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Abortion & recovery

Roe v. Wade | Finding peace and forgiveness three decades after two important decisions

Issue: "What women want," Jan. 21, 2006

On Aug. 20 WORLD published an article about the ministries of First Baptist Church of Leesburg, Fla. In it was included, with her permission, what Wanda Kohn, director of its Pregnancy Care Center, noted in an interview: She had an abortion in 1977.

That wasn't a complete secret, but she had never told her parents. It was important to the story because it showed one of her motivations for selfless volunteering over the past two decades, yet if she had asked to take out that information, WORLD would have. As the story was about to be published, she e-mailed a note to her parents. Here, with permission, are excerpts:

"Dad and Mom,

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"This isn't going to be an easy e-mail to write, but it is one that is way overdue. . . .

"I am involved with the Pregnancy Care Center for more reasons than you know. The summer of 1977 (graduation) I had an abortion. . . . All I could think about was the consequences of having a baby-my reputation, your reputation, what would you two say, what would the rest of the world say? I was scared, like never before. I felt very ashamed of myself.

"I was early in my pregnancy and I was very, very sick. I couldn't keep food down day or night. . . . The abortion was scheduled quickly. I have blocked a lot of the details out. . . . I do remember sitting in the waiting room, wishing I was invisible, afraid I would see someone there I knew, not realizing that the one who mattered the most was God and that I could never hide it from Him. . . .

"I was in denial in what I had done for more than seven years after my abortion. I used the constant morning sickness to justify my abortion in my mind with, 'There is no way I could have continued this pregnancy . . . something was wrong! I can't stay this sick and not be able to eat ANYTHING! I would miscarry or something anyway.' That's what I told myself for years.

"At some point after the abortion, though, I think a part of me died as well. I became harder inside . . . it had something to do with why my marriage never worked out. . . . I never in my life wanted to have a baby . . . I didn't feel I deserved another baby when I snuffed the life out of my first one. . . . And then when I went to junior college, one of my teachers ended up being the doctor whom I saw on my follow-up visit after my abortion. I was so embarrassed to see him in class. It was a very difficult year for me.

"Maybe now things make a little more sense to you. Please forgive me for making such a serious decision without talking to you. I was just so scared to let anyone know. I didn't want to disappoint you or hurt either of you. I figured I could just get it over with and go on with my life. I had NO IDEA that it would affect me for the rest of my life. . . .

"So this is why I'm writing this painful e-mail at 45 years of age. I have no excuses . . . I not only took the life of my baby, but also the life of your grandchild. I think sometimes of what it would be like for you to play with my child. . . . Will you forgive me for my actions back in 1977? Will you forgive me for not sharing this with you earlier? Telling you these things is the hardest thing I've had to do. Even though this dark area of my life was brought to light by God years ago, it is now in the light with you as well."

There was more, but here's what Wanda wrote when she enclosed her letter, saying she wanted WORLD to see the part it played in helping her "to deal with this last step in my life I needed to take to make things right with my parents. . . . Otherwise I don't know when I would have gotten the courage up to share with my parents." She added, "My heart is racing and tears are in my eyes as I await their reply."

The reply from her dad came the next day: "Your story comes as a complete surprise to us. . . . Last night was a rather sleepless one. We know how painful this must have been to write. We can understand how you must have felt and acted under those circumstances in 1977.

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