an After abortion

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Monday, May 1, 2006

From the Quad Cities newspaper in Illinois/Iowa, Man writes to daughter he never had.

When a fetus is aborted, the spotlight usually is on the mother's emotions, but an East Moline man has written a book that shows that the father is not always an uncaring, careless scatterer of seed.

Herbert LePore's "Letters to Pilgrim," published by BookSurge in South Carolina, creates a life for the daughter who never had a life.

"Though she died a horrible death, she still warrants a birth name," he said. "Her name, Pilgrim, is a beautiful one. It denotes someone who takes a difficult journey to find a better place. In the case of my daughter, it was to find her way to heaven."

Mr. LePore, who teaches history, political science and geography at Black Hawk and Scott Community colleges, spent four years in the Marines and was command historian on Rock Island Arsenal from 1988 to 1997. He has written other books -- including "The Politics and Failures of Naval Disarmament: The Phantom Peace 1919-1939," and co-authoring "Legacy in the Sand," a history of the Gulf War -- but "Letters to Pilgrim" is wrenchingly personal.

"Pilgrim's time in her mother's body was very brief, violent, and cut short by abortion," he said. "However, she has been redeemed by being taken to heaven, where she resides with countless other unborn children in the bosom of the Lord. I grieve because I never had the chance to anticipate her birth or to see her born."

The child was conceived when Mr. LePore was a graduate student in California 41 years ago. The mother's name was "Willow" (he uses pseudonyms in the book). Mr. LePore wrote, "She and I were willing participants in the beginning of the sexual revolution that was pervasive on the West Coast in the 1960s and later throughout much of the country. We were two arrogant, thoughtless, angry and careless young adults.

"She found out she was pregnant and said she didn't want the baby and didn't want to see me anymore." He tried to talk her out of getting an abortion, but, he wrote, "She told close friends that if I didn't give her money ($500) for it, she would shoot me and herself." She came from a wealthy family, and he was convinced that she and her father pressed him for the money to make him the villain in the situation. He gave it to them.

Three years later, he married another woman, divorcing three years after that. A year after the divorce, he married again, and this marriage lasted 15 years, dissolving in 1980. His son, Michael, now an economist in Washington, D.C., was born to his second wife.

The pain caused by Pilgrim's abortion did not leave him, however, and he decided to take the unborn child with him through life. He attended Rachel's Vineyard, an abortion healing-service weekend in Joliet, and part of the healing was writing a letter to the baby, telling one's feelings and asking for forgiveness. He also wrote a letter to Willow, asking her forgiveness.

"When I came back from that event, I decided to write Pilgrim's story," he said. "It would be a series of letters to a daughter I never had. I am the father she never knew. Had she lived, she would be in her early 40s, possibly with children and maybe even grandchildren."

He imagines all the things they both missed -- holding her against his chest, watching her take her first step, walking with her on the beach, going to her first recital, seeing her first play, watching her leave for the prom with her date, driving her to college and unpacking all her boxes, giving her away in marriage, spoiling her first child rotten.

The book's cover illustration is of father and daughter walking on the beach. This is an unusual book, offering input from the usually silent partner involved in abortion.
Letters to Pilgrim is available at

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