Immersed in ministry since the age of 14, Donna L. Taylor never expected to find herself unwed and pregnant a decade later.
Born and raised in Wilson, North Carolina, Taylor moved to the Nashville, Tennessee, to attend college and stayed in the area after graduation. Loneliness made her vulnerable to a lifestyle she knew to be a poor choice. When she learned of her pregnancy, Taylor didn’t know whether to run back home, stay put, or make a decision that went against the principles she had learned in church.
Because Taylor felt strongly she needed to “protect Jesus’ reputation,” she decided to get an abortion. She rationalized that her Christian friends would look down on her if they found out she had become pregnant without being married.
“Satan will talk you into something, and for the rest of your life, hold it over your head,” says Taylor, 58.
The procedure took 20 minutes, which seemed like an eternity to Taylor. She couldn’t stop crying, and thought she would die. When she walked out of the abortion facility in 1986, her life had changed forever.
“All of a sudden, every lie from the enemy became a truth I had to live with,” Taylor says. “The thought that a mistake was just being corrected, the idea that everything would be back to normal afterward, the misconception that it really wasn’t a baby — it all came crashing in on me. I started down a road of shame, guilt, and unforgiveness, trying to live with what truly was unbearable.”
About six months later, Taylor married the man whose baby she aborted. Shortly afterward, she became pregnant again. This time she gave birth to twins. One of the babies died in the hospital due to medical error. The other, Daniel, would be diagnosed with cerebral palsy just after turning 1 year old. When she learned of Daniel’s diagnosis, Taylor was pregnant with her daughter, Monica, born a few weeks later.
“For years after the abortion, I groveled my way to the altar begging God to forgive me,” Taylor says. “I never knew there was truly a way to heal from the decision I had made. After Daniel’s diagnosis, I was sure everyone would think he was God’s judgment on my actions. I was no longer protecting Jesus; I was protecting Daniel.”
Taylor’s marriage did not survive, and she lived as a single mom for five years. She worked in an electrical contracting company with Michael Taylor and the two became friends. They both started attending Cornerstone Nashville in Madison in 1998.
Although she had only told a handful of people about her abortion, Donna decided to confide in Michael, even at the risk of him no longer being interested in her. Instead, he offered kindness, understanding, and support. When an abortion recovery class opportunity arose at the church, Michael suggested Donna join. She told him to mind his own business.
Nevertheless, she decided to attend. She sobbed throughout the first session, but she knew she had begun a path to healing. With 10 other people in the room who had gone through an abortion, for the first time she felt as though she wasn’t the only person carrying such a secret.
The next week, she shared with class facilitator Sheila Harper that she always felt people would judge Daniel somehow if they knew she had had an abortion.
“If Satan would use the innocence of a child to hold you in bondage to your past, he will stop at nothing,” Harper told her.
That phrase echoed in Taylor’s heart and helped her move forward toward healing. As Taylor went through the 10-week Bible study, Harper helped her realize she had erroneously envisioned her shameful sin as too great for Jesus to forgive.
“I love calling Jesus Redeemer,” says Taylor. “When Satan reminds me of what I did, I can hold up the Word of God and say, ‘Yes, but this is what Jesus did!’”
In 2000, Harper founded the Assemblies of God-affiliated abortion recovery group, SaveOne, a ministry based on the precepts of the Bible study Taylor attended. Taylor has been part of the organization since the beginning.
“Donna is one of our most sought-after leaders because she relies totally upon the Holy Spirit for guidance when she is leading someone through the SaveOne study,” says Harper, 55. “She is an incredible, gutsy, strong woman, and even better friend.”
Donna’s friendship with Michael continued to grow through her early days of healing. The couple wed in 2001.