Bearing the Cross of Abortion
Being "pro-choice" must include all the options, especially life.
I’m a legal mediator by profession, a freedom-loving American by birth, and the mother of three beautiful daughters by choice. My life has been a mix of blessings and challenges, most of which have come in the same packages.
I am trained to be neutral, objective, and rational. My stance on abortion has evolved through my personal experiences. I have libertarian roots - liberty and personal freedom are my core values. My natural disposition is “Live and Let Live.” But, I choose to be pro-life with my eyes wide open.
I think the pro-choice movement has tricked many women into believing “routine abortions are healthcare.” Instead of informed and measured “choices,” politicians market abortion to our teenagers, and our culture has desensitized it as a simple procedure. “Pro-Choice” is now “Pro-Abortion,” but true liberty and pro-choice must include the opportunity to choose life!
I have taken a hard right on the issue of abortion for the following reasons.
Many teenagers are ill-equipped to make well-informed choices about abortions.
Clinics and providers do not inform young women about the full range of choices.
Planned Parenthood and Margaret Sanger had the explicit goal of population control of the black community. And it worked!
Our society needs to promote birth control more than abortion. There are so many forms of birth control that there’s no excuse for abortion not to be “rare.”
Most importantly, young women are seldom told of the emotional damage that can result from an abortion.
For me, the “abortion debate” is more than just some theoretical policy debate; it’s my personal life story.
It would have been easier to stick with my whitewashed, 100% pro-life version -since I’ve long buried the unpleasant process of being coerced into having an abortion. But, to help others better grasp abortion, I must unlock the box where I buried my secret.
This is scary. Imagine jumping from a plane without a parachute; scary!
But at this moment, I would be a useless coward if I didn’t share my story.
Sarah Parshall Perry - Twitter April 7, 2023
I truly believe that the more pain you endure, the bigger blessing you can be to someone else.
I suffered so that my three girls, and your daughters, may not have to.
Church Girl, Honor Student, and Pregnant at 16.
A profound challenge came when I was a sophomore in high school. I was an honor student. A smart girl. I had two loving parents. We went to church all the time. We had a solid middle-class and suburban household. I was young, intelligent, and had a supportive family, but I was pregnant. Now what?
Let me back up so I can give you some context.
I’ve always been close to my father. He was far from perfect, but I was a daddy’s girl, and I adored him. Something happened in our family, and I realized that he was human. He didn’t wear a cape after all - he made a mistake.
At that time, from a teen perspective, I used my father’s mistake as a justification for losing my virginity. I was a child "acting out". In my mind, my father - “the deacon” had sinned, so I no longer had to keep my vow of chastity.
We all know that 16-year-olds don’t always use the best logic.
Soon, I was pregnant. Back then, especially in the Pentecostal church, there was no sex education. Sex was a sin, and that was the end of the discussion. My parents were hurt, but they were supportive. In fact, I barely remember my parent’s reaction to my pregnancy. I’m sure they had a strong reaction, but I’ve long blocked out pieces of this traumatic episode.
Activist Teachers Are Not A New Phenomenon
What is clearly etched in my memory is the reaction of my boyfriend’s basketball coach. I remember my boyfriend being supportive - well, at first.
But his coach, who was also a teacher, cornered us several times throughout the course of a week and pressured me to get an abortion. He told me that my boyfriend had the opportunity to play basketball at the college level, and that I would "ruin his life.”
Ironically, I’ve intentionally blocked out so much of that timeframe, but I vividly remember this teacher. Looking back, there didn’t seem to be any concern for my future. Over the course of the week, there was a steady barrage of pressure from his coach. One of the last days before my decision, I remember sitting in the coach’s office for hours.
Inhumane pressure was applied, and I wanted to leave but felt trapped.
What was most shocking was that my boyfriend didn’t save me. Instead, he avoided eye contact and seemed to be on the side of his coach. Looking back, we were both children, and this teacher took advantage of the situation for his personal agenda- his star basketball player! At that moment, inappropriately locked in the coach’s office, we both needed to be saved.
The Pastor, His Wife, and Religious Humiliation
Equally traumatic was when the pastor of my church found out I was pregnant. He picked me up from school, took me to church, and his wife lectured me for four hours about my pregnancy. I know it was four hours because I had to explain to my mother what had taken so long to get home that day. My mother was livid.
Subsequently, on Sunday, I was asked to stand up in the church while he announced to visitors and members alike that I was pregnant. I wasn’t allowed to participate in the choir or youth group. I was “sat down” for my sin. A few years later, his own daughter became a teen mom. By that time, I was in college and had left the church.
I never received an apology for the treatment I received from my former Pastor.
I had disappointed my parents. I'd brought shame to my church family. And I was going to ruin my boyfriend’s hoop dreams. I should also note that my boyfriend’s family disliked me. Well, everyone except his stepdad, who later transitioned to a woman- but that is not my story to tell.
My boyfriend was white, way before a dark-skin black girl dating a white guy with blonde hair and blue eyes was acceptable. To say I had to grow on his family is putting it mildly.
My Abortion Almost Killed Me
I felt extreme pressure to have an abortion.
So I did. My boyfriend and I checked into a hotel near the medical facility. Looking back at it now, we went by ourselves. How were two 16-year-olds allowed to rent a hotel room? I don’t recall needing parental permission for the procedure either.
The facility was cold and sterile. I never was informed about adoption or other options to keep my baby. After an ultrasound without sound, I was given a pill and told that I would have minor cramping. That was the lie of the century! I was instructed to return in 24 hours to be re-examined.
Now, I know it was to ensure that all of the baby was gone.
Even decades later, my tears catch me off guard as I think about that night. Sending a young girl to a motel room for hours of excruciating cramps while she expels her baby is pure evil.
At 16, I didn’t understand what I would go through over the next several hours. But immediately, I knew I had made the worst mistake of my young life. I wasn’t prepared, not informed, and was pressured into the abortion. But it was too late.
I know this sounds like a bad Lifetime movie. Trust me, it feels like a nightmare - even now, decades removed.
Looking back, it was the perfect storm.
If any of the following would have happened, my baby could have been saved:
If a parent would have been forced to be with me, my mother would have seen my hesitation. Knowing my mother, she wanted to be there. But we went alone because my boyfriend probably thought it would be awkward.
If the facility had turned the sound on or let me see the baby. I was already on the brink of running out the door. That would have been too much for me and snapped me into the reality of the situation.
Or if the provider would have adequately detailed the procedure. The fact that I would expel my baby in pieces. The risk to my health and the possible emotional trauma. None of that was told to me.
No One Tells You About the Mental Trauma
After the abortion, I lost my mind. I don’t mean that I was a little depressed. I literally lost it. I was not the same girl. I couldn’t function. For about a month - I quit school, ran away from home, and was a total disaster.
In my grief and naivety, in my mind, the only thing that would save me was another baby. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend was scarred at who I had become and the possibility that I would literally die, so he gave me another baby.
Despite my mistake, God’s hand has always been on my life. I returned home, made up my missed classes, and returned to my honor roll ways.
You see, for me, my pro-life viewpoint isn’t a talking point or philosophical debate. My pro-life attitude was forged because a prior abortion almost killed me. I was tested in the form of a life-changing experience. I was blessed to have a beautiful daughter in my junior year of high school.
It wasn’t easy. Friends drifted off. Social invitations stopped. I could no longer be a cheerleader.
Having decided to keep and raise my child, my baby’s father and I decided to marry. We moved into student housing at the University of California at San Diego where I took classes, and we raised our baby as a family.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and good intentions, we were just too young to balance marriage, parenthood, school, and life’s other struggles. He was and continues to be a wonderful father.
With the love and support of my parents, I graduated from law school, got a master’s degree in law, and became a legal mediator. When my career positioned me to counsel single and divorced fathers who had been separated from their children, my personal experience and pro-life viewpoint again informed my career.
Many of these fathers initially met with me for the purpose of reducing their child support. But as I listened to their individual stories, it became clear that they weren’t resisting support for their child but rather fighting against a welfare system focused on single motherhood while ignoring the important role fathers play in their children’s lives.
Again, my personal experience blended perfectly with my professional life because early in her high school years, in California, my eldest daughter came to me to express her desire to better know her father, who had long before moved to Arizona. It was a bit of a shock because we were very close. But with my daughter, having so clearly and cogently expressed her need for that connection, I said yes; even though letting her go at that vulnerable age was one of the most difficult things I’d ever had to do.
I visited often, and I knew it was the right decision. The best way to describe the change I saw in her was that she was herself, but more complete, more comfortable in her own skin; she was her own person. Something had been missing. Something only her father could provide.
It is pro-life to call for reforms in the child court and welfare system to encourage fathers to have opportunities for routine, positive interactions with their children. My nonprofit group helps identify barriers that prohibit fathers seeking that path, and works with them to remove them.
Some grew up in fatherless homes and have no idea what their children need from them. My group pairs them with appropriate counseling services. Others have dependency problems. Some lack stable employment. If fathers are willing to do the work, they deserve a chance to fill a void in their child’s life.
And what became of my first-born daughter, the child of my youth that I chose to have?
She graduated in the top 10% of her high school, got a Fulbright Scholarship to AZ State University, and is now pursuing her degree – all while being a loving, doting mother herself with her own family.
I’m enjoying being a LaLa – all the love, none of the responsibility.
Our pro-life focus cannot end at the birthing room. To be pro-life is to be pro-family. We must stay mindful of the cultural influences on our children and any institutions that regularly interact with them – schools, books, movies, websites, and other technology sites where they are exposed to things distributed by people who may or may not have their best interests at heart. In this pro-life fight, it is important to be transparent.
This issue has consumed a great portion of my life. I look forward to working with a community of like-minded people to strengthen our institutions and government organizations to benefit our children and the generations ahead. I’m proud of conservative parents' work to reign in liberal activist teachers and administrators.
I wish I had told my parents that the Coach was pressuring me to get an abortion. Never discount the damage that adults in your children’s lives can create when they attempt to usurp your parental rights.
Today, I am remarried to a wonderful man, have three beautiful girls, and I followed my oldest to Arizona!
Life is good.
Humanity Assemble is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.