Every once in a while I get asked some fantastic questions on my Facebook page. Most of the time they only require a short answer in the comments. But then there are the ones that cause me to pause and think about my answer. Either the questions are super personal or I haven’t given it much thought before that moment.
The other day, I actually asked for some topics to write about and there were tons of great questions. There was one specific question that stood out to me. It seemed tiny at first, but I kept thinking about it.
Did you ever worry that Abby might abort your children if she ever got pregnant?
Before I answer, I want to start by saying that this is a somewhat personal and sensitive question. At first, the question seemed short and easy to answer, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it forces me to open up a little. I have no problems answering this question in the most honest and candid way possible. My concerns are making myself understood and the possibility that some folks might respond in ways that may be less than kind. Please try to remember that we are people. Also, if you have no idea who I am or who my wife is, I would encourage you to read her book. (CLICK HERE) My wife, Abby Johnson had two abortions and worked for Planned Parenthood for 8 years. During her last two years at PP, she was the clinic director. In 2009, she had a conversion on the issue of abortion and became 100% pro-life. I was pro-life for most of her time at PP. I wasn’t a very good pro-lifer, but I always hated her job. Part of the purpose of this blog is to fill in the gaps from Abby’s book. This is our story and we can’t change it. All we can do is share our experiences and hope that we are able to have a positive influence on others.
The short answer is, NO, I was not worried that Abby would abort one of our children. Especially after we were married. Maybe when we were dating, there was a small part of me that worried about it, but deep down I knew she wouldn’t.
The long answer…
I’ll just come right out and say it. Yes, we were having sex before marriage. Were we careful? Abby jumped in and out of different birth control methods, but we mostly used condoms. I am not condoning or encouraging others to behave like we did. I am just trying to paint a picture so you know where I am coming from. (And no, I don’t think it is hypocritical to teach others what not to do based on your own mistakes!!)
When Abby and I met, she was engaged. I didn’t know it yet, but she had already had an abortion while dating her fiancé. Her marriage lasted a little over a year. It wasn’t until Abby was getting divorced that I found out about her first abortion. We were actually close friends when she had her second. Looking back, I wish I had had the perfect words to talk her out of the second abortion. I can’t speak for how she was feeling at the time, but there was probably no talking her out of it. We were both young, and among other reasons, she didn’t feel she had the support she needed. That wasn’t true, but I lacked the strength and conviction in my beliefs to convince her otherwise.
Maybe it was too raw and uncomfortable to talk about, but her abortions didn’t come up much when we were dating. At least not until Abby started volunteering more regularly at Planned Parenthood. By that time she was a staple there, and we were about a year or more into a romantic relationship. Marriage was definitely in our future plans, and yes, we talked about having children of our own some day.
With her getting so heavily involved with Planned Parenthood, that meant we were having a lot more conversations about all the topics surrounding Planned Parenthood. She would come home with the typical PP talking points and we would go round and round. PP provides affordable women’s health. Birth control is great. Abortion only accounts for 3% of their visits… I would be supportive when it came to all the non-abortion related services, but when abortion came up, that’s when we would argue. It didn’t ruin our relationship though. The truth is, we were past the point of deal-breakers. Love is funny like that.
I don’t remember how or when it came up, but I know we weren’t engaged yet. Abby and I were driving and I remember Abby turning to me and saying something along the lines of…
“I think if I got pregnant right now, we could handle it. My parents love you, so they would probably accept it. Both our parents would be supportive. We’re both hard working and capable. It would be hard if we are still in school, but I know we could make it work.“
Now, I never asked her if she would ever abort one of our children. I can only speculate as to why she even brought it up. Maybe she was trying to let me know that she felt supported with me and I was someone with whom she felt confident raising children. She also knew how much I looked forward to being a dad, and was respectful about my feelings towards abortion even though we didn’t see eye to eye on the topic. There was no doubt in her mind that I would have never been ok with aborting one of our children. I think she just wanted to assure me that she would never do that behind my back. Not that I didn’t already trust her, but this was nice to hear from her.
Fast forward to the fall of 2005. We were married in August, and Abby had been earning a regular paycheck from Planned Parenthood for a while. We were poor as poor could be. She had just started her Master’s Degree and I was in the last year of my Bachelor’s Degree. We had no plans of having children for a couple years. Even though kids were not in our plans, we talked about how, as a married couple, abortion was in no way a birth control option for us. We would make it work if our birth control method failed us. (I think there were even a few times Abby said she didn’t understand how some happily married women with good jobs ended up on the abortion table. Not in a judgmental way. More in a confused, hmmmmmm… kind of way.) We felt that if you work hard, the hard times can be temporary. (Sometimes they last forever, but that’s another discussion.) Whelp, after a whopping 5 months of being married, we conceived Grace. It was a shocker at first, and we were certainly scared, but the thought of aborting never came up. As soon as we knew Abby was pregnant, we started planning for our future as parents.
For our entire relationship we have trusted each other, we have supported each other, we have respected each other, and we have always worked hard to keep things moving forward. “Make it work!!” has been our battle cry from the very start.
So why did I decide to answer this question? This is one of the kinds of questions I think one can expect from someone that has been a life long pro-lifer. There is nothing wrong with the question. I think it’s fair to ask me if I was fearful that Abby might abort one of our children. After all, she was staunchly and fiercely pro-choice. I knew about the chinks in her pro-choice armor, but others didn’t. I have talked about it before, but abortion supporters and abortion clinic workers are not monsters. They don’t hate kids. In fact, most of them have kids. Almost everyone that worked at Abby’s clinic had kids. The majority of the women Abby helps leave the abortion industry through her ministry have kids. There are people that support the right to abortion that have good hearts and the best intentions. If we want to change people’s views on abortion, these are the hearts we should target the most.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are tons of folks that have stone cold hardened hearts when it comes to the unborn. I have talked to plenty of abortion supporters and extremists that think there is no place in this world for children. Apparently pregnancy equals slavery in the minds of some. There are some people that see all unborn children in the shape of a money sign. The abortion industry is a monster, but the people working for it are not beyond redemption.
PS. I understand if some of you are more confused than you were before I wrote this. Our story tends to create questions. There are so many levels to it, it’s hard to get it all in there. Feel free to shoot me some questions in the comments.