This article was first posted on Jodunbar.wordpress.com. The organization referred to by the author is called True Choice. You can visit their website here.
by Jo Dunbar
I haven’t blogged in about three years. I’ve previously failed at various blogs including my daily life, one written from the perspective of a dog, a daily photo and goodness knows what. Recently though I’ve felt like starting again, and have felt compelled to share one story especially. Something has been stirring in me and maybe there’s more later, but for now I’m blogging. And it feels like a brave choice because it’s something I don’t share often and definitely haven’t put out into the public sphere like this. I hope it blesses someone somewhere.
The thing that began these nagging feelings about sharing for me is when a friend began a charity called True Choice. You can read more about it here. I’ll be honest. The person who has started it is a 17 year old which makes it impressive. Not only that, she’s a 17 year old I know through church and love and admire and love to support so I would probably be a supporter of this project regardless. There was something more though. Her vision is to provide shelter and resources to those facing crisis pregnancy and the name comes from the concept that it would enable them to make a True Choice. As soon as I saw and heard the name, something inside me stirred. A memory. A feeling. A sense of relief that through the manifestation of her vision someone else would receive the help I had desperately wanted and never got.
The help I had wanted, and never got.
I can see the cogs turning. Yes, I faced a crisis pregnancy situation. And no, I didn’t have the baby.
There are all kinds of memories I could share from that time. My surprise at finding myself pregnant after my one and only time having sex with my boyfriend after a one-off boundary slip (we were committed to no sex outside of marriage). My joy at knowing I had a precious gift inside of me. My marveling at my body changing to make way for this little one’s arrival. My desperation as I came to understand that despite an initial ‘let’s go away and think about what we want to do’, my boyfriend was only ever going to support an abortion. The guilt I was wrestling with, knowing it was wrong but the hopelessness of not seeing an alternative. And THAT is where True Choice captures my heart. Not seeing an alternative. Not being able to contemplate any other way of moving forward except for turning off all my emotions and going ahead and ending the life of my baby.
16 years on, I know I had a choice. I recognise the problem of co-dependence. I can see the church my boyfriend worked at would have had grace if we’d confessed our initial sin of sleeping together. I can see my parents would have been disappointed but likely would have helped me to at least go through with the pregnancy although they’d likely have encouraged adoption. I can see there were worse things than dropping out of school for a season. I can see now that I had a choice, but at the time I saw no other way forward. There was NO CHOICE!
I heard that from my boyfriend who would lose his job and his reputation if I had this baby, who couldn’t afford to help raise it and made it clear the relationship was over if I kept it.
I heard it in the hypothetical discussions of worldly friends around me as they debated what would happen if they ever found themselves in this situation.
I saw it on TV soap operas where lives were ruined by the discovery of a pregnancy.
I saw it in the eyes of the doctors when my boyfriend and I went to say this was what we were going to do and they matter-of-factly went through the routine of referrals and tests leading up to the surgery.
I read it in the literature I was given on abortion the day I confirmed with my doctor I was pregnant at 19, whilst receiving none on pre-natal clinics or adoption agencies.
I received it through the silence of the doctors and nurses at every appointment.
In fact, their silence is one of the strongest memories when even on the day of the operation I desperately, desperately hoped one of them would ask me “Is this what you want?” You see, I hadn’t ever wanted the termination. I knew it was wrong but I was afraid of anything else and never knew I was strong enough or there was anyone/anything else that could help. I’d gone to all my appointments with my boyfriend and never dared say anything different because I was afraid of what would happen between us if I did (co-dependency is a horrible thing!) Despite that, I knew if just one person had me alone and asked me “What do you want?” that the dam would break.
That I could cry.
That I could let out the crazy mix of emotions I’d been hiding, afraid to even let them out alone in my bedroom for fear my housemates would put two and two (vomit, tears and changing breast sizes!) together and guess.
That I could tell them how confused I was and that they would cancel the surgery knowing I wasn’t giving full consent.
I’d actually hoped they may even put their arm around me and speak words of comfort and hope, and maybe direct me to someone, somewhere who could help me, support me, get me through what it would take to let this child live, even if I would never be her parent. I wanted someone to open up a choice.
You see, I always had a choice. Always. Chip Judd when he teaches about boundaries says that you may not like your options, but you always have a choice, and it’s true. There is always choice. But sometimes we don’t see it. Sometimes we need someone to be the voice that goes against the messages sent out by the majority. Sometimes we need an ear as we process our options out loud, someone that won’t silence the alternatives to promote their own agenda. Sometimes we need someone who will help us see the possibilities for a course of action we’re terrified of facing alone. Sometimes we even know there is a choice but we need someone simply to verbalise it for us, to help us see that it really is there, and sometimes we just need someone to say “I will support you in your choice”.
An unexpected or unplanned pregnancy creates so many emotions and responses; I know for me it was impossible to see the truth about having choice. There was so much available to steer me down one route that I hoped but never seriously believed there could be another. That’s why I love what my friend is doing.
It’s incredible that at her age she would have the maturity and vision.
Abortion will only end when all people’s eyes are truly fixed on God and the hearts of parents are turned toward their children and we live out unconditional love and grace. I’m realistic enough to know that whilst also hoping and praying for a complete end. Whilst we wait for that day, I will be supporting this charity in prayer and when I can practical ways because I don’t ever want to hear of anyone looking back and remembering “If only they’d asked me ‘what do YOU want?”
I don’t ever want to hear anyone saying “They told me it was just tissue” as they finally grieve over the loss of their real, live human being.
I don’t ever want to hear of another unsupported and uninformed young lady lying in a hospital bed regretting the ending of the life of her pre-born child.
I don’t want to hear of another lady, years down the line battling with post abortion syndrome, never knowing that the symptoms she shows are related to that action years previously.
I don’t want to hear of a 30-something desperate to have a baby but unable to because of the physical damage she suffered during an abortion she thought was safe.
I don’t ever want to hear anybody speaking with regret the words I did when asked why I did it “I felt I had no choice”.
That’s why we need people like my friend. That’s why we need charities like this providing emotional and practical support for women who have nowhere and no-one to go to. That’s why we need the volunteers to staff them. That’s why we need adoptive parents. And that’s why people like me need to start telling our stories. To help be part of a movement that genuinely facilitates True Choice.