A Woman of Mercy Offers Pregnancy Choices

The following column was written by The Christophers’ Jerry Costello:

She’s been there, done that. She left her rural home in the Midwest, went to New York, moved in with a boyfriend, had a couple of abortions, survived a suicide attempt.

This all happened years ago, in the early 1970s, when Jeanette Meyer was just a young woman. Now she’s 63–old enough to remember it all, young enough to turn her life around. And that’s just what she did.

I read Jeanette Meyer’s amazing story in a report by Dave Hrbacek in The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, and quite a story it is. It’s come to fulfillment in Pregnancy Choices, the shelter for young expectant mothers she serves in Apple Valley, Minn. She’s been the executive director since 2010, and there she greets newcomers to the shelter with her presence, her counsel and her truth. And with her love.

“By loving and accepting them,” she says, “we enter the wounds of Christ, as holy mothers, to greet the potential in each person, mother and child. For many of the clients, it’s an awakening to view their past lives and abortions with hope rather than despair.”

That’s quite a far cry from the life Meyer was leading in New York 40 years ago, when a controlling boyfriend forced her into one abortion–and then another. The only way she knew to forget was with too-generous doses of alcohol, and one night she ran from a bar and was ready to dart into fast-moving freeway traffic when the boyfriend pulled her back.

The healing came in time, and proceeded slowly. It began with her confession to an understanding priest and continued when she returned home, to her native Iowa. Then, at a prayer meeting, she met Marty Meyer, the man she would marry in 1975, and with whom she would have five children. Eventually the Meyers moved to the Twin Cities.

All this while, of course, Jeanette Meyer remembered the two infants she’d been forced to abort. Even gave them names, in fact: Daniel Anthony and Esther Maurine. Their memory figured prominently in the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat she made in 2005, which included a healing service for the post-abortive women taking part. And that, in turn, led finally to Pregnancy Choices, in Apple Valley, where she applied for the soon-to-be-vacant position of executive director and found–to her pleasant surprise–that she had won the appointment.

Women come there from all walks of life, and counseling them can take a variety of turns. To some (who ask) Meyer will tell her own story; to others she simply listens. “I want them to have a voice,” she says. “I want them to know about options.” She explains that it’s all part of her mission to be “a woman of mercy,” where listening and the passage of time are major parts of her calling. Her clients come to know they are not alone, she says, and time enables them to consider all the options at their disposal.

Meyer relies heavily on her faith and the example of Jesus in living out her mission. A favorite Bible story is the one in which Jesus forgives the woman taken in adultery, a reflection of his mercy and love.

The women who come to her are never far from her mind. “The first thing they need,” she says, “is love.” And in Jeanette Meyer, they can find it without end.

RELATED: Little Miracles and Diversity at Pro Life Center

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.

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  • Dr. John Fox

    Jeanette Meyer’s story is at once both horribly tragic and incredibly uplifting. If nothing else, it will hopefully encourage both sides of the abortion debate to seek common ground…because there truly is common ground to be had: how we make pregnancy termination an absolute last resort
    To those who are “pro-life”, I would ask you to think about what can be done to make sure that those who are born “unwanted” are given the chance to thrive in this wonderful country of ours. I would also ask them for their thoughts as to what can be done to minimize completely the need for so barbaric a procedure. I would also encourage them to convince their political supporters to take a more open minded view. Not everything that Planned Parenthood does is the work of the devil.
    To those who are “pro choice”, I would ask you to see what can be done from the perspective of education and better women’s health to see that pregnancy termination is an absolute last resort. I would also encourage you to tell your political supporters that those who disagree with you are not neanderthals.
    When I think about issues as thorny as this one, I am reminded of what President Kennedy said in that wonderful speech he gave at Amercan University, “For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”

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