Pro-choice for 50 Years, Changed in a Moment
Kathleen: When I was 18 years old in 1974, I had an abortion. And I had just put my parents through a world of trouble and had been in a world of woe. And I was doing so much better. Then I found myself pregnant and I didn’t see any alternative. And abortion had only been legal for a year, right?
Kathleen: 1973. So the older sister of a friend helped me. She was married and she and her husband kind of helped orchestrate the logistics. It took some structure and organization to get this worked out so that nobody knew. When it was done, we went back to their home.
THe first thing her husband said to me was, well, you know, you’re going to hell don’t you?
Mark: What? Was he kidding or was he…
Kathleen: No, he was not kidding.
Mark: He meant it
Kathleen: He meant it. Even though he helped me
Kathleen: He said, you’re going to hell.
Mark: Was he going to hell for helping you?
Kathleen: I don’t know. I didn’t ask. I just felt that like a knife to my heart. Add I believed him.
Mark: You did?
Kathleen: I did. I believed him. I was a Christian at the time. Uder the most unlikely of circumstances I had come to know Jesus, but I didn’t know really anything about Jesus. I didn’t know you were supposed to tell people about Jesus.
Mark: You just knew the basics.
Kathleen: I just knew that God loved me.
Mark: He had saved you.
Kathleen: Yeah and that I had been saved. But there was so much I didn’t know and didn’t understand. So for a number of years I believed that I was going to hell no matter what. I was just going to hell.
I kind of lived that way for a while and then something very horrible happened to me. I was raped when I was in college and I believed that was God’s punishment for me. That God hated me. I really did believe this, that God hated me because I was evil. I dropped out of college. My father told me, if you drop outta college, I’ll never pay for you to go back.
And I just said, okay, I’ll be an uneducated person going to hell. That was kind of my fate, so I thought. Over the course of the next year, I gained over a hundred pounds and was wretchedly miserable. I made a decision somewhere along the way that even though I was going to hell, I liked God’s people and I wanted to be around them.
I was gonna keep my secret that I was going to hell. I didn’t tell anybody and I went to church. In my heart I was pro-choice.
Mark: And why is that? Were you always pro-choice?
Kathleen: No. When I had an abortion, I didn’t know enough about it to completely comprehend all that it encompassed.
I did not know. I was…it was new and over the course of years, I think part of it was self justification.
Mark: That’s what it sounds like a little bit. We talked about the fact that it’s so easy sometimes to make up your mind about what’s right and what’s wrong, and then try to convince yourself that God agrees with you.
Kathleen: Absolutely. I think that’s what I did. I was a closet pro-choice Christian.
Mark: Okay. You didn’t talk about being pro-choice Christian.
Kathleen: No. Only talked about it with my liberal friends. You know, power to the people, right on. You know, pro-choice, a woman’s right to do with her body as she pleases. I really did believe that. I did not fully understand until many, many, many, many, many years later, that I believe in my heart that abortion is murder. You can argue theology up one side and down the other, but you can’t argue with a person’s experience.
Mark: That’s exactly right.
Kathleen: Because a person knows what happened. I know what happened to me. All those years I believed that abortion was a right and I never spoke about that with Christians. When it would come up, I would just be very, very quiet or wander off. Now, in 1974, at the church, I was going to Ronalda.
I know that absolutely no one meant anything maliciously, but it was a big topic. Abortion was a big topic.
Mark: Is that because Roe v. Wade was so new and it was just in the culture, everybody was kind of talking about it.
Kathleen: Yes. It was very controversial. It was out there. People said a lot of things. A lot of things that hurt me deeply. Shame, I was so ashamed.
So all these years, I mean, this happened in 1974 and it’s 2023, right? So all these years, even though many people, many friends who, who do know me and do know what happened and know what I believed about abortion. They occasionally and tenderly tried to tell me what their beliefs were and why they believed what they believed.
No one Christian friend that I ever had was unkind to me about it, you know? I was convinced in my own mind and heart and spirit that abortion was not wrong. I would never go to anything because it hurt me.
Mark: You wouldn’t go to anything where people were talking about abortion if you could avoid it you did.
Kathleen: I did. I’d turn the TV off, I’d change the station. I’d not listen to that radio program. If I had been at church on Sunday, that Sunday, that fateful Sunday when you and Pastor Chris spoke about abortion, I would’ve fled the premises. As it turned out, I was not there and I watched it on Monday night and I guess the Holy Spirit compelled me to watch the entire video.
As I watched it, God, He changed me. He changed my mind. He changed my heart. He changed my spirit and he changed my life because of that one video. I found myself crying and it was as if I could hear the Lord whisper to me so tenderly and sweetly. For all these years you haven’t thought that it was wrong or it was a sin.
Why did you ever feel the need to be forgiven? I didn’t have an answer because I did always feel the need to be forgiven but that didn’t line up with being pro-choice. It didn’t line up but I never addressed that. Not to God, not to friends or a pastor or anyone.
It just kind of sat there. In that moment when I heard that in my spirit, I came to understand something that was unbelievable to me. That I am forgiven. That what I did was murder. That I no longer was pro-choice because I understood with completely new eyes, I cared with a new heart.
I understood with a new mind. That was an unbelievable miracle because I was a very staunch pro-choice person. I have a lot of friends who are not Christians who are very, very much pro-choice. Especially with what’s happened over the past couple years. It’s a hot topic.I was undone.
Mark: That is the work that only the Holy Spirit can do.
Kathleen: It is only the Holy Spirit.
Mark: So you were at home alone.
Mark: And the Holy Spirit just kind of broke your heart.
Kathleen: Shattered, shattered me.
Mark: That’s what I saw on Wednesday when you walked up to me. I saw somebody who was excited about what the Lord had done in her life, but heartbroken over how and why it had come to be and who was, I think at the same time, completely lamenting past choices, but exuberant about the fact that you were experiencing a forgiveness which you had not allowed yourself to experience before because you were telling yourself that you had nothing to be forgiven for.
Kathleen: Yeah. I really believe that there was a part of me that that knew I needed to be forgiven but to admit that you need to be forgiven, you have to admit that you were wrong. I’ve been wrong about so many things in my life, I didn’t wanna believe the horror about myself. This did not make me wanna go stand on a street corner and shout it out. Because what happened to me was not condemnation it was conviction.
Mark: That’s an important difference.
Kathleen: There’s a huge difference. It was conviction. If the subject ever comes up again, and I will have to have some conversations with some people. I will be completely dependent on the grace of God to help me have those conversations. Because I want to share what God has done in me. I really do. I know the grace and mercy of God in ways that I’ve never known it before. JUst in the past two weeks since this happened… The love of God… I thought I had experienced miracles before, but what happened in me… and I’m just one person, just sitting at home on a Monday night watching a video. That God would reach into my heart and into my life and change this ironclad belief that I’d had for decades that took a miracle.
Mark: Well, 1974 to 2023 is just short of 50 years. Just like Roe v. Wade stood in America as the law of the land for just short of 50 years. Six months, short of 50 years.
I love the way you put it. What I see is when we are humble enough to lay down, even our most firmly held beliefs and let the Lord have his way in our life. He just pours out…he just delights to pour out blessing. This was a stronghold. This was a stronghold.
Kathleen: It was. It was the strongest stronghold in my life, I think.
Mark: Wow. And no amount of arguing on a street corner would’ve done anything. The Lord just had to kind of…
Kathleen: He did.
Mark: He did it.
Kathleen: So gently and tenderly and lovingly. It’s an oxymoron, I guess, but it was gentle strength, you know? It was just the gentle strength of the Lord that showed me the reality and the truth of what I had done.
If you and Pastor Chris had not had the boldness… if Ronalda Church had not had the boldness to bring that forth. I’ve never heard abortion talked about from the pulpit that I can recall, or probably because I left maybe before I could hear it. But Pastor Allen mentioned something about abortion and I was ready to run.
Mark: You bristled.
Kathleen: I did. Oh, bristled is the right word. I just thought, Nope, I don’t wanna hear that. Don’t wanna hear it.
Mark: What you’re saying now is so important, especially for pastors to hear. You have to understand from a pastoral perspective, the people who love you, the people who want to minister to you, do not want you to run away.
They do not wanna offend you, and they don’t want you to say, I’m outta here because they’re talking about this. Many pastors feel like it is the most appropriate, loving, compassionate thing to do, to just not talk about this. What I have experienced in my time with PassionLife Is that when the pulpit is silent, when the preacher is silent, when no one’s talking about what God feels about these things, the accuser is not silent.
The accuser is always talking. He’s always reminding. He’s always, he’s always condemning. In the silence of thinking that we’re being compassionate, so we’re not gonna address this issue, we actually create in the minds of people, this is either, it’s the unforgivable sin or it’s not something that God feels all that strongly about, so we don’t need to be talking about.
Kathleen: Right. That’s so true. That was so evident when you were having your conversation with Pastor Chris. There wasn’t any condemnation. I know of one other woman at our church who… She had an abortion and we talked about what we heard and the loving kindness of God through what each of you had to say individually and in your conversation. There was no condemnation and that’s Jesus. It’s amazing grace and there’s no other way to put it.
Mark: God doesn’t operate by heaping shame on people. That’s the way the Pharisees did it.
They heap shame on people and hope that people would change by heaping shame. But the truth is the grace of the gospel is so radical that if we can allow it to pierce into those places that we guard in our hearts…that’s where radical transformation really takes place.
Kathleen: Amen to that. I can see why pastors would be reticent to talk about it because it’s very personal and it’s…the very word abortion has teeth in it.
Mark: The word abortion is not a biblical word. Even to use the word abortion, we’re just labeling something that… you can call it abortion, or you can call it…in Spanish, sometimes they call it the regulation of the menstrual cycle…that’s what they call an abortion…the regulation of the menstrual cycle…or an interruption of regular of the menstrual cycle. They call it an interruption in some of these cultures.
The reason they do that is because they wanna stay away from the word abortion. But even the word abortion doesn’t appear in the Bible. The phrase in the Bible is this, the shedding of innocent blood. That’s the phrase that you see so often in the Bible is the shedding of innocent blood.
We don’t have to call it child killing, and all the things that make us… these phrases that hurt our conscience to hear them, but the shedding of innocent blood explains how God sees these things. It’s an offense to him, not because we’ve just shaken our fist at him, but because of his love and his compassion in creating these beautiful beings in his image and the shedding of innocent blood is an affront. It’s an affront to him. I like to stay away from the word healing when it comes to these things, not because healing is an unbiblical word, it is a biblical word, but another word that you find when it comes to psychological healing in the Bible, the phrase that you hear in the Bible so often is peace with God.
Peace. Peace in the inner spirit. Because you’ve realized that God has reconciled things. There is a sense of healing. I don’t bristle at the word healing, but peace with God is a wonderful biblical term for what it seems like you’re experiencing.
Kathleen: You just put into words exactly what I’ve been trying to say, peace with God. Peace like I’ve never had it before. Peace because I’m forgiven. Peace because the truth shall set you free. I’m not ashamed of the gospel. I’m grateful for the gospel. I’m grateful for all that it tells me about Jesus. I’m grateful that it sets me free, and I’m grateful that because I’m not ashamed of the gospel, I’m not ashamed of the forgiveness that I received and the freedom that I have.
Mark: Jesus bought that forgiveness. He doesn’t want you to be ashamed of it. He paid for it.
Kathleen: That good news is life changing. And 50 years later, it changed my life. What I experienced is a miracle. I was a secret pro-choice person and now I don’t have to be secret about anything.
Mark: Praise God.
Kathleen: It’s in the light.
Mark: That’s an amazing testimony. Ephesians says, have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but expose them to the light and they get disarmed. They lose their teeth and their claws and Satan is not able to accuse anymore because you have confessed and God has forgiven. And you say to Satan, you’ve got no power over me, reminding me of what I’ve done in the past.
Jesus, he knows all about it. Well, the Lord is gonna use you and he’s gonna minister to people through you and he already is. And he was before, he doesn’t love you anymore than he did.
Kathleen: It feels like he does.
Mark: Well, he doesn’t. You’ve removed this barrier that didn’t let…you were not allowing him to show you how loving he is.
Kathleen: That’s true.
Mark: You had a stronghold in your life that… you were keeping God a little bit at arm’s length.
Kathleen: Like he was holding back some love just because of this.
Mark: Yep. But now you’re allowing him to show you the full scope of his love and forgiveness.
Kathleen: Tell your truth. Don’t listen to the enemy and let God be God and set you free and anybody who has a heart to hear free,
Mark: No theologian could have said it any better.