Two pink lines slowly came into focus and my heart began to seize up inside my chest. Where there should have been excitement, all I could feel was dread and fear that threatened to choke the very air out of my lungs. While my husband chatted excitedly over breakfast, I fought back tears.
Tears that I wasn't thrilled at the news, when so many women struggle to get pregnant.
Tears that this was the end of pursuing a career that gave me a sense of purpose.
Tears that I would lose my identity as a woman in the never-ending role of a mother.
Tears that I just wasn't ready. I wasn't ready for the change this would bring, for what I would have to give up, for how hard I knew this would be.
We run from what is unknown, from what seems impossible because we cannot imagine that we will come through unscathed.
But what if the thing we dread most, the thing we think we cannot endure, is the very thing that will shape us and break us into the person we've always hoped to become?
Two years working at a pregnancy clinic showed me that most women don't choose abortion because they see it as their best choice. They see it as their only choice, a dead-end decision because of their situation, their circumstances, their reality. It isn't empowering or liberating. It's heartbreaking, defeating, and painful.
Now comes the news that what is many a woman's most dreaded moment is being turned into a profit for others. That the over $500 million tax dollars that Planned Parenthood gets yearly isn't enough to line the pockets of their Medical Director's Council President who still wants a lambourgini. That a woman's agony in losing her baby can be turned into a "line item" in the budget if Planned Parenthood can just manage to get the baby out intact, instead of in pieces.
I have the luxury of bringing little girls up in a home that is safe, with a husband who loves me and will never leave me.
I'm not a teenager, terrified of how to tell my parents.
I'm not a single mom, wondering how I'm going to feed another mouth on an already tight-budget.
I'm not running for my life in the Middle East, wondering if it's worth it to bring a life into my daily hell, nor am I the victim of Boko Haram whose body bears the child of my kidnapper.
To be a woman contemplating an abortion is to be a women in a hard place, a difficult place, a broken place. A place I can never fully understand nor try to explain.
It is a moment where not one but two lives hang in the balance.
Knowing that, I refuse to be classified by stark, yet incomplete labels such as pro-life and pro-choice. I am for a woman knowing that she is making the best choice for her and that child, rather than feeling pushed into a corner with only one way out. I am for women making a choice based on support, community, and resources rather than on fear, isolation, or desperation. I am for the life of the woman who is trying to chart a way forward with dignity, courage, and hope.
But I am not just for the life of the woman outside the womb. I am also for the life of the woman inside, the little girl who has yet to step forward into the life set before her.
The little girl who deserves as much of a choice in her future as the woman carrying her deserves for her own. The little girl who never ceased to be a human with rights and privileges simply because of her size, her conception story, or her location.
Headlines blaze and people scream for justice when a 13-year-old lion is killed in Zimbabwe. But where is the outcry for the little hands and legs spread out on a petri dish, sorted through by a medical assistant who cries out, "It's another boy!"?
Where is the outcry at an organization claiming that they alone provide desperately needed life-saving services for women, yet have so little respect for the life of a baby that they welcome the profits from its organs? Rather than be a beacon of light and hope, they have become the darkness that swallows up women and children, thriving on destroyed lives. Since 1973, 60 million have been snuffed out before taking their first breath, with 1 in 3 women bearing the scars of abortion.
Lives not just gone, but cut to pieces, sifted and sold. We mourn the loss of an animal but remain silent on the carnage happening daily in clinics around this country, the sacrifices being offered up in the name of independence, security, and a limited understanding of choice.
Where is the anguish for the women who feel so abandoned, so alone, so without choices that they end one life in the hopes that it will somehow uplift theirs? For if a woman is being driven to kill her unborn baby, then we bear a responsibility for her feeling so isolated, so desperate, that death is the best answer.
What if we put our time, our money, and our unique talents into creating options for women, rather than simply sending out some Facebook rants and cleverly tweeted articles?
What if we committed to walking with single moms and single dads through the long journey of raising children, rather than simply complaining about what a burden they are to the welfare system?
What if we changed the way we teach our young people about sex, from a conversation rooted in fear or damage control, to a holistic, life-giving radical perspective?
What if we trained up our men to be leaders, men of character and integrity who treat women with respect and reverence, rather than constantly telling them how much they aren't needed or how replaceable they are?
What if we stopped emphasizing individual happiness as the most important right and admitted that our choices impact those around us, that we bear a responsibility to the greater community in how we live?
What if we wrestled away the money and the power from those who so carelessly trade in human lives, both of the unborn and the women who carry them, and instead gave the millions to organizations working not only on the immediate crisis, but also focusing on long-term family and cultural stability?
What if we moved from clearly-drawn battle lines and well-rehearsed arguments to actions of love, grace, and humility, bending low and spending time to walk with those caught in the cross-fire?
We can never erase all the hurt, pain, and evil in this world. But it would have a dramatic, life-saving effect on pushing back the darkness, snatching a few more women and their future children from the broken edge. We could turn the death tide and see generations given a voice, a chance to choose life for themselves and those to follow.
To make a change is not easy. But what if the pain and hard work we are avoiding is the very thing that will not only transform us, but bring to life an entire generation? The generation that is and the generations that they will bear.
We can never bring back the 1/5 of our country that is missing. But could we pursue a way forward that embraces the life of the woman outside the womb and the one she carries inside? Can we offer choices that lead to a better future for both the living and the unborn?
A generation with a voice can be a powerful thing. They can change a nation, even the world. All they need is a chance.