While I like to publish first hand accounts, this one had to be told!
This is not my own story, but a story about a friend of mine. I will give it the title “Shannon: Heroic Defender of Life”
I met Shannon about 12 or 13 years ago when we were both involved in pro-life ministry in her hometown in Illinois. I was in my early 30’s with no kids yet, and Shannon was a young mother in her early 20’s. We met on the sidewalk outside of the local abortion clinic where we were part of a group trying to reach out to the young women going into the clinic. Over the course of the 6 months that I was in that town, I heard many different pieces of her tale.
Shannon had become pregnant for the first time at age 13 when she was raped by her “boyfriend”, an older man who was 18 at the time. Two years later, at age 15, she became pregnant again by another rape committed by this same man. She made it very clear that this was not in any way a “date rape” situation, but was in fact a forcible rape.
Shannon had every excuse in the world to abort these two pregnancies. She was still reeling from the trauma of having been raped. She was stuck in an abusive relationship. And besides all that, she was too gosh-darned young to become a mother.
Yet she did not abort–she chose life for her 2 children. Matthew, his first-born, was 7 years old when I knew Shannon, and her daughter, “Sissy” was 5 years old. (I can’t remember “Sissy’s” given name, only her nickname.) Matthew and Sissy were the joy and delight of Shannon’s life. She loved those 2 kids with all her heart. She brought them along with her to do pro-life ministry outside of the local abortion clinic during the summer months when school was out of session, and I remember that they were two of the sweetest children in the world.
One of our fellow pro-lifers complimented Shannon on what a fine job she was doing of bringing up Matthew and Sissy. And she did it all in the midst of difficult circumstances. She was a single mother, living in a crummy neighborhood (just down the street from the abortion clinic) and working a part-time job. She shared a place with her room-mate Tracy, a punk-rocker with green spiked hair who also was part of our pro-life team.
Back in those days, I didn’t even realize what an incredible thing Shannon was doing by successfully bringing up kids in such difficult circumstances. Now that I have children of my own, I am amazed at Shannon. I struggle to be a good Mom to my kids even with the full support of the man who is an incredible husband and great father to our kids. And yet Shannon made it look easy to be a mother.
Shannon is my hero for being a defender of life. It would have been enough for her to simply bring those kids into the world despite what must have been immense pressure to abort. I remember one time when Shannon talked about the time when an ultrasound technician had told her that her daughter would be deformed in an apparent attempt to steer her to abortion. Then there was the time when we were standing on the sidewalk doing our pro-life ministry and Shannon told us that she had just seen the father of her two children taking a young woman into the abortion clinic. I imagine he must’ve tried to convince Shannon to do the same back in her day. So in my book, Shannon deserves a medal just for mothering her own two children.
Yet Shannon did so much more than that. Shannon chose to devote her time and energy to try to reach out and help other young women who were pregnant and in difficult situations such as hers. She was on the sidewalk outside that clinic twice a week, on each of the mornings the place performed abortions. She was there to try to give encouragement and help for other young women to bring their children into this world.
And she took her stand for life right there in the midst of a neighborhood in which she faced persecution for her stand for life. All of us in that pro-life group faced at least verbal abuse from the clinic’s landlord and workers as well as from the creepy neighbors who lived nearby. And some of the group faced physical abuse. Yet Shannon took her stand for life while living in that neighborhood, where she must have risked harassment daily for daring to stand against the local abortion clinic.
And so this is my tribute to Shannon for being a hero and a defender of life. May God bless her and her children. And may God use her story to help others know that mothering their own children can be done successfully, even in the midst of the most trying of circumstances.