Jennifer Fulwiler
One woman's journey from pro-choice atheist to pro-life Catholic
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Back in my pro-choice days, I read that in certain ancient societies it was common for parents to abandon unwanted newborns, leaving them to die of exposure. I found these stories to be as perplexing as they were horrifying. How could this happen? I could never understand how entire cultures could buy into something so obviously terrible, how something that modern society understands to be an unthinkable evil could be widely accepted among large groups of people.

Because of my deep distress at hearing of such crimes against humanity, I found it irritating when pro-lifers would refer to abortion as “killing babies.” Obviously, nobody was in favor of killing babies, and to imply that those of us who were pro-choice would advocate as much was an insult to the babies throughout history who actually were killed by their “insane” societies. We were not in favor of killing anything. We simply felt that a woman had a right to stop the growth process of a fetus if she faced a crisis pregnancy. It was unfortunate, but that was the sacrifice that had to be made to prevent women from becoming victims of unwanted pregnancies.

At that time I was an atheist and had little exposure to religious social circles. As I began to search for God and open my mind to Christianity, however, I could not help but be exposed to pro-life thought more often, and I was put on the defensive about my views. One night I was discussing the topic with my husband, who was re-examining his own pro-choice stance. He made a passing remark that startled me into reconsidering this issue: “It just occurred to me that being pro-life is being pro-other-people’s-life,” he quipped. “Everyone is pro-their-own-life.”

Growing Discomfort

His remark made me realize that my pro-choice viewpoints had put me in the position of deciding whose lives were worth living, and even who was human. Along with doctors, the government and other abortion advocates, I decided where to draw this crucial line. When I would come across Catholic Web sites or books that asserted “Life begins at conception,” I would scoff, as was my habit, yet I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with my defense. I realized that my criteria for determining when human life begins were distressingly vague. I was putting the burden of proof on the fetuses to demonstrate to me that they were human, and I was a tough judge. I found myself looking the other way when I heard about things like the 3-D ultrasounds that showed fetuses touching their faces, smiling and opening their eyes at ages at which I still considered abortion acceptable. As modern technology revealed more and more evidence that fetuses were humans too, I would simply move the bar for what I considered human.

At some point I started to feel I was more determined to remain pro-choice than to analyze honestly who was and was not human. I started to see this phenomenon in others in the pro-choice community as well. As I researched issues like partial-birth abortion, I frequently became stunned to the point of feeling physically ill upon witnessing the level of evil that normal people can support. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read of reasonable, educated professionals calmly justifying infanticide by calling the victims fetuses instead of babies. It was then that I took a mental step back from the entire pro-choice movement. If this is what it meant to be pro-choice, I was not pro-choice.

Yet I still could not quite label myself pro-life.

I recognized that I too had probably told myself lies in order to maintain my support for abortion. Yet there was some tremendous pressure that kept me from objectively looking at the issue. Something deep within me screamed that not to allow women to have abortions, at least in the first trimester, would be unfair in the direst sense of the word. Even as I became religious, I mentally pushed aside thoughts that all humans might have God-given eternal souls worthy of dignity and respect. It became too tricky to figure out when we receive those souls, the most obvious answer being “at conception,” as opposed to some arbitrary point during gestation. It was not until I re-evaluated the societal views of sex that had permeated the consciousness of my peer group that I was able to release that internal pressure I felt and take an unflinching look at abortion.

Sex and Creating Life

Growing up in secular middle-class America, I understood sex as something disconnected from the idea of creating life. During my entire childhood I did not know anyone who had a baby sibling; and to the extent that neighborhood parents ever talked about pregnancy, it was to say they were glad they were “done.” In high school sex education class, we learned not that sex creates babies, but that unprotected sex creates babies. Even recently, before our marriage was blessed in the Catholic Church, my husband and I took a course about building good marriages. It was a video series by a nondenominational Christian group, and the segment called “Good Sex” did not mention children once. In all the talk about bonding and back rubs and intimacy and staying in shape, the closest the videos came to connecting sex to the creation of life was a brief note that couples should discuss the topic of contraception.

All my life, the message I had heard loud and clear was that sex was for pleasure and bonding, that its potential for creating life was purely tangential, almost to the point of being forgotten. This mind-set became the foundation of my views on abortion. Because I saw sex as being by default closed to the possibility of life, I thought of unplanned pregnancies as akin to being struck by lightning while walking down the street—something totally unpredictable and undeserved that happened to people living normal lives.

My pro-choice views (and I imagine those of many others) were motivated by loving concern: I just did not want women to have to suffer, to have to devalue themselves by dealing with unwanted pregnancies. Since it was an inherent part of my worldview that everyone except people with “hang-ups” eventually has sex, and that sex is, under normal circumstances, only about the relationship between the two people involved, I was lured into one of the oldest, biggest, most tempting lies in human history: the enemy is not human. Babies had become the enemy because of their tendency to pop up and ruin everything; and just as societies are tempted to dehumanize their fellow human beings on the other side of the line in wartime, so had I, and we as a society, dehumanized what we saw as the enemy of sex.

As I was reading up on the Catholic Church’s understanding of sex, marriage and contraception, everything changed. I had always assumed that Catholic teachings against birth control were outdated notions, even a thinly disguised attempt to oppress the faithful. What I found, however, was that these teachings expressed a fundamentally different understanding of sex. And once I discovered this, I never saw the world the same way again.

Burdens or Blessings?

The way I had always seen it, the generally accepted view was that babies were burdens, except for a few times in life when everything might be perfect enough for a couple to see new life as a good thing. The Catholic view, I discovered, is that babies are blessings and that while it is fine to attempt to avoid pregnancy for serious reasons, if we go so far as to adopt a “contraceptive mentality”—feeling entitled to the pleasure of sex while loathing (and perhaps trying to forget all about) its life-giving properties—we not only fail to respect this most sacred of acts, but we begin to see new life as the enemy.

I came to see that our culture’s widespread use and acceptance of contraception meant that the “contraceptive mentality” toward sex was now the default attitude. As a society, we had come to take it for granted that we are entitled to the pleasurable and bonding aspects of sex even when we are opposed to the new life it might produce. The option of abstaining from the act that creates babies if we see children as a burden had been removed from our cultural lexicon. Even if it would be a huge crisis to become pregnant, we had a right to have sex anyway. If this were true—if it were morally acceptable for people to have sex even when they believed that a new baby could ruin their lives—then abortion, as I saw things, had to be O.K.

Ideally I would have taken an objective look at when human life begins and based my views on that alone, but the lie was just too tempting. I did not want to hear too much about heartbeats or souls or brain activity. Terminating pregnancies simply had to be acceptable, because carrying a baby to term and becoming a parent is a huge deal, and society had made it very clear that sex was not a huge deal. As long as I accepted the premise that engaging in sex with a contraceptive mentality was morally acceptable, I could not bring myself to consider that abortion might not be acceptable. It seemed inhumane to make women deal with life-altering consequences for an act that was not supposed to have life-altering consequences.

Given my background, the Catholic idea that we are always to treat the sexual act with awe and respect, so much so that we should simply abstain if we are opposed to its life-giving potential, was a revolutionary message. Being able to consider honestly when life begins, to open my heart and mind to the wonder and dignity of even the tiniest of my fellow human beings, was not fully possible for me until I understood the nature of the act that creates these little lives in the first place.

All of these thoughts had been percolating in my brain for a while, and I found myself increasingly in agreement with pro-life positions. Then one night I became officially, unapologetically pro-life. I was reading yet another account of the Greek societies in which newborn babies were abandoned to die, wondering how normal people could do something like that, and I felt a chill rush through me as I thought: I know how they did it.

I realized in that moment that perfectly good, well-meaning people—people like me—can support gravely evil things because of the power of lies. From my own experience, I knew how the Greeks, the Romans and people in every other society could put themselves into a mental state where they could leave a newborn child to die. The very real pressures of life—“we can’t afford another baby,” “we can’t have any more girls,” “he wouldn’t have had a good life”—left them susceptible to the temptation to dehumanize other human beings. Though the circumstances were different, the same process had happened with me, with the pro-choice movement and with anyone else who has ever been tempted to dehumanize inconvenient people.

I suspect that as those Greek parents handed over their infants for someone to take away, they remarked on how very unlike their other children these little creatures were: they couldn’t talk, the couldn’t sit up, and surely those little yawns and smiles were just involuntary reactions. I bet they referred to these babies with different words than they used to refer to the children they kept. Maybe they called them something like “fetuses.”

The author will be responding to readers questions on July 7 & 8. Click on the comments link below to submit questions.

Jennifer Fulwiler is a Web developer who lives in Austin, Tex., with her husband and three children. She converted to Catholicism from atheism in 2007 and writes about her conversion at http://

Comments

Peter Small | 7/4/2008 - 8:04pm
Dear Jennifer, Thank you for your thoughtful presentation of your “conversion” to the pro-life perspective and to the view that sex and the creation of human life are sacred acts. I respect your willingness to challenge yourself and others to look at these issues directly. I have gone through a similar process in changing my views on these issues. However, while my religious faith (I am a “reconvert” to Catholicism) has been an important part of that process, it is not, I believe, my sole source of guidance or inspiration. My questions and comments below are directed at drawing out your perspective as someone who has been on both sides of the faith and pro-life divides. I realize that these questions may be too broad, but I would appreciate hearing any responses you might want to provide. Since your article did not address questions of law, I have tried to leave that perspective out of what I say here. While the question of how the law reflects and shapes our philosophies and moral views is vitally important, it is, by itself, a vast subject. I see your article as a way of developing a discussion on the related issues of philosophy, language and moral obligation. I believe it is important, particularly for those of us who have been on different sides of these issues, to develop arguments apart from our religious faith so that we can engage the larger culture in a more meaningful discussion. It appears to me that while you express your views and conclusions primarily in the language of faith, particularly Catholic teachings, at least some of them could be expressed from a more “secular” perspective. Have you considered that, and, if so, how would you feel about developing or using arguments on the life issues without utilizing the terminology or concepts of a particular religious faith? In your article you refer more than once to the question of when human persons receive souls. What do you think of pro-life arguments that set aside the question of the existence or origin of the soul and look just at our biology? I ask this because, as you probably know, various religious apologists for the pro-choice position, such as Catholics for a Free Choice, argue that not only do different faiths disagree on the issue of ensoulment, but that Catholic doctrine had in the past made distinctions regarding ensoulment based on the antiquated notion of “quickening”. On the other hand, the basic facts of human conception and embryology are not now in dispute. Their growing knowledge of human gestation and development led nineteenth century physicians to increasingly oppose abortion as it became harder to deny the continuity of human development from conception. Our current knowledge of genetics only reinforces this understanding. There are atheists and agnostics who oppose abortion, usually on the grounds of a philosophy based on this basic understanding of human biology. I understand your statements on “the contraceptive mentality” as directed primarily towards your fellow Catholics. I generally agree with you that our society’s focus on reliance on contraception has distorted our understanding of both sex and children. I believe that Catholics should follow, as best they can, the Church’s teachings on contraception. However, for the purposes of the debates within society at large over human personhood and abortion, can we make a moral distinction between those forms of contraception which serve to prevent the unification of a sperm and egg, such as the barrier methods, and those forms, such as the IUD and the hormonal methods which may prevent an already conceived embryo from implanting in the uterus? I think your characterization of abortion and “the contraception mentality” as dehumanizing babies as “the enemy” is apt. But, as you know, a typical pro-choice response is to characterize pro-life people as heartless zealots who care about the pre-born, but appear to be otherwise unconcerned about women o
Warren | 7/4/2008 - 1:36pm
You have deep insights here. Wow. Now this is what I call "metanoia". Thank you. Warren
Jim | 7/4/2008 - 9:54am
A follow up to my previous comment (#18) that was hastily sent, with a typo, "chice" for "choice," and with a tone that was not what I intended. Seeking to legally ban abortion is not easy and uncaring. It may be very caring and courageous, but it may lead to or stem from seeing the typical woman who aborts as doing it to rid her privileged life of an inconvenience. As claire b.(#21) pointed out, however, the typical abortion seeker may be poor, desperate, unable to live her own life much less carry and support a new life. My point was that care for the unborn cannot be separated from care for the pregnant mother of that unborn. In fact, our separating them in our thinking may contribute to some pregnant women feeling overwhelmed and more likely to separate themselves from the life within. Life needs support. If more pregnant women felt this support, fewer would consider or have an abortion. This seems to me the Christian way to address this problem. Thanks to Jennifer for her thought- and feeling-provoking article. Bless her for her journey and for sharing it with us.
Natasha | 7/4/2008 - 9:11am
Thank you so much for this well written article. We were warned not so long ago that accepting contraception would be like taking the little boys finger from the hole in the dyke. It would start a chain of events that we could not possibly control and would lead to the total moral disintegration of our society. This article shows exactly how. In attempting to remove the sexual act from the conception of life, we devalue human life. What good can possibly come from that? I always find it frustrating to hear about abortions for women in 'crisis' pregnancies. How on earth is counseling a woman to kill her unborn child "helping" her? It seems like another sign of our indifference as a society. If we were there to help and support these women, if we were there to adopt these babies, surely the woman would not feel so tempted to turn to murder. And abortion is not just about women. What about the father's of these unborn children? What about their right to raise their sons and daughters? We may try, continuously, to deny and defy nature, but it is woman who carries babies and nurtures them with their very selves. Thoughtless sex, contraception and abortion cannot change this reality. Rampant immaturity seems to be the main culprit in the deaths of so many innocent people.
Jae | 7/4/2008 - 1:03am
Dear Jennifer, God moves His people! I'm really overjoyed for even just one person to realized the evil of abortion and be converted to His Church. I could see the awesome power of His grace working through you because to tell you without it all of us are lost! Please go to Priest for life. com and support its ministries and the topic of contraception you can just google, "Humanae Vitae", written by Pope Paul IV, it's a very prophetic letter to our modern world. God Bless the Church...who preserve and proclaims the TRUTH! Every Blessing, Jae
Judith Moore | 7/4/2008 - 12:25am
First and foremost, i thank the Lord Almighty for your conversion and your change of heart. I know that prayers offered up by many others continue to bring about these changes, so that people who once chose death, begin to choose life. Your article was truly profound and on point. It has always baffled me why pro-choice people choose to deceive themselves in such a manner as to think that a woman is entitled to end the life of what they call a fetus and child. My question to them has always been, why do you think that you have a right to have sex outside of marriage? And of course, the usual scorn and laughter is thrown at me, immediately followed by: "you must be Catholic." I was horrified when sitting in a classroom one day, my professor uttered the words: "Thank God for abortion." I don't know which God he was thanking because the God i know DOES NOT smile at those women who choose to spread their legs and have a CHILD ripped apart limb from limb. I think that someone in your position has an added advantage to help others through prayer and discussion as you have experienced both sides. Your article in itself must be an eye opener for someone. Although when people shut their hearts against God's grace, nothing sinks in until they are ready to be humble again. You touched on the problem. And it is that the culture permeates sex as something each person is entitled to without the 'burden' of a child. And they continue to propagate the cycle of having children out of wedlock and not teaching them the true moral values and ways of God. I truly await the day when many will stop deceiving themselves and realize that each and every and human being should carry themselves with the dignity and self-respect thrust unto them by the Most High merely by their existence. Thank you for your article. Welcome to the most Catholic church. And God be praised for your conversion. God Bless you.
salome artenian | 7/4/2008 - 12:05am
Also, I assume what you are saying in this article is that sex should only be engaged in if you are willing to produce life (a child)? In that case, don't have sex unless you intend to get pregnant? I have never heard this before could you tell me what you and your husband think about this? Do you plan to never have sex again if you don't plan to have more children? By Trina on July 1, 2008 at 4:59 PM +++++++++ c'mon trina,please ? what led you to the conclusion that sex was ONLY for procreation ? and not the domain and right of a married couple ? why weren't you led to the conlusion that married people do NOT contracept,leaving the possibility of a pregnancy ? you think that every "intimacy"(i'm being polite),results in a child ?
Dawn Wells | 7/3/2008 - 11:50pm
Oh! the power of lies! There is an old saying that states that "people beleve WHAT they WANT to believe in, inspite of the truth! The journey from atheism to conversions is a head-on confllict between truth and relativism, between truth and rationalistic/compartmentalistic thinking, and between truth (as espoused by God/Jesus himself and the group ethic which seeks only self gratification at any cost! I do NOT think, nor believe for one minute that this lady did not believe in or could not believe in the principle of right versus wrong! But moral offenses that offend the sensibilities of humanity such as the holocaust, barbaric practices, torture etc bring to light that "God's Word" and the absolutes of truth in the Ten Commandments cannot nor will not be ignored....when they are, then the battle of the minds, the battle of the wills will ensure! Only when people CHOOSE to search for, believe, and LIVE the truth(s) found in God's Word and HIS Ten Commandments can people stop believing and adhering to the liberal, "free-thinking", relativistic thinking of those who CHOOSE to believe in the arguments of the pro-choice movement! In the Pro-Choice movement, the TRUTH, especially "Thou Shalt Not Kill" are permanently sacrificed because of emotional arguments and rationalizations that individuals utilize to make "murder" acceptable! The Nazi's realized that the method to "demonize" those of "Jewish blood" was through the power of words and that once the Jews were labeled as "sub-human" it would not take long to make a convincing argument that "sub-humans" were not necessary or worthy of living. Those that are considered worthy and "acceptable" are called "babies." Those that are marginalized or deemed "disposable" are referred to as "fetuses." The power of words, the power of lies, the power of evil and the ongoing battle of the minds/wills/souls is an ongoing battle. If God's TRUTH is ignored, then TRUTH is the fatality....and the evil of abortion continuesl and the average citizen embraces the ideology of what is/is not "sub-human" or disposable as something morally acceptable!
Heath Griner | 7/3/2008 - 11:05pm
Jennifer, The journey that you took to become pro-life was a long one, filled with many bouts against the Truth. I can tell you agree with me. The journey was worth it. How can anyone look into a newborn's eyes and not see that special part of God's wonder and mystery?
Kate Raeder | 7/3/2008 - 10:26pm
Please do not post this ... I only wanted to send something for Jennifer to see. Jennifer, I have never read a pro-life article as beautifully articulated as this one. It is truly an answer to prayer - everything you write about is imbued with absolute truth - and gives me beautiful words to speak when confronted on this issue. Or, at the very least, deeply confirms my exact sentiments. I could go on forever about how timely this article is ... Clicked onto your blog and read about your "junk food detox" something I was called to do last year ... then the article about your mother-in-law ... also so many similarities. I thought "WHO IS THIS PERSON?!" How surprised and excited I was to see that you're a mom in Austin, TX as well! I'm a parishoner at St. John Neumann ... is that your parish? Anyway, thank you for your very edifying words ... I would love to meet you sometime - possibly at the playground with our kids. If it is meant to be, I'm sure it'll happen. God Bless, Kate
Fran Curran | 7/3/2008 - 10:17pm
Thank you for sharing your spiritual journey and how your perspectives on the abortion issue simultaneously changed in your pursuit for truth. Life is such a miracle! After almost 12 years of marriage and much suffering due to infertility my prayers were answered when I gave birth to my twin daughters. Some one had given me a statue of St. Gerard Magella to pray for this intention. It wasn't until I was teaching CCD that my girls looked up what saint day they were born on. To our surprise it was St. Gerard! Nothing is a coincidence with God. I never understood the pro-choice mentality until your explanation of how rationalization and dehumanization along with narcissistic needs could misguide intelligent good citizens.
paul | 7/3/2008 - 9:44pm
Abortion is the biggest lie of our generation. Just imagine, everybody born after Roe V Wade is here only because the mother allowed it to happen. Roe v Wade only allowed women to be as irresponsible as the men who got them pregnant. Of course self indulgent men would be pro abortion, it let them off the hook. When life isn't sacred, anything goes and humans can reason almost anything to be reasonable. All I know is, I have 3 Grandchildren who look up at me and say Grandpa and I melt. What an honor and a priviledge.
Bill Mazzella | 7/3/2008 - 9:35pm
Jennifer F mixes up a lot of things in her heartfelt experience. It may be "better than thou" talk to paint such a broad brush on people who have seriously struggled with this issue and clearly are not sexually permissive or have no regard for children. One's conversion from a sexually permissive life does not mean that others felt the same way. It is such an incorrect and unfair conclusion. And there may be some grandstanding in all this. Secondly, an overwhelming amount of Catholics believe that contraception is acceptable and is quite proper in a loving caring marriage with children. I would not canonize jennifer yet. In an age of memoirs on everything, perhaps we might return to valuing humility and think about why the hierarchy has such an obsession with sexual matters, considering their deep problems in this area.
Kristi Heft | 7/3/2008 - 9:33pm
i am always blown away by these stories from nothing.....everything... thanks for sharing this message when i think about so many who do not believe in God or who support abortion i feel like hiding in a cave.... but Christ has died, Christ had risen, Christ will come again - He is in charge and nothing happens without him knowing or his grace regards krist heft
Kristi Heft | 7/3/2008 - 9:33pm
i am always blown away by these stories from nothing.....everything... thanks for sharing this message when i think about so many who do not believe in God or who support abortion i feel like hiding in a cave.... but Christ has died, Christ had risen, Christ will come again - He is in charge and nothing happens without him knowing or his grace regards krist heft
Hilary L. Weir | 7/3/2008 - 8:47pm
i am so glad that you are now on the right path. We used to visit a Planned Parent Building every Saturday and say the 15 decades of the Rosary. Our new Bishop joined us on Satudays. Then one Sunday mourning the Planned Parenthood Building burnt to the ground. It was their fault. No one from the prayer group ever prayed on Sunday, we were all in Church. God really does not like the Planned parenthood Buildings. We had been praying at another place and the doctor decided to leave. No one took his place. We had the miracle of the sun one day and a week later the doctor left.
Amy | 7/3/2008 - 8:03pm
Great article Jennifer! Your testimony was a good reminder to me of what motivates those who hold Catholic families who are open to life in contempt . . . ignorance and denial. I am going to my brother-in-laws' secular wedding in a week and we will stick out like a sore thumb as we have 5 children and i am 7 months preganant with my 6th. Your story will be my inspiration for trying to show by example the beauty of the church's teachings on the sanctity of life. God Bless, Amy
Diane | 7/3/2008 - 7:47pm
I totally admire your honesty and willingness to hear God calling you. I have never been pro-choice and your article helped me to understand the mentality of those who are. May God bless you and keep you on this route. You are an inspiration.
Rosalie Dancause | 7/3/2008 - 7:19pm
Barack Obama REALLY needs to see this!
Chris | 7/3/2008 - 6:26pm
What an honest, inspirig story! I wish every American could hear it so they too would realize that the unborn are alive. As Dr. Seuss said, "A person's a person, no matter how small." Thank you for your testimony.
Richard E. Villamana, SFO | 7/3/2008 - 5:01pm
Dear Jennifer, I am a Secular Franciscan and consider your article the most inspiring and forthright with heartfelt honesty, clarity and integrity that I have ever read on this subject. May Our Lord richly bless you for sharing this spiritual journey. I will ensure that it reaches all the Secular Franciscan sisters and brothers in my fraternity, the Regional Fraternity which I serve and the National Fraternity. When I read an article such as yours I realize again how, God, through the enlighenment of the Holy Spirit call us to the truth about the dignity of the human person. Your article will be a great instrument with which to convince many to become pro-life. Thank you.
Vanessa Prouty | 7/3/2008 - 4:53pm
Dear Ms. Fulwiler, Thank you for writing your heart-wrenching story. I found your reference to the "Contraception Society" thought-provoking. Now past child-bearing age, and with but one son, I can see the generation-to-generation aspect of contraception. I see my own son, nearing 28, hardworking, reliable, etc., who though raised a Christian, has allowed the elusive promise of happiness via pre-marital sex is not all it's cracked up to be. Where, or where is the romance? Everything is about "your stuff / needs" vs. "my stuff / needs". Where is the desire for commitment to a lifetime together, not a fourth-string organizational plan? When the very real possibility of pregnancy existed, society was in fact, more grown-up. Now, everyone has a "relationship" of passing interest. Very few people below even 30 years old act like an adult. Every waking hour is about making money, playing and "playing house" (such an old-fashioned term!). Will the younger generation get married? If they do, do they REALLY think that they are have "just as much energy" at 40+ as they did at 25? Who loses, if they, in fact, do not? The delayed children, of course. The children will be the ones whose parents are in wheel chairs, or perhaps, even dead, and will never see their child's high school graduation, and certainly not THEIR marriage. There will be no adult to walk the bride down the aisle, if that is still done. Clearly (it is supposed) Boomers are always right, "because they always get what they want". Well, you reap what you sow. The results of the hedonism of the Boomers, and soon, the Gen-Xers, will be visited on the coming generations. Sincerely, Vanessa Prouty (A 51-year-old Protestant).
James Pier | 7/3/2008 - 4:11pm
Ms. Fulwiler: What a generous gift this message is to not only the unborn babies of today and tomorrow, but to the many people who have bought into those lies, and the many who struggle for the words to displace the lies with the truth. Thanks to you, and with more voices joining yours daily, the scourge of abortion can be beaten back. Thank you.
lpm | 7/3/2008 - 3:56pm
Great story, as the true ones often are. I have a Q - the RCC, as I understand it, does not teach that ensoulment occurs at conception, or at any particular point in a pregnancy. Given the large %'age of spontaneous abortions, and the known phenomena of twinning and chimeara (or compaction), is embryonic stem cell research still a theoretic possibility worthy of discussion?
Robert Simms | 7/3/2008 - 3:50pm
I agree with Mike-#34 who says, "This is the most thought-provoking, well-informed, and inspiring piece on the subject of abortion that I have ever read." Your article describes,wonderfully, how a pro-choice atheist becomes pro-life.....I can't imagine someone who is pro-life changing into a pro abortion advocate.
DaveP | 7/3/2008 - 3:33pm
Despite all of these very positive comments and praising the author for the courage of her convictions and conversion expereience, I must say that I find her writing compelling and her logic persuasive --if you accept her basic premises. Ethicists of all stripes have differed on how abortion is to be thought about based upon other starting points that are as compelling. While many of us who read America and write in this blog may share her anti-abortion position, I think that neonatal physiological data and other moral starting points --even within groups that consider themselves pro-life-- may very well believe that a different position is jutifiable in some particular circumstances. Also, I do find troubling her broad intimations about a "contraceptive mentality" and her near equation of abortion with infanticide. I think the women and situations I am aware of in which abortion has been a sometimes painful and reluctant choice do not fit in that category. All of that said, I do appreciate her candor and story and beleive it will make allof us think more deeply about this continuingly vexing subject.
GK Eubank | 7/3/2008 - 3:33pm
I have been a Christian since I was 19. I'm now 55. My wife and I have been blessed to live our lives together believing everything you share in your article. The story of your conversion from choice to life has very well thought out and explained points regarding the sacredness of sex, the importance of responsibility with it, and how it relates to past practices by those that live now and those who lived long ago. Very well done indeed. I'm going to pass along your article and site to others. Welcome to life. All the best.
Stephen Patrick | 7/3/2008 - 3:14pm
Thank you for taking the time to write down the thought process of your change of thinking, of your conversion. Hopefully, it will assist those of us who have been pro-life for a period of time to reflect on what made us change our minds. In turn, then, help us to know how to best approach friends, family members, neighbors (and strangers) in order to assist their ability to critically examine their own thoughts/attitudes on the matter of sexuality and abortion. "Each one, reach one". Of course, first of all prayer to the Holy Spirit, must accompany the process, to soften one's own and the other's hearts, and to have the wisdom/gifts of the Spirit to know what to say & do and when to say & do it. And the ability to really listen to other and then to respond wisely.
Jim Kearney | 7/3/2008 - 2:48pm
My pro life conversion was just as gradual, from pro to sitting on the fence to final realization that we are talking about babies. It was not the pro life movement that changed me however. I found signs such as "Abortion Kills" and "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart" something to avoid. They just harden egos and positions. Instead, show pictures of these beautiful souls in the womb, sucking their thumbs, smiling. And pictures of empty swings to remind us of those we DON'T have with us, and should be. Those of us who have had abortions need to know that God has mercy for us, and forgives us. and we need YOUR forgiveness and love. THAT WILL MOVE MORE PEOPLE INTO PRO LIFE WHO ARE TRENDING THERE IN THEIR HEARTS. I believe that we will change hearts of pro "choicers" by showing more love of these babies and the mothers than antagonism to the pro abortion movement. We need to BE LOVE, AND MERCY in our manner. The exact opposite of "pro Choice".
Theo Alhaus | 7/3/2008 - 2:07pm
I was curious as to whether there was any religious teaching or training in your childhood years? Your story gives me hope that other areligious people who are willing to seek answers to life's questions will find them, if they are willing to ask and seek answers. I am the father of 9 children and can honestly say that because of having so many children, I lost or missed many things that society says one must have to be truly happy. But somehow through the "dying to self" I gained a deeper and more satisfying life. I've heard it said that children being born is a sign that God is not through with humans on this earth yet. Thank you for your encouraging words and hope.
4stmichael you tube | 7/3/2008 - 1:31pm
oh my gosh i can't believe this article tang and i have been debating this on "Bill Clinton loses Tmper, Lashes out at Pro-Lifers" (you tube) for weeks and here are the words that she has been trying to tell me i can't believe it thanks for running this article today i had no idea that people could think that way her words are in your 2nd paragraph now i can see why they think the way they do it does not eliminate the error of their conclusion it does not make a fetus a non human just because they say so -you helped me to see that this has been drilled into their psych for so long by so many sources that they really believe it and resent us for our beliefs calling us idiots(which i don't mind)and insist that we abandon the unborn woman to their belief system- we will continue our struggle to recover full protection on the law books for the unborn whose inalienable right to life is fatally violated by the minute each day you don't have to post this because i will not put my full first and last name on it in case she reads this comment -the name is my you tube name
Violet VinZant | 7/3/2008 - 1:04pm
Hello, My name is Violet. I am the mother of Seventeen children. Twelve Boys and five Girls. I love everyone of them and always have. I think your writing about this subject touches the very heart of the peer indoctrination of so many of our young people today. The contraceptive mindset of society has destroyed the very concept of virtue and chastity within marriage. Women have become just sex objects. Having babies is too inconvenient to their lifestyle. It has adversely affected the interior loyalty to the teachings of the Catholic Church for most young marrieds in the Church. Thus giving place to the phrase "cafeteria Catholics"who pick and choose what they want to believe. For those whose consciences prick them unmercifully the option is to just drop out and find some Evangelical church where you don't have to confess your sins when you have no intention of stopping and/or don't feel guilty. As parents of a very large family raised Catholic the pressure was too much and most of our Children have left the Church. They couldn't see doing what we did. Thank goodness none of them believe in abortion but they have all embraced the contraceptive mindset. Many of my Grandchildren don't even think that waiting for marriage is an option and some don't even bother. I believe it has come to be the main problem with the disintegration of society and traditional morals. I am going to send your article to a lot of my family members. I think it so clearly shows how we can get back to the truth and follow the natural God given laws of life. With Great respect and Gods Blessings. Sincerely Violet
Violet VinZant | 7/3/2008 - 1:04pm
Hello, My name is Violet. I am the mother of Seventeen children. Twelve Boys and five Girls. I love everyone of them and always have. I think your writing about this subject touches the very heart of the peer indoctrination of so many of our young people today. The contraceptive mindset of society has destroyed the very concept of virtue and chastity within marriage. Women have become just sex objects. Having babies is too inconvenient to their lifestyle. It has adversely affected the interior loyalty to the teachings of the Catholic Church for most young marrieds in the Church. Thus giving place to the phrase "cafeteria Catholics"who pick and choose what they want to believe. For those whose consciences prick them unmercifully the option is to just drop out and find some Evangelical church where you don't have to confess your sins when you have no intention of stopping and/or don't feel guilty. As parents of a very large family raised Catholic the pressure was too much and most of our Children have left the Church. They couldn't see doing what we did. Thank goodness none of them believe in abortion but they have all embraced the contraceptive mindset. Many of my Grandchildren don't even think that waiting for marriage is an option and some don't even bother. I believe it has come to be the main problem with the disintegration of society and traditional morals. I am going to send your article to a lot of my family members. I think it so clearly shows how we can get back to the truth and follow the natural God given laws of life. With Great respect and Gods Blessings. Sincerely Violet
Jim San Diego | 7/3/2008 - 12:56pm
Simply moved to choking back tears. Thank you for these amazing words. I am Catholic but have many friends who are in a similar position as you were, they are good people who seem to have fallen into this culture of lies. I hope that your words will serve as a testimony for them and may have more strength than my own. May God bless you and your Family and keep you safe always.
Alex | 7/3/2008 - 12:51pm
Jennifer, your article was very moving. I am a non-Catholic Christian male who, I guess as a result of my surroundings used to be pro-choice, having never really thought about the issue deeply and simply believing what others said I should believe. However, my stance changed when my mother casually mentioned to me one day that when she was pregnant with me, the doctor recommended that she get an abortion due to risks of complications with the pregnancy. My mother thought about it for a day, but decided to go ahead despite the risks. Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch, and here I am 32 years later. I thought to myself, "every baby out there that's aborted every day - that could have been me." That personalized it in a rather dramatic way for me, and my views radically changed. My pro-life views were cemented when my wife and I went for her second sonogram when our son was at 7 weeks gestation. All we saw on the sonogram was a little blip - with a BEATING heart. He was alive, with his own DNA and his own soul, every bit as much as my wife and I were alive with our own DNA and our own souls. Jennifer, I really hope that many, many more misguided pro-choicers out there undergo your epiphany. Thank you for providing your story.
tonymixan | 7/3/2008 - 12:49pm
Deeply moving!
Cliff Mather | 7/3/2008 - 12:37pm
I recommend Frank Beckwith's recent book _Defending_Life_ as a comprehensive treatment of the pro-life position.
Deborah Nelson | 7/3/2008 - 12:18pm
Wow! What a fabulous, intelligent witness. I was one who bought in to the lie of pro-choice. I myself would never have an abortion but in my mind it was perfectly ok for someone else. Fortunately for me the pro-choice mentality was for a short time. It was through praying the rosary and going back to mass that I was awakened to the truth. Abortion is evil and we are all made in the image and likeness of God. No one has the right to take the life of another, no matter how small. God Bless you Jennifer for your testimony.
Mike | 7/3/2008 - 12:09pm
This is the most thought-provoking, well-informed, and inspiring piece on the subject of abortion that I have ever read. Thank you for writing this.
John Smith | 7/3/2008 - 11:02am
I find this to be a convincing story as to why you are now pro-life, but I don't find anything to support your position that contraception is wrong. If anything, I think that it's a fallacy to say that using a condom to prevent pregnancy is thwarting God's will, but abstaining from sex to prevent pregnancy is not.
Ellie O'Neill | 7/3/2008 - 11:01am
Dear Jennifer, Thank you and God bless you for this most beautiful article. I am forwarding this to all my pro-life people, with the hopes they too will forward this on. What a truly inspirational and masterful piece on LIFE. What the pro-choice people cannot explain is "how come this fetus always turns out to be a baby?" May God bless you for your insight, tryly inspired by the Holy Ghost. Ellie
Colleen | 7/3/2008 - 10:01am
God bless you and your husband, Jennifer. And thank you for sharing your journey -- giving testimony to the entire world. I pray that others will follow you. In my heart of hearts, I know they will. As Jesus told his disciples: 'Whoever welcomes this child in my name, welcomes me; and, whoever welcomes me, also welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the greatest.' God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen. Wholeheartedly, Colleen
Paul R in NY | 7/3/2008 - 9:14am
Her logic is the exact same path I followed in my own conversion in thinking on the subject. My moment was when my wife and I had our first child. I realized that even for the poorest, most down-trodden, disadvantaged person on earth - having a child is not be a burden! The child is an opportunity - God is giving us the chance to do the most basic thing we are called to do - care for others. IF we follow that call, Gods blessings will follow! Abortion exists because of fear of change, fear of future. Anything done from fear does not have a good outcome. I am only sorry it took me so long to realize it.
SAMUELA POLLACK | 7/3/2008 - 9:09am
You say, "All my life, the messsage I had heard was that sex was for pleasure and bonding." That's nice, Jennifer, no doubt that really is what rich, American college-brats hear. But most women on this planet hear that sex is something your husband can make you do whenever he wants and if you resist he'll just beat you up and have the sex anyway. Half a million women die each year of pregnancy. And all the obese, arrogant, self-obsessed Jesuits at America magazine have to say to them is "Oh, how beautiful! You're suffering just like the Blessed Virgin! What a lovely, pro-life place Rwanda is!" If half a million men were dying of pregnancy each year, you can bet the Jesuits would be screeching that Catholic social teaching DEMANDS universal state-funded abortion clinics.
PATRICIA JOHNSON | 7/3/2008 - 8:54am
JENNIFER, THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL ARTICLE. YOU MADE ME REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT IT IS PRAY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE A DIFFERENCE OF BELIEF SUCH AS THIS ABORTION ISSUE. THERE ARE TIMES YOU WANT TO VERBALY STRIKE BACK WHICH ONLY DIVIDES US EVEN MORE. GOD WORKS IN STRANGE WAYS BUT I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU AND PRAISE GOD. THANKS BE TO GOD, PAT JOHNSON
Paul Allen | 7/3/2008 - 8:36am
Jennifer, Thank you so much for this wonderful piece. Such a fantastic antidote to the madness that has led a committee to name a well known abortionist, Henry Morgentaler to the Order of Canada this past week.
Mary Davis | 7/3/2008 - 8:34am
This is one of the best articles I have seen on the abortion issue. As the grandparent of an unplanned baby I have come to admire the strength of the women who choose open adoption as an alternative to abortion. Given your "new" insight on abortion and pro-life issues, what are your feelings about open adoption?
Therese | 7/3/2008 - 7:40am
Wonderful article Jennifer! Congratulations on your conversion and thank you for articulating the Catholic viewpoint so well. Yes, we should all begin by teaching our children from the beginning that the transmission of life is the fundamental reason for our sexuality. Union and bonding is the other key reason...but here too it's about the real union (which images the union of Christ and His Church) and not simply bodily pleasure. Peace and blessings.
Deborah Sturm | 7/3/2008 - 7:23am
This is a great article! I would like to hear from a former atheist or convert to Catholicism regarding the issue of contraception. I have a Catholic friend who sees no problem with using contraception, but she is against abortion. However, she used to make exceptions for rape and incest, but she is beginning to understand her former position as "situational ethics." She is not currently using contraception because she has reached menopause. She has two daughters who use "the pill" and she is perfectly accepting of this. How do I effectively bear witness to my friend about this issue?
lLetha Chamberlain | 7/3/2008 - 4:45am
Jennifer, you bring me to tears... after walking the walk of a life of chastity in the vowed life--and having God/Jesus as my Divine Lover, writing extensively to the ordinary people in plain English about the values of Church teaching on not masturbating, etc. and REALLY struggling with these issues BECAUSE THEY COUNT! AND IT IS WORTH IT EVEN IF IT TAKES A LIFETIME! I still get from even scholars in the Church a very hard time--telling me I'm too conservative and that I should stop doing what I'm doing because it is damaging to ordinary people. What kind of Catholics do we have in this country that would oppose my supporting Church teaching, and writing in LOVE about the very REAL benefits of it... even the simple physical benefits of it like avoiding sexual diseases and unplanned pregnancy from intercourse. And, yes, I get this FREQUENTLY in conversation from Catholics who attend Church at least weekly if not more (some daily), and from a scholar I know. The fearsomeness of these views is that these people are also sponsoring and teaching in the RCIA process. Are they affecting the catechumens and candidates or teaching untowardly there? I don't think so--and have not observed or heard that... but this undercover effect from modern society is surely being felt. What you are talking about it LOVE! When it is understood like you do--seeing the atroscities that are going on, and understanding the fullness in the teachings of the Catholic Church are fully realized... I learned that those things with which I disagreed in the Catechism I intellectually had to bend my mind around until I could see and understand the LOVE in it--where it was God's will in it for ME was...This took intellectual courage and quite abit of creativity. But it worked. Now I claim the whole Catechism as MY FAITH--totally and completely. I have no doubts, no reservations... and it was a gift of God so great this "little one" can hardly believe it! I pray that all be gifted with a gift so great as that!

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