Restore dignity and save lives

By Kris Gaspari

Kris Gaspari speaks at a press conference outside the Iowa Board of Medicine

Proverbs 12, verse 17 states: “When you tell the truth, justice is done, but lies lead to injustice.”

17 years ago, I chose to allow Planned Parenthood to take the life of my unborn baby. I was a single parent, grieving the death of my mother and the end of a marriage. I was struggling to survive. I wish someone had told me the truth. I wish someone had told me that the mass of tissue growing inside me had 10 fingers and toes, a heartbeat…and a future if I chose life. That day devastated me. Not only did my child die, a part of me died, too. I was filled with shame and regret and vowed to take that secret to my grave. A year later I found myself in an abusive relationship, certain that I deserved any pain I was going through–and it was made even more clear to me that I deserved punishment when I found myself in an emergency room with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that nearly took my life. Instead of burying a baby, I buried my emotions….and I buried them deep. I woke up after surgery, disappointed that I was alive.

Years later when I held my now 12 year old daughter for the first time, I was given a glimpse of what I’d thrown away. I was overcome with remorse, sadness and shame. I became what I call the “overprotective Mother Bear.” I secluded myself, became less social and fell apart. I promised God that I would be the best mother that I could be. And that I was sorry for what I’d done. Four years later, I found myself facing another failed marriage and a question hung like a cloud over me. “What in the world was wrong with me.”

You all have heard the poem “Footprints.” So many years of my life was one set of footprints. The day I finally hit rock bottom  and confessed it for the last time, I forgave myself and started walking on my own two feet. Through the help of my church family I started to heal. One night I read an article in the Knights of Columbus publication “The Columbian” about post abortion syndrome. The woman in the article could have been me. All the symptoms described were what I had been suffering from for all those years. Instantly, I felt a peace that I had never felt before and I was filled with hope. I was normal after all — what I had done was not. Jesus could, and would, heal me.

I started that healing journey with my church and then attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat 4 years ago. I got my life back. My dignity was restored. The shame was lifted. I honored the two children I had lost. But most of all I got Christ back to the center of my life.

I will be praying that the hearts of medical staff are opened to a new awareness of how telemed abortions will deeply traumatize women. Emotionally and physically they will be at risk. This is not safe, nor ethical. As part of my healing I forced myself to look at pictures of aborted fetuses. I was devastated at what I saw and those images will be with me forever. I was traumatized. I can’t comprehend how one would cope with the emotions of this process and then be left alone to deal with the remains of what was once an innocent life. I urge you to think about dignity and respect. These are lives we’re talking about. Lives worthy of a future and ethical medical care.

In the middle of the night a couple of years ago, I woke up and thought I was talking in my sleep. I realized that I wasn’t. I was talking to God. I heard His voice tell me “to tell the truth. Be silent no more.” That’s why I’m standing here today. To speak the truth.  To give women and men who suffer, hope.  To educate our youth and our communities on the effects of abortion.   To show that if I can heal, you can heal and that by exposing the truth, we can restore dignity and save lives.