It was about this time three years ago when I was curled up on the kitchen floor sobbing in despair over an unplanned pregnancy. My doctor had warned me about becoming pregnant again, and yet there I was with a positive pregnancy test on the floor beside me.

I’d been unexpectedly pregnant before, and learned to find the joy in it, but this time was different. This time it was a bone-crushing devastation. The timing was disastrous. My health was in peril. I wanted nothing more in that moment than to be unpregnant.

As I sat with tears streaming down my face, I thought again and again of the medications in the cabinet behind me. My daughter’s arthritis medication is an abortifacient. One of its off label uses is terminating pregnancies. That knowledge whispered through my mind as I knew that the dosing was a simple internet search away. I could have ended that pregnancy and no one would have ever known it existed except for me, the baby, and God.

I didn’t do it, ultimately. After hours of sobbing prayer, everything I knew to be true returned to me, and the temptations of the night faded as the sun rose. What I didn’t know that whole nightmarish night was that the baby within me had already died. That tiny soul had already left us long before I had made peace with his coming.

We all have a purpose in life. For some of us it is lessons to learn and for others it is the lessons we teach. That little lost baby taught me more than I ever wanted to know about the other side of the abortion debate.

I learned that night that for many women it’s not about killing that baby. It’s about being not-pregnant. They don’t want to cause harm or pain; they simply want to turn back time. That choice to abort feels in that moment not like a decision as much as an escape hatch. It’s a doorway back to a time before. A way of undoing what was done.

Since that day, I’ve spoken with many women I know who’ve had abortions in the past. Most are now adamantly pro-life, but some are not. They all agreed with me. The decision in that moment had very little to do with the new person in their womb and everything to do with escaping.

In that long night on my kitchen floor, I learned how easy it is to find yourself on the other side of the fence. Twenty years of pro-life belief, protesting, marching, and praying didn’t make me immune to the temptation when I was in a crisis pregnancy myself. I think it’s important for those of us who stand up for the right to life to acknowledge that there’s more to it than just the life of the child involved. Very often, the deciding factor isn’t the rights of the baby, but the fears and anxieties of the mother.

If we want to save the children, we have to save their mothers. We need to reach out to them in love and understanding, without judgment or marginalizing the fears which have driven them to such a dark place. We need to acknowledge their crosses for the burdens that they are, and offer help so that those crosses are no longer so heavy. We need to find a way to help them carry their burdens until they’re no longer looking for an escape, but a life raft.