Thank you to Catherine Nutter for submitting this testimony.
I graduated from college in April of ’95. I married in May of ’95. I was pregnant by June of ’95. That June evening when the home pregnancy test registered “positive,” my husband and I were stunned.
Starting a family so soon had not been our plan. Although I had just graduated, my husband still had another semester to go. We didn’t have health insurance at the time–the health plan that we followed was the “Just-Don’t-Get-Sick” plan.
Despite our lack of insurance, I really wasn’t worried that night. I was, after all, a 23-year-old married woman with a college degree. I could handle anything! I started thinking about the steps I would need to take in order to get through this pregnancy. Before I went to sleep, I felt comfortable that I had a strategy.
I pictured the Planned Parenthood building in my mind that I had driven by every day for the past three years on my way to Western Michigan University—the one situated just on the campus’s border with the giant orange three-foot lettering on its roof. Planned Parenthood, I thought. They help you plan for your up-coming parenthood. I knew that they would be the perfect resource to help me prepare for my prenatal care and delivery.
The next day I woke up almost feeling excited. I had practiced dozens of times what I was going to say to the worker at the clinic when she answered the phone. I dialed the number and light-heartedly spoke my rehearsed lines: “Hi. I just found out I’m pregnant. I’m married and have my degree, but I haven’t gotten a job yet. I’m keeping the baby. I just need to know who to call for help.”
A voice on the other end of the phone said plainly, “We don’t do that here.”
I was confused by this reply. “What don’t you do there? I’m pregnant and I need to know who I should call.”
The voice said again, “We don’t really do that here. We don’t give out phone numbers.”
Understanding her meaning now, I blurted out, “Isn’t this Planned Parenthood? Aren’t you supposed to help people plan to be parents? And you can’t give me one single number to call?” I slammed down the receiver.
I ran into the bathroom, feeling the panic starting to well up in my chest. I looked at my reflection, hoping to see a grown-up looking back at me. She wasn’t there. She didn’t look back. Instead, I saw a confused girl who had reached out and had just been told that the place with the most logical name to find help wasn’t in the business of “help” at all.
Through tears of frustration, I watched myself in the mirror. I visualized a single word hanging above head. It was so strange. As soon as I realized what the word was, I gasped, and feeling a surge of guilt, pushed it out of my mind. Abortion. I couldn’t believe that I had even thought the word. I knew that that was not really an option for me. I’d been taught differently than that–which made it clear to me to whom my next phone call should be.
“Mom?” my voice sounded weak to my own ears. Before I uttered another sound, my mom announced, “You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”
I told my mom about my inability to take care of the prenatal arrangements on my own. My mother was angry to hear how Planned Parenthood had failed me. Then she said very calmly but with urgency, “Catherine, call Michigan Right to Life.”
Right to Life? Was she serious? What were they going to do? My perception of that group was that they were only interested in organizing protests and other large-scale political stuff. However, my mom had never steered me wrong and she is pretty brilliant, so I pulled out the phonebook and found Right to Life’s number.
As the phone rang, I practiced my lines again. I was in no way hopeful about the call. A voice answered, and I wearily stated my memorized script: “I just found out I’m pregnant. I’m married and have my degree, but I haven’t gotten a job yet. I’m keeping the baby. I just need to know who call for help.”
The first thing the woman on the other end of the line did was congratulate me—both on my baby and on my choice to keep it. Then she said I should grab a pen because she had a lot to tell me. She did have a lot to tell me! She got me all set up with information about which clinic to go to and how to get a doctor, Medi-caid, and WIC. It was so easy. Right to Life had done all the legwork for me—all I had to do was ask!
My pregnancy went smoothly. My son arrived in perfect health the following March. I see now how the birth of this remarkable person has been the single most important event of my life. The love of a parent for a child is unique–people who are parents know what I mean. Parents learn how to love their children unselfishly and without limit. A father or mother would willingly give up his or her life to ensure the safety of a son or daughter.
Consequently, a deepening of my relationship with God has grown from the blessings of parenthood. I understand more fully the immeasurable intensity of Love that God the Father must feel for us, His adopted children. I understand more clearly how it is that the Son would be not just willing to give up His life for us but actually eager to do so—no matter the pain He endured for us—no matter the ingratitude he receives from us still. Furthermore, I understand more clearly the nature of the human person created in God’s image. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit exist in a communal relationship with a radical exchange of Love among them. In ways similar to the Trinity, the members of my own family, being made for relationship with one another, also experience an uninhibited love and a willingness to sacrifice for one another without qualification.
My heart breaks for young women not as lucky as I was. When faced with the prospect of an unexpected pregnancy, other girls on or near campus must have called Planned Parenthood with the same hope for help that I had, only to hear that “hope” is not something that they “do” there. The proximity of that building so close to campus with its ugly orange letters makes a lot more sense to me now; it is a very convenient location. Tragically, when a woman aborts her baby, she loses the opportunity to experience one of the Father’s greatest lessons in Love—the desire to give yourself totally to another.
“Almighty God, our Father, Give us the grace, When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, to stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life.” – taken from Prayer for the Unborn Child
Right to Life of Michigan offers a page on our website dedicated to connecting women facing an untimely pregnancy with local agencies in their areas than can offer counseling, adoption or support. More than 150 prolife pregnancy help agencies in Michigan are listed there. We also have a 24/7 hotline, 1-800-57-WOMAN, that connects women with local help agencies.