For the Ones We Were Told to Abort

The room was sterile, as doctors’ offices tend to be. My husband, Jason, stood to my left holding my hand as clear jelly was smeared over my pregnant belly. To my right there was a monitor. In my heart there was a storm. Something was wrong with the baby inside me. Though I’d not yet seen his face, every instinct in me strained to protect him.

The doctor walked in with a clipboard in her hand and an edge in her voice.

“Your baby won’t survive the pregnancy,” she announced with a stoicism she must have learned through years of telling worried parents terrible news.

The room began to tilt.

“If he does, he will be terribly disabled,” she continued. It was as if she was announcing the weather. Didn’t she see the tears welling in our eyes? Had my baby’s tiny heart begun to race like my own?

The ultrasound tech silently slipped his hand into mine. All these years later I’m still convinced he was praying.

And then . . .

“I suggest you abort him.”

My world was spinning wildly now. I was suddenly disoriented inside of my own story.


That word expanded inside my head and heart like a weather balloon. What would have been an easy decision fifteen minutes prior, suddenly felt confusing and complex. This was a pediatric neonatologist. Surely, she knew what she was talking about?

Jason, a man made of granite, simply said, “No.”

There, I could breathe again. This was our baby, a precious image-bearer of God. We would not snuff out his little life, regardless of the very real uncertainties we now faced. The doctor’s face registered something like disappointment laced with annoyance. We’d made the irresponsible choice in her mind. For six more months we would endure her cold care until our son was welcomed into our arms, not physically perfect, but very much alive.

That was seventeen years ago. Our son Elisha is thriving. He has a driver’s license and a good golf swing. He is fun and handsome and committed to Jesus. The issue originally diagnosed in that ultrasound room has not resolved itself. He only has one kidney, but he is strong. He is healthy. He is a profound gift.

The Hallmark holiday coming up need not be about us, moms. As Christian mothers, let’s make it about the gift of life and the profound mystery that God lets us be a part of it. 

I’ve made enough circles around the sun to know that our story is not wholly unique. Because our culture worships comfort and rejects the Imago Dei, parents are encouraged to abort their babies every day. Many parents, sometimes feeling like it’s the only responsible thing to do, say yes—to the tune of 930,160 abortions every year in the U.S. alone. 

I’ll never claim the decision is simple. I don’t believe many mothers make that choice cavalierly, but the fact remains: abortion is not a healthcare choice. It’s a tragedy. If we’re ever going to shift pro-life thinking from the political mud bog and into hearts, we need to tell a better story—the story of the lives we gained.

Dear Doctor

On behalf of parents everywhere who did not receive the perfectly healthy baby they prayed for but did welcome into their arms a bundle of joy given by a generous God, here’s my letter to the doctor who told me to choose differently.

Dear Doctor,

You were wrong, you know. The kind of wrong that should put a knot in your stomach. Don’t hear anger in my voice. I have none. In our sin-bent world it’s easy to become calloused and jaded, but in that cold room many years ago, you gave me a present I keep opening. You taught me that life is a gift worth fighting for.

Our son survived the pregnancy. He is not disabled, though we’d love him the same if he were. He has brought us joy for 5,905 days (and counting). I simply cannot imagine my life without him. Praise God. I don’t have to.

At six feet tall, he’d tower above you. His very presence would be a reminder that no child is a diagnosis. They are people, made in the image of God, just like you are. When you only saw lights on a screen, God saw a bearer of hope. When you only saw unknowns, God was numbering his days . . . his hairs . . . his heartbeats.

You didn’t get into medicine to terminate pregnancies, I’m sure of it. You wanted to help people. You took a do-no-harm oath. Let Elisha’s life defibrillate your hard heart. Even when every data point suggests otherwise, every baby matters.

You can choose differently next time. Instead of defaulting to the nuclear option, you can say, “I don’t know exactly how this will turn out, but I’ll be with you every step.” Then you can do what we have, surrender your own life, and the lives of every little one in your care to the sovereign hands of God.

When I think of the families who chose to abort because you advised it, my chest aches. My arms feel the weight of the babies our world never got to hold. When I think of the ones who will live because of doctors and nurses who lean into their medical training and tools to choose life, I have hope.

Soon enough my boy will turn his tassel. He’ll probably meet a girl and welcome babies of his own, an entire future that could have been erased with the click of your pen. But he’s here. And he’s ours. I hope you’ll think of him the next time the lower story looks grim. Elisha’s name means “God is my salvation.” It’s true, you know. There is a God who is mighty to save. May He save us from our misdirected ideas and mismatched hope and shape us into a people who choose life every time.


Jason, Erin, and Elisha

The Lives We’ve Gained

It’s your turn. Did a doctor tell you your baby wouldn’t survive? Did someone else urge you to consider abortion as the only reasonable choice? This Mother’s Day let’s raise our voices and tell the story of the lives we’ve gained.

And if the doctors got it right, if a sovereign God allowed the tragic death of your little one, will you tell the story of their dignity? That they left your arms and entered the arms of a Savior. That they matter. They are a person, not a medical choice. God’s Word gets it right, of course. Our children are a blessing. Let’s tell that story. Again and again and again.

Moms perform a lot of tasks, and many aren’t very glamorous. How should a mom respond when there seems to be a huge gap between the jobs her hands are doing and the feelings in her heart? Kristen Wetherell helps moms of all ages get their focus off themselves and onto the One who has already done all the performing on their behalf in the latest series on Revive Our Hearts. Moms, this one’s for you!

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager … read more …

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