Abortion and domestic violence aren’t the most comfortable of topics. However, in the increasingly vitriolic war between the pro-life movement and pro-choice advocates, unfortunate circumstances seem to be used as justification for “a woman’s right to choose”.

There isn’t a day that goes by in the course of the modern narrative that I don’t think, had the circumstances been different or had my life not been truly guided by God, that I could have been the poster child for this sort of justified abortion.

Allow me to explain.

I got married when I was nineteen. Admittedly, there’s nothing wrong with matrimony at that age but my parents knew immediately that he was trouble. He was older, rebellious and dangerous and to a teenager with just enough of a rebellious streak to buy-in, he was perfect. Dark and mysterious and full of all the things a girl like me wanted to hear, I married him. Two weeks after we said ‘I Do’, the harsh reality set in.

I wasn’t a partner. I was a prize. I went from starry-eyed and full of dreams and quirky sass to silence after enduring the first slap. Of course, my first instinct was to leave but I put so much distance between myself and my family for this man, I felt I had to see it through. After all, he told me it would never happen again.

But it did.

Frequently.

Abuse is an animal that travels in a pack and though this may be an unpopular thing to say, rape can and does happen in abusive marriages. It did in mine.

Eventually, we came to a slowing point – a time when he stayed out longer and we barely saw each other. There were fewer smacks in the mouth and less hurtful words said, but the trade off was more of the moments when he insisted I “do my duty as his wife”.

The inevitable course of such action was of course, I got pregnant. His response?

“Now you can never leave.”

My internal response?

I can’t have it.

The day after a test confirmed my pregnancy, on my lunch break, I called a family planning clinic that was 40 minutes away. I was raised Catholic, but hadn’t practiced my faith for years. Not only had I not practiced my faith but I had fallen into paganism. Everything about my fall and the subsequent years spent in moral decline justified my decision. Not once did I think I needed to escape and needed counselling. Instead, I wanted the baby gone. How I was going to go about it was another matter – for the horrible person he was, he wanted this baby. Granted it was only as a way to exert further control over everything I was, but he still wanted it. That fact alone made me despise it even more. 

When I got home from work, he handed me a piece of paper with the name of a doctor’s office, a date and time. He’d made an OB/GYN appointment for me. He lamented that he wasn’t able to go with me because he was covering for someone at work that day but informed me, he would go with me to other appointments.

I looked at the date and time and felt a wave of relief. It was the same day and time as the ‘family planning’ appointment. I’d already been told over the phone that I would be given pills so I could drive home and everything would take care of itself in a few days. This was a perfect plan – I would come home from the clinic and tell him that, tragically, the baby had no heartbeat. I went to bed that night, resolved that this would work.

The night before the “appointments”, I prayed for the first time in years. For some reason, I wanted God to know why I was doing this. “I couldn’t have this baby”, I said. “This baby is better off this way”, I said. It didn’t dawn on me that I could use the opportunity to get as far away from him as possible. My brain was so wired to just be there, to lie in the bed I’d made.

The next day, I acted as if everything was normal – as normal as possible. He was in rare form; happy, kind, almost loving. It was enough to set me on edge. I told him bye, that I would call him when I was on the way home and that was that. I got in the car, turned the radio off and drove to the on-ramp for the interstate. I needed the silence. It was almost comforting.

In preparation for the day, I’d previously driven to the doctor’s office. I wanted to know exactly how much time it would take, just in case I had to give a minute by minute account of the day. From our house, it was 30 minutes, just 10 minutes less than the clinic. Not only that, the turn for the doctor’s office was at the same interstate. Taking a left would take me to the clinic; a right would take me to the doctor’s office.

The closer I got to the on-ramp, the more my stomach started to flip. I was fully resolved to take that left turn. I could NOT have this baby. As the signs to make the turn came into view, I was struck with a panicking fear. I wasn’t afraid of him, oddly enough but there was something about the whole situation that terrified me. Without realizing what I was doing or where I was going, I took a right turn.

I don’t remember much of the trip to the doctor’s office but I remember shaking with terror during the whole check-in process. What was I doing? This wasn’t in the plan?

The doctor came in, introduced himself and after I answered a bunch of questions, did all of the stuff doctors are supposed to do and then he just sat with me. He didn’t say much but he just sat. It was the first time I’d been in a room, alone, with a man that wasn’t my husband in forever. He took a deep breath after what felt like a million years of silence and said, “I think you need to see something.”

There was an ultrasound machine in the room, so of course, I had an ultrasound. I didn’t want to look. Surely, I wouldn’t be able to see anything, anyway. I was barely 6 weeks pregnant.  But he did the ultrasound…

And that’s when I heard it. This rhythmic electronic sound, flooding around me. I closed my eyes and tried not to cry.

“That’s your baby’s heartbeat,” he said. “That’s why you came here today.”

I opened my eyes and turned my face toward the screen. I couldn’t help it, I had to look. That little greyscale monitor was full of a tiny person; a tiny person with a beating heart I could hear and see.

After the appointment, I sat in my car, holding a printout picture of my child – and I sobbed. This actual child was a left turn away from no longer existing. Less than twelve hours before, I’d rationalized why that little human shouldn’t be there. Before I left the parking lot, I had new resolve and a part of me that I thought I’d lost re-emerged. I knew I would do for this child what I had been too scared to do for myself. This child deserved a life lived without fear. They deserved to know genuine love. It deserved a chance and to not be a victim of my life.

I rode out my pregnancy, resolved to leave as soon as I was able. Those nine months were the most peaceful of our marriage – although the verbal assaults never ceased.

In late spring of 2004, I delivered a healthy baby boy. 4 weeks later, I left with my child, a diaper bag and the clothes on my back. Five years later, I would meet and marry a man who not only loves us both but loves God and is faithful to the Catholic faith. We both became staunch pro-life advocates. It wasn’t until several years into our marriage that I told him that the son he loves as his own almost wasn’t. 

When the plight of abused women and unplanned pregnancies is bolstered up as a reason to justify infanticide, it is a false flag. Women suffering from domestic violence don’t need physical, emotional and spiritual trauma. They need options. They need guidance. They need love and prayer and an assurance that there is a better way. Funneling vulnerable women into a money-making scheme in order to control population is exploitation and abuse that defies comprehension.

My son is now fifteen. He’s 6’1. His love for art and music is breathtaking. His love for Christ and the Church is powerful. He has a singing voice that is beyond heavenly. I cannot imagine grieving him later in my life, had I taken that left turn.