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If only I knew

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

I wish someone had told me... 

“It’s not a problem.  You can do this.  We will help you.”

“It’s not a blob of tissue. See his little face. Look at his little hands and feet, his tiny fingers and toes. Hear his heartbeat.” 

“I understand you’re single and scared and regret the relationship, but your baby is not a mistake. He is a gift from God created especially for you. It may not feel like it now, but you will feel differently when you’re holding him in your arms.” 

“It won’t be easy telling your family.  Being a single mom and taking care of a baby won't be easy either, but God will help you, and so will we. The blessing of your baby will far outweigh the challenges of being a single parent.” 

I wish someone had told me these things.

But no one did.

What Planned Parenthood told me...

“We can take care of your problem,” they said. I was 21 years old and eleven weeks pregnant. Afraid and alone. Easily deceived by the lie that it was just a problem to be solved and that after they removed it, I would be able to move on with my life.  They offered nothing more.  No help. No options. They left me ignorant and eager to get it over with.  

I had an abortion.

The worst decision I ever made. It didn’t solve anything. It only compounded my heartache and scarred me for life.

If only I had known.

If only someone had told me what abortion was. 

If only abortion weren’t legal. 

If only I had seen his little face and his tiny hands and feet. I would have chosen his life over mine.

Abortion didn’t solve my problem because I was the problem.

The festering wound of abortion entrenched me even more into the same destructive behaviors that landed me in the abortion clinic. For years I suffered its devastating effects.

What I’ve learned

A few years after my abortion, I heard the gospel and I realized that Jesus was the love I had been searching for my whole life. I repented and surrendered to Christ, and my life radically changed.

But there was a deep wound that still needed healing.

I went to a women’s gathering at church and heard Lee Ezell’s story of being raped. She got pregnant and chose adoption for her baby instead of abortion.  Twenty years later, her daughter found her to thank her for giving her life. They became close, wrote a book called ‘The Missing Piece,’ and traveled the country sharing their pro-life story. 

Lee’s daughter says, “I know I was conceived through rape, but God created me and loves me, and I’m so thankful that my mom didn't give me the death penalty for my father’s sin.”

My heart sank. I felt sick. I realized for the first time the magnitude of what I had done, and a crushing weight of conviction overcame me. I burst into tears. I wasn’t raped, but I chose abortion. Adoption never entered my mind. My heart broke into a million pieces. I wailed to God, begging for His forgiveness and mercy, which He had already given when I gave my life to Christ.

Lee’s story unlocked the prison of denial and shame I had been living in and set me on a path of healing and freedom in Christ, greater than I felt when I was first saved. 

It’s been a long journey, but by God’s grace, I have been healed and set free from the guilt and shame of my abortion. The most transformative part of my healing came when I went through an abortion healing retreat called Deeper Still. I not only repented for ending my child's life, but I was also able to mourn the loss of my child. Jesus assured me that I was completely forgiven, that my child was safe with Him, and I will see them both one day.

I still have regret. It never leaves me. Of all the aches, pains, and sins that Jesus has taken away, that tightness in the back of my throat... when I remember what I did... what I lost, remains. But one day, Jesus will take that away too because, in heaven, all things are made new.

The truth will set you free

If you’re still on the fence about abortion, let me tell you what happened to my baby.

This is very painful for me to say. It will be difficult for you to hear and especially difficult to see, even in your mind's eye, but you must know the truth to make an informed decision.

CAUTION this description is graphic. 

I was 11 weeks pregnant. At that stage, the doctor had to forcibly dilate my cervix to insert instruments that would kill my baby. Forceps were used to grab my baby’s arms and legs and pull them off one at a time. After my baby’s limbs were removed, the doctor went back in to crush his body and skull. Then used a vacuum tube to suck out his head, body parts, and placenta. A sharp tool was then inserted to scrape out any remaining pieces of my baby’s body. Then the doctor had to rebuild his tiny little body in a dish to ensure nothing was left inside me that would cause infection. After that, my baby, Joshua, was thrown out as waste.

Are you sick to your stomach, as I am? I didn’t know that’s what happened to my baby at the time of my abortion. By God’s grace and mercy, I have no memory of the procedure. I only learned later, and I'm still sickened, by my ignorance that allowed this heinous murder to happen to my child. I live with a gaping wound of this awareness, which won’t heal until I’m in heaven.

The barbaric practice of abortion has been performed on more than seventy million children since Roe v. Wade declared it legal in 1973. It has become acceptable and normal in our society to kill babies in the womb under the guise of health care, women’s rights, and choice.

Now that Roe was overturned, babies' and their mothers’ lives are being saved. But we still have a battle on our hands. Many still want abortion on demand because babies in the womb are not deemed persons with the same rights of protection as you and me.

Those who believe abortion is an acceptable option don’t seem to understand that it is a grave offense to God. Abortion kills someone who bears God’s image, and it causes significant emotional and spiritual trauma to the mom and dad. But the damage doesn’t stop there.

Because of abortion, the world is missing millions of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and grandchildren. The rippling effects of abortion never end.

Abortion is not health care, nor is it a right.  Just as we don’t have the right to kill a person outside the womb, we don’t have the right to kill someone inside the womb.  

Some say that pro-life people only care about the baby, not the mom.  But the operation of hundreds of pregnancy support centers across the country demonstrates that’s not true. We love them both, and we help both.   

I pray that God is speaking to your heart and that my story is helping you see that His image bearer in the womb is someone worth fighting for.

My ministry

Your ministry is found where you’ve been broken. Your testimony is found where you’ve been restored. Author unknown

I want to help women not make the deadly choice I made. And if they have, I want to help them heal. So, I co-founded a ministry to help post-abortive women be restored to abundant life in Christ, and help fearful mothers choose life for their babies and abundant life for themselves.

I know you’re there.  God knows you're there.  Aching to be heard and seen, longing to be whole and free. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s possible, and there are many like me here to help you begin your healing journey.   

I also want to help Christians who are privately pro-life but publicly and politically neutral. Those who say, “I would never do it, but I won’t judge or interfere with those who do.” They’re either afraid or don’t realize how contrary their position is to the Bible. As Christians, we are called to be like Christ, the most pro-life person ever. 

The Bible teaches us how God feels about His prized creation, us! And how, He expects us to live.

Here are just a few passages to consider:

Exodus 20:13, “you shall not murder.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you, life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life so that you and your descendants may live and that you may love the LORD your God, obey Him, and hold fast to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers….”

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Psalm 139:13-18 “I created your inmost being, I knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made; your frame was not hidden from Me when I made you in the secret place and wove you together in the depths of the earth. My eyes saw your unformed body, and all the days ordained for you were written in My book before one of them came to be. My thoughts toward you are precious. How vast is the sum of them! Were you to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when you awake, I am still with you.” (paraphrased)

When you read those words, doesn’t your heart swell with gratitude and amazement over how much God values you?

How does this truth affect you?

How will this influence your future decisions and conversations?

How will you respond to those who are pro-abortion?

How will you help a woman in a crisis pregnancy?

How will you treat a post-abortive woman?

How will you vote?

It’s not enough for me to say, “I’m pro-life,” and do nothing. As a follower of Jesus, I must be pro-life. Another way of saying this is, life-giving, in every word and deed. I should try to reach the lost, just like Jesus did for me.

My mission

“Rescue those being led away to death and hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'Behold, we did not know this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

“…open the eyes that are blind, bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:7)

I know that verse speaks of Jesus, who rescued us, opened our blind eyes, and released us from the prison of sin and death, but He asks us to follow Him and do what He did, so that’s my mission.

Another passage that guides me is Proverbs 6:16-19:

"There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:

Haughty eyes, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked schemes, Feet that are quick to rush into evil, A false witness who pours out lies, And a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

I have been guilty of each of these offenses. By God’s grace, I have changed.

I don’t want to be associated with anything God hates anymore. And I’m sure you don’t either. I want to be part of God’s rescue plan.

An invitation

How about you? Will you join me? Will you rescue those being led away to death and hold back those staggering toward slaughter?

“Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

“As you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

“Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

If we genuinely want to follow Jesus as He calls us to. If we love God and love our neighbor, we must speak up for and defend our most vulnerable neighbor, the pre-born child. We can do this by educating people, electing leaders who value life at every stage of development, and helping the mom in a crisis pregnancy. One is not more valuable than the other. Both mom and child matter. Both need to be protected. Both need to be loved.

If only I had known.

Now that you know, what will you do?

"I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.'” (Isaiah 6:8)

Mara Petro

Abundant Life Women’s Ministries

Offering women hope, help, and healing in Jesus Christ

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