A speech by Teneil Anderson at the 19th Annual Rally for Life.
I stand here before you tonight as a young woman who should have died before she was even born.
About 19 years ago a woman in her mid-twenties, who was heavily addicted to cocaine, met a young man on a drug deal and a relationship quickly formed between the two of them. Not long after they met, the woman fell pregnant. This pregnancy was not her first; it was her seventh. The first time she fell pregnant she was very young, just sixteen, kicked out of home and suffering with anorexia. For her, the only option was to terminate her pregnancy. Just short of a year later, she found herself pregnant again. This time to a man who she felt was the love of her life; so she kept the baby. Though the father to this child seemed to be the love of the woman’s life, she suffered years of physical and emotional abuse until she mustered up the courage to leave him.
She had no support. No love. No direction. No healing. No freedom. So, she turned to the only thing that was available to numb the pain; sex, drugs and alcohol.
After years of going down this path she found herself buying drugs from a young man just short of the age of 20. Though she was 26, their relationship quickly blossomed. Not long after this, the woman fell pregnant; pregnant with me.
You see, when my mum fell pregnant with me in her mid-twenties, she was a drug addict, living every day for the needle.
She lived off “the dole” and every fortnight she would tell herself “I’m getting an abortion this week.” But as each week turned over, her addiction always won the battle; the money would go to feeding the need.
At her last legal chance of getting rid of the “foetus” (also known as me, Teneil) she had to decide if she would finance her addiction or the termination of my life.
My mum didn’t flinch at having an abortion because my life wouldn’t have been her first… or her second … or her third … or even her fourth. I would have been her fifth abortion.
We live in a society that is led to believe that ending a life prematurely is okay if it is unwanted, if birth control didn’t work, if the child has deformities or severe medical problems, if the pregnancy is a result from rape or incest or if there are physical or mental conditions that endanger the woman’s health if the pregnancy would continue.
Most of these reasons, in the eyes of our world, were perfect excuses for my mum to end my life.
Her birth control didn’t work.
She lived off the government’s generosity, and the little amount she received barely covered living expenses plus her addictions; so she could in no way financially support a baby.
I was very much an unwanted pregnancy. And for the first 3 months of my life in the womb my mum didn’t care about me so she would shoot up every day. She was constantly high. The fact I survived the pregnancy and came out with no deformities was a miracle in itself.
There is no way around it, the fact is when my mum was pregnant with me she did not want me.
Now, I know my story is only my story, and it may offend some people, but does my history not sound awfully familiar to many of the stories we hear regarding why women should abort?
My mum was a drug addict and has suffered from on-and-off substance abuse my entire life. Growing up, my mum’s addictions only continued. I grew up in an environment that no child should ever be exposed to. I was exposed to every possible type of drug. Exposed to my mum and her friends most of the time. Exposed to unhealthy relationships. Exposed to physical and emotional abuse. Exposed to an array of different types of mental health issues. And exposed to a lifestyle that we were not created to live or experience.
Perhaps some of you listening tonight would have seen my mum at the time, in all her mess and addictions and instead of having love and compassion for her would have had judgement and condemnation. Am I supporting a childhood surrounded by drug addicts and awful things? Am I saying that we should allow children to continue to be brought up in unhealthy environments? No! I am saying how grateful I am, that my mum did give me life, despite all the mess that surrounded her.
Look at me. Look at my life. The risk my mum took was well worth it. I am a product of a “junkie” who should have aborted me almost 20 years ago.
I should be dead.
But I rejoice because I am not.
I rejoice because my mum did a 180 turn around and chose to keep me, even though all the odds were against her.
I survived the womb.
I survived my childhood.
I didn’t just survive my teenage years but in fact started thriving.
There are times where I just sit and ask myself: Why?
Why was I given the option of living, but not my siblings who were conceived before me?
Why do we have such twisted standards about human life?
Why is it that it isn’t until the foetus is born that it has basic human rights? The right to live. The right for doctors to fight for them. The right to be adopted out to a family who is financially stable and can provide a loving home.
Why was there no one who looked at my mum and family situation and tried to help earlier on?
The reason why I grew up in the household I did was because my mum didn’t know how to get out of her broken cycle of a life. She was stuck. I was stuck. There was no one for 14 years who offered support, love or help. It wasn’t until I started going to a Christian high school where I found the love and community I had been craving my entire life. I found people who didn’t see my upbringing and pity me or who treated me like charity. But I found people who saw me. Saw that I was lonely, hurting, broken and they allowed me to be a part of their families, their church home and their lives. They didn’t see a situation that they could look into and judge from afar but they saw a need, a life that needed love and support. It was not one person, but many people and families that, through their God-fearing faith, brought me through some insane dark times and led me into knowing Jesus personally.
So, I’m asking you tonight, challenging you, what are you doing for the mothers of the unborn? How are you supporting and loving them? Being a part of a movement to end the practice of abortion in our lifetime is only one step in the journey. This is not a quick fix situation. It is a lengthy process of healing and restoration for both the child and the mother. Like my mum, there are thousands of women who have had abortions or who are currently or will in the future consider having one. It is our job, our mandate not just to stand in the gap and fight for the lives of the unborn, but also to stand up and fight for and protect the lives of our women. They need to be loved and supported just as much as our children. We need to love them both.
“But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation. You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem—and now is the time to pity her, now is the time you promised to help. For your people love every stone in her walls and cherish even the dust in her streets. Then the nations will tremble before the Lord. The kings of the earth will tremble before his glory. For the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem. He will appear in his glory. He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas. Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord” (Psalms 102:12-18 NLT).