I agree. We all agree. They are killing the children. The Desiring God article recirculating Christian feeds is true.

But what we as evangelicals haven’t adequately brought to light is that the mothers in those dark rooms don’t want their child to die. They just want a way out.

As a mom who faced the decision of whether or not to abort my child, I’m here to tell you, every mom facing this decision already knows abortion means death of the baby growing in her womb.

It doesn’t matter if she wanted the pregnancy or not. Maybe it came from a night out a little too late. Maybe it came from an encounter without consent. Or maybe a happily married couple carefully planned the pregnancy.

But the moment a poppy seed-sized blastocyst secretly burrows into a woman’s womb, motherhood and its protective instincts pervade her.

We know it’s death

No one needs to tell a mom facing this decision that abortion means death.

There’s a slow death going on inside of her as she faces the reality in her body and in her future.

Facing this decision means death for the dreams she had about motherhood. (What little girl ever wished to be the mother considering not wanting the unborn “fetus” moving inside of her?)

It means death for the hopes she had from the first morning nausea, the first day late, and when she saw two lines on the urine-saturated stick.

And the doctor encouraging it knows he is suggesting killing a child. It’s no secret to anyone on either side of the shrill conversation.

When he wanted me to terminate

Six years ago, a doctor strongly recommended I terminate my pregnancy, because something was very wrong with my baby’s heart.

In that moment, I finally understood. Aborting a baby isn’t because a mother doesn’t love enough. It’s because the fear is suffocating.

A mother doesn’t want her child to suffer. And honestly, a mother doesn’t want to suffer either.

Ethics and rights escape those haunting moments. Fear becomes reality.

And some doctors—and societies—are good at convincing scared mothers there is an easier way. They couch abortion as a selfless act.

“Get rid of this one and try again for healthy,” the doctor said to me.

And it was tempting to make the selfish choice that would’ve been fully for comfort. On the way home, I admitted the doctor was right: I really didn’t want a baby like that.

What might change her mind

Neither pro-choice nor pro-life Americans need to be convinced they are killing the children. But we do need to work on understanding what motivates women to make this choice.

Telling a mom facing this choice that she’s killing her child isn’t what might change her mind. Because that’s not her primary problem in that moment.

Really, she’s wrestling with an all-consuming fear. Until we help her face the fear, it’s almost impossible to help her change her mind.

What might change her mind is to know she has other choices. And more time to consider the available options. That she can find support.

It might change her mind that she doesn’t have to decide today, while emotions are high and the fear is crippling.

Other options

It might change her mind to know that, no matter the diagnosis, there are hospitals who will try to save an “inoperable” baby. Instead of the doctor saying the baby won’t live, he should offer the names of the top pediatric centers in the U.S.

And when she’s scared society won’t welcome a different type of kid, it might change her mind to consider how her unique child can change the world.

Instead of succumbing to fear that no one will love her again, it might change the mom’s mind to be reassured there are future partners who will love a child who wasn’t theirs from the start.

Instead of giving into the financial impossibilities of raising a child, it might change her mind to know there are families who have been praying for a baby. And they will give her baby the life she hoped it could have.

Instead of drowning in the “what ifs,” mothers everywhere can be honest about the hardships they face even in planned, expected, healthy pregnancies.

How do we silence politics and principles … and focus on people?

To see the terrified mothers faced with a hard choice. Then we can start being open about how to come alongside someone facing their deepest fears.

When we do that together, we can save more lives.

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I was afraid

When I look back to that day, I know I was scared. I wish I would’ve known that nothing beautiful is ever perfect.

I wish I would’ve known there would be so much more to celebrate than to grieve. That on any given day, I’d likely be doing a little bit of both and that’s OK.

Mostly, I’m glad that through fighting for her life, my child who wasn’t “worth living” has changed me into someone who knows and cares about the strong, afraid, sobbing moms facing an unthinkable choice in a terrifying situation.

Instead of knowing any of that, I laid on the exam table wondering how I would mother a child who shouldn’t make it. I didn’t know any of that courage yet. I didn’t know any of the beauty yet.

But I’m still glad I chose life for her. I watched her kick on the screen above. I wondered about her broken heart. And mostly, I wondered what in the world God was doing.

But I believed

Still in my wonder, I believed.

I believed life was worth it, no matter how short or long it lasted. God was already numbering every one of my child’s days (Psalm 139:16). I believed He could provide whatever we needed. I believed that someday, somehow God would redeem the ache of that day.

If you’re a mom facing this decision, we all know you know. But it’s OK. I know you’re scared, too. And know this—I will stand with you for saying “yes” to the life of your unborn baby.

I invite anyone who’s reading to stop defining an act and start pursuing the mother. Be open about what you’ve faced in your own fears. Because your courage can empower hers.

And join me in saving unborn lives one by one through an honest look at what might actually change their minds.

Copyright © 2019 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Tracy Lane is the Manager of Content Strategy for FamilyLife. She is the author of numerous articles, coauthor of Passport2Identity, and guest on multiple FamilyLife Today broadcasts. Tracy and her husband Matt have two daughters. Follow her special needs motherhood journey at HeartForAnnie.wordpress.com. Find her on instagram @HeartForAnnie.