reasonable step would be to see an obstetrician. The nurse breathed a heavy sigh of disapproval and curled her lip, as if I wasn’t understanding her point. “We don’t deal with pregnant women.” Shocked, I wondered how this company could call itself “Planned Parenthood” when it was unable and unwilling to deal with expectant parents. The way she was responding to me put me even more on edge about what steps I should take to best care for myself and the child. She seemed to sense my uneasiness and pressed some more.
She mentioned my parents again, appealing to my utter terror in having to break the news to them. The nurse bombarded me with negativity, playing on my fears and concerns and continuing to offer me the “easy way out. ‘Although she never actually said the word, she left no doubt in my mind that in her opinion abortion was my only option. When I disagreed, she thrust a package of pamphlets at me on abortion costs and procedures, adoption information, and a small excerpt on prenatal care. She presented this to me and told me to come back when I had made up my mind. I thought perhaps she had confused me with another patient. I knew I had been very clear that I wanted to keep the baby, and that this was not bad news to me. That concept seemed to escape her, for there was no money to be made on her end if I carried out the pregnancy. She had absolutely no concern for me as an individual with needs and desires; she was interested only in making money for her company.
I walked out of the clinic, tossed the packet in the garbage, and began my reserved celebration.
From my Opa, regarding this day:
“Had it not been for Jenny’s determination to keep her baby, we surely would have lost Emily to the abortionists at Planned Parenthood without ever knowing that we were going to be grandparents.
The third attempt to terminate Emily’s life occurred when the “concerned” family of Jenny’s boyfriend offered to pay for the abortion if Jenny would agree to it. That’s when she called us and told us the good news that she was pregnant. We immediately drove to Texas and brought Jenny back home to live with us.”
I was born on December 10, 1994. I lived with my mom and her parents until I was three years old, when my mom married the man I now call “Dad” – a holy and faithful man whom God had reserved just for us. What the world would call “unplanned” fit perfectly into God’s plan, and His plan for our family has been greater and more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.
From my mom, after my birth:
“I had a baby girl on December 10, 1994. She is positively perfect in every way. My own parents, whom I was so afraid to tell, have been overwhelmingly supportive of me, and they are crazy about the baby. I live at home with them now, and my life is back on track. I thank God everyday for lending me this child to tend to for Him.
I think often of the other women who were in the clinic with me that day. I wonder if their babies were given the same chance at life that I gave mine. I know how it feels to look to the future with sheer terror, because I’ve been there. I’ve felt the shameless prodding of the abortionist’s pitchfork in my side, heightening every fear that was brewing within me. That nurse tried her hardest to manipulate me and to scare me into doing something that I knew was wrong. I now want to warn other expectant mothers about these abortion clinics. They do not have your best interests in mind and they will not give you a choice. They could, instead, force you into an abortion that you are afraid to decline. Please be strong and resist them, for yourselves and for your children. Better yet, don’t even go to these clinics; find counseling in pro-life organizations where your choices are fair and the help is abundant. Your baby’s life is at stake…. and it’s all up to you.”
Here are some things I’ve heard this week in the media:
“If you become a young/unwed mother (& don’t get an abortion), you will not be educated.”
My mom finished her college degree when she was pregnant with my fourth sister. She graduated with honors and went on to get her Master’s degree in education.
“If you become a young/unwed mother (& don’t get an abortion), you will not have a fulfilling career.”
My mom has now worked for over twenty years as a Montessori teacher and catechist. She has helped to educate hundreds of children and taught even more of them how to have a relationship with the Lord. She brought her babies with her, taught her own children in her class, and always served our family first.
“If you become a young/unwed mother (& don’t get an abortion), your life will be ruined. You will not be happy.”
From my mom, today:
“Becoming a single mom at 18 did not ruin my life; it transformed it. The unborn child growing within me gave me the motivation to leave a wretched life behind and embrace my identity as a beloved daughter of God. I returned to the sacraments. I reconciled a broken trust with my parents and sister. I made new friends who valued what mattered for eternity and who pursued holiness in personal and tangible ways. I focused on being someone my daughter could follow on a path of total trust behind and toward the Good Shepherd. I baptized her and consecrated her to the Blessed Mother, who has been my constant strength and inspiration as the most perfect disciple. I married a godly man who continues to devote himself entirely to getting me and our babies to Heaven. Promoted by grace, I trusted, and I have never been disappointed in the outcome.”
As a mother now myself, the only thing I can definitively say that motherhood has “lost” me is sleep. And, I would trade all the sleep in the world for the things that I have gained.