By: Stephanie Hanson
Twenty-three years ago, I was told to abort my son. At that time, I had already been made intimately familiar with the practice of abortion – both professionally and personally.
While listening to Abby Johnson tell her story in a small conference room in late 2014, those memories came crashing back. And now, having seen the movie Unplanned, they’ve returned again.
Becoming a Nurse after Roe v. Wade
I'm a baby boomer, raised in the Christian Church culture of southern Wisconsin. I graduated high school in 1973, the year of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. I watched bewildered as my community adopted the “new age” beliefs of the time.
Abortion was the topic of my first collegiate research paper. I dedicated weeks of study to life in utero and abortion. I concluded then that fetal life is human life.
As a young nursing student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 70s, however, I did have OB clinical assignments.
I showed up to my first, as scheduled, in my smart blue and white pinstriped uniform with white Peter Pan collar and duty shoes. I interviewed my patient, a young woman who was pregnant. Through her tears, I determined that she was a young co-ed, about my age, and uncertain of how many weeks pregnant she was.
"My parents would kill me if they found out,” she told me.
I documented everything, as trained, and informed her that she could come back on Monday for an abortion. There was a mandated waiting period.
All weekend I prayed that something would interfere with my next assigned task: injecting my patient’s womb with a saline solution prior to the abortion.
Early Monday morning, I instructed my patient to report to ultrasound because of the unclear date of conception. The ultrasound technician turned the screen my way. She was seven-and-a-half months along. There on the screen was a baby – fully formed with a beating heart. As per the law in Wisconsin at that time, it was illegal to abort.
Relieved, I left the hospital and thanked God.
Two years later, on a city bus, a young woman tapped me on the shoulder and thanked me for saving her son's life. I will never forget that conversation.
Still, I continued my clinical assignments and convinced myself that every young woman I saw chose life and did not make the next appointment with the doctor to have an abortion. Thankfully, I never had to witness that atrocity firsthand.
But many women in my position have not been so lucky. Cathy DeCarlo, a nurse from in New York, had only one condition when she was hired to be a nurse in a U.S. hospital: She would not participate in abortion.
Yet, she was forced to anyway.
Years Later, the Roles Reversed
During my fifth pregnancy, I lost a fully formed little boy to a miscarriage. Because of this, I required surgery. In medical terms, this is a “medical abortion.”
But even though my baby was already gone, the process was still horrifying.
The doctors and nurses induced contractions. Three days later, in a drugged confusion, our little angel was delivered, and I began to hemorrhage. I underwent an emergency Dilation and Curettage operation, the same procedure that follows many abortions.
It was a necessary procedure in a safe environment, but it was the most painful time of my life. Nothing in the literature could have prepared me for that.
For five days, God allowed me to experience the reality of abortion in a clean hospital bed with the support of my husband and community. I cried in that room for the women who go through this alone, in their bathrooms or in a clinic.
Shortly afterward, at age 40, I was excited to be pregnant again. But my excitement faded when my ultrasound showed a large tumor that my doctor said would make the pregnancy inviable.
I felt pressured into having an abortion. But I chose life. And while that choice was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, it was also the best.
From there, I refused further tests. When I did submit to another prenatal test at seven months gestation, it was clear on the ultrasound. The tumor was gone, and a fully formed baby boy was thriving. Just a couple months later, Gavin Hanson was born. And I praised God on that day 23 years ago.
I’ve seen the face of abortion up close and personal. I’ve been pressured into going through with it myself. And I can say with confidence that it only brings grief and heartache. Choose life. It’s not always easy, but it’s what is truly best for you – and for your child.