Hillary Clinton is not a baby killer.
But I am.
I took the life of my child.
It was not a decision I made callously or flippantly. Not the murdering part, I mean. The decision to get pregnant in the first place was absolutely a callous and flippant decision. I’ve written in great detail about that abortion in the memoir about my father’s death – After the Flag has been Folded (William Morrow).
There are many reasons why I thought I wanted to get pregnant, but the most compelling one was that I was desperate to be loved and cherished by someone. In my convoluted and wounded way of thinking, I figured if nothing else it would be me and that baby against the rest of the world. I wasn’t trying to trap a fellow into marrying me as much as I was trying to trap a child into nurturing me.
It’s okay that you don’t understand my rationale at the time. I lived it and I barely understand it. A year or two after I killed my baby, I read in a sociology journal that fatherless girls are more likely to be promiscuous. That’s the academic code word for the more commonly used trailer park slut phrase.
I might have qualified for the latter if I hadn’t been such a good Christian girl.
I was 12 the first time two guys asked me to have sex with them, begged me, really. My father had died two years prior and our family life had become completely unstable as a result of that death. (My sincere apologies if this sounds like justification for bad behavior to you. I am not excusing my behavior. I killed a baby. A baby with a beating heart and a developing brain and tiny little feet.)
My baby was 12 weeks old when a suction abortion ended his/her life.
I didn’t feel the full weight of that murder until I gave birth many years later to a son. I wept for hours. Not out of joy, though there was some of that, but primarily out of sheer recognition that I took a life, a precious life. I killed my baby.
My children, grown now, some with children of their own, know about how I killed their half-sibling. They’ve forgiven me for that. My children put up with a lot with me for a mother.
My own mother had to sign for that abortion. That was the law at the time in Georgia. Roe vs. Wade had only been in effect for a very short time. There was only one doctor in my hometown who performed abortions. He was a hippie doctor from Montana.
Mama always felt guilty about that, signing for that abortion, although it had been her suggestion when she first learned I was pregnant. She, who had been pregnant when she married, didn’t want me that for me. So the nurse in her urged me to get an abortion.
But then my brother called from Oregon. He told Mama that having an abortion was murder and he didn’t think I should do that. Yes, the very same brother who had created havoc in our household for years, was urging us to do the God thing: Keep the baby. So Mama, who always regarded my brother’s insight over anything her daughters said or thought, changed her mind. She didn’t want to sign the papers. She wanted to keep the baby and raise it as her own.
I refused. Outright refused. Why would I let you raise a baby of mine considering you haven’t been here for me? I hurled those words in anger at the mother I had been positioning with for years.
I had intended to keep the baby, raise it myself up, until my brother got involved.
That I murdered my baby is not my brother’s fault. He was trying his best to be a good big brother. I know that. I love him for that. But ours was a messed up family at the time. There was so much brokenness, so many unspoken hurts, so much unresolved grief. We were all just trying to survive the best way we knew how.
But once Mama rescinded her advice to get an abortion, an abortion was what I knew was the best of the wrong things to do. I could not let my mother raise my baby and no one was advising me to give up my child for adoption. It was never a serious conversation or even one in passing.
You may be thinking you don’t need to know all this stuff about me. I wish I didn’t have to bring it up. But certain social and culture events have led me to this place of writing about a subject that is hard for the both of us, you and me.
Before dismissing me as having been a selfish and spoiled 17-year old, you should know I was none of those things. Ask anyone who knew me in those days. Up until the Fall of 1973, I was a good Christian girl. I went to church three times a week, some weeks more. I read my Bible everyday, prayed about everything, prayed for my whole family all the time. I was a good daughter, often helping my mother around the house. I could fry up a whole chicken to perfection by age 11, and fold hospital corners on a bed. When I was 14, I was tucking my very inebriated mother into bed one night when she reached out, stroked my face and remarked, “Sometimes I don’t know who is the mother here – me or you.”
To this day, I count that as one of the most tender moments my mother and I ever shared. She died in 2012 after a battle with lung cancer. I miss her more every day.
Last week, I was in Alabama and got to witness a Jubilee. You can read about that Jubilee here.
As I stood on that pier and watched all those baby catfish float to the surface, grasping for air, and all those birds feeding, happily, I was reminded once again that I live in the place of juxtaposition.
That inbetween place.
That is to say, as far as I know Hillary Clinton has never had an abortion, never killed her own child. Yet, every single day Hillary Clinton gets accused of killing babies. I have family members who will happily post a meme on their Facebook page accusing Hillary Clinton of murdering babies and yet, they will be completely uncomfortable that I have publicly confessed to the murder of my own child.
The very same people who say to me “God has forgiven you for that” will publicly crucify Hillary Clinton for taking a pro-choice stance.
In their convoluted way of thinking, they will hold Hillary Clinton accountable for the murder I committed.
Last week’s Jubilee came on my very last morning in Alabama. I sat on the steps of that pier and watched mesmerized as terns and pelicans fed joyously, happily on all those baby catfish dying. One animal’s feasting the result of another animal’s sacrifice.
I wept out of sheer amazement to be privy again to a Jubilee and because I understood all too well the joys such a sacrifice can lead to.
To be clear, if you don’t understand yet, I consider abortion murder. I know that I killed my child. I may not have understood that at age 17 and 12 weeks pregnant, but I certainly came to understand it after my son and three daughters were born.
But if you ask me if I regret my decision, the answer is that I regret ALL the decisions that led me to that hurting place. But I know that if I had not had that abortion, I would not be here in Oregon, would not have the husband I have, the four children I have, the three grandsons I have.
I sent my sister a note today: You do realize, don’t you, that if I had not had that abortion, not only would I not have had the family I have, you wouldn’t have had the family you have, either.
If I had allowed my mother to keep the baby, as she suggested, I would have been pregnant when I graduated high school. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t have even graduated high school because in those days, in that place, visibly pregnant girls were not allowed to attend public school.
I wouldn’t have given birth until three months after graduation. I doubt my mother would have ever left Georgia had I let her raise my child. She certainly wouldn’t have taken off cross-country within a few weeks of my graduation from high school the way she did.
Those of you who really know me, know how much God has blessed me with a loving husband, who is kind and full of mercy, a man who knows this whole story, who knew it from the get-go of our dating life. Those of you who know my children, know how much faith is the cornerstone of our lives, individually and collectively.
God’s response to me murdering my baby was not punishment or judgment or condemnation. He pulled me into his loving arms and has showered me in adulthood with the family I missed in my childhood. He just said, “Come here, honey’ and he embraced me.
I wish so much that my senior year of high school had gone differently. I wish I hadn’ t gotten pregnant. I wish my mother and I could have found our way through all that hurt sooner, easier. I wish all that hurt hadn’t been there to start with. I wish daddy had come home from war in something other than a shiny silver casket.
But that’s not what happened.
Life and death are messy.
God helps us through the chaos we create.
When Liberty University and Dr. James Dobson and Franklin Graham Jr. came out and endorsed Donald Trump for president, I knew there was one underlying reason for that endorsement – Trump promised to appoint to the Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Donald Trump is one of the most reprehensible people to ever run for president. He is a bully. He is hateful. He is a bigot. His rhetoric is dangerous. His primary form of communication is hate speech. These aren’t empty claims I’m making. Every day the newspaper and the television are full of evidence of his hate talk. Even he stood before the Republican National Convention and told the evangelicals who endorsed him that he didn’t think he really deserved their support, given his behavior.
Donald Trump is emotionally and mentally unfit to be president. Yet, this man has received more grace from these evangelical leaders than any hurting 17-year old pregnant girl is ever likely to. Albeit, mercifully, not everyone in the evangelical community has jumped on the Trump campaign wagon.
Consider these remarks from Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention: “When you have someone who is standing up race baiting, racist speech, using immigrants and others in our communities in the most horrific ways and we say ‘that doesn’t matter’ and we are part of the global body of Christ simply for the sake of American politics, and we expect that we are going to be able to reach the nations for Christ? I don’t think so, and so I think we need to let our yes be yes and our no be no and our never be never.”
Can’t I get an Amen? Thank you, Southern Baptists, the Rose Hill church of my childhood.
Donald Trump is the most unfit person to have ever entered a presidential race. Yet, too many Christians are supporting him in a collective bloc because they believe him when he says he’ll rescind Roe vs. Wade. (He won’t but that’s another discussion for another day.)
As I told my sis, if I had been denied the right to an abortion, my life would be so much worse than it is today. I would have most likely been a single mother dependent on the very taxpayers who took away my right for an abortion, to help support me and my child.
In no way do I mean for my journey to be a prescriptive for other young girls. Avoid abortions. Killing a baby is a terrible form of birth control. There are lasting consequences. Perhaps not all the wrath and judgment that Dobson and others want God to rain down on women, but certainly there is a lingering sense of loss.
See what I mean about living in the juxtaposition? I am who I am today because I killed my baby. I am both grateful for the life I have, and traumatized by the death that allowed me to arrive at this place in my life.
Yet, God has extended far more grace to me than I deserve, and far more grace than men like Dr. James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham and many evangelicals are willing to extend to women like me. These men have traded away their core beliefs to support a candidate who clearly stands in direct opposition to all that Jesus stood for, and they are doing all this for the power of dictating to young girls and women a life void of grace.
Hillary Clinton is pro-choice. That doesn’t make her a baby killer. So save me the hyperbole.
Should people feel the want to call somebody a baby killer, come see me.
I’m the baby killer.
If anyone deserves all that harsh judgment that leads to all those ugly memes and hate-talk, it’s me. Not Hillary Clinton.
I can handle the condemnation and judgment because God and I, we don’t keep secrets from one another.Besides, I know God is nowhere as near as hateful as Donald Trump.
God has never once talked down to me the way Trump talks down to nearly everyone.
Karen Spears Zacharias is an author and a Gold-Star Daughter and a praying woman who always bets on a better future and those candidates who speak to our better selves and not our worst fears.