Seeing that not only made the pregnancy more real but also made everything else more terrifying. Because when you see a sonogram, you can’t deny there’s a life. Whether you think it’s human or not is a different story, but it’s obviously alive. Now all I could think was, What happened before? Did I kill something?
The next few months were the hardest of my life. At 16 weeks I felt my baby move for the first time, and at 20 I found out I was having a girl. I’m thinking, I’m going to meet my daughter, and then I’ll know what could have been. I lost a child that I chose to lose. Ultimately I became pro-life with no exceptions for rape or incest.
Pro-Life to Pro-Choice
"I survived a rape," Shelly B., 29, college professor; Round Rock, Texas
When I was in eighth grade in Southern California, my Catholic school showed us a video of The Silent Scream [a 1984 film that dramatizes an abortion from the point of view of a fetus, depicting it as suffering great pain]. I thought, “I can’t believe people are murdering babies.” My teacher told us that abortion ruins women’s lives and that everyone who has an abortion regrets it. I was passionately against abortion and even wrote a letter to the governor of California. “Dear Governor,” I said, “Please stop killing babies. It’s wrong.”
Everything changed when, in 2009, while a graduate student, I was sexually assaulted by a friend. I was terrified that I was pregnant. I had done nothing wrong, and yet this horrible event was threatening to derail my life. I knew I could have the child, but it would wreck me emotionally and ruin my career. I realized I would probably get an abortion if I was pregnant, or at least strongly consider it. It was the first time I ever acknowledged, “I could do this.” It was a huge shock. And that made me question the assumptions I had made about others who did get abortions.
I turned out not to be pregnant, but from that point forward, I was never able to view the issue the same way. I could see what life was like for people who made these decisions. I could no longer believe that abortion was a litmus test for whether you believe in God or are a good person. It changed the whole way I thought about the matter. After the assault, I knew—for some women, having a child is more traumatic than having an abortion.
Pro-Choice to Pro-Life
“Caring for sick relatives made me see how precious life is,” Diane Geiger, 43, Web/media project manager; Detroit
If you had told my 25-year-old self that I would end up identifying as pro-life, I would have said, “No way.” I’m an urban gal, well traveled, adventurous, secular . . . People tend to assume I’m liberal when they meet me and are surprised by my views. But by way of two
Experiences, I stumbled upon what was inside my heart.
In 2008, I began taking care of my dad. He was diagnosed with lung cancer at 82 and beat it, but the stress on his body from the chemotherapy really wore him down. My maternal grandmother, who was 92 and frail, developed ovarian cancer two years later and also needed care. It brought out a lot of love in me, as well as a strong protective urge and a desire to ease their suffering.
I was with them the moment each passed in February2010. Except for having been present when my cat died five years earlier, I’d never experienced death so firsthand. I became conscious of the limited amount of time people have and of the finality of death. My father and grandmother had both been remarkable people with long lives full of love and significant relationships. The more I thought about it, the more I realized: A baby inutero has the same potential. Just because we have the ability to cause conception doesn’t mean it’s OK to cause a death. To end a life before it has an opportunity to draw a breath suddenly seemed unjust, unfair and uncivilized.
Pro-Life to Pro-Choice
"I knew I could never give away a baby," Cate Nelson, 35, restaurant server; Harrisonburg, Virginia