"My own experience with abortion deepened my understanding of how difficult the struggle can be. Let me tell you my story. It was my husband who proposed that we start a family. We both had finished graduate school. He was busy composing music and I was settled in the parish. We'd been trying for six months.
I knew I was pregnant the day after Easter. The double-blossom cherry was blooming. The spring rain filled the air with damp fragrance. I felt the life beginning inside of me as if it were an enormous gift. My heart was full of joy. But I had not been paying to how life was going for my husband. Struggles were haunting him and I wasn't very emotionally present to him. Our marriage was in trouble, but I wasn't seeing it.
When I told my husband the news that I was pregnant, the blood drained from his face. We were sitting across from one another at a favorite restaurant. I had taken his hands in mine to tell him. But he pulled back and let go of my hands. 'I'm not ready to be a father,' he said. 'I can't do this. I'm not sure I want to stay with you. The only way I can imagine our marriage having a chance is for you to have an abortion.' I felt his words as if they were a physical blow –swift, precise, unexpected. 'This is my decision to make,' I said, claiming the only ground I could find to stand on.
I chose abortion to save myself from shame, loss, and fears of suicide; to save a child from coming into the world without a father; to save a marriage; and to save the father from something he feared, something he said I could protect him from.
It was a willing sacrifice, I thought. An enactment of love for my husband and hope for our future. But our future did not unfold as I'd hoped. My husband and I didn't speak of the abortion. We tried to repair the rift in our marriage, but within a few months, he took an apartment across town and before long we divorced.
I had believed self-sacrifice was the highest form of love and that it could save us. But nothing was redeemed or saved by my sacrifice of the pregnancy. I had just enacted a rote gesture. Everything I most loved had slipped out of my hands. I felt there was nothing left to hold on to – not my marriage, not my child, not my faith.
I spiraled into grief and self-directed anger. One night I came to the end of my will to live. I just wanted the anguished to stop. It was a cold, clear night. I lived at the top of a hill above a lake and sometime after midnight I left my house and started walking down the hill. The water would be cold enough. I could walk into it, then swim, then let go, sink down into the darkness and go home to God. The thought was comforting. I had no second thoughts. I was set on my course."
Whose story is this? It's the story of Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, who gave a sermon, For All That Is Our Life, for the
March on Washington for Women's Lives, All Souls Unitarian Church, Washington, D.C., April 25, 2004.