When faced with an unplanned pregnancy what do you do? Your body is telling you that something has changed. Within a few weeks you start to notice your breasts are tender and may even be swelling a little. You feel a kind of “fullness” in your body. Perhaps you’re feeling nausea in the morning, and need more sleep, and certain foods or smells make your stomach queasy.
That’s what I experienced when I got pregnant 40 years ago due to a date rape incident at a party.
I noticed those changes happening and I tried to ignore them. “I’m just putting on weight.” “I’ve been so busy, I’m just a little more tired than usual.” Or, “I’m just not eating right,” I thought.
Then there was the awful, inevitable sign. I missed a period. I knew I had better get a pregnancy test—thought I still couldn’t believe that the incident at the party could have resulted in my being pregnant.
After going to a doctor for the test, I had to call the pharmacist. When he told me my test was positive, I was stunned. This could not be happening to me! This was “out of character.” I wasn’t sleeping around. I wasn’t in a relationship. But there I was—pregnant at age 22.
I had no idea of where to go for help.
My next step was crucial—and it’s that step that I want to help anyone who is now in a similar position to consider.
Perhaps you’ve done a home pregnancy test and it was positive. Now what do you do?
You might go to a doctor as I did. They are encouraged by both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association to provide counseling to women facing an unplanned pregnancy—and that includes giving them information about the option of adoption.
When I went to a doctor, he didn’t. He gave me a lecture on birth control and prescribed birth-control pills for me. He also arranged for me to have an abortion.
What was missing at that critical point in my decision-making was any detailed information about “the other option”—adoption. Even though I was familiar with Bethany Services, which had a long-standing record of helping young women in crisis to go through their pregnancy and place their babies for adoption, I never sought more information from them. And sadly, when I sought counseling from a Christian counselor he did not encourage me to look into adoption further either. In fact, he agreed to take me to the hospital where my abortion was scheduled.
So where you go to get help when you first discover you’re pregnant is probably the most critical step you’ll take. That decision will most likely determine whether you ultimately give your baby a chance to live or not.
You may not decide to go to a physician to confirm if you’re pregnant, but if you go to a “Women’s Center” owned by a local abortionist or Planned Parenthood, you’re more likely to hear a sales pitch for an abortion “to take care of the problem” than you are to get information about how to put together an adoption plan.
According to Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report, abortions were 92 percent of their business in 2011. By contrast, they only gave referrals for adoption 0.6 percent of the time. For every one adoption referral, Planned Parenthood performed 145 abortions.
For the young woman who is not ready to take on the responsibility of being a single mom, adoption is the life-affirming option, and before the legalization of abortion it was the primary option young women would choose. Due to the stigma of having a baby out-of-wedlock, a young woman would often leave her community to have her baby and make an adoption placement.
But now, with legalized abortion, it’s become the easy way to avoid the stigma of pregnancy outside of marriage or the responsibility of caring for a baby. You can get an abortion and conceivably “no one will know” and you can “get on with your life.”
However, you may avoid the stigma or the responsibility, but more than likely you will carry the inner wound and emotional scars of it in silence for years—as I did.
When I had an abortion, 3 days before my 23rd birthday, I thought I was hiding my situation from everyone. In God’s providence, however, one of the nurses in the hospital recovery room knew me. She never spoke to me—I don’t know if she recognized me. But it’s quite possible she did, and my secret wasn’t hidden after all.
I soon left the city where this took place and I never returned. For 30 years I never told anyone of my abortion. However, I would calculate the likely birth date of my child and every year I would think of how old he or she would be—and then I would wonder why I didn’t consider adoption, rather than abortion.
There are a number of agencies that will assist a woman who decides to go through with her pregnancy and release her child for adoption. One of the easiest to contact is Bethany Christian Services. You can call 1-800-BETHANY and talk with a counselor who can help you consider the options of parenting or adoption or you can go to www.bethany.org and chat with someone online.
If you’re still unsure about whether you should go through your pregnancy or have an abortion, there are 24 hour helplines available to help you consider the consequences of each choice (see 1-800-395-HELP and 1-800-712-HELP). Counselors at these numbers can refer you to a local pregnancy resource center to get more help and information in your community.
Abortion seemed like the easy way out of my situation when I was pregnant, unmarried, and away from my family at school. But I can now say 40 years later that it may be quick and easy at the time, but you’ll live a life-time of regret afterwards.
My child would be 40 years old now if I had allowed him or her to live. I might even have grandchildren today. Now, that will never be.
The choice you make, whether to abort your baby, to keep your baby, or to release your baby for adoption, is not an easy one. But the consequences of your decision will be with you for the rest of your life. Don’t make this decision without finding out everything you can about how abortion will affect you emotionally and physically, as well as looking for those services that are ready to help you if you decide either to keep your baby or release your baby for adoption.
I did none of these things—and I have lived for 40 years regretting that I didn’t.