On Abortion: The Day I Owned What I Believe

by | Jul 17, 2013 | Uncategorized


When the roar of the hairdryer stopped, the first word I heard was abortion.

A woman speaking loudly above the cacophony of beauty tools in the salon was talking about late term abortion with her stylist. How her daughter, a doctor, pulls mutilated limbs from the wombs of mothers who decide they don’t want their babies, after they’ve been incubating inside them for six months. I felt sick.

She was explaining why it’s okay to do it — end the life of a human when you decide you don’t want it, like changing houses or a job. Mostly what I heard was justifying the avoidance of pain.

“Many of these women know their baby might not live anyway,” she said.

All I could think about were the words of God to Moses swimming in the deep end of my cerebral space: “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11)

If abortion were legal the year my husband  was conceived, I wouldn’t be his wife, because he wouldn’t exist.

His mother had twenty-two abdominal x-rays before she knew she was pregnant. The doctor told her that he was certain her baby would not live. She proceeded to have surgery for a health issue while pregnant and delivered her second baby, my husband, at ten months. Yes, ten. It never occurred to her to abort.

A normal, healthy baby boy named H entered the world crying a beautiful melody. Now he’s a man who declares the message of Christ as a vocation and lives it every day in our home.  I can’t imagine my life without him.


The stylist standing behind that woman’s chair happens to be a friend who sees my children’s heads on a routine basis. She crouched down next to me while I was caped with color steeping into my roots and whispered an apology because she was embarrassed. Says her client often does this; talks about controversial issues loudly from her swivel chair just before her hair is finished.

“What about Eliot?” I asked her.

I told her the story, about the first baby of a young couple with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality with a diagnosis of “not viable for life” while in utero. They could’ve avoided the pain of losing a life before their hearts clung to it for ninety-nine sacred days. An allowance of days revealing the character of Christ so profoundly, it changed them.

What if they missed out on that by avoiding pain?

Sometimes we avoid pain at all costs because we think living with disappointment might be easier than feeling it. Circumventing pain and numbing it isn’t the remedy or short cut toward a fulfilled life.  Ask anyone who’s done it.

As the woman walked past me, babbling to herself while the sparse audience in the salon couldn’t help but eavesdrop, I thought to myself, we all have altars and pulpits we’re willing to die on.

Mine happens to be the person of Jesus Christ.

He traded his pain for mine in a holy sacrifice. I trust he knows the beginning and end of breath, even when circumstances try to convince otherwise. And His forgiveness is still enough.


Linking with Jennifer, Emily and Jen.


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  1. Jean Wise

    o Shelly what a conversation you overheard. I wondered if that lady somehow is deeply bothered by what her daughter does and this is her way to cope with that. wow. As an RN I have seen two abortion in my career and beside my values and faith, just watching that violent act is enough to change ones mind. I pray for the mothers who find themselves so desperate to chose this route and prayer for wisdom and strength to know my role in helping them.

    • Shelly Miller

      Jean, I didn’t know you are an RN. Something new I’ve learned about you. I can’t imagine witnessing that. My heart went out to that lady in the salon and I think you are right, it was like she was processing it aloud, trying to convince herself for the sake of her daughter.

  2. Kris Camealy

    What a terrible thing to hear, I am amazed that anyone can ever view it as anything remotely humane or in the best interrest of anyone involved. Such a terribly sad situation. My heart breaks…

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m often stunned by the belief’s of others Kris. I don’t take anything for granted anymore. We are definitely strangers and aliens as the Bible states. I’m glad to be one.

      • Kris Camealy

        yes, I find these issues difficult to navigate online, mostly out of fear of sounding judgmental. You handled this post beautifully. I believe in the sanctity of all life, and pray for my friends who have had abortions and for the women who feel there is no other way.

  3. Lori Harris

    oh, how I wish I had skipped this before I headed to bed…and that’s how I know it’s a must read. I bite my lip now and I try to not imagine the horror, but I can’t help but imagine it. Thank you for choosing to share- even when it hurts.

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh Lori, sorry to give you that kind of image right before bed. A friend posted a photo on FB much more graphic than the sweet baby pictures of a friend I shared. That was hard to see right before I went to bed too. Thanks for being here, appreciate you.

  4. Elizabeth Stewart

    In all the counseling I do, I’ve never met one woman who is glad she had an abortion, and not one who hasn’t been scarred by doing so. Thank God for His grace, love and hope.

    • Shelly Miller

      I think your experience is common Elizabeth. Most people are haunted by what they did for the rest of their lives. And I wonder how that can be better than having a baby.

  5. ThandiweW

    shelly,you make the words, even the hard ones, sing. I love that you tackled such a thorny subject with Grace and His Love, and without judgement. Would that we could all navigate faith through life in this way.
    I learn so much from you.
    Peace and good to you sister,

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m so glad to hear you say that Chelle. I want people to feel loved and not judged here, that is for sure.

  6. Geri

    As H’s Mom it did not enter my mind that I would not continue to carry him to term. I am so grateful for a Godly Catholic Doctor that did not believe in “disturbing life” but thought that he would not survive the weekend. Then on Monday he was ashen when he said “you will not lose this baby but I do not know what the outcome will be” God is good. Jeremiah 1:5

    • Shelly Miller

      I was so glad to see you here this morning. Isn’t this your first time to comment on the blog? Thank you for the way you live your life, you inspire me to live mine hard after God in all things.I know it would not even be a thought in your mind to abort. I hope it doesn’t sound that way in the story.

    • Megan Willome

      “that did not believe in disturbing life”–wow. Somehow that is more profound than the more technical words.

    • MsLorretty

      glorious… all the way around. love this. praise Jesus!

    • Debbie

      There are a couple of very profound phrases here. “. . . I do not know what the outcome will be.” None of us ever knows what the outcome will be, only God. Even if a child is born healthy, he may be injured at some point in his life, and live the rest of his life with permanent disabilities. In fact, at age 58, I do not know what the outcome of my life will be, only that I will ultimately spend eternity with Him who knew every day of my life before one of them came to be. Between here and there, I do not know what each day holds. If we aborted children because we did not know what the outcome would be, we would abort every child, for none of us knows what the outcome will be.

  7. Barbie

    The issue of abortion just breaks my heart. I pray against it, that God would bring an end to it. It’s so cruel what is done to these precious ones. Thank you for sharing with such grace on this subject.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know Barbie. My heart breaks for an allowance that causes people such pain in the end.

  8. Lyli Dunbar

    Shelly, it’s so hard when you meet a blind person who doesn’t even realize that she is blind…. praying for eyes to be opened by the One who heals all wounds.

  9. kelli woodford

    wow, Shelly. (low whistle)

    powerful and strong voice here. as always, you have spoken truth (and especially on this difficult subject) not void of love. your walk with God inspires me friend – how you are so faithful to follow.

    • Shelly Miller

      I couldn’t ask for a more generous comment Kelli, thank you.

  10. Tresta Payne

    Beautiful, Shelly. We can choose life in so many ways, and you’ve done it with your words here. Redemption’s Beauty, indeed!

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Tresta, appreciate you.

  11. Mia

    Dear Shelly
    I think it was C.S. Lewis who once said that to love is to experience pain, but in the end it is all worth the while, the disappointments and the pain! Better to experience that than never to love at all. It reminds me of Someone who feels the same about the whole human race.
    Much love XX

    • Shelly Miller

      So true Mia. Thank you for that.

  12. Jillie

    Hi Shelly! Just have to say that I knew a girl in high school who was often quiet and alone. She didn’t surround herself with friends because she spent most of her time with her boyfriend. We thought she was so “lucky” to have a steady guy, when most of the rest of us, didn’t. One night, when we were all about 18 years of age, these old friends all decided to get together, drink some wine, spin some records. This friend, after “one too many”, began to spill her life story. Unknown to all of us, she’d had an abortion at 15 years of age. She cried and cried as she recounted her experience. Her guilt. Her shame. Her deep sorrow. We all surrounded her and hugged her and told her it was ok, but I KNOW not a one of us was comfortable with this revelation about her. We still loved her. We cared deeply about what had been forced upon her. We were all a little in shock. I got together with a few of these old friends a couple of summers ago. I see that this friend still likes to drink a great deal, and she is long divorced from another man. I “sense” that she still bears the guilt and shame. I so want to tell her where she can find total forgiveness, release, and peace. I want to tell her that her little one is in the Father’s arms. But she will have none of it. She is anti-“religion”. My heart goes out to her for the heavy burden she bears every.single.day of her life.

    • Shelly Miller

      What a haunting story Jillie. Breaks my heart for her, truly. Thanks for sharing it, loved hearing more about your life.

  13. Lisa notes...

    “Sometimes we avoid pain at all costs because we think living with disappointment might be easier than feeling it.”
    We can apply this to so many things. A great lesson. And so glad your m-i-l was able to birth your husband many years ago. 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      I know Lisa, it made me think of other areas of my life too. So thankful for my mother-in-law, she is truly a gift in more ways than one.

  14. Beth

    “Sometimes we avoid pain at all costs because we think living with disappointment might be easier than feeling it.” Oh so true! Shelly, this was beautiful and it spoke to me in many ways. I watched the pain my sister went through at a very young age to choose abortion and to a couple years later find herself in a similar spot and choose adoption instead. Her second pregnancy I too had also ended up pregnant at a young age and kept my child and even as an unbeliever at that time I’m so glad I did not waver in my decision to give me son life. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say, other than to say I appreciate your words today.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m so sorry that your sister went through that and grateful you chose to do the right thing Beth.

  15. amydanielle

    Thank you for being a voice for life, despite difficulty. A precious reminder of how God sometimes chooses to use even hard things to profoundly grow us up into Him….

    • Shelly Miller

      For life and the great lover of life, the one who gives it. And yes, its walking through pain that changes and transforms us into His likeness. For that I’m grateful.

  16. Mary Bonner

    You and Deidra both have an “H”!?!? Anyway, as the mother of a trisomy 18 baby it is hard for me to hear people carry on about abortion and justify their beliefs and actions. When my Amy died I remember some people that worked with my sister asked her if we didn’t “know” something was wrong…we didn’t but we wouldn’t have done anything if we had!

    So glad you mentioned Eliot’s story to this woman!

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, that is how we met Mary. When I realized Deidra’s husband was and a pastor the first time I landed on her blog, I knew we were going to be friends.

      I had no idea that is how you lost your child — to Trisomy 18. I’m so sorry Mary but I know you have quite a testimony like baby Eliot.

  17. DeanneMoore

    Just thank you…I have a lot I want to say about this…but not today. So thankful that you were sitting there in the salon at the appointed time. Not because of what you heard but so that you were inspired to write on this subject that is so close to the heart of God and to all of us who have been and are voices for the unborn,,,

    • Shelly Miller

      I would’ve been happy to read the book you deleted. There is always richness in what you have to say. I was taken off guard with my reaction to that moment in the chair at the hair salon. It’s like all the things I’ve learned about God rose to the surface and it burned inside me.

  18. Nancy Ruegg

    What a powerful, thought-provoking post, Shelly. These words, especially caught my attention: “Circumventing pain and numbing it isn’t the remedy or short cut toward a fulfilled life. Ask anyone who’s done it.” Such an important truth to keep in mind when we face uncertainty. Thank you for expressing it SO well!

    • Shelly Miller

      I’ve been thinking about what we do to numb pain — watch television, mindlessly scroll through Facebook, drink too much — and I’m realizing the pain is for a purpose.

  19. Emily Wierenga

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. Sharing. xo

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you for sharing, I saw the results of it within minutes. Love you Em.

  20. Julie Garmon

    Beautiful. My daughter and I volunteer together at a pregnancy resource center. Precious, precious post!

    • Shelly Miller

      What a wonderful thing to do with your daughter. Thanks for being here Julie.

  21. RelapsedCatholic

    I do think more people need to stand up and speak the truth that babies are blessings and not burdens, but I would caution anyone’s rush to judgement. Most abortions done after week 20 (ie late term) are done for one of two reasons, the mother will not survive the pregnancy (and hence baby will die anyway) or the fetus has developed some kind of abnormality that will not allow it to survive outside the womb. I will be the first to say that every life is precious, no matter how small it is or how long it lasts. However this is not a clear cut situation for any mother and father so we should treat these situations with respect.

    Some parents choose to carry the baby to term anyway, and God bless them. Some have said Tha the few minutes of life that baby had meant the world to them as they held it and told them they loved it. But not every parent feels comfortable making that choice. Birth carries risks for the mother, mothers still die from complications from childbirth in the finest hospitals. Some mothers make the choice to terminate the pregnancy rather than (potentiall) deprive their current children of their mother. I have a good friend that was unable to get pregnant. 16 years of unprotected sex with her husband and zero pregnancies. They adopted three beautiful children that mean the world to them. She unexpectantly got pregnant at age 40′ and they were very excited. That excitement was crushed later that week when the OB/GYN could not detect a heart beat and told her that the HCG levels had bottomed out. She was going to lose the baby whether she wanted to or not. She went home and prayed, and talked with her husband, and prayed. She choose ultimately to have an abortion in the doctors office rather than continue and traumatized her children by bleeding out in front of them. I have never met a couple that wanted children more than this couple, they are weekly church goers and faithful Catholics. Their decision was an agonizing one that is deserving of respect and understanding.

    • Kathy

      A miscarriage is not the same as an abortion. Having a DNC after a miscarriage is not an abortion. This baby was already gone, as there was no heartbeat.
      And what is your source, when you claim that the majority of late-term abortions are because the mother’s life is in jeopardy or the baby will not survive. I believe that is not the case. Most late term abortions are performed for the same reasons as early term abortion, the “mother” has decided she doesn’t want the baby. It just took her longer to make a decision.

      • RelapsedCatholic

        Technically she did not miscarry, as she had not yet shed the embryo. My point was to those that say a pregnancy should be carried to term even if the child is not viable. Termination of a pregnancy with a non viable fetus is a difficult decision that should be respected. I have no problem w/ restrictions on post 20 week abortions, but any that fail to account for the health of mother or fetus are terribly short-sighted in my opinion.

        Secondly, upon further research I can not definitively say why most women seek post 20 week abortions. But as no one is forced to list a reason neither can anyone else unfortunately. I can say that the many stories I have read from Dr. Tillers patients and the testimony of people opposed to the law has convinced me that medical exceptions are necessary.

  22. Jules Middleton

    So good Shelly! At 21 I found myself single and pregnant, and 12,000 miles from home. (ok, so that makes it sound romantic and naive. It wasn’t either and I was in a very different place to now!). Of course my younger friends assumed I would abort. In a world where hedonism was the driving force, that would have been the obvious choice. But despite that, from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I was going to have the baby.
    She’s now 19 by the way and about to head off to uni, intelligent, beautiful and totally loved. And what’s more she has never suffered any ill effects from my selfish and crazy lifestyle as was, back then.

    And on the pain thing, as you know I’ve had my fair share of that recently and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I actually think it’s been a blessing. I read a great book during it all by Philip Yancey and Paul Brand called ‘The Gift of Pain’. It looks at our obsession with removing all pain and how damaging that actually is – great read if you have time!
    Blessings x

    • Shelly Miller

      Oh wow, thanks for sharing your personal story Jules. I appreciate your honesty. That book sounds like a good one. I’m going to check it out!! Thanks for leaving a comment!

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