This story was published in the Nov. 2015 issue of Today’s Christian Living magazine and is re-published here with permission.
“We tend to think abortion has a face – maybe it’s a poverty stricken girl, or this or that,” Lori Driggs said. “But abortion doesn’t have a face. We see women of all types, ages, education, professionalism, income-levels. It’s across the board.”
Today, as the founder of a ministry to the abortion-wounded, Lori works daily with mothers, fathers, grandparents, and siblings who have been affected by abortion. But 25 years ago, she was just a scared college girl desperately trying to deny her own pregnancy.
For several years, Lori had been seeking attention from boys as a way to fill the emptiness she felt after two big family moves during her middle school and high school years. But in college, when she found out she was pregnant, she was in shock.
I can’t be pregnant. This can’t be happening to me, she kept thinking.
Her parents had always been good, church-going people, and Lori feared admitting her pregnancy to them. “This will just prove to them I’ve been doing all the things they told me not to do,” she decided.
So instead of going to her parents, she went to a friend who mentioned the possibility of abortion – a solution that friend’s older sister had used a year before.
“I’d never heard of the word, had never known anyone who’d had an abortion. But she knew a solution to my problem, and that’s really all I wanted.”
Her boyfriend tried to talk her out of it, but Lori was adamant. He ultimately decided to support her decision and drove her to the clinic the day of her appointment.
“I was nine weeks along,” she said. “I had no idea a baby was a baby at nine weeks.”
After the abortion was over, Lori remembers sitting in a room with half a dozen other women who had also had abortions. “I just remember there felt like there was an emptiness. There were tears from some of the women in the room…. We left, and we didn’t say anything all the way home…it was never spoken about again.”
Still, there were many moments during the next few years when Lori thought about the abortion.
The party where she locked eyes with the older sister of her friend and knew they shared a shameful secret.
The months when she began planning her wedding to her boyfriend and realized she would have been giving birth to a baby at this point if not for the abortion.
The moment two years later when she found out she was pregnant with her oldest son, had an ultrasound, and saw – with devastation – what a baby at nine weeks looked like.
The time she asked her husband, “What do you think it was?” and he replied, “I know what it was,” before turning away from her.
The visit to the Chicago Museum of Industry when she was simultaneously repelled and drawn to the models of fetuses at different stages of pregnancy.
The nights filled with nightmares of losing her baby, of not being able to reach the child she knew was hers.
After ten years of marriage, she was struggling in both her relationship with her husband and with their two sons, as she strove to be the best mother possible, all the while knowing she could never measure up. Then, a couple at their church led both her and her husband to Christ, which resulted in a 180-turn for Lori.
A few years later, though, as their oldest son was preparing to graduate from high school, their marriage was suffering again, and Lori, feeling desperate, decided to join a biweekly prayer group at their church. She began asking God to cleanse and restore her.
As she did, she heard, almost in an audible voice, “I want to restore the years the locusts have eaten.”
“I knew God was birthing something in me. I was excited He was going to restore my marriage, but I had no idea it had anything to do with my abortion,” she said.
For six months, Lori continued to pray. Eventually, she heard God speak again. “I want you to share your testimony,” He said. “I want you to tell people about that abortion.”
Nervously, she called her pastor and asked whether she could share her testimony the following Sunday. He paused, then agreed. As it turned out, that Sunday was National Sanctity of Human Life Day, as well as the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Only a few days before her scheduled talk at church, Lori attended an event held by the abortion activist group Silent No More. As she listened to women describe their experiences with abortion, she felt led to share her testimony. Afterward, a member of Concerned Women for America asked her to share her story at a Senate hearing for an abortion-related bill in a couple weeks.
“I remember looking at her, laughing and saying, ‘I’ll pray about that and get back with you.’ I couldn’t get in my car fast enough and go home.”
But that Sunday, Lori gave her testimony at her church, and afterward, 12 different women came to her to say they also had abortions.
From there, Lori’s ministry to the abortion-wounded took off. Despite her fear, she did share her story at the Senate hearing. Then she became involved with a pregnancy resource center and began the process of forming her own nonprofit, an organization called If Not For Grace.
Along the way, though, she had to stop and ask herself an important question, “Am I healed yet?”
The answer, she realized, was no.
She found a different abortion recovery ministry and worked through the curriculum that If Not For Grace uses today. Then she and her husband attended a weekend event designed specifically for women and men wounded by abortion.
That weekend, she and her husband talked about the child they had never known and discovered that from day one they both had believed they lost a little girl. That weekend, they named her – Hannah Grace – and finally felt permission to grieve.
“There’s that stigma of ‘Why should you grieve something you chose?’” Lori explained. “But no matter what, I was a mother, and so my heart was longing to grieve the child I had lost…. It felt good to bring her the honor and dignity that she should have had and to be able to get in touch with that pain.”
This is the kind of healing Lori wants to offer others through If Not For Grace. Today, she believes God’s personal promise to restore the years the locusts had eaten applies not only to her marriage and her family but also to the lives of everyone their ministry seeks to reach.
“Ultimately, the vision is that we can enable abortion wounded women, men, and
families to live authentic, abundant lives, mobilizing them for Kingdom-expanding work,” she explained. “God wants to work all things together for our good and His glory and make us into a display of His splendor.”