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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Most Devastating Choice


*Publisher's note: this personal testimony is being reprinted in light of the upcoming vote in South Dakota on Initiated Measure 11 and the recent statement by the American Psychological Association that abortion does not threaten women's mental health.

By Sylvia Rhoden
Union Center, South Dakota


By far the most devastating “choice” my husband and I ever made in our lives was to have our child surgically murdered in my womb.

At the time, we both believed lies – thinking this was an easy solution to what we perceived was a problem. But I was soon to find out differently. As real and similar as Eve’s experience of eating the fruit, I knew when the fruit of my womb was being taken out, that I had entered a realm no woman should trod and of which I would never escape…so horrible…so real…so near was the smell of death. And like Adam and Eve, we did not want our sin to be found out.

Later, after some life-changing moments that removed deception, I could face the truth and see glimpses of how my fear of man (instead of God) and pride and selfishness had caused destruction. Truth in my inward parts brought opportunity for healing. Knowing and dealing with the truth is what began to set us free.

When I destroyed my own child, there is a very real part of me that was destroyed also. Something more than my own flesh and blood was taken at that time. My own personhood, the deepest part of who I am, had been seized, stolen from, killed, and destroyed as well. I sensed I had taken my child’s life as well as my own, but I was the one still left behind.

In addition, now the fresh reality of being a murderer would surface. Now the mourning of my child would grieve and haunt me. This bondage of blood guiltiness and destruction is huge and affected not only me, but my relationships, especially that with my husband.

Therefore our marriage and our family were deeply affected. Grace and mercy were no longer nice words or theological concepts, they were life-altering, life-sustaining gifts, which came in and flooded my soul and began healing my wounds. Other than our children, we did not speak of this to anyone. What good would it do?

However, two years ago the most freeing piece of legislation came to SD, HB 1191. (a law that would have prevented the surgical murder of the unborn children) I had the opportunity to listen to testimony given by women at the State Affairs Committee on February 5, 2004.

For the first time I heard other women speak of their own experiences, true and graphic and heart wrenching. There was a doctor who had collected information on post-abortive women, their physical and mental difficulties. My husband and I agreed that we should not stay silent. We needed to plead the cause for those that are appointed to destruction. So we opened our mouths and shared our horrendous story with our family, our friends, our church, and our state. We had been silent for over twenty years and now seized the opportunity divinely appointed.

John and I realize there is not an activity we have engaged in that our Creator has not seen. Likewise, there is not a deed we have done that is so bad our Redeemer has not paid in full. We have not been left condemned and forsaken. We have repented and have been loved, restored, and forgiven. I’m not implying there are no consequences for such a serious offense. The scar is forever. I am saying joy can be restored and one’s life can go on to have huge purpose.

We continue to trust that God will lead. We desire to serve in whatever capacity God would choose. If he chooses for us to share this, I pray He will continue to give us grace to do just that. Please know there’s help if you’re in a situation where you think abortion is the easy or only solution. Please know there’s help if you or your loved one has walked through the abortion door years ago or just yesterday. Some forty million mothers and fathers, you’re not alone; it’s a post abortive society that has chosen to remain silent. Now is the best time for all of us to find our voice and break the silence.

As far as I can tell there are only three places to stand on this issue of abortion. Approve of the slaughter and call it “choice”, not approve but remain silent, or stand between the slaughter and the silence. As you can tell it is sad and true John and I have stood in all three places. The wonder of it all is that each of us has the privilege of being able to move closer to truth. Our hearts and minds and positions can change. We are a living testimony to this.

John and Sylvia live in Union Center, South Dakota, and have spoken about their experiences at numerous "Life and Liberty" events in South Dakota.

*Reprinted from Dakota Voice October 2006


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