- Posted February 13, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Have you had an abortion?
Speaking for the Unborn
By Karen Holdren
It was 1972 and I was full of life and ambition. In just eight months or so I would
graduate from high school and pursue a college education—or so I thought. But like so
many young girls I had a high school sweetheart who also had demands on my life. We
were young and in love.
I look back now in the maturity of time and realize that I was also very naïve and wanted
to believe in this new found love. I accepted the statements he made such as, “If you
really love me it is ok to give yourself to me. And besides I don’t think I can have
children anyway because I didn’t get my last girlfriend pregnant.”
I chose to believe the deceptions rather than my own conscience. That is where the
I remember the overwhelming feelings that followed that winter of 1972. I was working
in an office at the S.S. Kresge headquarters as part of my senior co-op program towards graduation at the end of that school year. Excited about my senior year, the possibility of pursuing a degree in interior design and being the first of my family to graduate, I knew how proud my parents and grandparents were of my accomplishments. The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my family and certainly never hurt anyone.
But in spite of all this I began to feel very different in my body. My cycle wasn’t normal and in my mind I just knew that I must be pregnant. I remember rocking my tummy against the big office chair saying to myself, “Oh, no. I just can’t be pregnant. What would my parents think? My grandparents would be devastated.”
I am not sure if I was aware of home pregnancy tests or even if they were available back then, but I do remember the fear and the anxiety and the lonely feelings I had.
Never did any sort of pregnancy test take place. I told my boyfriend and fear resulted in his making a call to an agency in Southfield that performed illegal abortions. He made some arrangements, came up with the 200 dollars and drove me over to this little office located among others in a small medical building.
We waited in a waiting room. The receptionist called my name. I went forward and in a rather quiet whispering voice I remember saying, “Please don’t tell my mom and dad.”
Let me make a point of saying that one my age would have needed permission from her
parents to have her ears pierced back then.
I don’t recall receiving any sort of response from the receptionist but was asked to sign
my name and ushered back to this room. I don’t even think I had ever been to a female
doctor prior to this experience. They told me to undress and then I was to lie on this cold
metal like table with my legs straddled. I heard some sort of noise as they did something
with my body and a few words spoken between what I thin was the nurse and the doctor
and then was allowed to dress and leave.
It was all so quick and spontaneous that I can’t even tell you if I felt anything other than
numb all over. And I don’t even know if this was the result of medication or my own
Upon leaving a few things began to resonate in my mind and still do even today. One of
those resounding thoughts was that first question from my boyfriend asking, “Was it a
boy or girl?”
All I could say was, “Does it even matter?” At which moment I began to realize it was a
real baby boy or girl that was now gone.
Second, I saw this woman putting this black bag out in the back of the building. This was the most horrid feeling. I can’t even stomach the thought today.
Next I was treated to milk from McDonald’s. I took a drink and quickly discovered it was
sour. My boyfriend drove back through the drive through and abruptly tossed the open
pint of sour milk back at the lady working at the window.
Everything seemed to turn sour from this point. I remember standing in the driveway of
my boyfriend’s parents’ home as he proceeded to ask me, even though we had an
abortion, would I still marry him. Some proposal…huh?
What could I say? I felt the guilt of hearing I had just aborted a baby and now felt an
obligation to show that I loved this guy. It was all so cold and the feeling didn’t stop
here. I guess, after agreeing to marry him, he took me home to my mom and dad and my two younger sisters. I walked into my home and felt weak so I went right to my room. I immediately felt a sense of emptiness, extremely alone, ashamed and separated from
love. I especially felt a sense of remorse and thought God was angry with me even if my
parents didn’t know.
I felt that someone was hurt and it was probably God. I just didn’t want to hurt anyone and in the process hurt an innocent life, God and ultimately myself although this wasn’t totally revealed until many years later.
I remember keeping things to myself after this and really lost a lot of my light hearted
happy go lucky sort of personality. For someone everyone else knew as giggles, always
smiling and very upbeat, this was quite a contrasting nature to live with.
I did get married. I never really included anyone in the planning though. I silently
prepared to be a wedded bride. I remember how hurt my mom was that I went and bought a dress all by myself and made my own bouquet and decided that just our immediate family would attend a small church service without music. Their first born was not even going to have her father walk her down the aisle.
So to try to make them happy I had both of my parents walk me down that silent aisle to
be given away in marriage that seemed amiss to them.
My marriage was a difficult one of 21 years with several separations and finally a
divorce. During the first seven years I worked many overtime hours to keep us out of
debt as I married a man who had an addiction. I was so naïve that I didn’t even realize
this before we were married. I just thought he enjoyed smoking a little and what was the
big deal anyway. At least he didn’t drink and hang out at the bars. What a rude
awakening for a young bride.
Now I had to make sure that I didn’t expose this secret, too. I guess you could say I was
beginning to live in real darkness. I was forbidden to associate with most of my friends
of my past. I had to dress in flannel shirts and wear only pants, no dresses as this could be too revealing and make sure our blinds were always closed so as not to allow others to see in.
By the way, my husband was now employed where I was and kept a tight watch on me,
that is until he was fired. Shortly after this I remember waking up to what felt like our
bedroom spinning and everything appeared black. I thought maybe I was pregnant and
having morning sickness or something. I never went to a doctor. An appointment was
made at that same clinic over in Southfield and I was taken for a second abortion.
I really don’t know if there was ever a baby. Again, no pregnancy test was ever done.
But I guess that is beside the point now. I remember watching cousins have babies, friends excited about their pregnancies and going to baby showers trying to hold back the tears that just wanted to flow. I would tell people that I guess God just doesn’t want me to have a baby or that we were waiting until the time was right. Whatever would appease others to stop them from asking was what I wanted. Besides, if I did become pregnant it would be a deformed baby or I would lose it through a miscarriage or something devastating would happen.
I really did tell God that I didn’t deserve to have a baby and I didn’t blame him if he was
angry with me. I never wanted to hurt anyone and I was angry with myself. I felt so
unworthy and remorseful.
Eventually, after seven years of holding in this ugly secret, I broke. Yes, literally, I had a
nervous breakdown, was hospitalized, left my dysfunctional marriage and released my
deep dark secrets to my doctor and eventually shared with my family.
Through this process I experienced a real depression of hellish proportions, one that I
would not wish on even my worst enemy. This is one reason I am desperately wanting to save or help others restore the hurt and pain that abortion brings.
God in His infinite mercy spoke words of comfort to me. He even allowed me to hear the
reassurance that He does not condemn.
I began to learn of a God who came to forgive us, save us from the consequences and
condemnations of our own doings or those of others imposed upon us and that he
provides healing and restoration to our lives.
I remember another significant moment that had tremendous impact on me. I couldn’t see a way, even in my recovery through depression, to forgive myself of the act of abortion as I was one who loved life, especially little children. I could not believe that I allowed myself to take part in such a horrible deed, but my mother, a sweet woman that she is and always seeing the best in others, said to me, “Karen, are you better than God?”
I said, “What do you mean, mom? Of course I am not better than God.”
She said, “Well, then, if God can forgive you, you should forgive yourself also.”
WOW! That was the most thought provoking statement my mother has ever spoken to
me. It took time, but through her God given words I was able to recover. Now I didn’t
say forget all that happened, but forgiveness was made possible.
Through my recovery process and the forgiveness of God I know I am called to share
with you today. Let me explain why I feel so strongly about this.
Last August of 2008 my husband, Paul, of about two and a half years, another complete
story of God’s restorative blessings, received word of a gathering in Washington, DC for
“The Call”. We felt a driven desire to attend, which honestly, every step of planning was
a confirmation that we were truly to be there. We just knew we were being called to
attend although we didn’t actually know why we were going to, except to pray for our
nation. This is something we definitely feel a commitment to.
So many powerful experiences took place as we gathered with thousands of people in
DC. But the one I will focus on for this moment is related to my sharing with you.
I became aware that this gathering, in part, was a result of a movement from the past
several years to end abortion in our nation. A friend and recent re-acquaintance of my
husband, Pastor Blake and his family, worked at a table that provided red tape with the
words “Life” written boldly across each piece for anyone to take and wear as a symbol of sanctity for life.
Many would wear the tape as a reminder of the silent cry of the unborn baby.
No one there knew I had gone through an abortion. I really didn’t have any connection
with all that was taking place. This was all very new to my husband and I as we thought
we were there to pray for our nation.
I learned about the organization called Operation Outcry when I was drawn to see why all these baby shoes were spread across the lawn in front of the White House as part of this day for “The Call”.
It was a very touching experience to see a 1000 or more, little pairs of shoes, socks or
booties laid out across the lawn. Many had a little tag attached to express a parent’s love for a child that they had aborted and now wanted to show some sort of restitution for.
I began to ask questions and found out about Operation Outcry. One lady wearing a t-shirt that said, “I am one of the million voices breaking silence,” shared her testimony
and how she was involved in helping other women overcome the pain of their past. I was very touched by this.
Following this conversation I again joined with the 750,000 people gathered that day. As
we knelt on our capital’s lawn between the Washington Monument and the White House
I, like so many others, felt this awesome sense of peace that even the air surrounding us breathed of it.
As we wept tears of repentance and love for our God and our nation, the words that came to my mind were, “You are watering the seeds of restoration for our nation.”
This alone was an awe moment, to open my eyes and realize the multitude weeping for
our nation and all of its sin and then praying deeply for God to restore us as one nation
under God. I was utterly humbled to be part of this great movement.
Then God spoke to me, “Remember, you said you would stand in front of a nation for this cause.”
I thought, what cause?
And then it hit me! I recalled 28 years ago how in my repentant moment asking God to
forgive me for having an abortion or abortions that in the midst of my cry, I told the Lord
I was so appalled by the legalization of such an act—to take the life of the unborn—I said I would confess this awful sin to the whole nation if I could. I wanted so badly to change the course of what happened to me and what was happening to other women and babies.
Little did I know that 28 years later on the lawn of the White House God would give
these words back to me.
I immediately thought, oh God, what do you want me to do with this? I can’t just go
busting through a crowd of people and stand before them to tell them my story. Besides,
no one would even let me get up close. They would probably arrest me for being some
crazy woman in the crowd.
Then fear set in. What if family of someone I knew became aware of what I did? What if
a parent of one of my students knew I had an abortion? What would Pastor Blake and his family think of me? They just met me.
The fear was beginning to take over again as if the past was there to haunt me. Then I
looked up and there to my left about 20 feet away was this huge—and I do mean huge—banner that was in-scripted with the words from Scripture saying, “Do not be afraid.”
I felt God speaking directly to me as if to say, “It was fear that took hold of you in the
past. Do not be afraid, Karen. This is your opportunity to overcome fear.”
I was flooded with thoughts of what to do. I tapped my husband asked him to move a
ways away from the crowd for a moment because I had something I had to share with
Upon sharing what just happened to me he asked, “What do you want to do?”
I at first said, “I don’t know.” But shortly I knew and took him back to the place of the
He asked me if this is what I needed to do.
I said, “Yes, maybe,” but there was more. I needed to stand with these women who were being silent no more. I needed to go up on that platform in front of this nation and stand up for what is right.
He wanted to know how I was going to do this.
I said I actually did not know, but I would find out.
So through a driving desire I got through to the head of this organization and literally
begged for the chance to stand with the group from Operation Outcry. I was humbled that God would speak to me and then allow me to actually go before a group of people in front of our nation to stand against abortion, to stand up for the pain of thousands of
women in our nation who are still suffering today and to take a stand for the sanctity of
All of that was a powerful God moment in time. But that is just the beginning, as I feel
The Call in D.C. called me to not just stand silent, but to cry out for such a time as this.
Thus, Operation Outcry is an operation I am choosing to undergo. May this organization
help stop the operations that take lives and give back the restorative life that God intended for all of us to have. And may I be given the privilege and courage of using my
life story as a testimony of his desire for life and life abundantly.