All are Welcome Here

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Please bear with me, as I try to muster the right words to express this burden of my heart.

I have been deeply heartbroken over a situation for several months now, and as the momentum has escalated in recent weeks, watching the events transpire has left me deeply and profoundly anguished.

Before I begin, I want you also to know that I have been wearily trying to prepare my heart for any backlash that I sadly anticipate may come from my sharing my concerns so publicly.  I have, in fact, already lost friends over this.  There are some who believe my position is an easy one.  It is a painfully complex and emotionally exhausting one, on any given day.  Situations like what I will share here only compound this.

You might read the recently published From the Chasm for a more in-depth look at the weight this situation has taken on my heart.

The words to begin this have been rolling around in my mind for several days, but the insult of what has taken place brings me to nausea.  My fingers tremble at the keyboard as my body quivers with a mix of disgust, disappointment, and something….  a something that is so heavy in my heart that it physically hurts to inhale.  This something is so very difficult to understand.

As I do try to rationalize the good intentions there may be behind what has transpired, as I do try to find the goodness in what it means, this something…  this very heavy something…  it is something I don’t want to look at.  I don’t want to know about.  I don’t want to learn from.  Nobody would.

This something…  it is a loss of hope.

Lest you think that I am over-exaggerating, that what took place was just a gentle loving gesture, know that I have diligently and determinedly tried to reach religious and pro-life organizations of all levels and in many, many locations.  For months.  For years.

A Christian radio station called me and said they wanted an interview.  I spoke passionately about the responsibilities of the pro-life community to raise awareness of pregnancy & infant loss support.

Do you know?  Their only hope was that I would say I enjoy listening to their radio station.

So, after I could catch my breath along with the rejection, I asked if there could be a mutual understanding:

You want to use my voice for a promotion for your radio station?  Fine, I guess.  But will you share about pregnancy & infant loss awareness?

No, of course not.  They do not promote resources or agendas outside of their own.

So, when I share with you what I am going to share, rest assured that there is a history – a long and big history – of my working on reaching churches, radio stations, ministries, institutions and organizations.

Here is my own stance, and I stand firmly behind it:

Being anti-abortion should not be the only voice of the pro-life movement.

And you are pro-life and already interjecting.  I know it.  Telling me that it’s not.  That you care about the mother, too.

I am personally, pro-life.

It is what makes this whole experience such a painful and even shameful one.

On September 14, 2013, after being ignored for months, I watched, to my deep chagrin and heartbreak, as excitement mounted through social media sites such as Facebook, as those who espouse pro-life ideologies prepared to hold the first annual, national, pro-life vigil to honor babies born via elective abortion.

They say that it’s in remembrance of the first ever official burial of babies born via elective abortion, on September 14, 1988 in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

So, that’s it, you might say.

You might sigh and lean back and think, “That Heidi, she got all worked up over nothing.”

I have sat, perplexed, wondering about this event and the possible repercussions – for better or for worse – that this might mean to the pregnancy & infant loss community.

I have puzzled over this thing for months.

And as I have received virtually no responses whatsoever from anyone I petitioned to consider what the possible negative consequences to this might be, I have been left alone to my thoughts and to my very conservative, very Christian, very pro-life prayers.

So let me share with you.  Hold on while I wipe my tears once more and plunge forward with a string of words that I hope can convey the magnitude of what this now annual, anti-abortion vigil may mean.

And let me share with you, the responsibility that will therefore be placed on your shoulders, for being privy of such information.

OK, here we go.

The anti-abortion vigil takes place just before any other national or international recognition of parental bereavement of any sort.

President Ronald Reagan (a conservative, Christian, bereaved father) signed Proclamation 5890 in October of 1988.  I don’t know when the proclamation was drafted because I filed an FOIA and instead received a lovely, heartfelt form letter from the White House congratulating themselves on their advances in women’s rights issues of reproductive freedom.  Could Proclamation 5890 have been drafted before September 14, 1988?  There is at least a slim possibility.

The anti-abortion vigil is clearly and admittedly intended to be an act of demonstration.

If we act as though these electively aborted babies are deceased babies, then it will substantiate our anti-abortion agenda.

Consider these two points, again.

  1. The anti-abortion vigil is held just before all other national and international events and memorials in honor of pregnancy & infant loss awareness.
  2. The anti-abortion vigil is a self-proclaimed act of demonstration, intended to further the purposes of the anti-abortion agenda.

Oh, my burdened heart.

The newly enforced, national annual, anti-abortion vigil has a base website as well as a Facebook page.  On the Facebook page, photos depict those who grieve elective abortion.  I get it.  But also are those mothers who gave birth via elective abortion who profess regret.

Let me articulate what we all know this to look like.

It looks like the Christian, conservative, pro-life movement is legalistic.  Like we only welcome, hug, and snap photos of, the mothers of electively aborted babies who are willing to profess their regret.  We will not condemn you, this I do believe.  But we sure make sure you know you killed your baby.

On their website, is a prayer, for the mothers of electively aborted babies.    The following passage is highlighted to stand out within the prayer:

Help us to understand

The pain that is in their hearts,

And to be a living sign to them

Of your welcome, your mercy, and your healing.

Oh, how I have sought the whisper of the Holy Spirit for clarity here.

“Help us to be a living sign to them.”

To those who hold dear the values of pro-life but who only demonstrate an anti-abortion message, I am trying to reach you.  I am trying, Lord help me, to help you understand.

You may tell me that I’m missing something.  You may tell me that all this is powerful and important.

But let me tell you what I know.

You cannot stand in a mother’s stead at a remembrance vigil and believe that you are bringing healing to her.

You are not.

Your annual event is now the kickoff into the tiny little window of time we do have to bring global recognition to pregnancy and infant loss.

You are standing there, because you are believing the mother would not be.

You are standing there, so that more people will mourn elective abortion.

But by so doing, you are facilitating the reality that less people may mourn babies.

You are standing there, and a mother may cower, drop her flowers and run, fearing that she dare not show up lest you make sure she know she killed her baby.

And when the rest of us who are bereaved, who hold candles, who hold ceremonies, who hold vigils, to honor our deceased babies, born via miscarriage, born via stillbirth, we will continue to wonder why you have created a separate vigil, a divisive vigil, a demonstrative vigil of a position instead of a person, instead of coming alongside.

We will grieve that you are anti-abortion instead of being pro-healing.

To mothers who have given birth to babies who are not alive, to mothers who have given birth to babies via miscarriage, via stillbirth, via elective abortion, may you know that we all hold important differences.  Yes, we do.  Those differences can bring a special kinship as we find those among us who mirror the closest of what our own experiences are.  But those differences can rapidly become divisive, isolating, shaming and condemning.

Elective abortion is not the same as miscarriage.

It would be a horrendous disservice to both mothers to pretend that it is.

And if I can help a mother to not take on the lifelong journey of bereavement, absolutely I would strive tirelessly to help guide her away from the path of tears.

In fact, I have and I do.

Be aware of our differences, indeed.

But may we collectively celebrate our similarities.

Grief is a language.

I speak the dialect of miscarriage.

May we honor one another’s dialect.  May we learn to honor the magnitude of the language with which we speak.  May we learn the value of stumbling forward together on this journey of life after loss.

As an individual, as a mother, I am personally, pro-life.  Not as a lofty idealism, but because I have walked through the valley and because I chose life.


And as the founder of stillbirthday, I am not anti-abortion.

I am pro-healing.

Pro-healing is a comprehensive stance.  It stands beyond politics and opinions and lofty idealism and demonstrations for agenda.  Pro-healing does not segregate the remembrance of babies born via elective abortion from the remembrance of babies born via miscarriage or stillbirth for the single purpose of demonstrating a political or religious position based on legalistic judgment against the mothers rather than honoring the personhood of the babies and the lifelong journey of the mothers.

Let me tell you, you cannot speak God’s love and mercy to mothers of electively aborted babies if you stand at the grave of their baby with the sole intention of holding a pre-planned and politically-based outcome of your actions.

When you have a pre-designed outcome for your purposes, as a Christian, as a conservative, as a pro-life individual, as a bereaved mother, let me tell you plainly: you cannot hold vigil.

Pro-healing does not stand in a mothers stead, but searches for ways to welcome all mothers.

And all, are welcome here.

Related: the annual stillbirthday October Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness event will always be for everyone touched by bereavement

If you are a mother facing the possibility of elective abortion, please know the value of time.  Time.  You are not alone.  There are resources and there is support for whatever your circumstances are, whether the death of your baby is inevitable due to diagnosis or whether the death of your baby feels like the only option in a terrible collection of pain and impossibility.  You are not alone.  There is value in time.  It’s not to trick you.  It’s to give you even just one morsel of the enormity of what may feel taken from you right now.  Please.  Use time.

If you are a mother who has given birth via elective abortion, you don’t need me to tell you that your baby was a baby.  And I don’t need you to confess that you are filled with regret.  Whatever your circumstance, wherever you have been, you are valuable.  You are worthy.  I will not blast out the cliché that you have reproductive rights.  That doesn’t begin to reach into the magnitude of what you may be carrying.  You have a right to healing.  Not conditional upon holding a certain threshold of shame.  But simply because you were created to receive love from One who loves you unconditionally and because that One not only holds your baby for you, but waits patiently for you to sense that love being given to you, so that when you finally become filled with that love, you can give some of that love in return.


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  1. I love you. When we get to heaven, I think we will be astounded by His mercy and grace. I love you with all my pro-life, pro-healing, heart. Thank you for making me ponder the hard places, and what grace looks like.

  2. Norine Whitlow says:

    You are amazing! Thank you so much for your courageousness in sharing!

  3. Heidi, I wish we lived close to each other so I could give you a GIANT hug, help you wipe your tears, and physically lock arms with you in your quest to bring healing to those that mourn.

    I know what it’s like to beat on ‘religious’ doors with a call you know is from God, and receive either no response or a cold shoulder. More importantly, GOD KNOWS!

    This is so articulately written, so filled with the passion of a heart broken for others, that I know Holy Spirit spoke through you. Do not entertain those who will not hear. Do not cast pearls before swine. Continue the work that God has ordained you to do, and let your light SHINE, in spite of those who wish to douse it with religious dogma, anger, guilt, envy. As Mark Buntain, a missionary to Africa once said, “All the darkness in the world cannot put out the light of one small candle.” Continue to be that candle, Heidi. It is shining in the darkness as a beacon to those who need to see it.

  4. April Bolivar says:

    Heidi you are a gift. I am so pleased to be your student and becoming your friend. You are true to yourself and God and I love you for that. When I speak of my losses. I say I’ve lost three, I don’t elaborate that one was an abortion and two where miscarriages. Society makes me fear the repose, the judgment. Until you have walked in someone’s shoes you can’t judge them. What I went through, that choice, wasn’t made on a whim. Thank you for standing up for people like me.

  5. You are an amazing woman. When I had my miscarriage in November last year all of my prayers led me to this site where you work so hard and tirelessly to give hope to someone like me. Thank you for what you stand for, for all of your blood, sweat and tears that you pour into this site, and for your heart to help those of us that mourn. There are so many of us that appreciate you and I’m so sorry you are feeling beaten down right now. Many hugs and prayers for you.


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