Nearly 19 years ago, I met a man with a quiet strength I couldn’t ignore. There was something about his presence that made up for his lack of words, yet you hardly knew he was there until you paid close attention, and boy am I glad I paid attention. This man is my husband, and together we have nine children who have benefitted from his example.
Abortion has been in the news quite a bit recently, with state leaders passing varying laws and an ongoing public conversation with many people sharing their experiences. Here is a personal experience I would like to share.
It's hard to imagine that 42 years ago, this quiet strength was almost silenced forever when a frightened 17-year-old girl found herself in an exam room.
“She's farther along than I like, but it can still be done," were the words my mother-in-law, Holly Brown, recalled hearing the doctor say as she stared past him at the machine in the corner, never once making eye contact.
Young Holly was desperate, and wanted nothing more than to leave her life behind as a now-pregnant teen.
“I thought if I ran away I could leave life behind,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
After the exam, the assistant told her she could make an appointment at the front desk to perform the abortion. It was then when Holly felt something within that made her decision clear.
“I was suddenly struck by the realization that it wasn't just me anymore, it was us,” she wrote.
“No matter what choice I made, life was going to change, and there was another's silent voice that mattered. WE chose not to make the appointment. It was the silent voice of the now, father of nine children that screamed so loud I couldn't ignore it.”
This is just one story about a complex and divisive social issue. But the experience that my mother-in-law has shared has affected me deeply. I’ve imagined how scared she must have been. I’ve thought of how she must have felt for the choices she made. But more than that, I’ve thought of the silent voice that was too hard for her to ignore.
The presence of that baby growing inside my mother-in-law has remained quiet and strong to this day as a grown man. It's a reminder of how one life can touch others in unimaginable ways.