Last week, I posted an ad featuring happy Down syndrome children that the French government banned because it feared the ad might upset women who had aborted their children. When I saw the ad, I immediately thought of two Down syndrome children I know who are special to me. I also thought of Nancy Kreuzer, someone who used to go to my church and shared her abortion story with me several years ago. Hers is a powerful story not only of pain and loss, but also of redemption and the power of the cross. I asked Nancy if she’d be willing to share her story on my blog and courageously, she agreed. I’m sure it’s not easy to share something so intensely personal, but Nancy does it because she passionately wants to save other mothers from repeating her same mistakes. — Julie
by Nancy Kreuzer
The ad begins with a letter from an apprehensive mom: “I’m expecting a baby. I’ve discovered he has Down syndrome. I’m scared. What kind of life will my child have?” Then, in some of the most moving two minutes of video I’ve seen, precious children with Down syndrome answer this mom. “Don’t be afraid,” they assure her. “Your child will be happy, like me, and you will too.”
For many, I’m sure the ad evoked feelings of warmth and joy, but for me, it evoked strong feelings of regret. Like 67% of American women whose babies receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s, I aborted my baby 23 years ago. Trying to protect people like me, the French government last week banned this ad, saying it is was “likely to disturb the conscience of women.” However, as someone who made that tragic decision, I know first-hand that the consciences of post-abortive women are already disturbed. Shielding these mothers from the truth does not prevent pain; it only delays healing, and contributes to the on-going holocaust of Downs Syndrome children.
It is a terrible injustice that is done to women —not telling them the truth about abortion and the truth about Down syndrome children.
My baby was 22 weeks old when I was told she had water on the brain and Down syndrome. The doctor immediately recommended terminating the pregnancy. And from that point on, my baby was no longer referred to as a baby. Instead, I heard language such as “empty the contents of the womb” or “terminate the pregnancy.” This distortion in language was a sign that the kind of care my baby and I had been receiving, up until that point, was drastically changing.
The doctor told me termination would be a simple procedure and that I could put it all behind me, get on with my life and try for another pregnancy. I never questioned his advice. Why? Perhaps it was because he was my trusted care-giver, the authority figure, the obstetrician in the white coat. But I do not mean to imply that I was not complicit. I never asked what a second-trimester abortion would mean for me or for my baby and I would not seek the answer to that question for many years.
The abortion was a two-day procedure. It was not simple. I would later learn that after my cervix was sufficiently dilated, the abortionist would use forceps to remove my baby one body part at a time. After the abortion, I vomited in the parking lot and rode home in silence. I took nothing with me when I left the abortion facility. There was no little body to bury, no doll-size casket, no grave to adorn with flowers. My baby never got to smell her mother’s skin, nor did she die warm and loved in my arms. There was no kiss goodbye. The days that followed brought no cards of sympathy, no meals, no flowers. No one called.
For 15 years, I rarely, if ever, thought about the abortion — or the baby… But wounds deep in the soul have a way of surfacing despite our best efforts to suppress them.
I had repeated nightmares of running from something so horrible, so terrifying that I would awaken, unable to sleep the rest of the night. I suffered from insomnia, anxiety, flashbacks, intense grief. I had dreams of babies crying. I could not stand hearing babies cry. Even when my own baby — a healthy boy born a year after the abortion — would cry, I would hand him to my husband. Then I would run downstairs and curl up on the couch in the fetal position with my hands over my ears. I also became nauseous whenever I smelled lilacs. I had had my abortion in May and there had been lilacs blooming outside of my bedroom window.
Sensing something was not quite right, I tried counseling, but quit. I walked away. I buried my emotions. I set my jaw and plowed forward.
Then one day, after living 49 years outside of God’s Church, and after 15 years of suffering from my abortion, Christ came rushing into my life unsolicited. He came riding on the prayers of two friends, who I would later discover had prayed for me for 20 years. These friends told me of their prayers for me a few years after my conversion. What a joy it was to give thanks together for the deep healing work God had done, and was doing in me.
There He was, the Sweet Shepherd calling. He welcomed me, the lost lamb. He accepted me. And He came right into that abortion—into the blood, the death, the shame and the devastation of that abortion, and He said, “I am King even here. I reign EVEN here.” And I heard Jesus say to me, in my heart, “I want to heal you. I want to make you whole.”
I thought about what Melanie could have meant to the world, how she might have changed the twisted thinking of our present culture — the barometer it often uses to define what it sees as good enough to warrant keeping, and what it views as imperfect enough to throw away.
John 8:32 says, “And you shall know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” Knowing the truth about my abortion was the beginning step of healing for me, but I also to name what I had done. So I asked my priest if he would hear my confession. And it was in confession, as I knelt before God, that I came to understand that Jesus had come for me – not the righteous, but the imperfect. The sinner, the wounded. And I knew that nothing, not even my abortion, could keep me from His love. And I knew that God is very, very good.
I thank God that He has freed me from an abortion that enslaved me physically, emotionally and spiritually for years. Still, I have often asked myself what might have altered the events that led up to the abortion. And I wonder how I can warn others considering aborting their child. How can I let them know the damage an abortion will cause to their souls, leaving a wound so severe that nothing short of the Lord can heal it? Do they realize how much they will miss the child they abort — whether that child is healthy or, like mine, has Down syndrome?
The Reverend Martin Luther King once suggested that we must never become silent about things that matter. Life matters. Truth matters. The ad the French government recently banned would have helped reach mothers and fathers with the truth. But sadly our world seems more interested in burying the truth than facing it.
Nancy Kreuzer serves as the Chicago regional coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a non-denominational Christian organization and a joint project of Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life. Nancy resides in Glen Ellyn, IL, is married, and has two grown children. She can be reached at: Chicago at silentnomoreawareness.org