match light

Before January 2012 makes its final exit, there’s an anniversary to remember.

This month marks the 39th year since the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States.

The hair on the back of your neck is rising as you read this, isn’t it?

Some of you are tuning out. Others are mentally rushing to your battle stations. Ready to defend your position in this divisive fight.

Regardless of which side you’re on, abortion inhabits a tragic, tender place.

The numbers are staggering. No one seems to know the exact figure. Most estimates agree abortion has ended more than 54 million pregnancies in America since Roe v. Wade.

That’s a lot of abortions and a lot of women. The Guttmacher Institute reports about half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy, and nearly one-third will have an abortion, by age 45.

The stakes are high. Abort73.com estimates providers take in more than one billion dollars annually for abortion services. On top of that, pro-life and pro-choice groups raise millions of dollars each year to support their causes.

Commonplace. Clinical. But still not openly discussed.

When was the last time you heard Jane or Mary or Lana flippantly drop, “Yes, I had an abortion last week,” in passing at the grocery store? More likely that conversation is shrouded in secrecy and whisper if it happens at all.

We whisper because this is a delicate subject. Maybe, despite our rights and choices, we recognize abortion ends human life.

Feminist writer Naomi Wolf acknowledged this way back on October 16, 1995, in The New Republic. Click here to read a full repost. Wolf writes:

Abortion should be legal; it is sometimes even necessary. Sometimes the mother must be able to decide that the fetus, in its full humanity, must die.

Ayelet Waldman did. In her 2009 best-selling book “Bad Mother,” Waldman writes a chapter entitled “Rocketship,” the nickname she gave her unborn child.

Waldman painfully recounts how she knew she was killing her baby. But she thought it was worth it. Better to choose to end his life than risk giving birth to a child who tested positive for possible birth defects. Waldman writes:

Although I know that others feel differently, when I chose to have the abortion, I feel I chose to end my baby’s life. A baby, not a fetus. A life, not a vague potentiality. As guilty and miserable as I felt, the only way I could survive was to confront my responsibility. Rocketship was my baby. And I killed him. (p.131)

Now we can carry out this choice in near-complete privacy. No accomplices but an inanimate pill. Clean and quiet, or so we think.

Enter Jennie Linn McCormack of Idaho. Sometime in December 2010 or January 2011—news reports vary—this unemployed, unmarried mother of three ended her pregnancy with RU-486, the abortion pill, her sister obtained online. Only McCormack didn’t realize how far along she was.

Frightened and confused, she put the corpse of her baby in a box and set it outside on her porch. The cold, winter air preserved the remains until they were discovered by authorities following a tip. A whisper.

An autopsy concluded the baby was between five and six months gestation.

Can you imagine the horror of facing the remains of your own child? Placing them in a box? Leaving them alone outside in the cold?

McCormack was arrested under a 1972 state law making it illegal for a woman to induce her own abortion. The case was dropped due to lack of evidence.

Now McCormack’s defense lawyer has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 1972 law and Idaho’s 2011 “fetal pain” law banning abortions past 20 weeks.

Meanwhile, McCormack’s been ostracized in her town. Can’t go out. Can’t work. Her private actions making her a pawn in the public battle to decide whose rights, whose life will be protected.

I’m not interested in condemning women who’ve had abortions. I’m not qualified to do so. We all sin, myself included. In Christ, there is the gift of forgiveness for you as much as there is for me and my transgressions. Take hold of it.


Encroaching on your rights or privacy isn’t my concern either. I believe it’s most often in brave, lonely, silent moments of desperation you make a choice. You try to set things right in a tragic, tender place.

Yet we can’t turn a blind eye to the mass killing of a muted people. Little ones who have no means to defend themselves. Who have been blotted out of existence. Snuffed out like tiny match lights.

We are American citizens, born and unborn. Hold fire for a moment on this bloodied battlefield and listen. They are your countrymen. Hear them whisper.

How will we answer?

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 NIV

Dear Father, hear and bless
Thy beasts and singing birds;
And guard with tenderness
Small things that have no words. —Anonymous


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Filed under America, life, women's studies

50 Responses to Whisper

  1. Aimee, thank you for being so bold to discuss something so real. You’re right… abortion permeates our country, but we’re still not talking about it – at least on a personal, authentic level. Regardless of your readers’ positions, I encourage everyone here at Everyday Epistle to lavish the mothers with love, for in doing so, they get glimpse’s of Christ. And He is the One who redeems the most broken of circumstances. He is the one who heals relationships among us and our fellow man, among us and our own hearts. He can not only heal the brokenness a mother feels from having an abortion years ago, but He can heal the root issues of her life made her feel abortion was her only choice. Again, thank you for this. Thank you for your boldness.

    • Christan, thank you for this wise words of encouragement. I wonder about those root issues that make a woman and our society think abortion is the right thing to do. What does this say about our culture and country? Heartbreaking. As you point out, it is only through love for the mothers (and fathers) and their children that we can participate in real change, the kind of soul-impacting change found only in Christ.

  2. Elizabeth Ward

    Aimee- well said my friend. I have a beautiful 7 month old baby girl sleeping in the crib upstairs because her birthmother saw through her unplanned, inconvenient, perhaps embarrassing pregnancy to the fact that she was carrying the life of a child. Easy- no. She made the brave choice to carry the baby to full term and place that sweet baby with an adoptive family (us!). Now that baby is showered with so much love every day…
    Christan- I love your point about how we need to lavish love on these women in unplanned pregnancies. Not to glorify or affirm their mistakes, but to show them that they have options, and to love them because these women are made in Christ’s image just as their unborn baby is. An if they have already chosen to abort, our churches (that’s us) need to also love on these women and offer the grace that Christ freely extends acknowledging the pain and the hurt that continue long after the procedure.

  3. Aimee. I am so glad you had the courage to post this. Both Christan and Elizabeth have expressed my thoughts exactly.

  4. Great post Aimee. Unfortunately this is our Holocaust. Everyone on both sides knows the humanity inside the womb, otherwise, even pro-aborts wouldn’t say that it should be “safe, legal, and rare” (why rare?).

  5. One tragedy, often not spoken of in all this is that people treat abortion as an “issue”. These are lives. Lives of children, lives of mothers and fathers. All have value.

  6. Robin Parker

    Great post Aimee. You should read Unplanned by Abby Johnson – Former director of Planned Parenthood. What impressed me most about her is the compassion and love she feels for the mothers in these situations (just like the previous posts said). She is now pro-life. I have several friends that have had abortions and I know what they went through afterwards. At 19 years of age, our mindset was so different than now. Shamefully, I can admit that I would have done the same thing. I wasn’t walking with Jesus. My mind was on “me” only. I am so thankful that God revealed himself to me and now my eyes are on him.

    • Thanks, Robin. Our mindsets were different when we were 19. We believed things that aren’t necessarily true, even though a lot of folks say they are. On second thought, we do that throughout our lives, don’t we? 19 or 39 or 59… Time to tell the truth. I will check out the book.

  7. Nikki

    Thank you for your boldness, Aimee! Well-said and everyone’s comments have been meaningful as well!

  8. AndreaM

    Your article is a cutting edge expression of where the pro-life movement is headed. We are turning toward a more realistic and, I assert, loving approach to our society. Rather than condemning women who make this choice (which we don’t need to do, the Enemy of souls does this for us plenty, pointing the way to despair), We are reaching out to them before, during, and after an unplanned pregnancy.

    I work for this PRC: http://birthchoiceresource.com/ It speaks for itself, and speaks to the point. Women and families who come to us are heard, supported, and loved. For us, it’s not political. For us, it’s personal. And it’s rooted in Christ.

    I believe,however, That it is no coincidence that this article came to my attention today http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/sharia-court-in-india-orders-expulsion-of-christians/

    Even as we whisper about the dignity of life, there are those who wish to destroy us on both sides. I get the impression Muslims are content here in the West to allow non-Muslims to destroy ourselves – we’re doing a thorough job of it. Our culture is so blind.

    Thank for your timely article! God bless you and keep you WRITING!

  9. Aimee,
    This was lovingly written and I pray lovingly received by people. It’s painful and scary and confusing to be in a place to think that you could end a life. Many women have been there. And it never goes away. Every time you go to the doctor, “How many pregnancies have you had?” The stories are heart-breaking. Those who know Christ can offer His hope and His peace to those who are in the midst of the complex situation and those who have been there in the past. Interestingly, our church, @jubileestl, is doing a series called “Dirty, Little secrets” and abortion is one.

    Only through people demonstrating the love and grace of Christ, people will receive healing.
    Thanks, Aimee for writing so beautifully, compassionately, and wisely.

  10. Libby

    Such great, thoughtful insights, Aimee… and I love all the comments above as well. I know for a fact that many abortion providers and counselors believe abortion is merciful. I have dear and kind-hearted friends, some of them active in their churches, who also work as volunteers at Planned Parenthood. One of the nicest, funniest guys I knew during college was pre-med, intending to be an abortion provider like his own father is. But if it is so merciful, why does it bring such pain (physical, emotional, spiritual) to the women undergoing this procedure? I have heard only regret from women who had abortions. Conversely, as you pointed out, how many women step up and say, weeks or months or years later, “I’m so glad I had that abortion”? They are few and far between.

    As for the trend of ending pregnancies because of possible abnormalities or disabilities, don’t even get me started… I have a sister that cannot talk, couldn’t walk until she was 7, can’t read or write, and requires 24/7 care. And she is one of the most amazing, beautiful, inspiring people I know–I can’t imagine life without her.

    Your closing sentences gave me chills. Let us listen for their whispers indeed, for their heartbeats already speak for themselves.

  11. Dena

    Thanks for your boldness in even addressing this. A friend of mine recently raised the question “I wonder what actions of our time, in 50 years, our society will look back and say ‘what were we thinking?'” Think separate drinking fountains or bus seats. Think numbers tattooed on wrists and gaseous ovens killing millions because of their religion. When I heard a statistic on the radio this week (about 90% of pregnant women diagnosed with a down syndrome baby in their belly chose to end the pregnancy with abortion) I immediately thought of my friend’s question. Who are WE, as a society to deem who is “fit” to become a part of our society? Seeing a pregnancy through and either giving a baby up for adoption or becoming a mommy to that child is one of the most selfLESS things a woman can do. I HOPE that not far in our future we can finally say we do not have to see anymore babies killed because of selfish choices.

  12. Powerful stuff everyone. Beautiful comments too.

  13. Katie

    Tonight your words gave me a voice I never felt I had on the subject of abortion. Thank you Aimee for your thoughtful and articulate writing and willingness to be bold in your convictions.

  14. Alisa Gilboy

    Beautfully, gracefully done Aimee. One of the most disconcerting discoveries I’ve made in recent years is the abortion rate in the black community. While I’ve not looked for the most recent statistic, I recall that in recent years, more black children were dying by abortion than were being born – black American genocide. I was and am heartbroken by the very thought of it. I pray that those statistics are changing – in the black community and beyond. Thank you for discussing this delicate, secretive subject so eloquently and lovingly. Well done.

    • Thank you, Alisa. You’re right about race and abortion. So disturbing, so sad, and so under-discussed. From The Guttmacher Institute website’s January 2012 fact sheet (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Unintended-Pregnancy-US.html):

      “The proportion of unintended pregnancies ending in abortion decreased across all racial and ethnic subgroups. However, black women are still more likely to end an unintended pregnancy by abortion than women in other racial and ethnic groups.”

      Abort73.com reports black women in America are 4.8 times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to have an abortion and Hispanic women in America are 2.7 times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to have an abortion. Here’s a link for more about abortion and race in the U.S.: http://www.abort73.com/abortion/abortion_and_race/

  15. Ginger Price

    Aimee, I mentioned to you I had just been thinking about R v. W. I appreciate how you’ve delicately handled the subject. I think of my friends who have shared with me at various points in this decision making process and it’s tough, really tough. Gut wrenching when you are staring someone you love in the eyes and realizing you can’t make the decision for them. Finding the balance between supportive friendship while inside my heart fighting for life has not been easy. But, they knew when they asked me what I believed. I also sometimes think about who I’ve missed being friends with on earth because a decision was made. Thank you for not fluffing past big issues, I’m so proud of your courage.

  16. Vicki

    Thank you, Aimee, for your thoughtful and poignant words. Just as our nation now rightfully views our past involvement of slavery as unthinkable and dehumanizing, I pray that some day very soon we as a nation will feel the same way about abortion.

  17. This is a beautifully written post, Aimee. Absolutely moving. It brought me to tears. I don’t claim to be entirely pro-choice, or pro-life, because, as you send, it is a “tender, tragic place” where these decisions are made. I have never stood in that position. I have never had the fear or joy of having another life inside of me. I may never know that experience, and I may never face the terrifying reality that I cannot properly provide for that growing life, whether it is during pregnancy medically or after birth.

    It’s an experience I’ve never had, and hope to never have. I can never claim to understand that situation…at the same time, in that moment of desperation, how can I deny that right to women who feel that it is their only true option?

    It’s a hard subject, and I feel like the middle-of-the-road or undecided masses don’t speak enough. There is so much outcry from one side or the other. The logic and empathy that the women in this situation deserve seems to be drowned out in the battle cries of the people on either end of the spectrum.

    Thank you. This blog post is just one more dose of perspective in a day that has been rich with learning experiences, broadening horizons, and strengthening relationships despite disagreement.

    • Kelly, what a beautiful, heartfelt comment. I am honored and humbled you are willing to share here.

      The tension and emotion so many of us face when thinking about abortion is evident in your words. I remember being at your stage in life and having a lot of the same feelings you express.

      Even today I struggle. As fiercely as I want to preserve the life and dignity of an unborn child, I just as fiercely want to preserve the life and dignity of his mother (and father). Can we do both? I believe we can. We must.

      Keep questioning. Keep asking and wrestling and weighing what is true. These are hard things and, like most other hard things in life, totally worth the struggle.

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  24. Oh Aimee, you write with a passion and intellect that grabs hold of my heart and mind in a very astounding way. Excellent piece. Painful as it is to read some parts…it is our reality. We must look into this deeply as intensely uncomfortable as it makes us all feel. Good for you, for illuminating a dark truth.

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