Silent Victims: The Ripple Effect

In 1994, I was hired as a San Diego police officer. At first I was assigned to serve and protect people in different city areas as a patrol officer. Most of the time I patrolled a densely populated low-income community. On that beat I had daily encounters with horrible and graphic crimes involving murder, domestic violence, drug abuse, prostitution, gangs, elder abuse and robbery —and the list goes on.

In 2002, I was transferred to the Child Abuse Unit as a detective, but after all I’d seen on duty, nothing had prepared me for the event that changed my life.

No ordinary day

In 2003, one November day started off with a seemingly routine child molestation case. The victim was a thirteen-year-old female who I will refer to as Mary Smith. After I read the Child Protective Services referral, I was unclear on what, if any, crime occurred. The referral information was vague, and the reporting party was anonymously listed as a “medical professional.” A staff person had called the Child Protective Services hotline to report that their client had consensual sex with a seventeen-year-old boy.

The first thing I needed was more information from the reporting party. When I called the listed phone number, a woman answered, “Surgical unit.” I said, “Where am I calling?” The female voice declined to identify herself or the medical facility. I deduced that I was calling an abortion clinic. I realized that the receptionist could not provide any information, so I requested to speak with her supervisor. I was transferred to the office manager and told her I was the assigned police detective to the Mary Smith referral looking for more information. The manager said Mary came into the clinic for an abortion two days earlier.

Mary had not provided the staff with any details of her pregnancy. The only information she shared was that she had had consensual sex. The abortion clinic staff assisted the client with the necessary paper work and prepared for her “procedure.” Moments before the abortion was to begin, Mary became extremely uncomfortable, apprehensive and hysterical, and refused to allow the medical staff to examine her. Overcome with anxiety, Mary left the clinic without completing her abortion. The  medical staff were concerned over their client’s emotional instability and suspected there could be a more serious event, possibly child abuse, that resulted in her pregnancy.

The manager also told me their client made the decision to reschedule her abortion for two days later, at 8:00 A.M.

Speaking with Mary

I hung up the phone with a huge lump in my throat and a heavy heart. I had an overwhelming urgency to rush to Mary Smith’s house and talk her out of this abortion. I felt equally obligated to God and the police department. I needed to be extremely careful not to blur the line between my professional responsibilities and my personal feelings.

I immediately drove to Mary’s house. Mary Smith lived in a little white house that was in desperate need of repairs. I was greeted by Mary Smith’s mother. She said that even though she would take her future grandchild into her home, she supported her daughter’s abortion decision.

I made every effort to speak with Mary, but she wouldn’t respond to any of my investigative questions. It was clear that Mary was protecting the suspect/father of the child, and she was adamant about having her scheduled abortion.

I was so frustrated because I couldn’t convince Mary to keep her child. I felt as if I had failed the one and only opportunity God gave me to save a life. I found myself becoming angry with Mary because she was so stubborn and wouldn’t even consider adoption. After several desperate attempts of reasoning with Mary and her mother, I knew I had to walk away. My only weapon was prayer.


Even though Mary Smith refused to cooperate with my investigation, my professional responsibilities weren’t over. As much as I wanted to leave this case because my heart ached, I still needed to solve the mystery of who the father was and obtain evidence to prove his identity.

For the first time in my ten-year police career, I found myself emotionally unprepared to deal with an investigation. I was shocked when I learned that I had to collect Mary’s aborted baby and was instructed on how to prepare an evidence collection kit. It would be the key piece of evidence used to convict the suspect.

On the morning of Mary’s scheduled abortion, I drove to the clinic to drop off the evidence collection box. I had been fervently praying that Mary had a change of heart and decided to keep her child. I prayed that Mary was convicted by her guilt or too afraid of the abortion and stayed home. I sat in my car in the parking lot for a few minutes, praying to God that He would give me the courage to walk through the front door of this dark place and do my job.

Approximately five hours later, after I had returned to the office, I received the devastating phone call informing me the aborted child was ready to be picked up.

I put my head down on my desk and began to cry. I didn’t care who was around me or how many cops heard me sobbing. I was heartsick over the news. I had failed. As a police officer, I took an oath to “serve and protect life.” I have performed CPR, plugged stab wound holes with my hands and rescued critically injured people from vehicle collisions, but I couldn’t save the life of Mary’s baby.

Silent victims

I returned to police headquarters to impound this precious child as evidence. When I walked into the property room, there was no way of hiding my emotions. I was devastated. I had dark lines of dried mascara on my cheeks. The property room clerk kindly asked me what I needed to impound. I numbly replied, “A baby.”

As the clerk realized what I said, she immediately backed away from the box and said, “I’ve never done one of these before.” I said, “Me neither.” We both struggled with removing the containers inside the box. I didn’t want to see what was inside. By then there was quite a bit of commotion, and several other property room clerks gathered around the box. Between all of us, we finally completed the horrendous task.

Upon reflection, I realized that there were more affected people from this abortion than just Mary Smith. Countless other individuals found themselves directly or indirectly, voluntarily or involuntarily affected by one abortion. I personally witnessed the impact of abortion on not only myself, but also a grieving family over the loss of a future relative, a young lab technician, an evidence property room clerk and numerous other police personnel.

As I continue to ponder and heal from this experience, I realize that I had become angry because I had no “choice.” My investigation required me to enter an abortion clinic and experience the “freedom” women have with their bodies because they conceived and thought a baby would inconvenience them. But true freedom comes from the Lord, the author of life, who will bless us with His love, regardless of our trials, if we have a sincere heart to seek Him and honor the lives of His children.

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About the author

Misty Cedrun

Misty Cedrun is a freelance author from Southern California. She does not officially represent the San Diego Police Department or its viewpoints.