As a 19-year-old, Terri Watts believed her boyfriend when he promised he would step up and marry her if he got her pregnant. That promise fell flat with a positive pregnancy test, however, and Watts would eventually cave to her boyfriend’s pressure to abort their child.
Watts, who grew up in Ahoskie, North Carolina, joined the military after graduating high school in 1978 and served until 2000. After re-entering civilian life, Watts has taught special education and launched into a career as a writer and motivational speaker.
Watt’s abortion led to years of depression, regret and self-condemnation, and it’s the main focus of one of her books, “Confronting the Guilt of My Past.”
“The shame and everything else is indescribable,” Watts said. “It still is not an excuse to abort a child and if we are better educated in that area, and if we know God’s Word, we will most definitely take better options. A baby is not a sin, it’s the act that’s the sin.”
Watts grew up in the church, but had strayed from her faith as a teenager. Following her abortion, she promised God she would not have another abortion—a vow that was put to the test when she became pregnant as a result of sexual assault.
This time, Watts resisted the pressure to abort and gave birth to a son. Three years later, after Watts had met and married her husband, she had a second son—even though she had been told by doctors she wouldn’t be able to have any more children.
“Those two babies—that touched me in a way that I knew I needed to share my story,” Watts said, “Through my trials and tribulations, I really began to fall back on what I’ve learned as a young girl and I rededicated my life back to the Lord.”
In 2006, Watts went through a difficult divorce, inspiring her to write her first memoir, “The Other Side of My Prayers,” published in 2013.
That same year, Watts was listening to a woman speak out about her abortion experience when she realized she hadn’t forgiven herself for resorting to abortion more than three decades before.
“She told us that God will forgive us, but we have to forgive ourselves,” Watts said. “It doesn’t mean you can keep going and having them. You can’t keep going that route. When she talked to me, that gave me a lot of relief. It is something I suffered from for 34 years.”
It was then she felt God’s call to write the prequel to “The Other Side of My Prayers”—the story of her younger years—to help women struggling with abortion. “Confronting the Guilt of My Past” was published in 2014.
Still, since Watts had worked hard to clean up her the mistakes of her past, she struggled with sharing those mistakes with the world.
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“I was like, ‘Okay Lord, you want me to do what?’” Watts said. “It was really hard, but I know it was God’s will—somebody had to step up and share their story to help save these babies.”
As she speaks at book signings and speaking events, Watts gets to hear firsthand the impact her books are having. In September 2017, one young woman approached her to say what she’d learned from Watts’ post-abortive memoir.
“She said, ‘Oh my gosh, you just don’t understand how this book has helped me; I’ve beaten myself up so much for the things that I’ve done in my lifetime, and I look at you and see that you’re not going through anything,” Watts said. “And I said, ‘I still go through things, but I know how to pray.’”