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Coercion and Self-Deception – by Vicky Kaseorg

I counseled a woman this week, and I think her story can be used to help all of us in learning how to deal with the issue of coercion, especially when the woman may not clearly identify that she is being coerced. The co-issue of self-deception is not uncommon in the women coming to abort their babies.

The young lady, Mara*, left the abortion center because she felt she could not do it. She knew her boyfriend had left and would be picking her up in a couple of hours. She heard our sidewalk outreach team calling out about the free mobile ultrasound unit nearby and decided she should see the baby
before she made this decision.
She came aboard the mobile ultrasound unit. She was very clear that she was undecided, but was still leaning towards killing the baby.

As we always do, I asked her what was going on. What was her situation that was causing her to consider abortion? She said that she really did not want to abort the child but the boyfriend had said he absolutely did not want this baby to be born. He would not only leave her if she kept the baby, but he would right away file for custody of the baby and try to keep her from the child!

I asked her how this made her feel and she told me it made her feel terrible. I asked her what she felt God would have her do? She said she knew God would have her keep the baby and then told me emphatically, “I am a Christian.“

I asked her if that meant she had submitted her life to Jesus as Lord and she said it did. I asked her if she had submitted every area of her life to Jesus is Lord. She said she had. Then I asked her if she knew what the Bible said about the sanctity of human life, even in the womb. She did not. I read her some verses from Psalm 139. Then I asked her if it sounded like God, who had created that little life and loved the baby had a plan for him or her from the moment of conception. She agreed it did.

“Well then,” I asked, “Would He have you take the child’s life?”

She admitted probably not.

Then I asked her if she was married. She was not. I asked her if she knew what God said about sexual intimacy outside of marriage. She said she knew that God tells us not to do that.

Now, I asked her again if she was SURE she had truly submitted her life to Jesus as Lord given those two major areas of disobedience. She said not according to her behavior. I told her that her behavior is what reflected her heart, and that the book of James is very clear about that. It is not what we say, but what we do, especially in the hard times that reflect our faith.

She continued to rationalize that the boyfriend was justified in the desire for the baby “to be gone.” She felt it was admirable that he wanted to help the family he already had with her.

“Let me rephrase what you just said. First of all, saying the ‘baby be gone’ means KILLED. Our words can make things look much different than reality. Also, you are saying he is going to help his family by killing one member of his family, correct?” I said.

She looked down. She knew the answer and it disturbed her much more phrased that way.

Teary-eyed, she now told a story which she had not initially shared of the boyfriend’s unfaithfulness. They had actually split up over it, and she was pregnant with this child before the split. He was happily dating the new woman. She told him about the baby. He told her he was willing to return to her and work on their relationship if and only if she killed the baby.

We were very clear with her that this was coercive, controlling, and abusive. I asked if he knew how she felt about abortion and that she did not want to do it. She said that he did. I asked her if she really believed he was a good man if he was asking her to go against her faith and her morals and conscience. She admitted he was not.

Nonetheless, when the pregnancy test revealed that she was not pregnant, she said she needed a picture of it to show to him. Her at home test two weeks prior had been positive.She said he would need proof. She felt with the proof she was not pregnant, they could move forward on their relationship!

Again, we pointed out how controlling, untrusting, and coercive every action was by the boyfriend towards her. The sad truth is she agreed, but she was still going to take the picture of the pregnancy test. She was still going to return and try to work things out with the boyfriend. She was relieved that now the issue was “solved.”

If we are truly committed to creating a culture of life with the truth of the gospel of Jesus, we know the issue is NOT solved. This is a young, vulnerable woman, with no sense of her own worth before God, and a very twisted understanding of what it means to claim Jesus as Lord. We could not in good conscience let our counsel end at that point.

We offered a mentorship program, with a trained mentor who loved the Lord and could help her in a faithful and truthful walk with Him. We spoke candidly about the truth of the red flags we saw in the boyfriend, and how she needed to end this relationship.

We urged her to see that she needed to turn to God. If she called Him her Lord, then there had to be changes in her life. We offered free counseling. She agreed she needed everything we offered and accepted it. However, later that day, the boyfriend called to find out from the sonographer Kelly whether the pregnancy test really was negative. We suspected from now on she would ignore the calls from the mentor and would not contact the free counselor.

We cannot solve all the issues of the women we face. Rationalizing sin and self deception of a life submitted to Jesus is very common in the women who come to abort their children. However, I believe this was important for us to pursue, standing on God‘s truth and faithfully presenting scripture to this person. We are called to warn those on a path of destruction. Of course, the results are up to God, as always.

The next day, I felt God nudging me to call her. Since I had not fully shared the Gospel, I knew I needed to make that call. She was eager to talk with me. She desperately needed a friend. The boyfriend had predictably ended the relationship as soon as Kelly assured him the pregnancy test was negative. Her world was crashing around her.

That is when God most mercifully steps in. I shared the Gospel and this time, she was very receptive. All self deception was gone. She saw that Jesus had NOT been Lord of her life. She saw that clearly now. She told me she wanted to commit her life to Him now…and she did.

She also told me that there was another positive thing that came out of the whole mess. She met US. She did not kill the baby, despite the boyfriend pressuring her. She was sad that she assumed she must have miscarried since she HAD been testing positive. But she knew that had she stayed in the abortion center, she would have taken the pill, and that would have been on her conscience. She was so grateful for our teams, and now the offer of the Love Life mentor and church to help her remain connected to God.

*not real name for privacy

“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

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