Pregnancy care and heart care
The past three decades have seen a shift in the reasons women seek abortions, but pro-life workers still help many choose life
After Tammy Hayward found out she was pregnant in 2017, she drove an hour south from her home in Leesburg, Fla., to an Orlando abortion clinic to get the abortion pill. But the facility did not accept Medicaid, so in the parking lot she frantically googled places to get an abortion. She ended up calling the Pregnancy and Family Care Center in Leesburg.
Director Wanda Kohn picked up the phone and, after hearing her predicament, urged Hayward to stop by since the center was on her way home. She agreed.
In the center’s counseling room, Hayward told her story: She already had three children over the age of 10. The pregnancy made her feel sick day and night, and she was struggling financially while trying to hold down an office job and a part-time position at Red Lobster. The baby’s father was unemployed and addicted to drugs. Plus, she was 41 years old and afraid of having another miscarriage. In her mind, it was not a good time to have another baby.
Hayward’s story reflects the attitude Kohn sees in many women who come to her pregnancy center nowadays: They only see the reasons why they can’t continue their pregnancies and believe those reasons excuse their decision to abort. Kohn—WORLD’s 2007 Daniel of the Year—believes it reflects a heart issue where they value their own wisdom over God’s. This is a shift from the past, when many women sought abortions due to the stigma of getting pregnant out of wedlock.
Kohn would know—that was the situation she found herself in at age 17, when she had her own abortion to avoid the embarrassment of her parents and community finding out about her pregnancy. At the time, she couldn’t see far enough past her present crisis to understand that one day she would regret her decision.
Twelve years later, in 1989, Kohn began volunteering with the Pregnancy and Family Care Center. In the 1980s and ’90s, many women came to the center for pregnancy tests. Now that women can buy pregnancy tests for $5 at a local convenience store, women often come for the center’s ultrasound referrals.
“When I first started volunteering, it was a scared little girl who didn’t know what to do, and you’re offering her maternity homes,” Kohn said. But today, women just “don’t want anyone telling [them] what to do. … In a decision to end the life of their baby, these women are feeling like they’re justified.”
During Hayward’s visit, Kohn showed her a box of tiny rubber baby models illustrating the baby’s stages of growth. She urged Hayward to look beyond her temporary concerns and to allow God to work through this unplanned pregnancy.
After meeting with Kohn, Hayward told her employer she was pregnant and was considering an abortion. The company offered to pay for her abortion since Medicaid wouldn’t cover it. But she continued visiting Kohn at the pregnancy center, and the image of those tiny rubber babies stuck in her mind.
Two and a half weeks later, Hayward turned down her employer’s offer. She had decided to keep her baby.
Hayward also started volunteering at the center, and she and her 11-year-old daughter attended Bible studies there. On weekends, they joined Kohn and her husband for services at First Baptist Church of Leesburg, the church that started the pregnancy center. Her daughter got baptized. A few months later, Hayward welcomed her daughter Bella into the world.
“[Kohn] let me know how the Bible sees things,” Hayward said. Kohn helped her understand that taking her baby’s life was not her choice to make and that she was accountable to God for whatever she did.
Kohn said she often talks to her clients about God, explaining the gospel and telling them God cares about them and their babies. “You don’t have to like the fact that you’re pregnant. You can be mad,” she tells them. But, as long as they come before God with a teachable heart and with a desire to keep their babies, “God starts working.”
“In a lot of these cases, the problem isn’t abortion,” she added. “Abortion is just a symptom of a problem with the heart.”
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