I stared at her in disbelief when she broke the news to me. Surely she was joking. I was 17. Judith was 19. Both of us, I rationalized, were much too young to be tied to a baby.

“What do you mean, you’re pregnant?” I asked quietly. Meanwhile, my mind whirled with a thousand prayers and fears. What would I tell my parents? What would we tell hers? Do I want to marry her? This all must be a mistake.

But there was no mistake. She had just come from the physician’s office and, as she awaited my reaction, I knew she expected me to propose marriage.

Instead, I talked her into having an abortion.

It was easy to suggest that alternative. I chose to believe the lies that our baby was only a “glob of cells” growing in her womb. I chose to believe them because, in so believing, I was freed of my responsibilities to my girlfriend and to our child. A few months after the abortion, my girlfriend and I went our separate ways.

Today, my son or daughter would be 32 years old. Perhaps he would be a missionary, or a teacher, or a businessman, or …. Perhaps I would be a grandfather. Perhaps …. But there is no “perhaps.” Time doesn’t turn backwards.

Abortion is not simply a rights issue. It has deep and enduring emotional and spiritual implications for those of us who, too late, have awakened to the truth that abortion kills a baby – my baby. And rhetoric doesn’t purge the lingering sadness 33 years later.

However, I have found something which can ease that sorrow.

In 1972, four years after the abortion, a friend gave me a Bible and told me about the new life I could have in Jesus Christ. As I leafed through its pages, one verse in particular grabbed my attention, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That I was a sinner came as no surprise to me. Having lived a life of rebellion, drug abuse and sexual immorality, no one needed to tell me my life was a mess. But the Scripture also promised I could be forgiven, not just for my everyday rebellion, but also for my past sins.

“Come,” God urged through the prophet Isaiah, “let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful … to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

As the weeks passed and I continued studying the Scriptures, I began to understand what I needed to do. One evening, dropping to my knees at the foot of my bed, I confessed my sins to God and repented for as many as I could remember. When I stood, I did so as a new person in Christ. Although the sad memories remained, I knew God had forgiven me for everything I had ever done – even for delivering my baby to the abortionist.

Are you planning to have an abortion? Before you kill your baby, please counsel with someone who cares about you and your unborn child. Save yourself the lingering sadness which can last even thirty years into the future. Nearly every phonebook in the country will list Crisis Pregnancy Centers and other alternatives to abortion services. Many churches will also assist you.

Have you had an abortion? Has your girlfriend had one at your insistence? The same God who forgave me will also forgive you. Yes, everyone who repents and turns to Him for mercy will find His grace as great and far-reaching as His love.