This page is for Friends to offer personal experiences which lead to reflections on the reality of abortion and/or euthanasia. If you have any you'd like to offer, please send them to:
clerk @ prolifequakers.org [remove spaces]
My Personal Journey on the Abortion Issue, Friends Journal, February 2010
My wife Evangeline and I were overjoyed when in the fall of 2006 we learned that we were expecting our second child. Our first child, Kirsten, who was 3 at the time, would have a sibling close to her age.
For the most part, everything was going well and my wife was eating right and taking care of herself. Well, we thought everything was fine until about five months into the pregnancy, when we received some disturbing news from the obstetrician. In a very matter-of-fact way, he told us that prenatal screening had indicated that there was a higher than normal risk of our baby being born with Down syndrome. My wife was 34 at the time, and apparently age and genetics contributed to the risk. Needless to say, we were surprised and upset upon hearing the news.
We were very aware of the significant physical and mental challenges that accompany children with Down syndrome. We also knew that people with Down syndrome usually have shorter life expectancies than the rest of the general population. And now we were being told that there was a very distinct possibility that our second child could be born with the disorder.
Our hearts were racing as the doctor spoke to us that further testing would be necessary to help determine if indeed our baby would be born with Down syndrome. He explained that if we did find out that our baby was born with it, he would discuss the "options" with us since caring for a child with Down syndrome is much more difficult than caring for children without this condition. Come to find out, one of those "options" to which the doctor was referring was the termination of the pregnancy.
When it came to abortion, my wife and I, who are members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), have always taken a strong pro-life stance. But now we were faced with the real test. If indeed we did find out for sure that our baby would be born with Down syndrome, what would we do? After all, caring for a child with Down syndrome requires significantly more attention, time, effort and money than caring for a child without the disorder. That may explain why it is estimated that a very high percentage (some studies show that between 91 and 93 percent) of all pregnancies in the United States with a diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated.
From the start, however, we decided that no matter the outcome of the tests, abortion was out of the question. We truly believe that all life is sacred and even children with Down syndrome deserve a chance to live. We were resolute in our decision and made that known to the obstetrician. Of course, he did want us to go for more testing. Even for those parents like us who are adamantly opposed to abortion, advanced testing would allow medical providers the chance to give specialized prenatal treatment to the fetus if indeed Down syndrome is diagnosed. It also gives parents a chance to get prepared for the difficult challenges that lie ahead.
Our obstetrician decided that the next step in the process would be for my wife to go to a specialist for a 3D ultrasound, which is used to examine fetal anatomy in fetuses at risk for Down syndrome. The ultrasound would give the specialist an opportunity to see if there were any physical malformations in the fetus that are characteristic of Down syndrome.
After leaving the doctor's office, we prayed to the Lord for His help and asked Him for a healthy baby. Even if that was not to be the case, we asked the Lord to give us the strength to carry on. So the next day, with much anxiety and trepidation, we set out from our home in Salisbury, Maryland to the state capital of Annapolis where we met with the specialist. I was in the room with the doctor and my wife as he began the 3D ultrasound evaluation. It was amazing seeing our baby inside the womb and in 3D at that! To our immense relief, the doctor said he could see no abnormalities and he was very confident that our baby would be born without complications. We immediately thanked God for the news as the last couple of days had been very emotionally taxing on both my wife and me.
About four months later my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Kayley. She was in good health and had no underlying medical conditions. We were so thankful for her. We also were so happy that we had remained resolute in our pro-life convictions and left everything to God's will. Because if any time down the line we considered abortion as an option prior to our baby's birth, how would we have been able to look at her without feeling even a least bit guilty?
I am a retired nurse midwife and welcomed many babies into the world. Part of the success of a healthy pregnancy and birth depends on the preparation of the family. This may mean couples counseling, job, home finding, clothing, whatever they needed. I learned that these concerns were what led women to consider abortion, so that made it doubly important to prepare and counsel them. If it was a financial burden, I would not charge for my services.
I have been an activist for peace for many years. I have stopped trains and trucks delivering weapons from the Concord Naval Weapons Station and spent times in jail for this. I have marched, held signs, stood with the Women in Black on street corners, written letters, whatever I could, and continue to do so.
Our only son was conceived "accidentally" when we were homeless due to a massive forest fire that burned our home and land. So I can understand the desperation some women feel due to their circumstances. I believe God gave us an opportunity. I remember my husband bringing me up to see the destruction. Not a blade of grass was left, but he assured me that our child would grow up with the land. Now the redwood trees are tall and green again and indeed our son was a wonderful blessing. He gave us purpose and direction. We rebuilt on the land (fireproof this time) and rebuilt our lives, all three of us.
Peace from conception on is very important to me. I am also a vegan. Consistent life is a part of everything I do.
I'm a recent "convinced Quaker," and a senior citizen. I'm married, with 3 grown daughters. The Quaker teaching that "there is that of God in everyone" and the equal opportunities for men and women are some of the reasons I became a Quaker. I haven't been much of a social activist. I'm pro-life because it just doesn't make sense to me to refuse to admit that life begins at conception. Before I was conceived, I didn't exist. My existence (life) started when I was conceived. My physical properties were determined then (my genes). The same heart that started beating when I was in the womb beats in me today and it won't stop until I die. When you stop a beating heart, you stop a human life. As I said, I don't know how people can't recognize those things. I think they just refuse to think about it.
My family has enjoyed the blessings of adopted children. I have twin grandsons, age 7, who were adopted when they were 3 months old. I am SOOOO GRATEFUL that their birth mom didn't abort these wonderful children! If they had been taken out of her womb, it was those specific little boys who were growing in her, who would not exist today. I also have a nephew, about 40 years old, who was adopted as a baby. Again, he is a wonderful young man, the same person who was conceived and continues to live.
I don't know how people who speak out against violence can't see that abortion is a violent act. I think if I asked them if taking a bird's egg out of the nest and stepping on it would be a violent act, the answer would be 'yes'. I certainly think it is violent to crush a little egg with a growing bird in it. Pulling out a fetus and throwing it away is so much more violent than that!
I was so happy when I read about Consistent Life in Friend's Journal. Quakers I have met are against war and violence, but they call themselves "pro-choice" and give reasons why abortion is justified. They don't acknowledge that abortion is a violent act that ends a life. This has disturbed me a great deal. Thank you for being consistently pro-life! We need you.
From Tom McCormack, member of Bellingham, WA Meeting / North Pacific Yearly Meeting
In 1984, my pregnant partner decided to have an abortion. I was totally opposed to it, and pleaded with her to carry the baby to the 9-month term (birth). I said I would accept full custody rights and responsibilities for the baby from birth to 18 years of age - she could sign over the baby to me at birth. I even had a legal document in my pocket stating the proposal. She refused.
I accompanied my girlfriend to the Love-Joy Clinic in Portland, Oregon on the day of the scheduled abortion. We went into the counselor's office together and I expressed my opposition to the abortion. The counselor said the "surgical procedure" was a women's right and it is her body to do as she pleases. The counselor said, "I know you disapprove of this operation, but rest assured there is grief counseling available for men following the abortion procedure."
The abortion anesthetic was scheduled to be administered at 2:00 p.m., and then the surgery would immediately follow. At 1:30 p.m. I stayed in the waiting room (as I have a legal right to be there) and opened up a conversation with the seven pregnant women about the sacredness of life, sharing how abortion transgresses all moral and spiritual principals. It seemed like every aspect to the issue ensued during the discussion. I listened intently and responded from conscience to each women's thoughts and feelings, which were quite mixed and confused. During the course of communication three women left the clinic, declaring they changed their minds and were not aborting their fetus. A fourth women left the clinic (I’m uncertain about her final decision) saying what I shared was food for thought. Saving three lives on that day is my greatest achievement to date.
After these four women left, the head receptionist approached me with extreme anger and demanded I leave the clinic. She threatened to call the police and have me removed.
I told her to "go ahead – an unborn child is being murdered in there and you have the audacity to ask me to leave! I'm just exercising my opinions and right to free speech."
The three pregnant women stared on in disbelief. When my girlfriend came out after the abortion surgery I took her back to her place. Not a sound was uttered or exchanged.
Following this tragic reality I went alone to the depths of Nature for three days to heal and fast. I promised on the grave of the dead fetus to do all in my power to see Roe v. Wade reversed.
Anne Haehl, Oread Monthly Meeting, Missouri Valley Friends Conference
“But you do agree that abortion is a woman's choice?”
I wished I were almost anywhere but in my meeting, but Quakers are supposed to tell the truth. I had to struggle out, “No, I don't.”
Even though abortion is not a matter of national legislation, someone mentioned it during out review of the FCNL priorities.
You probably know that when the word “abortion” comes in, thought goes out the window.
The room was filled with abstractions like “choice,” and “reproductive freedom,” and “war on women.” Meanwhile I was seeing the nurse counting out the parts of the baby's body—hands, feet, head—to make sure nothing was left in the womb.
A couple of other Friends felt that I might have a point. For the others—I thought these abstractions had stopped their thinking. If they could see what I saw in my mind, surely they would be more open to the Light.
I thought that, until I gave a Friend a ride home.
When we were alone, she said, “I want you to know I disagree with you about abortion.”
“I understand that, Jane.” (no real names)
She repeated, “I want you to know I disagree with you about abortion.”
“I understand. It's clear we do disagree about this.”
“I just think it's a woman's basic right to have a safe and legal abortion. . . You know, probably why [my adopted daughter] was born early was a botched abortion.”
I couldn't answer. I don't think I could even breath, as I thought of the young woman who uses her limited vocabulary to welcome people to meeting, who bops in her wheelchair to her favorite music, who loves to draw rainbows.
So abstractions aren't the only problem.