Leigh Ramsey: Her Unabridged Story
“The first time I ever heard of a CPC, I was living in College Station, TX. Shawn Carney, who would soon be the co-founder for 40 Days for Life, was speaking at the fundraiser for the Coalition for Life along with Jeb Bush. That night, I heard a voice of compassion coming from the church, for women who were facing an unplanned pregnancy. I remember leaving inspired, having learned about sidewalk counseling. I would drive past the Planned Parenthood in Bryan, TX in the weeks that followed and see those sidewalk counselors, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go through the training. What I knew was that I had a very dark, very protected secret. Not even my husband and friends knew the secret of my past. Only a few years had gone by since I had been a college student in Arkansas walking past the sidewalk counselors and through those dreaded doors.
After I made the hasty and uninformed decision to have an abortion as a freshman in college, a tangible darkness invaded my life. I was tormented with thoughts of death. I would go countless nights without sleep. When I did sleep, I would have nightmares. I lost all self-esteem and confidence. I was drowning my shame and regret in late night parties and alcohol. I was sure that God was finished with me for what I had done. However, I knew that I was going to lose my mind if I didn’t find a way to have peace.
My junior year of college, I finally cried out to God. I literally fell on my knees on the floor of my dorm room. I asked Him if He would be my father and lead my life. I turned my life over to Him. He met me there on that floor. A peace washed over me that I had never experienced. I knew I was forgiven for the choices I had made, but I didn’t yet understand how fully God desired to heal me.
Fast forward to my time in TX after hearing about that pregnancy center for the first time. I had been “doing” Christianity, trying to play the part. I had many Christian friends and I was trying desperately to act like them and look like them because I knew the secret that I held so deep, and assumed that the real me wouldn’t fit into any Christian mold. I assumed that if anyone in the church knew my history, they’d reject me, judge me and look down on me. I thought surely I was the only one who had made a choice like abortion, yet I knew deep down that God was asking me to trust Him with my past.
Eventually, we moved from TX to Lake Charles, LA. There, I met a lady who led a post abortive recovery ministry. I knew meeting her was no coincidence, God had brought us together. I didn’t even know that post abortive ministry was something that existed. I thought abortion was surely a subject Christians avoided. Oh, how wrong I was about that. I met some of the most beautiful and godly women in that study, and they were all like me. Each one had chosen abortion, just as I had. Each one had struggled tremendously after making that choice. I went through the Bible study and received more freedom in Christ than I had ever experienced in my life. God showed me that I had accepted the cross, the forgiveness of my sins, but had forgotten the empty tomb, freedom to walk in a new and abundant life! You see, according to 2 Corinthians 5:17, when I gave my life to Christ, I became a completely new creation. My old self and my past had died and I had been raised to walk in a new life! I handed my testimony over to God because I knew that it was no longer a testimony about me, but about an old me who was no more. The testimony was a story of a loving Father who does not hold our past over us, but removes any labels of the past and gives us an entirely new identity as His child! He had healed some of the deepest wounds I could imagine, and I no longer wanted to keep it a secret. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! What I learned is that I had believed so many lies. I wasn’t alone in the choices I had made, not even close. It is estimated that up to one in three women chose abortion in their lifetime. ONE IN THREE! Women and men are walking around and, yes, even sitting in church congregations, with this secret, not realizing that God desires to release them from the chains of the past. I also had a twisted view on how Christians would handle this part of my testimony. I have NEVER had a negative response, not once. Most Christians understand the depth of God’s ability to forgive. Most find it refreshing to meet unmasked, imperfect people because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
While I was going through that Bible study, one of the ladies who was leading me had been a director for a CPC. The stories she shared about helping women who were dealing with an unplanned pregnancy were just beautiful. This was my second introduction to a pregnancy center.
By the time I moved to Mississippi in 2011, I was very familiar with the blessings that pregnancy centers offer to communities. Information on pregnancy, parenting, adoption, sexual integrity, and post-abortive recovery studies are just some of the classes offered at most pregnancy centers. Most also offer ultrasounds, counseling, support and supplies for new mothers. The Center for Pregnancy Choices proved to be one of those centers that offered these services. I met Barbara Beavers soon after moving here and quickly caught her passion for this center.
After meeting the staff at the Center for Pregnancy Choices, I have to admit that I did wonder “what if”. What if, all those years ago, I had met someone like Barbara or the other people who work and volunteer at the CPC? What if I had known about a clinic like this when I was dealing with an unplanned pregnancy? What if a CPC had been just walking distance from the abortion clinic that day? Would I have made the same choice? Would I have stopped before making that decision and listened to other options? I know without a doubt I would have chosen life. I was truly blind when I made the choice to abort. When the scales fell off of my eyes and I understood the gravity and finality of the choice I had made, it devastated me. I am so excited about the new Fondren location for the clinic. I pray that maybe, just maybe some women will have a different story than mine.
As we approach the holidays, it is often a tough time of year for me. This year somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be 23 years since I chose to abort. Occasionally, and without warning, I’ll be looking at my five beautiful children and I’ll know that one is missing. I’ve trained myself to not focus on that pain. Unfortunately, I cannot go back and make a different choice. What I choose to focus on in those moments is an amazing God who has forgiven that sin and reached in and healed that deep wound. What could be a moment of overwhelming sadness, God has been so faithful to turn into overwhelming praise for what He has restored. I asked God to return a purpose to that child who I robbed of the purpose God had planned for her. I now know that every time I share this testimony, I give her a voice and I pray it brings God glory and helps another to either seek out a study that will walk them through the healing process after an abortion, or will stop someone from making that choice and having to go through the pain that follows. I’m so thankful for the Center for Pregnancy Choices and the fact that they offer help with both.
I can barely contain my excitement for the fact that the Fondren location will sit directly on the mission field near the abortion clinic. I pray women and men are drawn to that location and that the comforting Spirit of the Lord bursts through the windows and doors and out onto the streets of Jackson. I pray this location will be an anchor–a calm and a voice of reason in the middle of what can be a chaotic panic of an unplanned pregnancy. I pray women and men who have chosen abortion will seek healing and will trust God with this part of their past. So, during this season of thankfulness and celebration, I am personally thankful that the God who left His perfect home in Heaven that first Christmas night to rescue His children, is still rescuing us to this day.” Leigh Ramsey