The beating heart of someone she’d never seen yet loved with all her being was Imani’s constant companion and comfort. The heartbeat was slow and steady today. Her mother was relaxed. Maybe she’d even sing. Imani clinched a tiny fist, stuck out a thumb, and lifted her hand to her face. Her lips found the thumb, and Imani was happy.

On happy days filled with song, Imani dreamed of things she’d never seen before. Somehow she knew there was more than darkness. Other people as real and alive as her existed outside the warm embrace of her refuge. She heard them. One voice, deep and strong, especially intrigued her. She felt the pressure of a firm yet gentle hand press inward on the wall of her safe place, a hand just as real as her own only much bigger, and Imani leaned into it. One day she’d hold that hand. She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew.

There was a little one awaiting Imani’s arrival, too. His voice was smaller than the other voices. His touch was soft as he traced the contour of their mother’s enlarged stomach. He must be pretty great. His voice was excitement and hope and all things bright. Imani couldn’t wait to meet him.

There were stressful days, too. On the days her mother didn’t sing, Imani heard her arguing with the deeper voice. Their arugements were inevitably followed by uncontrollable crying. Her mother’s heartbeat would quicken. Imani would feel the rush of her mother’s emotion as if it were her own. If only she could somehow reach out and squeeze her mother like her mother would squeeze Imani through her own belly.

One day, she told herself.

Imani wondered what they were arguing about. They walked born and free in the land of unfiltered sound. Even with the sad days, she couldn’t wait to be with them there. She’d comfort her mother, she’d grease the wheels of her parents’ sometimes rocky relationship, and she would learn to play with her big brother. And they would be happy together.

One day the yelling was especially loud, and the crying lasted especially long. Imani’s heart raced inside her delicate chest, and pure, previously unfelt emotion pricked her like a thousand needles with every piercing word. It was serious today, as if a line had been crossed and there was no going back. But Imani could only guess what it meant. One day maybe she’d see with her own eyes and finally understand. Until then, she chose to trust her mother.

One thing was for sure: Whatever dangers might lurk there on the outside, Imani knew she would never confront them alone. Her mother’s heart told her so, promising her love and protection with every beat, and Imani believed it.

One morning her mother got out of bed earlier than usual.

Where are you going, Mama? Imani wondered.

Maybe back to the same place she’d been just a few days ago. It had been uncomfortable. Her mother had lain on a table, and there’d been movement down below Imani. But it had all stopped, whatever it was. And her mother’s heartbeat had returned to normal. And the two of them had gone back home together.

Soon her mother was closing the door to the house and then the door to the car, and Imani heard the familiar rumble of an engine. If only Imani could see what was going on outside.

One day, she thought.

They drove in silence that morning.

How strange.

If Imani were on the outside, she’d get her mom to make some of the music she liked come on.

One day.

After a short drive, all movement stopped and the rumble died. Her mom’s heartbeat increased, but that didn’t make sense to Imani given the quiet. What did her mother know? All Imani sensed was fear and sadness. Whatever was causing it, Imani could trust her mama. If only she could squeeze her hand.

Finally her mother got out of the car. After a short walk, Imani heard voices similar to the ones she’d heard a few days ago. Uncertainty remained, but like she’d always done, she found comfort in her mother’s beating heart.

There was talking followed by waiting in silence. Then more talking. Her mother stood and walked somewhere. Then Imani felt her lie back like she’d done a few days before. Her mother’s heart beat faster than Imani had ever felt it.

It’s OK, Mama, she wanted to tell her. We’re together.

A deep, soothing voice, though not her father’s, made its way to Imani’s tiny eardrums. She didn’t understand the words, but she wanted her mother to believe the nice sounding words so much.

Imani jerked at a loud sucking sound below her. Suddenly the liquid that had always surrounded her like a warm blanket drained away, and for the first time she felt cold. A light flashed over her tightly shut eyes. Was today the day she’d finally get to see Mama, the one who’d carried her all these months and fed her and kept her warm, the one whose voice she knew so well and whose embrace she constantly felt around her? Would she finally meet the owner of the great big heart that had beat over her since day one?

Something metallic and cold slipped past Imani’s tiny toes. She didn’t like it, and fear welled up within her fragile frame.

If only Mama would sing me a song.

The thing, a sopher clamp, opened and then bit down around her left shoulder.

Too hard! Too hard! Imani screamed without being able to make a sound.

Surely her mother would do something—anything at whatever cost—to protect her. She had to. Imani just had to wait.

The teeth of the sopher clamp tore into her soft flesh, twisted, and pulled violently downward, tearing Imani’s arm from its socket. Lightning lit up Imani’s untested but fully operational nervous system. It was all fire and confusion and anguish and hatred. The needles she’d felt when her parents had argued—was this the outcome of that day?

Mama! Mama! Mama!

Her mother’s heartbeat redlined.

Why can’t she help?

The deep voice continued speaking in soft, soothing tones. Her mother remained silent. Imani’s arm disappeared, and the now-empty sopher clamp returned, this time snapping shut on her graceful left leg midway between her pelvis and knee. Imani instinctively tried to jerk away, but the man controlling the clamp was too fast, too practiced. In one seamless action, the leg was crushed, twisted completely backward, and ripped away from Imani’s body. More indescribable fire.

Help me, Mama! Please! Someone! Anyone!

Wasn’t this her safe place?

Again, the clamp disappeared, taking her leg along with it.


But Imani couldn’t cry out. And even if she could, no one, it seemed, was listening.

Light poured in as the sopher clamp entered Imani’s refuge yet again. She had long dreamed of seeing such beautiful light. She had known there was more out there beyond the darkness, but never had she imagined things and people capable of this. If this was what they were doing to her, what must they must be doing to her mother?


If only she could reach her mother’s hand, feel it just one time.

Surgical steel found Imani’s skull.

Mama, I’m so sorry I’ll never get to

But before Imani could finish the thought, the man controlling the sopher clamp finished Imani. And one more small light was snuffed out in a world gripped by darkness.

The procedure depicted above is called a dilation (dilatation) and evacuation procedure, or D&E, and is most commonly performed during a woman’s second trimester of pregnancy on children between 13 and 24 weeks of development (Live Action). This procedure accounts for 96% of the more than 140,000 abortions that annually take place in the United States during the second trimester (Abort73).

15 thoughts on “Gripped

    1. Knowing more has deeply impacted the way I look at abortion, too. My deep desire is that more people come to terms with the reality of what’s happening and make decisions based on that knowledge rather than talking stances purely based on political ideology. I don’t believe abortion is a political issue. It’s a human rights issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for sharing this; brutifully written 😥💛

    With regards to your comment above [—”I don’t believe abortion is a political issue. It’s a human rights issue”—] I believe there are other points to consider; for example, that men should perhaps attempt to control their own ejaculations more than they should attempt to control women’s bodies ( e.g. article written by a Mormon mother of six:, but this piece is incredibly, heart-wrenchingly evocative. 😥

    Thanks again

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you that far too often people take an overly simplistic view of just about everything. It does no one any good to ignore pertinent details. For example, talking about the murder of a human being is never a simple conversation. There are many factors to take into consideration, and while they’re all important, none of those factors can mitigate the reality that the life of a human being has been intentionally ended. In the end, the fact remains that murder is murder. And the fact remains that deliberate, premeditated, violent murder is the most heinous of all. That’s precisely what abortion is. That’s why I’m sad that abortion has been reduced to a political issue, as if we could reduce murder to merely one party’s political bent.

      Let’s see if this helps. Let’s say I have a friend who’s 35 years old, and I find out that he was conceived as a result of a man who, as the article you cited says, couldn’t control his ejaculation. Would the fact that his biological father is a jerk (which is important and must not be completely ignored) give me the legal and moral right to take garden shears (because sopher clamps are too small for 35-year-olds) and cut my friend’s arms and legs off and crush his skull? Would that fact give his own mother or anyone else the legal or moral right to do such a thing? What if instead of a 35-year-old, I ask the same question about a 7-year-old? What about a 3-month-old? As terrible as it is for any 3-month-old or 7-year-old or 35-year-old to have a biological father who amounts to little more than a flaming pile of horse crap—such a fact is hugely important and should never be lightly dismissed—if anyone suggested that that’s grounds for ripping that person limb from limb until he dies—to be honest, I’m not willing to type in this public space what I would have to say to such a person.

      So I ask you, what’s the difference between cutting a 3-month-old into pieces to end his life and doing the same thing to an unborn child who’s at 2 or 4 or 6 months of his prenatal development? To make any distinction is to believe a fantasy.

      This is what we’re talking about here. When it comes to the brutal, barbaric dismemberment of living, feeling human fetuses for the sole purpose of terminating their lives, I see no mitigating factors that could justify the act. At this point, some may parrot, “What about rape and incest?” Florida records reasons for each abortion carried out in the state. In 2018, 99 out of the total 67,897 abortions done in Florida were performed because of rape. That’s 0.15%. Only eight out of those 67,897 abortions, or 0.01%, were done because of incest. (See for the chart where I got those numbers.) Even in those most unspeakable cases, are you willing to tell me that one man’s horrible act of violence justifies another even more horrible act? (Like, because my neighbor’s biological mother and father are siblings, I have the right to kill him?)

      And please, we can’t turn this into an issue that it’s not. Abortion is not about men trying to control women’s bodies. Yes, some men that are against abortion are jerks and simply what to control women’s bodies. Probably some Germans that stood against the slaughter of millions of Jews did so for less than altruistic reasons, too, but their lack of altruism doesn’t somehow justify genocide. Regardless of all the men against abortion who take their stand simply to control women’s bodies, the reality remains that with each abortion men and women are tearing tiny human beings into little pieces and ripping them from their mothers’ bodies. We cannot remain blind to the reality of what is taking place here. I’m not saying there’s a simple answer to all this, just like there’s not a simple answer when one human adult dismembers and kills another human adult. I’m just saying we need to come to terms with the fact that legal abortion is no less than the systematic, legal murder of children.

      This is rather long for a blog post comment, and if you’re still reading, Nadine, I thank you. I don’t say any of this harshly but out of utter brokenness and desperation. If any of this comes across as anything less than the deepest, most sincere cry of my heart, I apologize. I wish the best to you, and thanks for reading and taking the time to reach out and engage.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was pregnant with my second child I was 38 and I was advised to have testing done to see if there were genetic abnormalities due to my being older. I knew the results would not come until 14-16 weeks. I said no. I told the doctor that is the baby had two heads I would still welcome its arrival. I already had one child and talked to my husband about how we would handle a child with abnormalities. We both felt we could do it. Our daughter was born 100% normal and no problems. I think late abortions are horrific. I just wish that there was not a need for them. I know women must make choices but the later term abortion is one that is a a dreadful one to have to make.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for so candidly sharing a part of your story. There must have been so many conflicting thoughts and emotions that rushed over you during that time. I admire your decision to welcome your daughter’s arrival come what may. Our world is a brighter place because of that decision.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oddly enough she now works in a fertility clinic and every day sees couples who are desperate to have children. I wonder if there is some way to encourage those who cannot take care of their own and do not feel they are able look after a baby to consider adoption? Easy for me to say this but perhaps it is difficult to implement.


      1. How it must break God’s heart. Incomprehensible. We adopted our son when he was 2 days old. We thank God His birth mother loved him enough to give him life. He is 26 now.

        Liked by 1 person

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