FORT WAYNE — Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said in a commentary published Wednesday by the Washington Times that his teenage mother had considered terminating her pregnancy with him.
In December 1975, his mother, who was 17 and displaced by a house fire, “had just discovered that she was a few weeks pregnant with her first child. In the dark, alone and terrified, she decided to find a way to Kalamazoo, Mich., 40 miles away, to ‘take care of her situation,’ ” Stutzman wrote.
Had she not changed her mind about making the trip, he wrote, “you wouldn’t be reading this today. I would have been aborted.”
Stutzman’s mother, Sarah, lived in Centerville, Mich., and was not married when she was pregnant with him, according to Stutzman’s staff. According to “The Almanac of American Politics,” Sarah was 17 when she married Albert Stutzman, then 19.
An opponent of abortion rights, Marlin Stutzman was born in Sturgis, Mich. The second-term congressman lives in LaGrange County and operates a corn and soybean farm with his father and two brothers.
Stutzman wrote in his op-ed piece that the murder charges against abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia – and Stutzman’s speeches on the House floor in which he described Gosnell as “a predator” and “a real-life Hannibal Lecter” – prompted him to call his mother and ask whether she “had ever thought about ending her unplanned pregnancy.”
“There was a tense pause, and then, through tears she said, ‘Marlin, I’m so sorry!’ As we cried together, I was no longer a congressman, but a son understanding for the first time the heartache and struggles my mom had gone through before I was born,” Stutzman wrote in the Times. “As we talked about her fear of driving 40 miles alone, I had to think, ‘What if a ‘Gosnell’ clinic was only four miles away instead of 40?
“She asked if I could forgive her. I answered, ‘Yes, with all my heart.’ ” he wrote.
“At home with my wife and two children that night, my heart ached at the thought that all of this might never have been,” he wrote.
Gosnell, 72, was tried on murder charges in Philadelphia. He is accused of killing infants born alive during abortions he performed. The jury is deliberating.
Asked to respond to Stutzman’s commentary, Betty Cockrum, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said in an email that it “is certainly compelling, and well-timed. It was brought to us during National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. We are particularly focused on that here in Indiana, where every single day 28 teens get pregnant.”
Cockrum, who grew up on a pig farm in LaGrange County, added, “Our nonprofit has consistently said that the Gosnell case is horrifying and outrageous, that Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, not a health care facility, and that he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
Late in his op-ed piece, Stutzman called for “an honest conversation about abortion,” but he left no doubt about his own views.
“The impactful conversation with my mom just a few weeks ago made me wonder how many more fathers, wives, business owners, doctors and public servants are missing today because of abortion,” he wrote.