A Work of Reconciliation: Working With The New Abortion Caravan
by Anita Sonntag
My name is Anita Sonntag. Over forty years ago, I chose to have an abortion because I was pregnant out of wedlock and afraid for my reputation and what my family would think. My boyfriend, who would become my husband, insisted that I have an abortion. To this day, I still regret that decision. My marriage didn’t last and I know that much of it had to do with the abortion both of us participated in. Sparing other women from the choice I made is one of the reasons why I speak out against abortion with a campaign called Silent No More Awareness and why I joined the New Abortion Caravan.
As part of the Caravan, I speak to young women and some men on the streets touched by abortion who come by and see my sign that says “I Regret My Abortion.” I tell them my story and help them understand that we aren’t trying to condemn them but help them heal broken relationships and seared consciences. We are helping them find real reconciliation.
Though I speak about healing relationships often, I didn’t expect that I could do much to heal the relationship I had with my husband. I saw him last over 23 years ago. We had already separated when I brought our other children to his hometown to see him. He kept in touch for a few years; a phone call or a birthday card once in a while but then he simply stopped contacting us. I tried reaching out to him and encouraged him to visit our daughters but he stopped all communication. He has never even met his four grandchildren.
But as part of the Caravan, we would be going through his hometown. I had only committed to joining the tour in a few cities and wasn’t expecting to go further. However, I kept getting convicted that I had to continue on the tour; that I had to keep speaking to hurting people. I didn’t know that one of those hurting people would be my ex-husband.
When we arrived in his town, I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t know if he was dead or if he wanted to hear from me at all. But I forced myself to call him anyway and when he answered, he was surprised to hear from me. He was however, open to meeting and we met the following morning.
I made sure I got to the restaurant early so I could be ready for him. When he walked in, I noticed how much he had aged. He didn’t look like the young man who forced me to have an abortion. One of the first questions he raised was one that I didn’t want to answer: “Why are you here, Anita?”
We had not really talked about the abortion and many years later, I didn’t really want to speak to him about it. But I felt that this was a conversation we needed to have. I told him I was part of a pro-life tour, speaking to people about abortion. I explained that I talked to people about the abortion we had which now I regret.
He didn’t say much for what seemed like a long time but then he said that the abortion was a bad choice too. I felt such relief sharing that with him and hearing that from him. It just reaffirmed why I needed to be on this tour.
I gave him our daughters contact information and encouraged him to contact his grandchildren. He expected that they didn’t want to hear from him but I assured him that they did. He told me that he thought about them often.
I don’t know what he will do with that information. But I do know that what I did was right and that I can leave it up to him and to God.
Abortion takes the lives of pre-born children and destroys families. Our pro-life Caravan seeks to protect those lives and reconcile those families – I know that and my ex-husband now knows that too.
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