1973 I was a middle-class, single, 23-year-old college student. After a "one
night stand," I learned that I was pregnant. There was no one to whom I could
turn. Alone, I went to the university medical center and had a D&C abortion.
Afterwards, I walked home—again, alone...
A year later, despite precautions, I was pregnant again. My
boyfriend wanted nothing to do with the whole situation, so he gave me half the
abortion fee. I drove myself to a clinic an hour away, had the abortion, and
drove home alone. That was the end of the relationship with that man. And that
was the end of my problem, I thought.
In 1976 I married and settled in another state. We joined a
United Methodist church, and I became active in its UMW. At a UMW meeting in the
early 1980s, during a discussion of abortion, I admitted, even bragged about, my
two abortions. I did not mention any details, or that my thoughts and feelings
were eating away at my insides.
Months later, I shared my experiences of abortion - and the
pain, guilt, and fears they caused - with a friend. I was convinced that God
hated me and would punish me with no more children. My friend listened and
cared. In the midst of many tears, we prayed for God's forgiveness. And
forgiveness came. I remember that moment as if it happened yesterday.
From personal experience, I know that abortion virtually
guarantees the "devastating damage" our Social Principles say we want to
If I were the only woman to experience these consequences of
abortion, then my testimony could be ignored. Unfortunately, there are millions
of women, like me, who have had abortions and who have suffered similar, or
worse, consequences. Even Planned Parenthood's Alan Guttmacher Institute admits
that 90% of the women who have had abortions would not have done so if they had
believed they had another option. All women who face unplanned pregnancies need
people who will care about them and their long-term welfare. As followers of
Jesus Christ, as The United Methodist Church, we can and we should love them
both. —Cindy Evans
The Right Thing to Do
Rev. John Bright
Virginia Annual Conference
1983—that is all I can remember about the date. We were sitting in the
waiting room of the “Women’s Clinic” in Roanoke, Virginia. I was there with
my girlfriend, because it was the right thing to do. I had paid for half the
abortion, because it was the right thing to do. I had been sexually active,
because it felt like the right thing to do.
So why did that little voice keep saying,
“This feels like the wrong thing to do”?
You would never have seen me engaged in a
heated discussion of this topic in college, in seminary or in the church. No
way! The few times I was backed into a corner, out came the official stand
from the Social Principles, with one addition: God is able to forgive
anything. I believed that applied to everyone but me.
In 2001, while I was serving a two-point
charge on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, God called me to an extended fast
from solid food. I asked God to reveal anything in my life that separated
us. It was a life-changing experience as God showed me how I remained in
bondage to guilt and shame for things in my past. I had the assurance that
God had forgiven me. These were chains that I had forged and chose to wear.
God delivered me from my ‘life sentence.’
My new-found freedom led me to the local
Crisis Pregnancy Center and a director with a caring heart for United
Methodist preachers. It was the beginning of a fruitful relationship between
one of my churches and the center.
God also called me to preach a series of
sermons on the topic of abortion. It was with much fear and trembling that I
obeyed. The first two weeks were spent comparing the Biblical view with that
of the culture. Then on week three, I would share my personal experience.
That Sunday, as I walked into the pulpit, a group of about twenty teenagers
from the local UM camp were sitting there. Many questions raced through my
mind, but I found the Holy Spirit urging me to preach the sermon as it was
As those youth filed past me after the
service, many would not even speak. Then I noticed two of them had stayed
back until everyone else left the sanctuary. These young women told me of a
friend back home who was pregnant and considering abortion. They described
the agony of having no words of hope to give her—until now. They thanked me
and left. As they left, I realized that God had called me to speak out, not
to be liked but to bring hope to those in need.
I know the “devastating damage” of abortion,
both personally and professionally. Abortion was intended to help and free
women, but it has instead brought pain and misery into the lives of many
people, male and female. As followers of Jesus Christ, and as The United
Methodist Church, we must offer more than a quick fix: we must love them
Besides offering help during pregnancy,
many Crisis Pregnancy Centers also offer post-abortion counseling. For
someone to talk to about your abortion experience, look in the phone
directory for a CPC in your area, or contact one of the organizations
long as I walk this earth I shall remember February 11, 1983. On that day my
husband drove me through a heavy snowstorm to keep my appointment to have an
My pregnancy was almost three months along. I
was twenty-three years old, college educated, married and professed to be a
Christian. If there was a medical problem with my baby, it was not known to
me. How was it that I came to have an abortion? Despite outside
circumstances, inside I felt the same as many women have described—alone and
drowning in a deep pool of fear; abortion looked like a rescue boat. To make
the arrangements for the abortion I picked the name of a doctor out of the
phone book, had a pregnancy test done and told him I did not want to keep
the baby. There were no questions asked, no need whatsoever to explain or
justify my request.
After my abortion I suffered symptoms that
many women do in the same situation. I had vivid nightmares of killing
someone, depression, and irrational desire for a baby. The weight was so
heavy that I could not bear to say the word abortion, let alone tell someone
I had had one. I remained entirely silent on the matter for more than
eighteen years. My husband and I spoke of it maybe once in all that time.
Only by the grace of God, I did not fall into self-destructive behaviors to
alleviate the pain of the guilt and conflict that weighed on my heart and
soul. It hung like a dark, nameless shadow over my home and family.
In a desperate time I prayed that God would
give me a friend and He brought me a friend who had prayed that God might
use her. She loved me in the reflection of the love of Jesus Christ. She
loved my terrible secret out of me. She listened to me and held me and cried
with me. God used her to crash through my wall of fear: fear that I would
never again be loved if anyone knew the truth about me. I learned that, yes,
there is forgiveness even for abortion. I learned that Jesus Christ loves
“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know
that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV
I have since learned from talking with others
that I am not alone. Many, many, many women experience what I have
experienced. Through the internet I have learned that this experience is not
restricted by country; there are women in other parts of the world like me.
For us abortion will never be just another medical procedure or a social
principle to be debated, reworded or justified. It will be the story of our
If you recognize yourself in Hannah’s
experience, help is available by clicking on one of the following
. God loves YOU and you are not alone.
a senior in college I found myself pregnant after a fling. There was no
chance of marrying the father, and abortions were not legal at the time.
Besides, it was not the baby's fault that I was pregnant. With the help of
the county's social services department, I went to a home for unwed mothers
in a distant city.
When a small United Methodist Church in the same town asked the home if any
of the residents would like a ride to church on Sundays, I accepted the
offer, and Hazel came for me each week. Soon she asked if I would like to
sing in the choir, and I joined gratefully. Through their loving acceptance
of me and through the pastor’s Lenten sermons, I came to understand my sin
and God’s provision for salvation through Jesus Christ. I gave myself to the
Lord and trusted Him with my future and my baby’s.
During counseling sessions with a social worker, I analyzed my past, my
character, and my potential. She emphasized that, in deciding whether to
raise my baby or to put it up for adoption, I should consider the results of
raising a child as a single woman. It was possible that in trying to be
responsible, I could condemn us both to lives of poverty and unfulfilled
potential. We could be isolated, as well, for unwed mothers and their
children were shunned in the society at that time. For these reasons, I
might also end up resenting the child. It was very important that both of us
be loved. Ultimately, I realized that an adopted baby was loved twice – not
only by the family that received the child, but also by the mother who gave
the child to them. I opted for adoption.
In those days, there were no open adoptions that allowed the birth mother to
keep track of her child. But I did have one last opportunity to hold my baby
girl and say goodbye. I remember looking her over from head to toe and
asking God to bless her and take care of her. Then she was gone, given to a
young couple who could not conceive and who were anxious to love and guide
I felt empty, yet full. Gone was the baby who had been within me for nine
months. Present was a new relationship with God that would sustain me into
Some wonder if I ever had guilt over giving up my baby. I can truly say,
“Never!” I did the best I could for my child. I gave her life, not death,
and offered her to a family that welcomed and loved her.
In 1994 testimony before the federal House Ways & Means Committee, social
scientist Charles Murray said, “Illegitimacy is the single most important
social problem of our time – more important than crime, drugs, poverty,
illiteracy, welfare or homelessness because it drives everything else.”
Isabel V. Sawhill testified in 1999 that “the growth of single parent
families can account for virtually all of the increase in child poverty
since 1970.” By taking me in, by providing me with tangible support,
Christian friendship and love, Hazel and her congregation demonstrated the
sacrificial love of Jesus Christ to me and my daughter.
When she was twenty-one, my daughter searched for and found me. I welcomed
her, and our families were united successfully. She has blended with her
three, younger half-sisters and now has nine children of her own. Her family
resides in Germany, where she currently serves as the prayer partner and
advisor to the president of the Hessen area military women’s Christian
Adoption works. As followers of Jesus Christ, as The United Methodist
Church, we can and we must love both mother and baby. Our Lord requires