By Laura Antkowiak Hussey, M.P.M
Editor’s note. Laura’s wonderful story appeared in the December 2003 issue of National Right to Life News and is today’s “Roe at 40” entry in which we are reprinting some of the best and most representative stories that have appeared in NRL News going back to 1973. If you ever need to inspire a young woman in a crisis pregnancy situation, you could not ask for better help than this story.
These are the words of an empowered woman, boldly asserting that she can accomplish what so many others say she cannot. Other women have dared to say these words before, when it came to attending college, to voting, to leading corporations and nations. Now, more and more women say these words again, on another defining issue of our lives.
For decades the cultural elites have told us that we can’t be mothers and still succeed in the world. If we get pregnant at a young age, then we should be especially grateful that in 1973, seven men on the U.S. Supreme Court gave us a “choice.” We could lie down on an abortion table and wait for a masked man to take our problem away. The “problem,” of course, is our unborn child, and perhaps our bodies as well – – only we are capable of nurturing new life, and this twist of biological fate, the elites suggest, makes us inferior to men.
Many of us believed that abortion was the key to our liberty. We could reject the discomfort of pregnancy, free ourselves from diaper changes and crying babies, and go make our names in the world. We could also save everyone else we loved the trouble of learning to support us, as mothers, and our children. We could save our schools, our employers, and our government a lot of effort as well, for instead of demanding a more mother-friendly society, we could get abortions. And so what we call a “choice” became an obligation. Especially if we were young, unmarried, unproven in the world, and pregnant, we were told that abortion was the only sensible thing we could do.
My friend Jennifer faced this situation when she was 15 years old. Her boyfriend told her he would have nothing to do with their child, and abortion would be best for them all. Jennifer’s parents felt the same way, and so did the counselor they took her to see. But Jennifer knew from the start that she did not want an abortion. “It seemed unnatural,” she told me, “to be able to destroy a baby in a matter of minutes.”
“My mother couldn’t understand why I didn’t want an abortion. I kept explaining that I needed to make a decision I could live with. My mother mistook my concern for physical pain, but I was more concerned about the unseen pain I would have to suffer by myself a few years later whenever I would see a baby or an expectant mother. It’s been my experience that no one wants to talk about that type of pain. It makes them uncomfortable. But that’s how I felt every time someone would recommend an abortion like it was a favorite recipe of theirs. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I had destroyed such a big part of me, my child that I would never meet. In my heart, I always knew abortion was wrong and was not the best option for my baby and me.”
The counselor told Jennifer that abortion was “the only and best solution. In her own words, here was my second chance in life.” She told Jennifer that parenthood was miserable and that if she did not get an abortion, she would never finish school and would spend her life on welfare. Jennifer knew better. “I knew that in order for me to grow,” Jennifer resolved, “I would have to accept any challenges and never back down from what I believed in. I knew I would have to fight for the life of my unborn child. And I was ready. I was ready to defend him at all costs.”
Jennifer’s determination won, and her story ends happily: “On July 17, 1992, I gave birth to a big, beautiful, healthy baby boy. I named him Gabriel. From the minute he was born, my parents and I forgot what we were fighting about, and they gave back to me all the support and love I was craving. Suddenly, it hit me. Throughout my entire pregnancy what I wanted and thought I needed was for everyone to accept me, agree with me, and sympathize with my situation. What I didn’t know was that it would have been enough for me to understand myself and accept these changes. The rest would just fall into place.”
Jennifer found that she was stronger than she had ever imagined:
“I look at my son now, who is nine years old, and I’m glad that I was stubborn and refused the abortion. I’m glad he’s here, with me, and that I can pass along the lesson to him that my parents forgot to pass on to me: that life is precious!”
Jennifer did finish school by the way, and she works for a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.
I can do it.
So many times, Jennifer must have looked at herself in the mirror and repeated those words. So many times she must have declared to everyone who said she was stupid to think she could be a good mother and not ruin her life, I can do it.
And so it seems that if we really want to assert our independence, to feel liberated, victorious, proud about what we have done with our lives, perhaps the permanent, high-stakes decision that we make for ourselves and the children within us will be to refuse to submit to the abortionist, to refuse to resort to violence against our children, to resist the overwhelming messages we hear about how abortion is the only sensible option for us. We empower ourselves by choosing life.
We boldly protect the vulnerable child within us, who so many others see as nothing. We state confidently that we can be good mothers and succeed in every other way. We know we will be just as intelligent and talented after giving birth as we were before, perhaps even more so. Strain and sacrifice may mark our road ahead, but so will pride, joy, satisfaction, and love. We know that we deserve better than abortion. Can we stand up to all who tell us otherwise?
Yes, we can. We women are stronger than everyone thinks.
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