How One Conversation Made Me Pro-Life

Survivors: The author's brothers in 1989.

In several previous articles for Live Action, I have alluded to the fact that I used to be pro-abortion, and fairly recently. The conversation that convinced me that abortion was wrong occurred in the fall of 2006. Before that day, I would have told anyone who asked that I was pro-choice. I was never involved in activism, unless you call giving the middle finger to pro-life protesters as I drove by abortion clinics “activism.” In fact, I never really gave abortion much thought. But in political debates — in which I frequently engaged — one of the accusations I liked to hurl at the opposition was that they were “anti-choice.”

I have a clear memory of looking for a website one day when I accidentally typed the URL incorrectly, and instead of the shopping site I was looking for, I ended up at a pro-life website with a large, graphic photo of an aborted fetus on the title page. I remember feeling disgusted… by the pro-lifers. This emotional reaction is mystifying to me now, although I felt it many times myself and have witnessed it in others. Confronted with a jarring photo of the violence of abortion, the pro-abort does not feel sadness or horror for the child, but anger at the pro-lifer for offending him. They simply do not see the baby. They see only their own opinion, assaulted.

There are exceptions to this, and I’ll get to them.

I knew girls my age — mid to late twenties — who’d had abortions. When they told me about them, I reacted with what I felt was the requisite nonchalance, but inside I always felt a little horrified. I did not have children — I still do not — and had never tried to, but I also knew that no matter how poor, lonely, or desperate I was, I could never abort my child. And I have been poor, lonely, and desperate. In my mind and heart, I understood babies to be sources of joy.

My mom was a 27-year-old mother of two working in the food service industry when she became pregnant. Her boyfriend, upon finding out she was pregnant, surprised her by taking off and never coming back. Then the sonogram surprised her by revealing two heartbeats. That’s right: twins.

She considered abortion briefly, in a moment of panic, but not seriously. She says she thought about it the way you sometimes think about doing something you know you’ll never do. It was a momentary fantasy born of desperation, but it was never an option. She credits prayer with getting her through the next few years until she met the man who would become my brothers’ father. My mom has a strong will, and she was determined to be positive. She put a magnet on the refrigerator so she would see it every day. It said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” I remember it being there for years.

When the twins were born, she could no longer work 60+ hours a week as the manager of a fast food restaurant. My grandparents helped some and I, at nearly nine, was a built-in babysitter and diaper changer and entertainer. Now my mom was 28 with a nine year old, a seven year old, two infants, no job, and a GED.

I never remember being surrounded by gloom. I didn’t feel poor. I knew things were hard, and I worried about my mom, and things weren’t perfect, but ours was not a miserable childhood.

More than anything, I remember the joy my baby brothers brought to our family. They were the light of everyone’s life. It’s almost like God said to my mom, “Well, since the circumstances for these babies are less than ideal, I’m gonna make the babies themselves ideal. How’s that?” They were perfect: blonde curls, giant blue eyes, creamy skin, with fun, happy personalities. They were smart and charming and wonderful, and they still are. They are 23 years old now, and one has a daughter of his own. She is the light of our life, too, and my mom is a proud grandmother.

It would have been so easy for my mother to choose abortion. It was 1988 in a major metropolitan area. Abortion was legal and fairly commonplace. But my mom did the courageous, difficult, wonderful thing, and chose life for her sons. In doing so, she gave our family — and the world — a wonderful gift in my two youngest brothers. I cannot imagine life without them. I don’t want to.

Be pro-life or Eric will bite you.

Considering the story of my brothers’ origins, and the fact that my mom was adopted at birth, you’d think I would have been a natural candidate for pro-life views. But by the time I knew what abortion was, I was old enough to start rebelling against my parents’ values. My rebellion was more ideological than practical. I wasn’t much for running around with boys or sneaking out constantly — my mom was pretty strict — but I read a lot, and I had wild ideas. I decided to do what young people have done from time immemorial, and reject the mores of the society I knew.

So I said “no thanks” to the Baptist church and traditional values in general at around age 14, and I stayed more or less anti-everything-I-grew-up-with until the age of 27, when I got in a van with a Catholic.

Here’s what happened:

I had a friend. I’ll call her Sadie. She was a fellow rebel with me in high school and up through our early 20s. In the past couple years, we had fallen out of touch. She had converted and married a Catholic and had two babies. She’d become a sort of Betty Crocker, a model suburban housewife, albeit one who retained a marked tendency to listen to The Cure and smoke cloves.

Anyway, Sadie and I reconnected somehow, and she asked if I wanted to come spend the night. Her husband was overseas with the Army, so we could put the kids to bed and stay up all night talking like we did back in high school. I said sure, and she said she’d come by to pick me up.

I knew Sadie had become a Catholic Army wife, and I was prepared for the mini-van, the car seats, and the munchkins, but not for the pro-life bumper stickers.

Later that night, after the kids were in bed and I had imbibed some Jack Daniels and whooped her butt at Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, I said to Sadie, “What’s with the pro-life bumper stickers? I mean, come on. I know you’re Catholic and all, but haven’t you gone a little bit overboard?”

Sadie replied with something I had not known. She told me she’d always been pro-life.

“I thought you were a feminist,” I said.

She answered, “I am.”

“Then how can you not support a woman’s right to choose?”

I don’t remember exactly how Sadie walked me through the pro-life argument. I know what she didn’t do, and that’s invoke religion or God in any way. At the time I would have described myself as an agnostic pantheist, so I would have immediately rejected such language.

After about an hour of back and forth, I knew I was had. I couldn’t argue with her anymore. Every talking point I had, she had shredded with logic and knowledge. But I was still wavering.

During the course of our conversation, she kept alluding to photos and what a large part they played in helping someone understand what abortion is. Finally — and this is important — I asked to see them.

She showed them to me, and I had a completely different reaction than the one I’d had when confronted with the accidental website, or protesters bearing signs. My reaction before had not been horror at the dead baby, but anger at the pro-lifer for making me look at it. I thought it was “disrespectful of the dead,” and somehow glossed over how disrespectful it was to cause that death.

But this time, I had just had my mind and heart opened. I had slowly over the course of an hour been made to hear the truth, and now I was ready to see it.

I looked at the photos, and I had a visceral reaction. No words formed. But something inside me, something simple and human, said, “That is not okay.” I knew that what I was looking at was a dead human being. I knew it.

At that moment, I was pro-life.

I kept saying, “You just made me pro-life!” I kept repeating it the next morning as well, awed by the change in me and how it had happened. It was completely unexpected, and more than a little unwelcome.

I went home and got on the computer and went immediately to pro-choice websites hoping to be unconvinced. Reality was setting in, and with it the understanding that a pro-life viewpoint was not compatible with my lifestyle, my friends, my political and religious beliefs, or my irreverent sense of humor. I felt a mild sense of panic, because if abortion was what I unfortunately now believed it was, then it was not only wrong, it was reprehensible. It was not just something I was going to disagree with, it was something I was going to have to fight.

The pro-choice websites couldn’t unconvince me of the wrongness of abortion, and the scientific information I found only made things worse. More than anything, I wanted to find those photos discredited as fakes or misleading, but instead I found more photos, and plenty of authentication. I found a video in which a former abortionist turned pro-life activist, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, handled an aborted fetus and described it to the viewer. I watched and wept.

I started to feel duped, and a little angry. I felt lied to by the pro-choice side. I felt the terminology they used, like “clump of cells,” was misleading. I knew the information my friends had gotten in abortion clinics, and I knew now that it was patently false.

At the time I was blogging on MySpace — remember MySpace? — and had a lot of readers. I posted about my newfound viewpoint with trepidation, and people went a little wild. Over the course of the next year, I would lose a few dear friends over this issue and similar ones. Other people have remained friends with me, but it’s never quite been the same. The issue is so divisive that it really can make or break friendships, I’ve learned, especially when you do what I did and become an overnight activist.

You see, I was committed to a belief in human rights before I became pro-life, and I understood more and more as time went on that abortion is the ultimate human rights violation. It violates the most basic right — the right to life — for the most innocent and helpless among us — the unborn baby. It is the ultimate in the kind of “might makes right” thinking people condemn when it comes to wars, but embrace when it comes to a mother’s tyranny over her pre-born child.

The night I learned that abortion was wrong, I would have told you I was not only not a Christian, but that I disliked and distrusted Christianity. Less than a year later, I was confirmed in the Catholic Church. This is not to say the pro-life philosophy leads one to religion necessarily. In fact, I know pro-lifers of every political and religious persuasion and sexual orientation. But for me personally, I believe God used this issue to open my heart and start me down a path that I never expected to walk.

In many ways, Sadie is a completely different person than on the night we had that conversation, and so am I. But we are still good friends, and we are both still pro-life. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude for having the courage to stand up for life in the face of someone who was pretty direct and challenging (that would be me), and the knowledge and wisdom to approach the issue from a secular, scientific point of view.

I am living proof of several things:

First, that it is essential for the pro-life apologist to be ready to tailor the argument to the person.

Second, that graphic images can absolutely change hearts when used correctly.

And third… Well…

You know that friend you have that you don’t even bother mentioning abortion to? The one who is so prickly and such a smarty-pants that you feel like you’d be shot down if you even tried explaining the pro-life viewpoint? I was that friend. And look at me now.

There is no heart that cannot be changed by truth.

________________________________________________________________________________

Kristen Walker makes people mad on the Internet and sometimes tweets.

  • Cheryl knagg

    so very proud of you, my dear! 

  • Naomi

    Awesome story! This is definitely information pro-lifers need to know… how to change hearts and minds. 

  • Kathy ferguson

    such a wonderful story i am and have always been a pro-lifer the 1 thing that i have learned about getting someone to understand is to not be judgemental i had a very good freind who has to very lovely children. her and her husband had divorced and she started dating another man about a year into their relationship he became violent and asulted her, and she pressed charges on him he was arrested and while waiting to go to court she found out she was pregnant she came to me and talked to meabout getting an abortion (at that time i wasn’t out spoken on the issue unless it was bought to me in this matter) so i tried to talk to her and make her see to not do it but in the long run i lost the battle but i never judge her on the fact that she made this choice. sevral years later she joined the movement and ask me why i had stayed good freinds with her even thou she had went against everything i beleived in i simply told her ” on a christian point of veiw God told me judge not unless you want to be judged” i told her i love everyone not just those who beleive i am right i have my point of veiws and they might differ from yours but that doesn’t mean if you don’t beleive like me i am going to be nasty or rude to you. i knew eventually i would convince you and i am sorry it was to late to save your baby but God has him/or her now and he forgave you so who am i to be unforgiving . i have done wrong things in my life as anyone else have and i wouldn’t want anyone to hold that against me so i don’t hold others transgressions against them. 

  • catherine adair

    God bless you Kristen! I am also a former feminist prochoicer and abortion clinic worker. I think you really captured it in describing our reactions to pictures of abortions – we didn’t see the human being, we just saw our point of view being assaulted. Very true.

    Glory to God, we have come to see the truth of this horror. I have also lost some good friends over this, but I pray they become open to the truth. Thank you for all you do for life!

  • Carla

    Oh WOW!  Thank you so much for sharing your story.  I love reading your writing (smarty-pants!) and appreciate your straight-forward approach to being pro-life.  Love the pic of your brothers too.

  • Leah Eastep

    Thank you for sharing this, Kristen! It especially blesses me to hear your story because I grew up a pro-life Christian… Life-long “lifers” often feel confused and in-the-dark when it comes to discussing abortion with “prickly” pro-choicers, because our reference points and beliefs are often so different. If we’re truly intent on changing minds AND hearts, it’s great advice to tailor each conversation and argument to the person’s needs by really getting to know the people we’re “arguing” with and listening at least as much as we are speaking! Despite their good intentions, what do pro-lifers think is to be gained when they use their religion as their main point against a “choicer”?? Usually only further alienation, confusion, and dissent! The Bible says that spiritual matters are understood with the heart… sometimes it takes working with the mind before the heart can understand.

  • Leah Eastep

    Thank you for sharing this, Kristen! It especially blesses me to hear your story because I grew up a pro-life Christian… Life-long “lifers” often feel confused and in-the-dark when it comes to discussing abortion with “prickly” pro-choicers, because our reference points and beliefs are often so different. If we’re truly intent on changing minds AND hearts, it’s great advice to tailor each conversation and argument to the person’s needs by really getting to know the people we’re “arguing” with and listening at least as much as we are speaking! Despite their good intentions, what do pro-lifers think is to be gained when they use their religion as their main point against a “choicer”?? Usually only further alienation, confusion, and dissent! The Bible says that spiritual matters are understood with the heart… sometimes it takes working with the mind before the heart can understand.

  • Armolas

    What are the arguments you use ? All I ever hear is ….its  a woman’s right to choose, its her body. and is is not a baby until it is viable outside the womb. I don’t know an argument when that is how they feel

    • A picture is worth a thousand words. I remember “Sadie” telling me that by 11 weeks the fetus is fully formed and only grows from there. When I saw photos of 6 and 8 week old fetuses that were recognizable as human, it threw me for a loop. Most people don’t even know they’re pregnant until 4 weeks. I pictured a “clump of cells” before then. I thought it was silly to get worked up about a bloody mass of tissue. My friends who’d had abortions told me the nurses told them, “It’s just a bloody clump at this stage.” One of my friends had an abortion at 13 weeks. She didn’t see a sonogram. The nurse told her, “You wouldn’t be able to recognize anything anyway. It’s not a baby yet.” This was a lie.

      The best argument I’ve heard came from a speech by Kathy Ireland. It’s in my blog about the pro-life luncheon… Anyway she said something like, a baby doesn’t look like a teenager and a teenager doesn’t look like a senior citizen. That doesn’t make one less human. A four-week fetus is just as human as a 32-year-old, it just looks different.

      You might also let them know the unborn baby is most definitely NOT her body. It is a separate human being with its own gender and blood type. Babies before viability have their own heartbeat, they feel pain and can yawn and roll over. An 8 week fetus will react to having his palm pricked by opening his mouth, pulling his hand back, and increasing his heart rate. The same way we react to pain.

      A woman who thinks she should have the power of life and death over her baby is basing this on nothing more than where it’s located. A newborn infant is just as dependent as one in the womb. Does she think she should be allowed to kill those too? She is saying a baby in her uterus can be killed, but the same baby 3 feet to the right in a bassinet is off-limits. The only difference is location.

      They don’t have logic, science, or ethics on their side, so they scream about “rights.” What they really want is to be able to do whatever they want and not have to answer for how it affects other human beings.

      Hope this helps.

      • Armolas

        Thanks, that does help. I like those answers. Sometimes they will say to me…well, it shouldn’t be taken lightly….then I say to them…well why not? If it is not a baby they you should be able to take it lightly. So obviously they really do know they are wrong. 

  • Becky

    Wow, thanks for sharing your story – how amazing! The very end jabbed me a bit (in a good way) because I can easily think of friends that I’ve never talked to about this subject out of fear and nerves. I appreciate the challenge and will definitely move forward in love and logic and hope that hearts will continue to be changed! God bless+

  • Catherine

    Thank you for sharing your story.  It is very helpful.  As a post-abortive woman, I was unable to talk about the subject for many years.  Now that I do, I am frustrated by those who are like you were.  I can walk them through all the logical, scientific information, and yet they still contend that is the woman’s choice.  I haven’t gotten to the point of showing them graphic images, because I’ve seen that this turns them away.  So your point about showing them these pictures “when used correctly” may bring home the point.  Believe me, it is very painful to look at them myself. 

    I will pray for the wisdom to know when to speak, what to say and what images to show.  By the way, I now work with Silent No More Awareness in bringing the truth to others who need to hear the message of hope and healing.

    May God be praised for your conversion!

  • Lou

    Another tremendous article.  Please keep up the good work.

  • Mellonybell

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.  I was born a Pro-Life person as I have just NEVER understood how anyone can devalue any human being the right to live.  And a humans life begins the moment they are conceived I just have never felt differently about this. I have never been able to wrap my brain or heart around how people can support murder and allow it to happen and to even fight for it to happen.  Reading your story gave me a bit of and insite to the brains and hearts of these people, so thank you for that.  I never understood why they would get so angry at the pictures and videos that only show the truth of what is happening and you explained their view so well for me.  I pray that all of their eye’s and hearts will see the truth.  I avoid the movies and pictures as much as possible because it just tears me up inside to see those beautiful innocent baby’s brutely murdered like that :'( I suppose that perhaps I should have some ready in the event that I come accross someone like yourself that I can hopefully explain things like your friend did to you.  Your story gives me HOPE, as I have never been able to break through to anyone as of yet in my life regarding abortion and believe me I have tried.  I don’t stand on a streat corner, I don’t commonly push it down peoples throats.  But if it gets brought up somehow I will tell people why I feel the way I do, and disagree with them.  I will fight that battle with what I know and am not afraid to debate over it.  But it alway’s ends in “We disagree and that’s just the way it is” Which is very sadd to me.  Hearing that you changed is Awesome.  Again thank you for your letter of Hope, Mercy and LOVE….

  • Icor1313

    I love reading your articles.  You’re so refreshingly honest and straightforward.  I respect that.
    Thank you.

  • Ja

    Love it! I have always said that it was so difficult to be a young, female, prolifer. In my wealthy community where the three closest school districts are “award winning”, I find it funny that majority of teachers mislead students into abortion rights and the like. I felt all alone in my views and I’m sure there were more like me, that just didn’t want to stand up to the bandwagon or have their grades suffer. Understandable… I didn’t care about my grades haha.
          I have a question about your story, that i have been debating over for years. These girls who cry over their abortions but reconcile with themselves by telling everyone “I know I made the right decision”. Ive only ever stayed silent to these girls thinking “they dont want to know the truth” and am deterred by the thought of them realizing they took the lives of thier own child. What do you say to someone like this? I feel injustice to everyaborted baby to give them silence and pity for the injustice they’ve committed.

         I wonder, if it was easier for you to come to terms than it would be for someone who has had an abortion

    • anonymous

      This is a 4 month old thread, but I feel compelled to reply. The way you respond to a post-abortive woman is with compassion. You say “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry you had to make that choice. Do you want to talk about it?” That’s all. Let them talk, be there for them. Likely no one has ever responded to them in this way.

      I am post-abortive and the very first person who showed me any compassion about my abortion was a pro-life activist 12 years after the fact. I was gobsmacked by this because I assumed that I didn’t need any compassion and the last place I expected to get it was from a pro-lifer. In my opinion, I had made and choice, society was fine with it, I was fine with it, issue over. In the face of compassion (non-judgmental compassion) the walls could come down. I eventually found my way to post-abortive counseling through a crises pregnancy center and then to a pro-life view point and then to the Catholic church, where I discovered a Priest who shared with me that once he heard a woman confess to abortion and he felt tears come to his eyes, and deep certainty that the tears were God’s tears crying for the woman. 

  • Rebecca

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing. You have encouraged my heart in so many ways.

  • Sweet_sasa

    Bravo.

  • Carmonster64

    i am so glad i read this, i love how you metioned that being pro life doesnt always mean your relgious

  • Felipe Costa

    Fantastic Kristen. Very beautiful change. Good tips too. God be Blessed

  • Dalia

    That was a beautiful testimony! Thank you! I, too, used to support choice in abortion, though I personally detested it, but now I cannot stand the thought of even one of God’s children being aborted because of someone’s inconvenience.

    My boyfriend was adopted. His birth parents had the choice to abort. I could have certainly missed out on the tremendous happiness that he has given me, and thinking about all the others that were not given the right to live breaks my heart. 

    May God bless you and keep this passion burning in your heart!!! I hope you influence a lot of lives. We are truly Jesus’ hands and feet in this world and must be to the least of these what He was.

  • ejheller917

    Thank you for sharing your story!  I was converted by my Catholic boyfriend (now husband).  Before that, I considered myself pro-choice, but never truly considered what exactly that meant.  Hearts can be changed.  

  • Gail Finke

    “I felt a mild sense of panic, because if abortion was what I unfortunately now believed it was, then it was not only wrong, it was reprehensible. It was not just something I was going to disagree with, it was something I was going to have to fight.” That is my experience also.

  • Mara

    Dear Kristen,

    You are a fantastic soldier in this war and a truly great ally to the unborn and the rest of humanity. I want to be your best friend.

    Love,
    Me

  • Ednchatton

    I really enjoy reading your posts

  • Pio Hartnett

    Thank you Kristen. This has been really inspiring for me (especially the last paragraph!), so thanks for sharing! Take care and God bless

  • Evey

    I’m sorry, but if i don’t want a parasitic organism feeding off of me for 9 months and then exploding out of me with hours of flesh-ripping pain, and then 20 or so years of them taking up my energy, time, and money, then it’s MY BUSINESS. IT’S MY BODY. Not yours, or the government’s either. I believe that everyone has their opinion and you all are certainly entitled to yours, but don’t try to push laws that will inhibit my personal freedoms. I would get it taken care of within a month of knowing, and not wait for it to almost be finished and change my mind. Girls like that are the ones who produce those gruesome pictures.  It’s a parasitic organism until 3 months and if i don’t want it living in my own body then i will make that choice.

     

  • Catherine

    Evey, I urge you to consider the personal freedoms of the child within you.  That unborn baby is not your body, but a separate human being with its own DNA and genetic makeup.  A heartbeat can be detected at four weeks, so to stop that heartbeat is an act of killing.  Science is proving more and more today when life begins.  Ultrasounds show clearly fingers and toes. 

    I feel such sadness that you lack the charity and the heart to acknowledge the humanity of a tiny, defenseless baby.  You have obviously been hurt in some way because of the anger you show in your post.  God has a plan for each child in the womb, just as He does for your life.  Please don’t waste it.