I’ll call her Barbara. That isn’t her real name, but every other fact of her story is true. Barbara is the first person who ever confessed to me that she had willfully taken the life of another person.
I was a very young pastor when Barbara came to see me. She didn’t look like a killer. She had a ready smile, stylish short brown hair, and always looked like she had just stepped out of the pages of Dress for Success.
Barbara was a doctor, with a flourishing private practice. Still in her early 30s, she commanded a respect in her community which made her the idol of many other young women. Little did anyone suspect the secret torment she harbored in her soul.
I was not Barbara’s pastor, which is one reason she chose to make her confession to me. She was very active in her church in a neighboring city, but said she just could not bear to tell her own pastor. Perhaps he would be understand and forgiving, but she wasn’t sure she could handle her own emotions in having to face him again every Sunday, knowing that he knew of her great sin.
It had happened seven years earlier while she was a medical student. Becoming pregnant had definitely not been a part of her plans. When she learned she was expecting a baby she had already broken off her relationship the young man who would have been the father. Barbara’s decision to have an abortion was her own. No one ever knew but she and her doctor.
Barbara did have some reservations before she took the life of her unborn child. But she had her career to think about and she had consoled herself that it was perfectly legal. Barbara told me that for a couple of years she thought little of the abortion. She expected to soon forget completely about it. She was wrong.
As a doctor Barbara was committed to healing and saving human lives. Through her practice of medicine she had not been able to escape the irrefutable evidence that human life begins at conception. Many times after a long day of caring for her patients she would find herself going home and crying herself to sleep because of the hypocrisy from her past that came back to haunt her.
It was not only the conviction that came from her medical knowledge that troubled Barbara. Shortly after setting up her medical practice she began to attend a local evangelical church. At first she attended because she thought it would be good for business. In the process she had been convinced by the claims of the gospel. Barbara had asked Jesus Christ to become the Lord and Savior of her life. As she began to study the Bible she realized that God’s word confirmed her medical conclusions – abortion is murder.
When I hear that 26-million abortions are performed somewhere in the world every year, 126-thousand of them every day, that is just a statistic. But when a young woman like Barbara sits across the room and sobs as if her heart is breaking, several years after the fact, it is a personal tragedy.
Barbara’s story should remind us of the hidden victim (or victims) behind every abortion – those who must deal with the guilt of taking the life of the most innocent and helpless. Barbara didn’t need condemnation; she needed to be reassured of God’s love and forgiveness. Through prayer and counsel she left my study that day with her burden lifted.
My prayer is that while Christians denounce the terrible sin of abortion, that the forgotten victims will also be remembered. May God help us to hate sin while we love the sinner. Jesus’ words to a sinful young woman are still applicable to all: “Nether do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”