When Abigail Seidman was 10 years old her mother had an abortion. Abigail suspects her father was not the baby's father, and her parents eventually divorced.
Abigail describes her childhood until that time as normal. But the abortion "radicalized" her mother, Abigail told me, who came to decide abortion had not only been the right decision for her but was also good in a moral sense.
"She began to celebrate her abortion," Abigail said, "explaining that now I would remain an only child." But young Abigail was secretly horrified, because she had always wanted a sibling.
Abigail's mother was and is a nurse. She became more involved in feminism and the abortion culture. She decided to switch careers and began working at her local abortion mill in Toledo, Ohio, as well as her local Planned Parenthood, which did not commit abortions.
On Abigail's 11th birthday, her mother put her on the birth-control pill, admonishing her not to have sex but to nevertheless take precautions, since she could be raped. "Rape was a particular obsession," Abigail told me. "I lived in absolute terror of it for my entire adolescence. The feminist mantra 'every man is a potential rapist' was frequently repeated."
As Abigail's mother became more deeply involved with feminism, she told Abigail all people were naturally bisexual and androgynous and that gender and sexuality were merely social constructs. She cut Abigail's waist-length hair short, which she was not allowed to grow out again until she was an adult. She encouraged Abigail at age 12 to identify openly as a bisexual and forced her to wear GLBT pins on her backpack.
Abigail was raised Episcopalian, but the abortion prompted her mother to change religions. The clinic owner where Abigail's mother worked was a Wiccan. Most of her new friends followed a Wicca-oriented New Age path and worshipped fertility, warrior and death goddesses. Abigail's mother dabbled in all the aforementioned but settled on Buddhism. She banned Bibles and discussion of Christianity from the house.
"I dutifully wore the crystal and goddess jewelry I was given and the ubiquitous Birkenstock sandals," Abigail said. "I told people at school I was a witch, although when pressed I could never articulate exactly what that was or what I did that made me one."
When Abigail turned 13 her mother began pulling her from school on Fridays to work as what pro-lifers call a "deathscort" at her abortion mill, one who attempts to usher pregnant mothers past pro-life sidewalk counselors into the mill before they can hear or see anything that would cause them to change their minds.
Abigail developed a mixed view of pro-lifers. Some were friendly and sympathetic, but some were noisy and militant.
"The worst part was when they would try to persuade me to agree with their view," Abigail told me, "little realizing I already did. But if I admitted it, the other deathscorts would report back to my mother and I would be punished."
Abigail developed her secret pro-life beliefs by reading "hostile" pro-life books at the abortion clinic, by listening to sidewalk counselors, by seeing graphic photos of aborted babies at the mill and by learning about fetal development in school.
And Abigail was greatly impacted by post-abortive mothers "coming in and out, often crying, sometimes downcast with a hostile-looking partner or parent dragging them along by the arm, sometimes lashing out in rage – but never, ever calm, confident and happy, which is what I had been told, over and over again, was in fact the case: Everyone who has an abortion wants one. Everyone feels relieved afterwards. No one ever suffers psychological ill effects, whether before, during, or afterwards – and if they say they do, it's only because they've been brainwashed by evil Christians who want to keep women barefoot, pregnant and illiterate. They must have been weak. That's not our fault. We did what was best for them and now they're being ungrateful. They should just grow up and get over it."
Abigail first smoked marijuana at the clinic owner's house at age 15. Drug use within the abortion culture is "quite common," Abigail told me, "particularly marijuana and LSD." Pot was kept at the clinic and "smoked communally after work each day."
At age 18, Abigail went off to college and accidentally got pregnant. She and her boyfriend both opposed abortion but didn't think they were ready to raise a baby. They decided on adoption.
But Abigail's mother would hear none of that. A controlling and volatile woman, she threatened to cut off Abigail's school funding unless she aborted. She insisted that Abigail fly home and abort at her clinic, where she would gather friends to celebrate.
"I got the VIP treatment," Abigail said. "Before I knew it I was on the table and waiting for everyone to crowd in so the doctor could begin. There were eight people in the room, including my mother's two best friends. One drove 100 miles. They were so excited. They kept saying things to me like, 'You're part of the sisterhood now!'"
When it was over, Abigail's mother looked at her with tears in her eyes and told her how proud she was. Despite Abigail's previous academic and artistic accomplishment, she realized "this was the only time in my life that my mother had ever said she was proud of me."
I asked Abigail about the abortion worship I'd heard so much about. "It is very real," she explained. "It can sound fantastical, but some go so far as to worship death goddesses like Kali and Hecate and consider abortion to be a form of sacrifice. They are often obsessed with their menstruation and blood as well."
After her abortion, Abigail's good grades spiraled downward. Both she and her boyfriend eventually dropped out of school and drifted apart. She became addicted to eating – anorexia and bulimia – partying and cutting.
When she was 22, Abigail met her husband and began to get her life back together. After several miscarriages, they had two children before Abigail was rendered infertile when her endometrium had to be removed during early-intervention cancer treatment.
Abigail continued some of her destructive habits until last year when her oldest son was diagnosed with autism. She began conducting online research for help, but got nowhere with the atheist groups. "Their overwhelming response was, 'I'm sorry you weren't able to find out and abort him in time.'"
The thought of not having her son, difficult though his condition sometimes is, was unthinkable. "I realized I was a good mother, a loving mother and, most importantly, now, without question, a pro-life mother," she said.
Abigail began to research Christianity, which "somehow didn't seem as hostile and threatening now. In fact, it seemed like just what I needed."
Four months ago Abigail accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She signs off her e-mails now with a line by St. Augustine: "You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you." Amen.
At the same time Abigail became actively involved with the pro-life movement. Last month, she shared her testimony at a Silent No More post-abortive rally and then did a radio interview. Her mother now refuses to speak to her.
But Abigail's heart is for her mother and the abortion culture. She wrote in her testimony:
As important as my faith now is to me, it is not the most important lesson I want people to take away from this.
It is important to recognize and effectively counter the culture of death that drives the abortion industry. Most people who are pro-choice have no idea about it. If they have given the issue any thought at all, they view it as either a religious one – "Christians hate women and sex" – or a civil-rights one – "Women have the right to make their own reproductive decisions." Many are unaware of the scientific facts about fetal development. Many are unaware of the statistics and medical facts regarding miscarriages, infertility, infection, ectopic pregnancy, difficult births, cancers and mental-health issues that so often occur in post-abortive women. Many are unaware of the non-religious arguments against abortion.
It is worth noting that I considered myself pro-life – although not an activist – for 10 years before coming to belief in God. I was, and am, pro-life because I believe that the potential negative physical and mental effects on women outweigh the dubious positive of "not having to have a baby," and that the fetus, from the moment of conception, is a separate human being with unique DNA who deserves the right to life as much as any person, regardless of their state of weakness, helplessness, or dependency.
The value of a person is without measure. It cannot – should not – be measured by intelligence, strength, appearance, economic status, ability to communicate, mobility, or any other subjective manmade standard. A person is a person, and if we allow – even encourage – them to be killed in abortion, then all manner of currently unspeakable horrors may become commonplace.
I have hope that this may not come to pass. Through a combination of effective outreach and activism, prayer, public testimony, sidewalk counseling and simple private conversations, I believe we can – and will – change this world, one person at a time, from an uncaring, selfish, shallow culture of death to a vibrant, joyful culture of life.