Her call: vulnerable women & babies in their wombs
After a few phone calls, the scared young woman was connected with Bonnie Lee.
"Am I dying?" she asked Lee.
The woman had called the nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood and was told she may have the flu and was advised not to come in or else she might expose everyone.
"They don't want to admit and document complications," Lee said. "Her condition was life-threatening and when we got her the care she needed, they discovered she still had some fetal tissue, which means she had not had a complete abortion and was experiencing a raging infection.
"She told me, 'I know I deserve this because I killed my baby.' Her pain was much more than physical."
A retired registered nurse, Lee serves as the Mid-Missouri Baptist Association's discipleship ministry and religious liberty and ethics specialist. She is a sidewalk advocate with 40 Days for Life and is part of the legislative arm for Team P.L.A.Y. (Prayer, Legislation, Activity and You, a collaboration of organizations and individuals dedicated to limiting abortion in Missouri). She also is a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board and of Open Heart Baptist Church in Columbia.
The young woman didn't have family in the area so she asked Lee to accompany her to the OBGYN to make sure all the infection was gone.
"As we waited for her appointment, she pulled out her phone and showed me a picture of the cutest little fairy garden underneath a tree," Lee recounted. "She said, 'That's where I buried him. I buried my child in the backyard.'
"I can't imagine the pain these women go through for years and years. How are these women going to heal if they don't feel free to share their stories?" Lee reflected.
"The aborted babies have no voice and the exploited women in crisis situations have no voice," she said. "That's the reason why I do what I do. We are to give voice to the voiceless."
While Lee's calling to fight on the front lines of Missouri's pro-life movement began in 2010, she sees how God laid the groundwork for her ministry. Her work as a surgical nurse educated her in sanitary requirements and her work in clinical drug trials gave her experience in patient consent legalities -- what informed consent is and what it is not. The last four years before retiring, Lee worked as a legal nurse consultant, which gave her experience in sifting facts, finding truth and uncovering negligence.
"Twice in my career I've actually been terminated for standing on the truth," Lee said. "It was not a pleasant time in my life, but those experiences are the only reason why I understand what power can do to people. Through all of that, I saw God's affirmation that He is in control, He will provide and He has a better plan -- a plan that I could never have imagined."
That plan unfolded for Lee one day during an errand for her mother.
"It was providence," she said. "I went to pick up some dressing needed for my mother's knee and I saw two ladies standing on the sidewalk. I could tell they were praying. My eyes wandered up to the sign on the building behind them and it said, 'Planned Parenthood.' I had lived in Columbia since 1984 and I didn't know we had a Planned Parenthood clinic. I had always been pro-life, but I've since learned that 800 babies had been killed in my own city and I had no idea."
"Once God awakened me to the reality of what was happening, I could be silent no more," except: "It took me a year before I considered becoming a sidewalk advocate, which is someone who reaches out to the women who come to Planned Parenthood and offers personal prayer, information and alternatives," Lee said. Having experienced a miscarriage at five months between the births of her two sons, it was tough to wrap her mind around a woman choosing to end a pregnancy.
"I had so much anger in my heart that I didn't feel compassionate and I knew my words to them wouldn't be either."
Over time God broke her heart for exploited women in crisis situations. And now she knows her fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities and evil powers that want to continue to treat abortion as a business.
"Even those who are militant to defend their pro-abortion stand are often trying to bury the truth," Lee said. "The light of that truth comes through and it's too painful to acknowledge. The guilt and shame preys upon people."
Lee said Baptist churches could and should do a lot to help. They could offer post-abortion healing ministries; support Baptist children's homes, such as the Missouri Baptist Children's Home, through the Cooperative Program; and do all they can to support their local crisis pregnancy centers. Churches must make a declaration to fight for all human life, put feet to the ground, as well as be the strong voice of hope and forgiveness, she said.
Proverbs 31:8-9 says: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
"And we dare say that's political? And are silent?" Lee said. "Women sit in the pews unhealed and afraid to speak out. … That's got to change. Abortion will not stop until there is a heart change across the board."
For more information about 40 Days for Life visit 40daysforlife.com and for more information about Team P.L.A.Y. visit womenmustbesafe.com.