by Stephanie Logan
Though I was once ardently anti-abortion, my views have shifted. As I dared to step outside of evangelical dogma, I allowed myself to study things I would have never studied while still under the gaze of authoritarian preachers. When a person does that, they quickly learn that their preachers and teachers are not always completely honest. And I learned that abortion is one of those issues that evangelical leaders have not been completely honest about. I also lived long enough within the movement to observe that their drive to shut down all abortion has much less to do with their faith and ethic than it does with their considerable obsession with political power. The history of that has been detailed by researchers.
Through my 40 years in the evangelical movement, I have known those who are genuinely pro-life. They put their money where their mouth is. I have known good, honest, incredibly caring individuals who have adopted and been foster parents. But these people are very rare. Far more frequent in the church are those who might save their pocket change to support anti-abortion ministries or get on their soapbox and post to Facebook, but look down their noses at young single moms and complain (it would seem incessantly at times) about their tax dollars being used for SNAP, TNAF, WIC, Medicaid, “Obamacare”, public housing, and public education. In fact, I don’t know if I have been part of a church where condemnation of government social care wasn’t commonplace and often straight from the pulpit.
With the publicity of the recent SCOTUS ruling, public conversations about abortion and just what it entails have been more frequent and some may be questioning just what they helped put into play by behaving as single-issue voters. I know that I have been full of regret for my part after spending the first two decades of my adult life voting only for the GOP and only for candidates who vowed to do everything in their power to end abortion.
The recent publicity has also brought to the surface memories of women who have had abortions, miscarriage, and traumatic pregnancies of all varieties. The medical term for miscarriage is “spontaneous abortion” and it is believed that between ten and fifteen percent of known pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion. The percentage would be higher if it included those that occur among women who do not realize they are pregnant until later in term. Spontaneous abortion is traumatizing enough without the new stress that necessary medical procedures to treat it may not be available to all women or may require extraordinary and expensive travel to receive.
I have been reliving my own miscarriage during this time. Then, I didn’t realize that everything surrounding that event had the potential to be controlled by someone with no knowledge of me or my family or my health. It is unthinkable to me that anyone other than myself, my husband, or my doctor might have been able to direct the services I received while going through something that was heartbreaking, excruciatingly painful, and even life threatening. But my daughters will be in that position. Someone else may get to write the rules about how much their lives do or don’t matter and what is the exact point when a doctor will be allowed to treat them. If they’re allowed at all.
During my first pregnancy, somewhere between ten and twelve weeks, I began passing small blood clots and I knew in my whole being that I was miscarrying. I was young, married just about a year, and so excited to be having a baby. The pregnancy had been unplanned but that didn’t matter. Children were a blessing and only a blessing and I was excited.
That evening my husband came home from work and took me to the ER where they examined me and declared that I couldn’t be passing clots because my cervix was intact. That they couldn’t detect a heartbeat didn’t seem to concern them. They sent me home with suggestions that maybe I was exaggerating my symptoms. But early the next morning the cramps and bleeding began in earnest, and we returned to the ER where I was diagnosed with spontaneous abortion. After the nurse counseled me about having a heavy period and following up with my ob-gyn, we were sent home.
What happened as the day progressed was full labor that was comparable to the deliveries of my three children. Having no concept of what was happening to me, being unmedicated, and alone except for my husband, I went through excruciating pain (passing out at one point) and early on Sunday morning passed a fully formed fetus in the amniotic sack. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at.
It was approximately the size of the plastic fetus models anti-abortion protestors hand out. We put it in a sandwich baggie and placed it in the fridge. I had been advised to follow up with my doctor on Monday and to take any tissue with me. I now know that was because they would be checking to see if I was at risk for infection. My husband then called several friends to let them know that we wouldn’t be at church to teach our youth class and why.
The friends stopped by to visit on their way home. I was in and out of sleep on the sofa and so weak from the previous day’s ordeal that I couldn’t sit up let alone make myself presentable for guests. I was greeted with downcast faces and meek apologies and then the guests paraded past me to the kitchen where they looked at the fetus in the sandwich baggie like it was a museum exhibit. That is where the care and concern ended.
For the next couple of weeks, I received a few sympathetic comments but what I heard repeatedly from all the women I knew in the church was that miscarriage was their god’s way of taking care of those babies who shouldn’t be on earth because of their problems.
Did they realize that they were promoting their god as the great abortionist in the sky? I don’t think so. Instead, I think they viewed their comments as sound and compassionate explanations for why spontaneous abortion takes place. After all, it is so common that many women observe a twelve-week rule during which they tell no one they are pregnant because they may not be in short order. And because they believe life begins at conception, evangelical Christians need an explanation for why their loving god would allow such a thing to happen.
When I explained to commenters that I didn’t pass tissue but rather delivered a fetus, they attempted to comfort me with explanations that my body didn’t know what to do with a baby. However good their intentions, they were saying the problem was me and that always ran through my mind during my proceeding pregnancies.
Evangelicals usually believe that the Bible clearly speaks on abortion. And likewise, that it speaks of life beginning at conception. But, Christian friends, the Bible does not say what you think it does.
Is a heartbeat at six weeks gestation a heart beating and circulating blood through a viable living being, or is it stem cells that have differentiated into cardiac cells and begun to form a heart doing exactly what your cardiac cells would do if we scraped them from your beating heart and put them in a petri dish? Is the woman who carries a fetus with significant physical defects, that will keep it from surviving outside the womb, a murderer for choosing induction abortion at 36 weeks rather than carrying to term and waiting for natural contractions? Either way the delivery results in death. The exact same death. Is the woman burdened with miscarriage really to spend those hellish days of heartache and pain also fearing that she may develop infection and have to wait for her body to reach a sufficient stage of danger so that she can have the necessary medical care? Is the child who has been raped really to carry the fetus to term because your god wills it? Is the woman with an ectopic pregnancy really to chance death or irreversible internal scarring and sterility as my one time mentor did? Should the mother of four, who is diagnosed with cancer at 8 weeks gestation, really sacrifice herself to give birth and then die rather than abort and receive treatment for the disease? Are these things not heartless cruelty by every definition of the words? Are these actions just?
The evangelical church most often tells believers that abortion is about free sex and irresponsible people doing whatever they want and then “killing the babies” to avoid the consequences of their *sin*. They repeat that it is just the hatefulness of angry feminists who want freedom from men like their sister Eve. They discuss medical and biological things but most often with bias and too frequently without the clarity of truth. They claim it is all about god and ignore the history of the GOP and their political maneuverings. In other words, the church doesn’t tell the truth.
As someone who has walked both paths, I cannot tell you the mental torment I have suffered as I weighed just what the truth is. It has not been easy and is not something everyone has the time and desire for. So perhaps our best choice is to trust. To trust the pregnant person and their doctor as we would hope to be trusted with our own bodies and our own families. To take our feelings and opinions out of their decisions. Isn’t that the loving choice?
Does loving my neighbor as myself in this way make me apostate?
Former evangelical homeschool mom and one-time missionary and pastor’s wife, Stephanie Logan, aka Snicklefritz, writes from her life story and four decades of experience in the evangelical movement. Her views and stories are her own.
Copyright © 2022 snicklefritzchronicles.com
3 responses to “Pro-life Apostate”
Thank you so much for sharing this.
Love you Steph. I’m so, so sorry for your loss, and as I’ve said before, so, so grateful and proud of you for your openness and bravery. -Michele
It takes courage to tell stories like this, thank you.
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