Helping to pay for my girlfriend’s abortion 20 years ago at the age of 14 seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It would get rid of a bad situation, and we wouldn’t have to deal with the “problem” anymore. After all, we were told, and we believed, that having a baby would “ruin your lives.”
But the opposite was true. The abortion sent each of us into a downward spiral fueled by drugs, depression, and denial.
By God’s grace, I was rescued from my addiction. Sadly, Jane died of an overdose before she reached her 30th birthday.
Scars of abortion linger
I am still dealing with the scars of that abortion over two decades later. I know things won’t completely heal until eternity. I wonder about my daughter (I don’t know for sure if it was a daughter, but I often think it was). What would she have looked like? What would her name have been? How old would she be now?
Growing up near Chicago in the early 1990s, I was a wayward teenager. Jane and I had no real moral framework to live in. None of our parents were around home much, so we spent a lot of time alone together. Plus, I had been kicked out of eighth grade and she spent a lot of time ditching school.
One night, as we were talking on the phone, she told me she was pregnant. I remember being scared. We had no idea that one of her parents had picked up another phone in the house and was listening in.
It was tense. My parents kept asking how she knew for sure the baby was mine. Her parents were insistent that she could not have this baby, especially since her sister already had a baby out of wedlock and was struggling to raise it. Their solution? To abort it, with me paying half the cost to the tune of a couple hundred dollars.
At the time, I felt a sense of relief. The notion of having a child terrified me. Being a father had never crossed my mind. According to all the adults around me, it meant was that life was over. Not appealing to a 14-year-old.
What did appeal to me was the idea of paying a little bit of money to get rid of a big problem hanging over my head and threatening my “freedom.” It would be a thing of the past.
Except it never would be. I remember the call I got from Jane after the abortion. She was crying. Not a soft weeping. It was like something traumatic had just happened (because it had). She was sobbing, distraught as she briefly painted a picture of the doctor using cold, metal instruments to perform the abortion. It wasn’t like they put her somewhere, knocked her out, and the baby was gone. I’m pretty sure she was conscious for it.
That phone call changed things for me. Afterward, I started to wonder about the baby, who this child was and whether it was a girl or boy. I was struck by the truth of what had just happened, that it didn’t just “go away.” They had to forcibly pull a human being from her. I remember wondering what they had done with the body.
I went to talk to my dad about it, and to console me, he told me that before I was born, my mom had had an abortion.
I remember thinking, “OK, well, he knows what this is like then.” But it triggered more questions: lf my mom hadn’t had an abortion, would I have been here?
When I pressed my parents for more information though, they couldn’t even bear to talk about it. To this day, it’s a source of shame and pain.
After the abortion, Jane and I broke up and plunged into truly ruining our lives. Both of us started to use hard drugs, graduating to heroin. Within five years, she had become a prostitute on the South Side of Chicago, selling her body for drugs. I remember one time getting off the expressway there and seeing her on the roadside soliciting.
At the point she had the abortion, she was very attractive, a Christina Aguilera look alike. When I saw her that day, she was almost unrecognizable.
Not too long after that, at age 23, I ended up at a rescue mission, where God changed my life. I began to wrestle through some of these hard things and to see God’s sovereignty and grace even over my terrible choices, over my parents’ terrible choices. I realized that God still had a plan for me, that God still can make beautiful things out of the ash heap of sin.
A few years later, in 2010, I found myself at Bible college in Kansas City, Missouri. My first year there, I got a call from Jane. We hadn’t talked in years. She claimed she was getting clean. I told her about what God had done in my life.
A few months later, I got a call that she had overdosed and died.
Healing, grace continues
I continue to heal and am grateful that my family doesn’t have to continue down the path of abortion. God has provided for me in so many ways. I’m now married to my beautiful wife, Kyndra, who loves the Lord. I have a job at Samaritan where I get to serve Him everyday.
But the wounds of the past still do affect me. It affects my relationship with my mom. It affects my outlook on children. I have to continually bring lies into the light of Scripture—lies that I don’t deserve kids, that I didn’t have anything to do with the abortion in the first place, the lie that my family can’t begin to work through healing on this, or the lie that no other men are going through this.
Looking back, the abortion was the most significant event in my childhood, and, even to this day, talking about it is weighty. But I can’t imagine I’m the only guy who is wrestling through the guilt, shame, and consequences of abortion.
It seems like one of the errors we can make is to not talk about this in the Church. Not only do we need to address the evil being done to these precious babies, but we also need to give attention to the countless men and women who live with the shame and guilt from past abortions. Many need help working through the implications of what’s been done in the context of loving Christian community and Christ-centered counsel. There is healing and much hope through the Gospel of Jesus.
God’s grace is greater than our sin!
Dustin Garrett works in Membership Development at Samaritan Ministries and represents Samaritan on the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular, sharing the message of health care sharing with thousands of music fans.
- “Will you forgive her, as God has forgiven her?” by Samaritan member Ryan C. MacPherson.
Other articles about the sanctity of life and the need for grace in this month's Newsletter are: