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'My baby wouldn't be here'

National | Women who chose life reflect on what might not have been

Issue: "Abolition of C.S. Lewis?," June 16, 2001

Tessa Malaspina was 22 years old when the cheap pregnancy test she bought turned positive. "I was going to have an abortion," remembers Ms. Malaspina, a blonde club dancer who once was heavily into drinking and drugs: "I was having way too much fun partying." When her mom convinced Ms. Malaspina to stop by the Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center, Ms. Malaspina warned her: "It will not change my mind." She'd already had one abortion; three months pregnant, she climbed the stairs to the CPC's ultrasound room, determined to have another one.

"I didn't want to see it, but at the same time I didn't think it would matter," she says of the pending sonogram. "But once I saw it was a moving person with a heartbeat, I couldn't do it," Ms. Malaspina told WORLD. "I couldn't even think about [abortion] again. I never realized how advanced they were so early.... They give you information in school and stuff, but never enough. If I hadn't have seen it, I wouldn't have changed my mind. I don't know how anyone could go though with an abortion after seeing an ultrasound."

The day she decided to keep her second child, she quit dancing, smoking, and taking drugs. "It totally changed my life around," she says, pausing to tend blue-eyed son Riley, 6 months old. Ms. Malaspina, who now works full-time as a bill collector, says her mom helps her with the baby: "It's hard," she says of being a single mom, "but I wouldn't have it any other way."

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Beverly Wright, 29, was five months pregnant when she stepped through the glass door to Dallas Pregnancy Resource Center, seeking a free pregnancy test "to make sure." She had just lost her job and her car, and was also behind on her rent. "I had an option to pay my rent or get an abortion," she remembers. After the pregnancy test confirmed her pregnancy, Ms. Wright's CPC counselor asked if she would also like an ultrasound. "I didn't know what to expect," Ms. Wright confesses. "But my No. 1 choice was abortion, so I wasn't scared."

When the picture popped up on the screen, Ms. Wright began crying. "I was shocked," she says. "They were all telling me, 'Look at her move! She's so pretty! Do you see the hand?' That's what did it. I saw what it really was-my baby. It gave me a change of heart."

Ms. Wright took home the black-and-white sonogram photos and kept them on her dresser in a white envelope marked simply "Baby."

"It made me accept that I had her. And it made me fall in love with her," says Ms. Wright, now the proud mother of smiling 14-month-old Tia. "I still have those pictures. If I had never seen the ultrasound, my baby wouldn't be here," she says, shuddering. "From the bottom of my heart, she's the best thing that ever happened to me."

Now Ms. Wright spends every day with Tia working as a live-in employee in a health care home. What would she say to other abortion-minded clients? "Come get a sonogram, and see what you've got inside. It'll change everything."

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