Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nigerian Mother From Rape: My Son is the Sweetest Gift That Life Has Given Me! by Betty Esene

I was raped on my way to a professional exam.  After the incident, I kept telling myself that it didn’t happen and I had to move on.  I almost believed myself -- until I found out a month later that I was PREGNANT, then everything that happened came rushing back.  I hated myself, I hated what happened, and above all, I hated the baby.  My first thought was “ABORTION.” I was a young girl struggling to better my future and that of my family. ''The baby would ruin my hopes and aspirations for the future,'' I thought.  

I searched really hard for funds to sponsor my abortion, but couldn’t find any.  I even started taking some really dangerous drugs from when the pregnancy was 1 month to 7 months, but the baby just refused to die.  I thought of committing suicide a lot of times, but then my mum was seriously ill and I was of great help to her.

I kept my pregnancy a secret from my friends and family for 7 months.  I would usually hit my belly aggressively when alone and scream to the baby, “Just die or go away, but whatever  -- don’t come out through me!”  I was highly traumatized and depressed in silence and agony for 7 months before I told my family what happened.  I got support from my mum and a non-governmental organization (N.G.O) in my country – Nigeria -- and I had my baby.

It was a difficult labor, but the moment I held him in my arms I felt an inner peace.  Now I look at him and wonder how I could have ever rejected such a glorious blessing -- he is the most wonderful and sweetest gift that life has given me!  His smile gives a reason to be strong and move on with my life.  He understands my every mood and our bond is so strong! He is 5 months old now and I would rather be on the streets than give him up for adoption.  I don’t see him as a product of rape; rather, I see him as a child of Destiny.

People need to understand that God doesn’t send the rapist.  We all have our choice of behavior – free will, but rather God uses a painful situation to create something good – the baby.  I don’t judge a scared, young girl for wanting an abortion or for having an abortion because I almost did the same thing, but my point is considering the child as the victim's child and not the rapist’s, considering the child as a human with feelings and aspirations. 

Let’s face the truth:  the child shares no fault in what happened and has a right to live -- every child has a life to live, especially children born out of rape.  They have a great future and a maker – God -- who wasn’t stupid to have sent them down on earth.  They aren’t the rapist’s product, but the creative work of God.   He brought them for a purpose and to fulfill a destiny, just like my son!

BIO:  Betty E. is an event planner and make-up artist from Nigeria.  She’s also a member and blogger for Save The 1 – connecting with and encouraging other mothers who became pregnant by rape.
Friday, March 20, 2015

Our Eliana is Compatible With Life and Especially Love by Naomi Coy

Confused.  Upset.  Scared.  Angry.   These were my feelings when the high risk doctor from Riverside Hospital’s Maternal Fetal Medicine told me that my baby was going to die.  He told me she had Trisomy 18 and bluntly stated that she was, “incompatible with life.”  He asked my husband and I if we wanted to "terminate the pregnancy."  We politely declined.   He asked us again.  We told him no once more.  For a third time, he strongly stated that she was going to most likely die in my womb and there would be no reason to further the pregnancy.  Once again, we declined, but this time we added, “This baby is our child.  We just saw little arms, legs, fingers and toes on the ultrasound!  Just because she has an extra chromosome and a few abnormalities, doesn’t mean she is not our sweet, precious baby.  We are pro-life and you are not going to change our minds.” 
 Eliana made it to 33 weeks gestation before she had to be delivered due to her cord blood flow being reversed, which could have caused her to be stillborn. She was born December 5th, 2014. She needed help from the CPAP to open up her lungs (just like most preemies). She was transferred to Children’s Hospital due to her little heart having many unforeseen abnormalities.  Her cardiologist said, “Eliana’s case is the most complex I’ve had in my entire career.”
Originally, the Heart Center at Children’s Hospital denied her heart surgery, knowing that without it she would die. Her neonatologists told us that they’d give her narcotics, take her off respiratory support, let her pass in peace and allow her to “die with dignity.”  Up to that point, she had been low on her oxygen requirement and moderate on her pressure requirement.  She just needed a little help -- help which the medical community denied her. I contacted 8 different children’s hospitals around the nation.  A surgeon out of St. Louis, who is extremely Trisomy-friendly, offered to do the lifesaving surgery!  Once I told Eliana’s cardiologist that we were planning to transfer, he kicked things into high gear.  He took a surgeon aside and pleaded with him to do the surgery on Eliana.  He agreed! 
On February 26th, Eliana got the heart surgery she desperately needed!  She is doing very well and we are working with her neonatologists to get her home.  She still has many, many obstacles to overcome, but the fact is, we gave her the opportunity to fight.  We fought for her in the womb when she didn’t have a voice.  We fight beside her now.
Eliana loves to smile.  She loves to have her head rubbed.  She loves to stare and look all around.  She has a feisty personality which she gets from her mommy.  She has a stubborn will just like her daddy.  She is a child.  She has been discriminated against because of the number of chromosomes she has, but chromosomes should not determine the value of a life.
The PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT is upon us!  There is a worldwide movement forming.  Many organizations supported the Geneva Declaration on Perinatal Care which was presented in front of the United Nations on March 11th. This declaration will end terminology like “incompatible with life” and promote support for mothers to continue the pregnancy after a fatal diagnosis, such as Trisomy 18.   I urge everyone to join in the movement!
Abortion should be illegal because EVERY life, no matter how short, has value!  We don’t know how long we will have Eliana.  We are very thankful and grateful for every minute we have with her.  We believe she is completely compatible with life and most certainly compatible with LOVE!!
BIO:  Naomi Coy is a wife, mother and pro-life blogger for Save The 1.  She has almost 18,000 followers on her Facebook page, Eliana's Journey!
Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Father Was a Pretty Bad Man, But I Am a Blessing and Should Be Treated So! by Cindy Lambert

It’s hard to know where to start with my story -- I guess from the beginning.  I was conceived when my mom was raped by an encyclopedia salesman who forced his way into my mom’s mobile home, while my 3 year old brother was asleep.  He raped her, and then left.  She was in shock and didn’t know what to do.  She was on assistance and had a wonderful social worker, but was afraid to even tell her.

Approximately two weeks later, he returned around 11:30 at night.  He knocked and knocked, but my mom froze.   He proceeded to break in and she thought he would rape her again.  She told him that he WAS NOT going to do that again -- that he would have to kill her first.  They struggled over lights, and she was able to grab a hold of a phone and call the Police Department.  Incredibly, the Police told her that they couldn’t help her because she had to call the Sherriff since her home was out of the city limits.  

The rapist grabbed her by the neck and started choking her.  When she was slinking to the floor and no longer screaming, he suddenly ran out.  Shortly after that, the Sherriff did come, took her statement and looked at her neck.  They said they didn’t see any marks, then told her there was nothing they could do!  

She said she felt ashamed and alone.  She did contact her social worker, who instructed my mom to go to the hospital and get checked out, so she did.

A couple of weeks following, a Sherriff came to the office where my mom worked and spoke to her again regarding what had happened.   She said she sensed that he did not believe her.   But the following week, she got a call to come to the Police station to make an identity in a lineup.  The rapist was picked up on a drunken driving charge.   And YES, he was in the lineup.  The Police took his statement  --  shockingly,  it was identical to hers!  He confessed the whole thing.

My mom found out that she had become pregnant with me from this rape, and he was ordered to pay $10.00 a week in a Court Proceeding  --  until I was 18 years old.  She was later told that his family paid the weekly support, so as to not suffer more embarrassment to the family.

My mom’s Social Worker later informed her that the rapist was under suspicion, but not charged at that time, with a rape / murder of another girl prior to raping my mom, so my mom and I are both lucky to be alive.  She was also later told by her Social Worker that the rapist was in and out of the mental institution as a result of psychological trauma from his military service.

So that’s the story of my rape conception.  Mom and I did later in life talk about abortion and she said it was never a consideration.  She did, however, follow it up with saying “I always did want a girl -- good thing I was a girl.”  That kind of took me aback.

There is one thing I want to make clear:  I love my Mom with all my heart.  I know it wasn’t easy making the decision to have me and to keep me.  She had a very hard childhood.  She had an abusive father who drank heavily, and lost her mother to an illness when she was only 14.  Most of the memories my mother had for her own mom was of her being sick.  So my mother didn’t really have anyone to teach her things about life experiences.

My mom made mistakes and as would be understandable, she didn’t make good choices in men.  I was still a baby when she met a man twice her age – 32 years older than her who made her feel safe and took away some of the loneliness she had. He drank heavily and sure didn’t like me at all. He wanted his own little girl and I guess I wasn’t good enough.  Later, he got his wish and got his little girl -- my sister whom I loved so much. So growing up, my brother loved my step-father, and so did my sister, but I felt like the black sheep all the time.  Mom was afraid for me to be alone with him, so I had to stay hidden while she was at work.  On one occasion when I was a baby, my mom found him choking me until I had turned blue.  He eventually died of a heart attack, and our adoption was finalized two weeks later.  I was forced to take his name, which was another embarrassment for me.

When I was about 6 years old, I found out that I was conceived in rape.  What 6 year old knows what rape is? My cousin and her friends were talking about me, but they didn’t know I was under the table playing.  All I heard was that I came from rape and that the rapist got off by pleading insanity.  I ran to the bathroom and locked myself in.  I cried so hard thinking I must be tainted and really stupid, and that people are just being nice to me.  I know that sounds ridiculous now, but it hurt so bad at the time.  It was all I could reason for the way people made me feel.

My aunt came home and I let her in.  She hugged me and told me it’s ok and that one day my mom would tell me more when I get older.  All through school, I didn’t know what to say why I didn’t have a father. That was in the 60’s and it just wasn’t that normal. My mom had to work early in the morning in a factory and no one helped me get dressed or fed me. One teacher would hide me behind the easel to give me toast and orange juice.  I had no friends and I didn’t know how to socialize, so I played with myself.  I made up friends at home and most the time, I played like I was a teacher and everyone wanted to be my friend.

As I grew into a teenager, I wanted to know more, but I didn’t know how to tell mom that I already knew.  I was afraid she would be mad at me.  Mom and I started fighting a lot.  I did get to go to church, and I learned at a very early age that Jesus loves me always, no matter what, and that God was watching over me.  He gave me special people along the way when I needed them most.  I have never lost my faith; it was the only thing good in my life.

The one thing I really dreamed about was having a wonderful man who would love me -- really love me, and who would be my best friend.  One day when I was 11, I met this young man and I just knew he was to be mine.  How could this be, he was so cool and I was so young and plain?  I prayed for him to be mine every day.  I kept a diary and told all the silly things I did to get his attention.  Finally one day, when I was 14 and he was 17, Paul walked 22 miles in the hot country sun to my house to ask me to “go steady” with him.

I told him right away about my conception – that I never had a father and my mother was raped, and he never ever had a problem with it.  He says it only made him love me more.  God gave me a wonderful man and not just any man, but the one of my dreams!  He also gave me two wonderful sons who have made us proud parents.  It was July 3rd 1973 we started our life together, and with ups and downs like normal, we are still in love with each other and are best friends.   We dated for 5 years and have been married since 1978!

Even still, I fight moments of feeling insignificant.  I sometimes wonder if things would be different for me if mom had given me away to a loving family.  But in the end, I am who I am and God wants me to do my best in life and show compassion to those who need it when I can.

When I think about it, I feel like I am so lucky to have been given life, even though it wasn’t easy and happy all the time.   I know that I have to make my life count – to make God proud of me for giving me a chance at life.

I know my mom went through hard times too for me and she endured a lot of pain and loneliness.  I am glad to have my mother and to have known her all these years.  She couldn’t give me the nurturing I really needed growing up because she didn’t know how and it just felt uncomfortable -- I get that.  But I know she loves me and that is all I need.  I just have to work on loving me every day.  One wish I have would be that people would not look down on people like me because of how we were conceived, and that still affects me.

I never knew the man who raped my mother or his family.  It sounds like he was a pretty bad man, but I am a blessing and should be treated so.  I feel like pieces are missing in my life and I wish people knew how it hurts so bad sometimes because you can’t tell what causes you to be sad sometimes. But my mom always tells me, “Chin up!” When I’m feeling down.  And I know it’s hard to be down if you have your chin up!

BIO:  Cindy Lambert is a wife, mother, jewelry designer/crafter, and pro-life blogger for and member of Save The 1.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

10 Things I Need to Tell You Before You Choose by Elizabeth Reed

To my best friend,

We’ve been friends for years -- through breakups, through laughter, through tears, through margarita Tuesdays and hangover Wednesdays. We’ve laughed so hard at inside jokes that we’ve both been laying on the kitchen floor and getting weird looks from the rest of our friends.

About a week ago, I took you to lunch.  I brought two pregnancy tests with me because you were "late."  Despite the severity of the situation, we were standing in the bathroom -- of a Chic Fil A, no less -- the irony of this does not escape me!  We were laughing to each other, joking about something from work, waiting for the results to appear.  I reached for the tests, flipped them over to read the results, and saw the glaring plus sign.  I looked up to meet your eyes, and saw your fear.  The words “you’re pregnant” fell out of my mouth, and I saw their impact as they hit you right in the gut.  I almost wanted to throw my body in front of the words, as if they were a bullet, and absorb their impact for you.

That was about a week ago.  For the past week, I am the only one who has known your secret.  I’m the only one you’ve talked to about it.  I’ve held you while you wept.  I’ve gone with you to a doctor to confirm that you are, in fact, pregnant.  We have discussed all of your options thoroughly.  I know all of your fears intimately, and I know exactly what you have ahead of you.

It seems that you’ve made up your mind to "terminate" your pregnancy.  When you told me of your decision, I remained solid, wanting to be supportive and loving.  I wanted you to feel unjudged.  You told me you thought an abortion would be the best choice for you.  I hugged you and told you that everything would be fine, and that we would get through this together.

But I want to tell you some things -- things that are bursting within me, things that I NEED to tell you before you go through with having an abortion, things that you need to know before you make this decision, things which I don’t need to say just because I am pro-life, but because I am your best friend, and I can’t let you make this decision without you knowing these things.  So, before you go this Saturday to have your abortion, please know:

1.) You are strong.
I know that you have rebuilt your entire life more than once from total ruin. You have walked through fire and have come out stronger and better than before.  I envy your courage and your stamina.  I envy that you can laugh through things that you struggle with.  Your smile is beautiful because of the things you have been through.  Your eyes shine with courage and experience beyond your years.  You are one of the strongest women I know, and I know, without a doubt, that you ARE strong enough to go through an unplanned pregnancy.  The most anti-feminist thing I’ve ever heard is that a woman is not strong enough to go through a pregnancy which she didn't plan.

2.) I will be here for you.
No matter what it takes, I will support you, I will hold your hair when morning sickness comes; I will help you find pickles and ice cream at 4 am; I will help you consider whether you’d like to parent or place your child for adoption; I will throw you a baby shower; I will help you plan for the baby; I will help you pick out names; I will help you pick maternity clothes that don’t make you feel fat; I will make virgin margaritas and bring them over every Tuesday; I will show you pregnant tricks like tying a hair tie around the button of your too-small jeans so that you can still wear them because you’re not ready for maternity pants yet; I will hold you when pregnancy hormones make you weepy, laugh with you when they make you goofy, and share in your irrational outrage when the hormones make you a little loopy; I will help you choose a doctor you like; I will listen to your fears and celebrate your successes. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16  I will not leave your side through this entire process, nor will I leave after. My friendship and love for you are here to stay.

3.) You don’t have to choose yet. 
I know you feel that you’re not ready for the responsibility of a baby, and I understand your fears.  Let’s just take this one day at a time.  Once you decide that abortion is not for you, you have plenty of time to decide if adoption or parenting is the best choice.  You don’t have to make this decision yet.  But when you are ready for it, I will be here to help you process whether to parent or to place for adoption, like I did with my first child.  And I will help you reach out to an adoption agency and choose a family; or I will help you prepare a nursery and stockpile diapers and take Lamaze classes. The best way to handle a crisis pregnancy is to remove the crisis, not the child.  I know you feel a sense of urgency to make a decision, but stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and let’s just move one step at a time.

4.) You are important. 
I hear often from our pro-choice counterparts that pro-lifers only care about the baby, and that we don’t care about the mother at all.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  You matter.  You are important.  God has plans for YOU.  He has had you in the palm of His hand from before your birth.  He knew every breath you would take before you took your first.  He is jealous for you.  He loves you more than any love you’ve ever known.  He is not like men you have known.  He cannot disappoint you or lie to you.  He IS who He says He is, and He does what He says He will do.  He died a horrific death on the cross so that you could spend eternity with Him.  Life has not been a walk in the park for you to this point, I know that well.  But I know that life doesn’t have to be that way.  Life doesn’t have to be about hate and anger.  It doesn’t have to be about bitterness or revenge.  It can be about love.  It can be about new beginnings.  It can be about freedom.  There is freedom at the foot of the cross, hope resides at the opening of the empty grave.  There is grace.  Do not ever believe you don’t matter.  There is nothing you could possibly do, no sin big enough, to separate you from the great love God has for you.  He knit you together in your mother’s womb, He has called you by name and you are one of His children!  How precious you are to Him is beyond measure.  “…but God shows His great love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 

5.) Your baby already has a heartbeat.
Before you even knew you were pregnant, the baby growing in your womb had a heartbeat -- heartbeat which will probably be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard should you have an ultrasound.  Your baby also has measurable brainwaves, little arms and legs, little fingers, and even eyes and eyelids.  Not only does your baby have a heartbeat, but he or she has a purpose.  You may not have planned this baby, but God did.  And He has enormous plans for him or her.  The same love I just told you that God has for you, God has for the child growing in your womb.  He is knitting this child, YOUR child, together with His hands.  Do you know how painstakingly dull it is to knit??  How detail-oriented and love-filled that task is?  He lovingly and patiently takes the time to build our frame in the secret place and breathes His breath of life into our nostrils.  Life is such a gift!  You may not see it now, but you are blessed among women to be given the gift of life stirring in your womb.  I cannot put into words the wonder and joy that will fill you when you feel the first flutters of life in your abdomen or the awe that will overcome you when you look upon the face of your baby for the first time.  “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 

6.) Abortion isn’t safe. 
Please remember that this is by law your choice and that, no matter what, I will love you, support you, and be your friend; but also remember that abortion is not safe.  Women who have had surgical abortions have died, been rendered infertile, have had perforated uteruses, and suffered serious and debilitating depressions afterwards.  Women who have had medication abortions have suffered serious side effects as well.  As many as 491 women have died since the "abortion pill" became an option -- probably more still that have been unreported.  But hardly anyone talks about it. It’s not on the news, it’s not bragged about so that women like you and I can easily find it. The abortion industry doesn’t care about you as a person in the least. They claim to be champions for women and I’m calling "B.S.!"  They want your money and your silence.  I have talked to many women who regret their abortions, but I have never once spoken to a woman who says she regrets choosing life for her child.

7.) Adoption is loving and selfless.
Some of the arguments against adoption I’ve heard are absolutely preposterous, such as: “You made your bed, now you should lay in it" -- as if a child is a punishment for sex.  Children are not punishments. You are not being punished for a careless mistake.  God is not a mean bully with a magnifying glass, sitting atop an ant hill.  This child is beauty from the ashes of the way your life has been up until now.  There are 1.5 million couples in American waiting, right now, to adopt a child.  Now, I am not pushing adoption on you in any way, shape, or form, but please do not discount it and think that you *have* to choose to parent if you choose life for your baby.  If you don’t believe you are ready for a child, and feel strongly that someone else could provide a better life for your child, then please consider adoption.  It is such a selfless, loving choice which you won't regret.  And if anyone ever tries to tell you otherwise, I will show them to the door and present them with a pretty gift bag which will consist of strong words and a complimentary black eye!

8.) This is not the end of your life. 
I know, from experience, that this is scary.  I know just from seeing your face when I told you what the tests said that you are terrified to your very toes.  You carry the knowledge of your pregnancy like a heavy burden and you cannot stand up straight under the enormous weight of it.  You’ve probably prayed a few times for a miscarriage.  And you’ve probably felt guilty for praying such a terrible thing.  Darling, you are not alone.  I was in a crisis pregnancy once, and I’ll tell you a secret: I prayed the same thing.  You are not alone.  This is scary, it is overwhelming.  But, this will not break you.  This is not going to last forever.  This is not the end of your life.  Look at all that you have overcome. Look at the frightening hurdles you have jumped over with ease.  Looking ahead at them, you were terrified and thought maybe you wouldn’t make it, but looking back you see it wasn’t as hard as you imagined, and you overcame.  This is will be the same.  No matter what you choose, you will look back on this unplanned pregnancy as something you handled, overcame, and that has refined you into the woman you will become.  Do not throw in the towel.  Do not give up.  You can do this.

9.) You are not alone.
One of your biggest fears is going through this pregnancy, and raising this child, alone and without any financial/emotional help at all.  That is one of every woman’s biggest fears, unplanned pregnancy or not.  But you will not be alone.  There are government programs to help you with the costs associated with giving birth and prenatal care.  There are programs, churches, pregnancy resource centers, women’s groups, etc. which all are made for women in your situation.  I have tons of pro-life friends who have children, and would love to give you their gently-used items. They want to help you.  They want to support you during your pregnancy, and after the child is born.  During your pregnancy, they provide free or very affordable maternity clothing, free classes on maternity and parenting.  Should you choose to parent, they will help you get all of the items that you need for rock bottom prices or even for free in some cases; and should you choose to place your child for adoption, they will help you through this process and offer emotional support groups and free counseling to help you sort through your emotions afterwards.  Not only are all of these programs and people there to help you, but I am here to help you find them and navigate through them.  This process doesn’t need to seem so looming and scary.

10.) Your baby needs you. 
God is into details.  Nothing He does is by accident or coincidence.  He gave you this baby for a reason.  We can’t see that reason on this side yet, but we will.  Your baby has only one line of defense from the world, and it’s you.  You alone are the defender, protector, nurturer, and home of this baby.  Whether you choose to parent or place this child for adoption, your baby is counting on you.  Your childhood was not easy, as your friend I know this secret of yours.  But now is your chance.  Now is your time to break the cycle.  You have a choice to give your child things you never had.  You have a choice, right this very minute, to choose to love, to choose to live in victory, to break the chains of generational sin, and to become instead of just be. You ARE strong and courageous.  You are called to a purpose.  You are not called to have a spirit of fear.  Your baby is at the most defenseless and vulnerable point possible right now.  You are the only thing standing between your baby and a violent death.  I beg you, with everything within me, please reconsider.  I cannot make this choice for you, it is yours alone to make.  While I can't support a decision to abort, I will love you and support YOU no matter what you decide, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.  I have been in your shoes more than once, and at no point will I ever judge you for anything you feel because I have felt the same things.  I am confident that you can choose life.  I am confident that you are strong enough to handle the road ahead.  And I am confident that God will reveal a great purpose in this trial if you put your faith and trust in Him and choose life.  In Philippians 1:6, the Word tells us that ‘He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion’.  Your baby, and this pregnancy, are a good work.  And God will help you navigate this road.  You can trust Him.  You can trust me.  You can choose life.  You can choose Love.
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose LIFE, that both you and your children may live…” Deuteronomy 30:19 
Your friend who loves you and your baby.
By Elizabeth Reed, Executive Director of Georgia Businesses for Life. and pro-life speaker  and blogger for Save The 1, sharing her story of being a birthmother out of rape.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015

God’s Plan Trumps Murphy’s Law – Our Journey for Justice! by Robyn McLean

It all started with a text:    “Can you drive five hours to Santa Fe to testify before the NM Judiciary Committee on Friday?”

Rebecca Kiessling, a dear friend of mine and Founder and President of Save the 1 -- for which I am a pro-life speaker and writer, wanted me to go to a hearing on two bills being presented to protect unborn children which has exceptions of babies conceived in rape – exceptions not typically included at the state level in late-term abortion bans and parental notification laws.  Rebecca was conceived from rape, and so was my sweet son.  Therefore, we have an even deeper, personal passion in protecting other children coming from similar circumstances.
Earlier, I didn’t have much in the budget for a trip like that, but I had just received some income that week from my website-building business.  Rebecca was able to make the trip because a Facebook friend of hers whom she’d never met had donated the frequent flyer miles in response to Rebecca’s plea in a status update.  I said I was a “go” if I could bring my 4 year old son AJ and if she would be willing to fly into Denver, trek to Colorado Springs, and drive us down to Santa Fe, since I’m a stay-at-home mom and was uncomfortable doing the driving for a long, unfamiliar trip, especially with the snow we were expecting in Colorado Springs.  I knew the snow may be bad in town, but thought how bad could it be if Rebecca and I both from the upper Midwest?   Plus, the forecast for the rest of the trip was all clear – when we checked.
Our obstacles to take off for this cause started early on when I went to put gas in the car.  I didn’t know much about the car my husband and I just purchased, though he tried to tell me it wouldn’t drive as well as the other cars in snow.  Again, I thought, “Hey, I am from Minnesota and drive in crazy North Dakota weather conditions where we had high snow and icicles into May, so I can do this.”  NOT.  I discovered my car was not an option for even picking up Rebecca in Denver after snow was dumped on us and I crashed into a curb on a turn,  then got stuck on a hill where I had to be rescued by my husband.  So Rebecca needed to take the Colorado Springs Shuttle, and had to rent a car – which I said I’d split the cost with her.  Rebecca would have to make the 10:30 shuttle on a 10:04 arrival, or it would be another two hours.  Her flight was delayed 15 minutes, but the shuttle company said they’d give her until 10:45.  She just barely made it!
As it turns out, it was a good thing she didn’t plan to rent a car in Denver, because her credit card was lost and had her husband’s which wouldn’t suffice for renting a car!  My husband secured the rental with Rebecca as a driver, costing us all more of course.  When she arrived with the rental to pick me and AJ up, we got stuck in the parking lot – three times!  We were exhausted after much shoveling, pushing, ice-chipping, and grueling work, and we hadn’t even left the parking lot!"  More than two hours later than originally estimated, we finally hit the road.
Most of our trip was through blustery snow and extreme blizzard conditions.  We saw traveling vehicles in ditches and a few wrecks, so we took extra caution, finally arriving in Santa Fe at 10 p.m.,  after 11 hours of driving for Rebecca, when it should have been 7 hours in clear conditions.  Just four miles from the highway, there was not a single snowflake in Santa Fe!  We celebrated our arrival with Save The 1 Board Member Dyanne Gonzales and conceived in rape speaker/writer Rowena Slusser , both of whom are from New Mexico.  We made it!  If we had known what our journey would have been like, we never would had planned to go -- Rebecca definitely would not have flown into Denver first, but we knew in that moment that God had a plan for us to be there!  As it turns out though, there was a terrible storm in Albuquerque the next morning – highways closed, and Rebecca never would have made it 45 minutes away in Santa Fe if she’d flown into Albuquerque that morning – which she would have done if I hadn’t agreed to go!  The airport may have even been closed that morning.
So Friday morning, Rebecca had a radio interview on an Albuquerque Christian Station – KDAZ with Dan Rosecrans who said at the end of the interview – on the air -- that he felt that he and other pro-life activists and Christians owed Rebecca and others like her an apology for having been willing to compromise on the lives of those conceived in rape.  Before leaving our hotel, the concierge asked to take a photo of Rowena with her “Conceived in Rape/Incest – I Love My Life!” sign, telling us how moved she was.  Then we had an interview with a local newspaper reporter at the “Roundhouse” – New Mexico’s Capitol.  We could see how God was already at work!
AJ was over-stimulated at the Roundhouse, so Rebecca took me and AJ to the hotel to unwind, and I began looking into some type of child care for a few hours, so I could testify without him being uncomfortable sitting for several hours .  I was told we could possibly lose our spot in the hearing room if we had to step out.  However, the fees were prohibitive.   I prayed for a pastor's family, or someone connected in a similar way, who could watch AJ, and that he could have a fun time, not something boring, but something special.  Feeling a bit hopeless at the hotel about taking the grueling trip only to not be able to testify at the hearing, I made the decision to put it in God's hands -- everything that had happened was already a blessing, and I was just going to enjoy my time with AJ.  I knew He'd make a way if He wanted me to be there.  Not long after I prayed and put it in His hands, Rebecca called me and put a lady on the phone.  She kindly introduced herself -- a pastor's wife,  home schooling mother of four, and actively involved in children's ministries!  Whoa!  After talking a bit with her, I knew she was perfect and everything I was hoping for -- patient and sweet.  I told her that I had just pretty much prayed specifically for her.  With an exchange of the car set, she brought me to the Roundhouse and took AJ with two of her children for an amazingly fun time for him
While I was at the hotel, Rebecca and Rowena dropped off lit pieces with their stories off at the Governor’s office, as well as the bill sponsors, and had the opportunity to speak with the sponsor of the parental notification bill – Rep. Baldanado.  He said he doesn’t like exceptions, but that he wasn’t going to take them out because he felt the pro-life Democrats in the Senate wouldn’t approve the bill with them in it.  However, he did say he’d like to work with Save The 1 in the future to try to educate legislators on this issue more.  Then Rebecca asked if he would sponsor the model legislation from Hope After Rape Conception – to terminate the parental rights of rapists.  As it turns out, he sponsored such legislation last year, and introduced us to the Representative who was behind the bill and who had just re-introduced it this legislative session!  Rebecca and I got to take photos with Rep. Conrad James, she reviewed his bill, suggested tweaks to it, and the two of them are going to work together to have rape survivor moms there to testify so the bill doesn’t get killed again this year by legislators who don’t think it really happens – that rapists sue for custody or that rape survivor moms actually have their children, love them and choose to raise them!   So we just kept seeing God’s providence in having us there.
 After being seated with Rebecca in the hearing room, I was calm as the sweet pastor’s wife kept in touch, updating me on how AJ was doing --  enjoying a kids meal with her two children who he came to adore, and he was off to have more fun!  I relaxed and focused on what God had for me to say to these legislators.
But then, yet another obstacle:  we learned they made a list for those who were allowed to testify, which we were told was an unusual thing.  We were NOT on that list. Rowena has been warned to be quiet by a legislator after she testified a week prior, and things were said to Rebecca to suggest that she should not try to disrupt things by insisting that the rape exception be removed.  And now, it appeared that they were succeeding in silencing us before the committee.  But our new friend Lorenzo Espinosa – a no-compromise pro-life activist from New Mexico, leaned over to us and said, "This is New Mexico.  I got this!"  We didn't quite know what he meant by that – whether he would cause a scene, so we sat there awaiting the moment.  I just knew I was not accepting that we miraculously pushed through so many obstacles, close calls, and had very specific needs met, only to find out we were not able to testify.  Again, I just started praying.  I believed we were there for more, and I prayed God would create an opportunity! 
One member of the short list to testify was Alan Sanchez with the Bishop’s office.  We sat there shocked when he testified that it was moral and right for a Catholic legislator to vote for the bill with the rape exception because of EV 73 (Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae.)  Rebecca had just debated this issue with him by phone only a couple of hours earlier.  She told him about her radio interview with Cardinal Dolan on the Catholic Channel one month ago when he agreed with Rebecca, calling it “preposterous” to suggest that EV 73 justifies any legislator or leader to support a bill which discriminates against an entire class of persons.  But Alan Sanchez replied that he serves the Bishops in New Mexico and not Cardinal Dolan.  He refused to answer her hypothetical question of whether it’d be right – under EV 73 – for a Catholic legislator in Lebanon to support a bill banning abortion except in cases of Catholic babies.  It was extremely sad to watch a church leader defend discrimination.
 After the pro-life list of witnesses was completed, the bill sponsor explained that their expert witness was running late due to weather and would arrive in about 10 minutes.   Lorenzo immediately used this opportunity and stood up with a plea to the committee Chairman that Rebecca had traveled all the way from Michigan to testify, explaining that she’s a national pro-life speaker, leader and attorney.  He requested that she be able to speak while we waited for the expert witness, and the Chairman shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sure!”   I knew Rebecca wanted me up there, and so I frantically asked her, "What do I do?! Do I go up with you?" She motioned me to and whispered, “Come on!”  So, I follow her up there. 
Rebecca introduced herself, explained the mission of Save The 1, pointing to me as a mother from rape, and sharing her testimony of having been conceived in rape, but alive today because she was protected by Michigan’s law before Roe v Wade.  She explained why they should not discriminate, why children conceived in rape don’t deserve the death penalty, and urged them to amend the bill to remove the discriminatory exceptions.  Watch here.
The expert witness arrived before she finished, and I thought, "Oh no, I hope they let me speak!"  Rebecca finished, I stepped forward to speak into the mic, but the “gatekeeper” went to grab my mic, and I thought, “He’s not going to let me speak!”  Instead, he turned to me, smiled and said, “Here, let me adjust that for you.”  God’s providence again!
 I gave my testimony of having become pregnant by rape from an abusive relationship, and that I believed my son had just as equal value as any other baby worth protecting.  Democrats and liberals who know me, couldn’t imagine my life without him, see him as valuable and special, and wouldn’t wish his life non-existent.  I proceeded to say how much I valued all their lives were no matter their mistakes, circumstances, backgrounds, etc..  I ended with saying, "Your life has value, and so does my son's, no matter how it happened." Mission accomplished – our voices were heard! 
We sat and watched as the committee members debated the bill.  One Democrat pro-choice legislator pointed out the hypocrisy that the pro-life legislators were willing to compromise on the rape exception, but then he said something strange while looking at us – that this issue doesn’t poll well, and politicians care about polls.  Another surreal moment was when the bill sponsor explained to committee members that it would be unjust discrimination to have exceptions for babies with special needs – but he didn’t see his own discrimination!  Finally, they took the vote, and it was disheartening to watch them approve the late-term abortion ban, with the rape and incest exceptions included.
The sweet pastor's wife who watched AJ, treating him to a good time, came and got me after the hearing and brought us back to the hotel.  The others stayed for the hearing on the parental notification bill.  I tried to pay her, but she kindly and adamantly refused; she just wanted to help and bless us.  AJ gave her daughter a big hug after she brought up his car seat to our room. 
After the second hearing, Rebecca, Rowena and Dyanne were all treated to sandwiches at the Roundhouse by Lorenzo and his friend Alan.  Not only did further connections take place between them and several other pro-life activists and NM leaders, but Lorenzo's patron of his pro-life ministry, Alan, gave Rebecca an envelope with an apology note to her and others like her.  He was pro-life, but willing to compromise on the rape exception  -- until he watched the DVD with Lorenzo  the night before, “Conceived in Rape and Other Exceptions,” featuring Rebecca and other member s of Save The 1. His heart and perception changed that they were just as human and valuable as any other baby worth protecting, and he understood why compromise is wrong.
After giving Rebecca his apology note, he asked her, "How much was your car rental?"  He ended up coming back three times, asking about meals, the shuttle, gas, parking – ultimately covering all of our trip expenses!  Rebecca was so grateful – in tears as she told me of God’s provision!   Both of us were funding the trip with our own money, aside from the donated frequent flyer miles and the rooms being donated by Dyanne and her husband.  My expenses were going to come from what I had just earned that week.  I couldn’t wait to tell my husband, and to share this blog with you all – a story of seeking justice, sacrificing, speaking out, and relying upon God’s provision!
As we relished everything we plowed through and all that had been provided, we enjoyed a sisterly time back at the hotel, laughing well into the night.  In the morning, we had fellowship with Lorenzo, Alan and another friend of theirs, discussing pro-life strategy in-depth.  Rowena’s husband and children came to pick her up, and we had a nice time with them.  Rebecca filmed Dyanne’s pro-life testimony as she shared her story with all of us. We said our goodbyes, having had an incredibly bonding time of activism and fellowship.
Rebecca and I still had a long journey back.  The forecast was good, but we were low on gas, so backtracked south to a gas station.  Who happened to be in the car right next to us as we pulled into the gas station?  Dyanne!  Yet another providential moment.
We had clear skies almost all of the way back to the Colorado Springs airport to return the rental car, but my husband’s right tire blew out on the highway on his way to pick us up and he didn’t have a jack in my new car.  So Rebecca and I came to him, and he changed the tire with the rental car jack.  Were the obstacles finally over?  No!  The next morning, as we were taking Rebecca to the airport, she tried checking in on her smartphone, but the airline said there was no reservation!   She was worried the flight was overbooked.  At the airport kiosk, she got the same message.  But at the counter, her reservation was there – phew!
We had a wonderful trip full of obstacles, but filled with purpose, bonding, provision, and fulfillment.  It was like God’s plan was consistently overcoming Murphy’s Law!  Most of all though, this trip was made because we care about seeking justice and protecting all, and we know that we pierced the darkness and this is just the beginning of a shift in the pro-life culture of New Mexico.
BIO:  Robyn McLean is an inspirational speaker and writer on a wide spectrum, builds websites, and enjoys sharing coffee-time with people.  She is a wife and mother and resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Learn more about her, and her personal story of having become pregnant by rape at www.RobynMcLean.net, and stay connected on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/CoffeeWithRobynMcLean.  Robyn is a blogger and national pro-life speaker for SaveThe 1.