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The Choices We Make

Case Study: "Jill Nolan"

I was still 19 when I got pregnant living with a boyfriend (who is soon to be my ex-husband) in Detroit. Suddenly I was faced with "the CHOICE". How I'd wished I could've been like the wholesome looking mother-to-be on the T.V. commercials. The one with a cute maternity dress and a nursery all made up ready and waiting and a warm protective husband coming home, putting his arms around her saying, "Honey, I can hardly wait."

My boyfriend wanted nothing to do with a future with me. A baby implied a future, commitment. He had already gotten the cow for free--why raise the calf?

Yet in the face of abandonment, I did not look at reality and use my courage to squarely tell him what I wished to do. "I'm going to have this baby, whether you stay and meet my emotional needs or not."

As human beings, we have two basic needs: love and worth. You need to love and to be loved, and you need to feel worth about yourself and the security of knowing someone else sees worth in you. In desperation, to meet these needs in my life even temporarily, even imaginarily, I clung to my boyfriend and gave in to his desire that I have an abortion. Thus I sacrificed my firstborn to the idol of temporary emotional security.

It was so easy to be swayed, despite vague moral convictions that abortion was murder. For I felt so immature, selfish and unready to have a child.

Are mothers ever ready? Babies and children bring out the best and the worst in us. Yes, we have the potential for learning of a noble, self-sacrificing, forbearing kind of love, but, more often than that, children on a daily basis, also expose our own innate selfishness. The power both to train and scar our children lies in our hands. And there is little support in our society to help a woman choose to keep and raise her child. Parents, many from scarred backgrounds, need education on how to train and love their children and this is not readily available.

My boyfriend and my family insisted that there was no way out but to choose abortion. I chose to be verbally manipulated to carry out their point of view, rather than thinking through the choice. I was given no alternatives. A clinic was quickly found to take care of our little "problem."

At the clinic, the doctor seemed so abrupt and angry, so tense and under pressure. I felt like the only difference in his eyes between me and the unborn child in my womb was 19 years. Had I been 19 years younger, unable to speak and helpless, I too would have met the same fate in his office, the death penalty. The crime, being a "useless" member of society. My life seemed so valueless in the doctor's sight.

A person's self esteem (the worth they feel about themselves) determines the value they place on the lives of others. "Love others as you love yourself." Yet how do you love others when, deep down, you despise yourself?

The Nazi movement didn't start with Hitler. He just jumped on the bandwagon of a movement originating in the 20's by groups of doctors and psychiatrists in Germany. They proposed "mercy" killing of elderly or mentally impaired members of society. These dear peoples lives were valueless in their sight. Hitler just extended this kind of thinking to the Jews (the apple of God's eye) and other minority groups. I believe that this same kind of thinking (which stems from zero self-esteem) is what is behind abortions in this country.

At the clinic I learned a shameful lesson I wished I'd never learned, perhaps the same lesson Nazi soldiers learned when they were "just carrying out orders" in concentration camps. I too, was just "following orders." I wanted to be a "good" girlfriend. I pray that from now on I can be a woman of conviction, instead of a spineless robot, the gutless wonder.

In the weeks, months, and years following the abortion, I fell in and out of depression, which was only masked at times by bursts of desperate hyperactivity. The sadness over what happened hangs about me like the hovering scent of funeral flowers that linger in a room after the funeral has come and gone.

I later got pregnant. But this time, I battled with my own selfishness and fears, and with my boyfriend, and stood up for my right to be a mother and for the rights of my unborn child, who is soon going to be nine and is very beloved by us all.

I am now being divorced. I never enjoyed sex for years and this damaged my live-in relationship and short-lived marriage to this same boyfriend. Whenever we made "love" I saw the CHOICE of abortion looming behind every expression of "love" between us.

Now, I am engaged to be married to one in whose eyes I am loved, one who sees me and all human beings as pearls of great price. His name is Christ.

Now I am truly pro-choice. I'm determined not to let anybody but Christ (through the common sense plan of conduct transformation laid out in His word, the Bible) influence my moral choices anymore. I want to be an independent thinker and not let anyone do my thinking for me. If you don't "do" your own thinking, someone else will "do" your thinking for you.

Originally published in The PostAbortion Review 4(1) Winter 1996.

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