HomeoldRest in peace, Jean Garton. It is the Lord’s story, not mine

Rest in peace, Jean Garton. It is the Lord’s story, not mine

Published on

As previously stated on Saturday, we will be returning to the passing of Dr. Jean Garton, a prominent figure in the pro-life movement. I have known Dr. Garton for over 30 years, and despite the intention to provide 50 tributes, this is not sufficient.

In addition to Jack and Barbara Willke’s Handbook on Abortion, Jean’s magnum opus, Who Broke the Baby?, was a required text for pro-life activists of my generation. For those who are younger and have grown up in an era of social media, it is challenging to grasp the significance of the printed page (and the “Willke slides”) in the early days of the pro-life movement. This movement was initially formed to challenge abortion “reform,” and later, to oppose abortion repeal.

I first learned of Dean’s murder when Jean appeared on the “Focus on the Family” program hosted by Dr. James Dobson. I mention the radio program because Jean wrote about Dean’s death in her best piece, aside from her classic book. It was called “A Celebration of Life” and appeared in 2007 in the Lutheran Woman’s Quarterly.

It is noteworthy that few individuals were aware of Jean’s genuine conversion to pro-life beliefs, which can be considered a conversion akin to that of Saul on the road to Damascus. This conversion occurred over the course of six months. The following provides a detailed account of the circumstances that led to this conversion.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 prompted Chic to re-examine his career as a successful businessman. One year later, at the age of 40, he entered the seminary.

Jean and their three children followed with what seemed to be a “healthy bank account,” which was soon depleted by the numerous hospital stays and medications required to treat their eldest daughter’s severe rheumatoid arthritis. On some days, they subsisted on oatmeal, while on others, they had nothing. However, thanks to divine providence and the assistance of local churches, they managed to survive Chic’s four years in seminary.

It was not long after Jean had prepared to commence her role as a full-time church worker in Pennsylvania that she discovered she was pregnant at the age of 40. In her own words, this pregnancy was unwanted, and the solution she and her husband considered was abortion. However, they ultimately decided against it, stating that the human mind is “never more clever or resourceful than when it is engaged in self-justification.”

We discussed this topic in detail during our conversation over coffee last summer. As she wrote about her inner turmoil in the Lutheran Woman’s Quarterly essay, Jean was passionate and honest. However, it was not until we talked at length that I fully grasped just how much she had not wanted to be pregnant. This was prior to Roe v. Wade, and she could not find a doctor to “terminate” her pregnancy. In her essay, Jean went on to explain how she joined an activist group “seeking to promote abortion-on-demand.”

I spent six months studying the abortion issue from numerous perspectives in an attempt to find confirmation that abortion, as its advocates claimed, helps women, doesn’t take a human life, and is a choice God allows us to make. I came out the other end of that exhaustive research with a changed heart and mind and with a commitment to be a voice in defense of the unseen, unheard, unborn child.

In 1969, Donn was born. He would later become a key figure in the case, riding with the group in 1979 when police tracked them down to inform them that Dean had been murdered in Dallas. Jean wrote:

He had just completed four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and was beginning a management training program. Dean, our first son, our planned son, our wanted son, dead, while seated between us bringing great comfort was Donn, our second son, our unplanned son, our unwanted son, whom I had wanted dead.

Over the many decades that followed her pro-life transformation, Jean wrote, testified, and spoke on behalf of the “unseen, unheard, unborn child.” Few were as articulate, fewer still who could write as well, and fewer yet who could move an audience to “see” abortion in a new light.

We discussed a few years ago the possibility of co-authoring a book. It would have been akin to Shakespeare collaborating with Mickey Spillane. However, had we collaborated on the book, the world would have been the beneficiary of one final literary work from a master craftsman.

In her 2016 National Right to Life Convention Prayer Breakfast address, Jean demonstrated her continued relevance and influence, despite her advanced age. Her remarks were characterized by a sharp wit, persuasive rhetoric, and enduring inspiration.

In light of her demise, it seems fitting to conclude this tribute to my friend with the conclusion of her Lutheran Woman’s Quarterly essay. She had just finished telling us about her extended family: her children and her grandchildren and her great-great grandchildren.
“My cup truly runneth over?” she wrote. Then

I don’t know what is ahead in this journey, but I know that Jesus is ahead. I don’t know what chapter will follow this one, because it is the Lord’s story to write, not mine. All I have is today. He hasn’t given me tomorrow yet, and maybe He won’t, but I have His promise that even if He doesn’t, I will still be alive and in His presence but then face to face. That means the best is yet to come! As the children’s hymn says:

“Who so happy as I am,
even now the Shepherd’s lamb?

“And when my short life is ended,
by His angel host attended,

“He shall fold me to his breast,
there within his arms to rest.”


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

Order Now!


Latest articles

The EU’s plans for the abolition of the secrecy of digital letters

Surveillance of private chats without suspicion could soon become mandatory in the EU. This...

Lloyd’s: Government behind Nord Stream sabotage

About a month ago, Zug-based Nord Stream AG filed a lawsuit against its insurers....

More like this

Biden urges hostage deal

US President Biden has called on Qatar and Egypt to do everything possible to...

Trump trial: ex-president rushes from court to campaign trail

Update, 11:00 a.m.: In the U.S., experts are surprised that Judge Juan Merchan has...

Donald Trump Ignores Court Gag Order

Trump can't talk about those involved in the New York trial. The ex-president can,...