With the recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court, the political spotlight of the nation has once again focused on the great, seemingly-endless, cultural battle of “Life” versus “Choice”.
Activists of all flavors are out in force, and media is flooding us with strong opinions, virulent rhetoric and exaggerated tales of oppression. Each side jockeys for airtime and prevalence. But with all the messages grabbing our collective attention, are we missing the real life stories of the people bearing the consequences of our abortion-as-a-political-football mindset?
What are we losing sight of in this conflict of “Life” versus “Choice” in our culture? At Tulare-Kings Right to Life, we frequently hear firsthand the tales of those are being affected by abortion. Sometimes, all we can do is offer help and healing resources to those that have been devastated by their abortion decisions. But every so often, we encounter those that are actively considering whether they should have an abortion.
I first met Jodi in a Facebook group for women and men seeking help because they regret their abortions and don’t know how to move forward from the trauma.
Most are at least two-five years past their abortions, and have had significant time to think through the consequences of their actions. They don’t use words like ‘freedom’, ‘right choice’, ‘fetus’, ‘best thing’ and ‘clump of cells’; they use phrases like ‘killed my own child’, ‘never forgive myself’, and ‘just wish I could hold my baby’.
Jodi was no exception, and had followed the sound bite advice of the culture.
Faced with raising four children during a bitter custody dispute, extreme morning sickness 24 hours a day through all nine months, and no local support, she chose abortion. As with most women, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder soon followed. More than a year later, she finally reached out for help online.
We were doing everything to help Jodi process her abortion trauma. She was depressed on her best days, and considering suicide on her worst. Then, during a failed attempt to reconcile with her ex-husband, she became pregnant again. Her situation hadn’t changed. Feeling foolish for becoming pregnant, fearful about how it would affect her custody battle, and already facing debilitating nausea, she scheduled another abortion.
The only thing that had changed was her connection to a group of twelve hundred complete strangers on social media. Jodi told us her plans three days before her scheduled abortion.
We didn’t condemn her – we had all been there ourselves, and she was already condemning herself. We didn’t offer her empty platitudes and assurances that everything would be okay – we knew she was facing difficult odds. We certainly didn’t give her the absolving advice of a sound bite culture.
Instead, we first offered Jodi our prayers and support. Then we found her local assistance, and clinicians specializing in extreme nausea during pregnancy. Jodi was given referrals for legal aid. She was encouraged to reach out to friends and family. We Listened. Sympathized. Comforted. We did what every decent and kind human being naturally wants to do to help a scared pregnant woman: We offered our help, and our hearts, to see her through it.
The time for Jodi’s abortion appointment came and went. Another day, another week, another month. The other day she posted a picture of her first ultrasound, along with her thanks to the people that talked her through it. No idea what single thing helped change her mind. I just thank God we were there for HER, and not for our politics.
— JP Pritchard
JP Prichard is the Executive Director of Tulare-Kings Right to Life, a community benefit organization dedicated to restoring societal respect for human life of all ages. To learn more about TKRL or their 23rd Annual Making A Difference For Life fundraising banquet featuring Christian Author Lee Strobel, visit them at www.tkrl.org.