January 22 is my birthday. January 22 is also the day in 1973 that Roe v. Wade imposed abortion on demand on our nation. Fifty million missing lives later, I spend my birthday as I have for several years now – marching so that babies might live and so that women might avoid the pain I’ve endured.
Like countless others, I regret my abortions. And I’m Silent No More.
Shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision was issued, I was divorced and raising my first child. My ex-husband and I were attempting reconciliation and during that season, I became pregnant. The news was not received well by my “ex.” There were threats. I was away from the support systems of family and church. To my everlasting regret, I agreed to abort our baby.
While this was the first time I had ever agreed to an abortion, I was no stranger to the procedure. When married and just after having had our first child, my doctor took it upon himself to abort my husband’s and my second child without permission. Not knowing why my cycle had not resumed after the birth, I had gone to this man for a checkup. He performed a very painful examination and explained that he had just done a “menstrual extraction, a local D and C.” Not understanding medical terminology, I had no idea that my baby had been taken. Not until later, that is.
When the time came for my voluntary abortion, I went to my local Planned Parenthood office. They told me that my baby was really just a “blob of tissue” and that ridding me of this clump of cells would hurt no more than “having a tooth removed.”
The next day, I was admitted to the hospital. I figured that with my medical insurance covering the costs of the procedure, once it was over I could just forget the whole episode and get on with my life. But abortion isn’t like that.
When I awoke, I knew something was terribly wrong. I felt very sick and horribly empty. I tried to talk to my doctor and the nurse about it. They assured me that “it will all go away in a few days” and “you’ll be fine.” They lied.
It didn’t go away. I wasn’t fine.
The lies told by Planned Parenthood then were not its first and certainly not the last. Planned Parenthood lies to women today when it tells them what they told me, that a baby’s not a baby. It lies by what it doesn’t tell women, such as that numerous studies show an increased risk of breast cancer caused by abortion. It lies by what it implies.
For instance, for the last several years, Planned Parenthood has tried to link itself to my Uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It likes to imply that because it gave an award to Uncle Martin in 1966 when abortion was illegal in every state, somehow he would approve of what Planned Parenthood does today. My Uncle said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the futures of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety.” He would in no way endorse Planned Parenthood’s mission of abortion on demand, a mission that has destroyed tens of millions of innocent lives, including one quarter of the African American population.
In the years that followed my second abortion there were medical issues, including problems with my mammary system and cervical surgery. I had difficulty bonding with my son and with his five siblings who were born after the abortions. Just as after my involuntary abortion, I suffered from eating disorders and depression, but now there were nightmares, sexual dysfunctions, and a host of other issues to go along with them. There was anger about both abortions, but incredible guilt about the one I chose to have. The guilt would not leave.
Still, in ignorance of the harm and moral wrongness of abortion, I would have aborted yet another baby in the mid-1970s but for the intervention of my grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. and the baby’s father. Not only did Granddaddy help stop me from aborting, he saved me from being aborted in 1950. He said told my mother that I wasn’t a lump of flesh, I was his granddaughter, and that the Birth Control League headed by Margaret Sanger was lying to her.
The baby’s daddy, a medical student said “the baby has 46 chromosomes; 23 from you and 23 from me and I want mine back alive.” When I saw the sonogram of that baby boy, who was younger in my womb than his aborted and miscarried siblings, I knew I had been deceived. The “pro-choice” stance was revealed to me as a terrible lie.
The act of abortion, which we have been told is empowering, giving women “control” over their lives and bodies, had made me a victim. But, of course, the victims didn’t begin or end with me. My two aborted babies and, I believe, my miscarried child lost their lives because of someone else’s “choice.” My living children wondered if I had wanted to abort them. My mother and grandparents mourned the grandchildren and great grandchildren they wouldn’t hold. And after time, my ex-husband came to regret the abortion he had previously urged.
For years, it seemed there was nothing on this earth that could provide healing. And for me, there wasn’t. Through the ministry of Rachel’s Vineyard, I came to find the forgiveness and restoration that can only be found from our Lord. Through prayer, faith, and the fellowship of others who know the same pain, I and countless other women and men who have been harmed by abortion stand and speak today so that others may live and live more abundantly.
This is what the Silent No More Awareness Campaign is – women and men who have found that love for others transcends our own fears and weaknesses. Founded in 2003 by Janet Morana of Priests for Life and Georgette Forney of Anglicans for Life, Silent No More is an emerging part of the pro-life movement. It is the voice of experience.
Silent No More women and men have heard the abortion movement’s slogans and believed its lies. And we have paid the price for believing those lies. Over 3,400 of us have shared our personal stories at almost 500 events to over 100,000 people in 48 states and seven foreign countries. We have spoken on street corners, on campuses, to women’s groups, and to public officials. On January 22, we testify to the public in front of the Supreme Court.
When a Silent No More woman or man speaks, abortion is no longer an “issue.” There is nothing abstract about the pain, suffering, and loss caused by the taking of a human life. Try as the abortion lobby might, there is no explaining away what every single person knows in his or her heart – abortion kills a baby. No matter how we rationalize it or attempt to justify it or try to make it more widespread so that we don’t feel quite so guilty about it, abortion leaves physical and emotional scars. The hurt is real because the baby was real. And until we accept and deal with that truth, there will be no healing for individuals or for our land.
Once a woman becomes pregnant, she is at that point and forevermore a mother. That is the reality that Silent No More members seek to share. That is the realization that can save lives and spare mothers and fathers lifetimes of regret.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once marched so that our nation would recognize the dignity and rights of those whom it treated as less than fully human. That is what I and hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers do today. Uncle Martin could not remain silent; neither can the Silent No More women and men. We stand before the Supreme Court Building on January 22 so that one day abortion clinics will go the way of segregated lunch counters.
My Uncle Martin had a dream that our nation would be a Beloved Community where all were treated equally regardless of who they were. My dream is the same and, God willing, one day our nation will turn from abortion and choose life.
Then all Americans will have the chance to celebrate their birthdays.
Dr. Alveda King is a Pastoral Associate and Director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life.