I had been working there for a few weeks, at most. The phone rang, and I was the only one in the office. My lack of experience and newness didn’t matter. I had to answer. “Hello, Birthright, Regina speaking, how can I help you?” My voice fluctuated and quivered out of nerves and responsibility. “Uh…yea… how much are your abortions?” It was a young woman’s voice, and the scariest question I had ever heard. My heart raced, palms sweating, mind blank.
“I’m sorry, we don’t offer abortions,” I said scared. Was I doing it right? Should I say something different? Is she going to hang up now?
“What is it that you do?”
“We offer pregnancy testing, baby supplies, pregnancy support, connections to volunteer organizations that can help you after your baby is born…”
“Oh.” she said softly and in disappointment.
I was sure she would hang up. Too nervous to say anything I just stayed on the line.
“I can’t have this baby…I’m all alone,” she said.
Having little to no idea of what to say next, I tried to just be with her as best I could. I was a 20 year old virgin from a rich suburb. What did I know about unplanned pregnancy? Nothing.
“You feel all alone?” I eventually responded.
“Yea, my boyfriend left me. My dad is gonna kill me. I want to go to school and be somebody. I don’t want a baby.”
The conversation went on for a while. She told me that her dad would kick her out once he found out, her mom had been out of the picture for a long time, there was no desire for a baby, and certainly no money for one. I can’t really remember what I said to her or why, I just remember asking God to help me be a good listener.
“Do you think I could meet you?”
“Of course,” I said.
We met, and we talked almost everyday. I told her that I thought there was a life inside her with a purpose, but that only she could make the decision. She agreed, but she was really scared. I gave her all the contacts I could and told her she could always call me if she ever wanted to talk.
A few weeks went by before I heard from her. I figured she had chosen abortion like so many of the others. Then one day, “Hey, Regina…I’m gonna need some extra help. I’m having my baby.”
Occasionally, I’ll still get a call. She had a little boy, and although its hard, she’s happy, and grateful. Her gratitude puzzles me. All I did was answer a phone and listen. I told her where she could find cheap clothes and babysitting. I handed her a WIC form, and I bought her a onesie. Yet, apparently, that’s all it took for her to have enough confidence to search her heart and figure out what she really wanted to do.
Most of my clients were exactly like her. Poor, scared, and black. Some called for services, some looking for cheap abortions, others looking for a friend. Some chose life, other’s didn’t.
Ever since hearing about the Gosnell case, I can’t help but remember the women who I met, counseled, prayed for, cried with, cried over. They taught me, and showed me the face of abortion. It’s alone, it’s scared, it’s tired, and confused. The women who called me are the very same women who may have gone to Gosnell had they lived a few hours northeast. I think of the women who did. And their babies.
The whole thing is very confusing and very disturbing.
Pro life people are outraged by the deaths, by the lack of coverage, by the nature of abortion, and its business.
Pro choice people are complaining because as the head of NARAL says, women went there because of the picketers outside Planned Parenthood, and the state’s refusal to allow safe and legal abortions passed 24 weeks.
Political? Probably. Despicable? Definitely.
And yet our culture breeds the business. The man made millions, for years, and even those who knew, did nothing. As his defense lawyer said, “he was providing a service that women wanted.” Blood stained chairs, baby remains in orange juice cartons, and deathly amounts of anesthesia provided by someone with a 7th grade education is not what women want. And to think 3801 Lancaster is an isolated incident, or location is naive and irresponsible.
Tonight, Anderson Cooper headlined his show to discuss the unfathomable details. He asked CNN analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, why it is that there has been so little coverage.
He answered, “I don’t think its a political decision, not covering this is a business decision.”
A business decision? Not covering the death of women and infant children because of state oversight, and political pressure is a business decision? I imagine Gosnell may have a similar defense…
Tonight as I put my kids to bed, I thought about each of their births. The birth of James was the first witnessed by the nursing assistant assigned to me. She wept at the sign of new life.
My doctor cried with joy when Josie was born because, finally, someone in my family had a girl.
And when Rita was born, the same doctor cried, along with the nurses, because delivering babies to parents that are happy to receive them is just “so beautiful.” Plus, Josie had a sister.
Each of my children were welcomed, loved, known before their official entrance into the world, not just by me, but, by everyone there, because there is nothing more miraculous, or unbelievable than to witness the arrival of a human being that simply IS, whether we like it or not, want it or not, whether it is convenient or not. A human being IS. A baby IS.
I thought about their gestational age and how it made no difference. James: 42 weeks, Josie: 38 weeks, Rita: 40 weeks. All babies. And all smaller than some of the little ones that Gosnell’s business beheaded.
As I nursed Rita tonight, I continued to think of the babies, and their mothers, who thought they were exercising their freedom, their right as Americans and women who own their bodies and do what they want. After nursing, I got a glimpse of my body. Its aged. Its tired. It looks different than most 27 year olds. But, its mine. And I did what I wanted. I want Life.