Rachel Lott is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Fort Wayne City Council District 4.
Looking at the ultrasound screen, she burst into tears and said, “Those are my babies!” Realizing she was pregnant with twins, she felt the magnitude of what she thought was her only choice and made a different one.
This is the story of a woman I met 10 years ago, but the memory is vivid. I can feel the tears I blinked away as she fell in love with those babies on a bright screen in a dark room. At eight weeks pregnant, they were only half an inch long, but had arms and legs, fingers and toes, eyelids and ears.
I was serving as a volunteer counselor at a pregnancy center when she came in for a free pregnancy test. She was scared. She had been unfaithful in her marriage and knew that if she was pregnant, the child would not be her husband's. The test came back positive.
She said she had to get an abortion. She was financially dependent on her husband, and they were already raising their 2-year-old son. We discussed adoption, but she rejected that, feeling guilty about giving away a child whose brother she had kept. I offered her a free ultrasound, and when the nurse saw two amniotic sacs, she pointed to the screen and asked, “How many do you see?” That's when everything changed for this mother.
I am unequivocally pro-life and always have been. Life begins at conception. Our faith teaches it and science proves it. But my experience with this client who chose life, along with many others, deepened my understanding of the issues facing those who consider abortion. I empathized with their fear of shame. I felt their desperation, not knowing how they would provide for a child. And I saw their devastation, wondering whether this would end their education or career. But I never met a woman who wanted an abortion.
The women I encountered didn't see abortion as a good choice or even the right choice. They saw it as their only choice. The weight of their challenges left them feeling trapped, looking for a way out. We sought to show them a way through.
Rather than be told that sex has no consequences, and it's no big deal to just get an abortion if you're not ready for parenthood, women deserve to be supported in love, encouraged in truth and trusted to take responsibility and problem-solve in the most challenging of circumstances.
While the pro-life debate in both federal and state government captures our attention, we can forget that there are women in our community facing unplanned pregnancies every single day. And we are often lulled into believing local elected officials have little impact. This is simply not true.
In 2007, Philadelphia's City Council declared it a “pro-choice city” – a resolution it rescinded only seven days later. Last year, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg vetoed city council's rezoning approval allowing a pregnancy resource center to locate next to an abortion clinic. In February, the Batavia City Council in New York rejected a proposal to declare itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn” in defiance of the state's new law allowing abortion up to birth. And the City Council of Roswell, New Mexico recently did the opposite, declaring their city a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”
City entities also have influence. Recently, Tippecanoe County Right to Life won its court battle to run ads on city buses showing an unborn baby's development. Sound familiar? In 2016, Fort Wayne's Citilink attempted to censor Women's Health Link, rejecting an ad offering free resources for women seeking health care.
As a City Council candidate, I understand the impact pro-life leaders can have on a community. I will support and protect the rights of pro-life organizations. I will advocate for women and their unborn children. And I will always seek to protect life.