By Nancy Valko, RN
It has been almost physically painful to watch the tidal wave of rage and misinformation dividing Americans after the outrageous leak of Supreme Court Justice Alito’s draft decision on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization returning abortion laws back to the states.
But this is not the first time I saw such division about abortion.
I was a young intensive care unit nurse when the Roe v. Wade decision came down in 1973. Like most people I knew, I was surprised and shocked when abortion was legalized.
However, I quickly found that my medical colleagues were split on the issue, and I was vehemently attacked for being against abortion. I was even asked what I would do if I was raped and pregnant. When I replied that I would not have an abortion and would probably release the baby for adoption, I was ridiculed. Our formerly cohesive unit began to fray.
But I was professionally offended by the pro-life argument that legalizing abortion would lead to the legalization of infanticide and euthanasia.
It was one thing to deny the truth with an early and unobserved unborn baby, but it was quite another to imagine any doctor or nurse looking at a born human being and killing him or her.
How wrong I was!
As I wrote in my 2019 blog “Roe v. Wade’s Disastrous Impact on Medical Ethics,” it wasn’t until the 1982 Baby Doe case and my daughter Karen’s birth and death opened my eyes and changed my life.
HARD TRUTHS ABOUT ABORTION
Because I am a nurse and mother, I have personally learned some hard truths about abortion and the abortion industry. Here are some of my experiences.
A young relative came to me after visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic for a suspected sexually transmitted disease. She said the clinic told her that she didn’t have an infection but the girl continued to get worse-and scared.
I arranged for her to see my own pro-life ob-gyn who discovered that the infection had damaged her cervix so much that part of it had to be removed and, even worse, she would probably have to have her cervix sewn shut until delivery if she became pregnant in the future.
Learning that Planned Parenthood had apparently missed the diagnosis, my doctor never charged for his services.
KNOWLEDGE IS ESSENTIAL
I will never forget the Christmas day my 18-year-old daughter told me she was pregnant.
We talked for hours, and I told her that I would support any decision she would make-except abortion.
She laughed and told me that abortion was not an option because she “knew too much”, especially from the prenatal pamphlets I showed my children with each pregnancy. They all were excited about how their brother or
sister was developing and asked almost daily what their unborn sibling was now able to do.
My first grandchild is now 23 years old and has a loving family who allows us to be part of her life.
And we know even more now about pregnancy, as I wrote in my 2019 blog “An Amazing Video of a Living, First Trimester Unborn Baby.” The video shows an approximately 8 week old unborn baby moving its’ tiny head and limbs remarkably like a newborn baby. Unfortunately, the video was both heartbreaking and beautiful since this little one was developing outside the mother’s womb (ectopic pregnancy) and had to be removed surgically. He or she could not survive for long but this recognizable baby was obviously not a “clump of cells”!
POST-ABORTION TRAUMA IS REAL
Many years ago when I worked in home health and hospice, I cared for a very cranky, elderly woman I will call “Rose” who had rejected all the other nurses in our agency. Even her own doctor had problems with her and told me that he could not understand why she was even still alive because her end stage congestive heart failure was so severe. Part of my assignment was to measure her abdomen and legs to adjust her diuretics (water pills).
As I got to know Rose over a few visits, she softened towards me and began telling me about her life. But one day, while I was measuring her abdomen, she burst into tears and told me she hated looking 9 months pregnant because of the fluid retention in her abdomen. Rose said she knew it was God punishing her for the abortion she had 60 years before!
Rose had never told anyone, not even her late husband, about the abortion she had before marrying him. She felt that baby was the boy she never had but she didn’t feel worthy to even name him. She also told me that she knew she had committed the “unforgivable sin” and was afraid to die because she would be sent to hell. My heart went out to this woman who was suffering so much, more emotionally than even physically.
We talked for a long time and in a later visit about forgiveness and God’s love. I told her about Project Rachel, a healing ministry for women (and even men) wounded by abortion. I gave her the phone number and offered to be with her to meet a counselor or priest but she insisted that my talking with her was enough to help. I felt it wasn’t but she seemed to achieve a level of peace and she even started smiling.
I wasn’t surprised when Rose died quietly and comfortably in her sleep about a week later.
OFFERING HELPFUL INFORMATION IS CRUCIAL
In 1989, I had just started working as an RN on an oncology (cancer) unit when we discovered that one of our patients had CMV (Cytomegalovirus).
One of our nurses was pregnant and tested positive for the virus. Her doctor told her how her baby could die or have terrible birth defects from the virus and he recommended an abortion.
“Sue” (not her real name) was frantic. She had two little girls and worked full time. She said she didn’t know how she could manage a child with serious birth defects.
I told her that it was usually impossible to know if or how much a baby might be impaired before birth. I also told her about my Karen who was born with Down Syndrome and a critical heart defect and died at 5 months. I told her that I treasured the time I had with her and later babysat children with a range of physical and mental disabilities.
Most importantly, I also told her that I would be there to help her and her baby.
“Sue” decided against abortion and told the other nurses what I said.
The other nurses were furious with me and said if the baby was born with so much as an extra toe, they would never talk to me again.
But slowly, the other nurses came around and also offered to help Sue and her baby.
In the end, we all celebrated when Sue had her first son who was perfectly healthy!
Many people don’t understand is that being pro-life isn’t just being against abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. What being pro-life really means is truly caring about all lives, born or unborn.
What I have found most helpful is a sincere interest and willingness to help when encountering people struggling with an abortion decision for themselves or someone close to them.
Why talk about abortion? Because we never know who may need to hear the truth and we need to help heal the tragic divide in our nation by our example.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at nancyvalko.com/2022/06/05/the-tragic-divide-on-the-roe-v-wade-abortion-decision.