Monday, August 10, 2009

The Secret

A group of women sat around a quietly gurgling fountain on a dry summer day, waiting for the door to the church conference room to be unlocked. These women were all devoutly devoted to their church and its wellbeing and often spent their free time discussing ways to improve it over coffee and baked goods. Their ages ranged from early 40s to late 60s, and although they found common ground in their work for the church, some differences simmered just beneath the surface.

As they waited for a member of the maintenance staff to unlock the conference room doors, chatter topics went from children, to weekend activities, to politics. The women found they agreed on most issues surrounding the political discussion, that is until one older woman brought up the topic of abortion.

“How could anyone choose to have an abortion?” she stated. “I just don’t understand it and never will.”

Mrs. Jones absorbed these words her friend spoke and let them rest on the inner depths of her soul. She had an abortion over two decades ago. A difficult decision which had remained a secret, a secret she shared with few. But for the first time on that summer day, she felt different about her experience. Like so many women before her and after her, she chose to have an abortion for a reason that was personal and challenging. No one had the right to tell her how she should feel and what she should have done, she thought. And then it happened, those four powerful words emerged from her lips: “I had an abortion.”

The older woman looked up at her, surprised and speechless. Mrs. Jones proceeded to share with her the details of her own experience; how the pregnancy was unplanned but wanted, how the doctor’s told her because of her use of Coumadin, her baby would most likely be born with severe anomalies, how abortion was an open option for her to pursue. She described the difficult decision, the pain, the relief, the heartache, and the joy when she had a healthy baby girl just over one year later.

By the end of the story, the elderly woman was in tears. She had never known a woman who had an abortion, although I am sure they were all around her just like Mrs. Jones.

After the coffee was drunk, the baked goods consumed, and the meeting completed, Mrs. Jones returned home. She reflected on her discussion with the elderly woman and felt only peace with her decision to disclose her own abortion. She knew abortion was a very personal decision and the ability to choose was important, necessary, and powerful.

Later that evening, she received an email from her elderly friend that simply said “Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me this afternoon. I have reconsidered my stance on this very important issue.”

Mrs. Jones was overwhelmed by the immense impact she had on just one person. As she drank her glass of wine that evening she realized her story was for sharing, for empowering, and for normalizing such a personal and profound experience. Her secret was sacred, but no longer for keeping.

This was based on a true story.

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