Although both my husband, Bill, and I had found professional fulfillment in the corporate fast lane, we longed for the deeper personal fulfillment of parenting. So when I became pregnant in December 1983, it felt like a Christmas miracle.
Several months later, however, without warning, I was seized by intense pain. I'm only five months pregnant! I thought. I can't be in labor!
Bill rushed me to the hospital, but it was already too late. Our unborn daughter had perished.
Our baby's death carved a deep grief into my soul. My arms ached to hold the daughter we'd lost. After returning from the hospital, Bill and I sat quietly in our darkened living room, trying to come to terms with our loss. A thought from a sermon I'd heard years before kept returning to my mind: "Unless there's a Good Friday, there will never be an Easter Sunday." Those words began to take on a new meaning.
"Bill," I said softly, "if I feel this much sorrow over a miscarriage, what kind of anguish must a woman who aborts her child feel if she felt that abortion was her only choice?"
As the days slipped by, I found my thoughts incessantly returning to women who abort their babies. As I prayed, I felt called to help them. Little by little, from the loss of our child's life, the Nurturing Network was born.
As a successful strategic planner, I knew I needed to know which women were most likely to choose abortion and why. The answers I discovered shattered my safe stereotypes. Of the 1.6 million abortions in the U.S. each year, between 70 and 75 percent are performed on women age 20 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
These women are mostly middle class, I found. Many are in college or on their first job. As young professionals, they've been told they have "the most to lose" by continuing an unplanned pregnancy.
Our sophisticated society seems to assume that professional and college women don't have crisis pregnancies. And if they do, they know how to handle it. But the banker hurts just as badly as the high-school student. In fact, unwed pregnancy can be especially difficult for a woman in the business world. She often faces losing credibility and is judged as irresponsible and naive. College students also are supposed to be "smarter than this." It became my special challenge in the months ahead to respond to those needs.
My first step was to conduct an informal survey. I contacted ten abortion clinics nationwide and asked that my telephone number be given to women willing to discuss their experiences anonymously. More than one hundred women responded. I asked them, "If you had had access to whatever help you needed, would you have preferred to give birth to your baby?" The answer was a resounding "Yes!"