November 24, 2015 // Local

‘God turned my mess into a message’

Sally Thompson spoke at St. Augustine Church on Nov. 21. Her topic, “Abortion, Healing and Forgiveness: A Conversation with Sally Thompson, President of Urban Life Matters,” addressed the abortion issue which is the leading cause of death for African Americans in the U.S.

Sally Thompson shares story of abortion, forgiveness and call

By Kristi Haas

SOUTH BEND — Life was a mess. When she walked into the abortion clinic in her late 20s, Sally Thompson said, she thought having an abortion would solve the problems she faced. As a leader at her church, she feared disappointing the elders in her Christian community, since she had become pregnant out of wedlock. She kept her pregnancy secret — along with her decision to have an abortion.

Years later, Thompson said, she realizes more and more how many lives have been “connected to that one life” she bore. A long journey of both pain and God’s healing mercy have brought her to share her story and the message of life with many people, including the crowd that gathered on Saturday, Nov. 21, at St. Augustine Catholic Church in South Bend. The event was entitled “Abortion, Healing and Forgiveness: A Conversation with Sally Thompson, President of Urban Life Matters.”

The cloud of guilt, sin, shame and fear surrounding childbearing is one way society today experiences the effects of original sin, Deacon Mel Tardy said in his opening reflection. He recalled the description of fallen humanity in the Book of Genesis, which says: “In toil you shall bring forth children” (Gen 3:16).

Several participants, along with Thompson, reflected on the particular dynamic of this toil in African-American communities. In an older generation, when it came to abortion, people “knew what they were doing, but there was no outlet to talk about it.” No one showed her the baby’s heart beating at 21 weeks, she shared, and no one told her that “abortion clinics were strategically placed in African American neighborhoods,” to destroy that population.

Today, however, Thompson said, youth she talks with often show little shame when talking openly about the abortions of family members or friends. “They don’t know what they’re doing.” Others added that in their communities, there is a stigma associated with putting one’s child up for adoption. Participants urged the importance of continuing to raise awareness of these issues in a community that is on the one hand disproportionately affected by — and even targeted for — abortion, and simultaneously distanced from the mainstream pro-life movement, which is understood to be primarily white and conservative, and even anti-black on important political questions.

Amid such deeply entrenched issues, the most powerful part of Thompson’s story was her testimony to God’s mercy and faithful love. She has experienced God’s powerful forgiveness in the wake of her abortion, admitting the evil she had done. “Only Jesus can hold our hand in a time like this,” Thompson said.

Immediately afterward, she resolved to live in a way pleasing to God. She understands the weight of temptation, Thompson said, and she understands the young ladies who feel like they can’t even tell their mothers they are pregnant. Yet she also understands the power of God to help us live a “saved, celibate single life.”

Yet as so many women and men can attest, the journey of healing still goes on to this day. The abortion remained quietly devastating for years. Eventually, Thompson saw that it was a major source of her depression, which she expressed in over-commitment to work.

The Lord made use of all her pain. Today, she is the President of Urban Life Matters and serves on the Board of Directors for the Life Centers Pregnancy Care Centers (Indianapolis) and as a member of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition. She also cares for her 81-year-old mother.

She is even newly married for the first time at age 45. She and her husband sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as she began her story, testifying to the power of God in their lives.

Other participants included Fred and Lisa Everett, who described the Women’s Care Center and other efforts in our diocese to promote life, marriage and family. In particular, Fred described the effort to rebuild the trustworthiness of men and women, which in turn provides a foundation for healthy Christian marriages open to life. In the same spirit, Deacon Tardy said, there is a need to rebuild the trust among races and classes, including in the pro-life movement.

Organized by the Black Catholic Advisory Board of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and the Tolton Society in celebration of Black Catholic History Month, the event was an effort to discuss both the evil of abortion and the healing God desires to provide for every person among us affected by a past abortion. Many resources are available, both for women in crisis pregnancies and for women and men in need of healing from past abortions.

More information

Abortions are by far the leading cause of death for African Americans in the U.S. Appendix E of the strategic plan of the Diocesan Black Catholic Ministry (available at offers these resources:

•  Maafa 21:

•  National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life:

• Protecting Black Life:

Another helpful site is: “According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than five times as likely as white women to have an abortion.”

“Since 1973, Black women have had about 16 million abortions … the number of current living blacks (in the U.S.) is 36 million … the missing 16 million represents an enormous loss.”


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