The miracle of a stranger

The day I went to the clinic in downtown Milwaukee, I remember feeling angry, yet sad.  I was bewildered, unsure and felt guilty. My husband and I had struggled with the decision—the most difficult of our lives. As I walked into the abortion clinic, my mind was made up, but I knew my heart felt otherwise.

Diagnosed with a severe skin condition, my doctor had prescribed the drug Accutane, and I had been taking it for about five months.  Upon learning of my pregnancy, he told me that the medication’s use had been linked to severe birth defects in babies whose mothers had used it.  He reviewed the results of several medical studies with us, and recommended an immediate abortion.  After struggling and agonizing, my husband and I decided the doctor was right, so I scheduled the appointment.

Before I could open the front door of the building where the clinic was, a hand touched my shoulder and a woman’s voice simply said, “God loves that baby. Don’t do it.” I was in total shock, afraid someone I knew had seen me. Slowly I turned around to see a young woman whom I had never seen in my life—a total stranger saying to me again, “Don’t do it. God loves that baby.” How did she know where I was going? Maybe my frightened look and my small paper bag with slippers and robe in it were dead giveaways. Whatever it was, I’m glad she stopped me.

The woman’s name was Monica Migliorino. I  explained to her what my doctors had said. I explained to her what the manufacturer of the medicine had sent me and had told me. Monica continued to say, “God loves that baby—no matter what physical condition that baby may be in, you can make it.” She must have heard the panic in my voice, and began to plead more strongly, “Please, don’t do it.” I told her again what the doctor and drug companies had said. Surely they could not be wrong; they were the experts.

I went inside the building and took the elevator up to the clinic. But before I could open the office door, fear gripped my soul. I ran down three flights of steps looking for a telephone. Finding one, I called Mother Artie LaValley, the state supervisor of the Northwest District of the Church of God in Christ. Her line was busy! I asked the operator to interrupt her call, that this was an emergency. Looking back, I realize that even though I was one of thousands of members of the Northwest District, Mother LaValley still accepted my emergency call.

“She must have heard the panic in my voice, and began to plead more strongly, ‘Please don’t do it.’”

I explained to her the situation from start to finish. I remember so clearly exactly what she said: “Brenda, I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you what the testimony of the Lord has done for me.” After we talked for a half-hour, she proclaimed in a powerful tone, “Brenda, don’t do it, the Lord loves that little baby. Everything will be all right.”

I left the building. Monica was still standing outside. Without my saying a word, she knew I had not had the abortion. Tears began to fall down our cheeks.

And so it was on the warm afternoon of June 11, 1984, that our daughter, Shonda Yvette-Rosie Key, was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital. All her toes and fingers, eyes and nose were in the right places. Completely healthy and whole, a beautiful baby girl. And now, 18 years later, my heart is flooded with gratitude and appreciation to Monica and Mother LaValley for literally saving our child’s life.

Monica made me a promise that day outside the clinic building: “I’ll stick by you, through it all.” And she has, helping whenever and however she could.  Every year, Monica would give Shonda a birthday gift. The last gift she gave to Shonda was a large picture of Jesus. We later moved to Tulsa and lost contact with Monica.

Shonda graduated from Marshall High School and is attending Concordia University in Mequon. Maybe someday she will get married and have a child of her own. I don’t know what the future holds for her.  We’re just so happy that she at least has a future to look forward to. Had it not been for God Who was on our side, had it not been for Monica standing on that corner, had it not been for Mother LaValley accepting my emergency call, our baby, a real living beautiful young lady, would be just another statistic.

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About the author

Brenda Key

Brenda Key resides in Tulsa, Okla. with her family. Monica Migliorino Miller continues to sidewalk counsel.