By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Chelsea Pickett was scared and desperate on the cold December day two years ago when a taxi left her and her four-year-old daughter in front of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in downtown Louisville.
They were about to enter the clinic, where Pickett would have an abortion, when Laura Grijalba — who was praying nearby — approached her.
“She told me that I could make a different choice,” Pickett said during a recent interview in her Middletown apartment.
She had found out on Christmas Eve that she was pregnant. The baby’s father didn’t want a child and she had no family to turn to.
“I felt like if I went through with it that it would be me by myself. That’s how I started thinking about an abortion,” she said.
As she recounted her story late last month — and all the painful details of that day — Pickett’s two-year-old son Braylon played nearby.
“Laura offered to go with me to a center where I could get an ultrasound,” Pickett recalled.
Pickett’s daughter took Grijalba’s hand and together all three walked to BesideU For Life Pregnancy Center, where Pickett saw her unborn child and heard his heartbeat for the first time, she said.
Pickett said Grijalba promised to be there “every step of the way” if she decided to choose life for her child.
Pickett chose life.
“It was the ultrasound. Once I saw the baby and heard the heartbeat I felt like I should keep him,” said the young mother. “I realized he was human, though he was a little, little seed at the moment.”
A report released in September by the Guttmacher Institute stated that the rate of abortion has fallen in recent years, though the reason isn’t clear.
The Guttmacher Institute — which researches information on abortions and abortion-related legislation — reported that abortions fell to a historic low in 2017. The institute
reported there were 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 in 2017 compared to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women in 2014.
In Kentucky, the institute reported a decline in abortions, as well. There was a nine percent decline between 2014 and 2017. EMW Women’s Surgical Center is the only operating abortion clinic in Kentucky.
Pickett is encouraging other women to choose life, despite their circumstances.
Women in a crisis pregnancy, she said, may feel like they don’t know what lies ahead, but there’s hope.
“If you’re on a train and you don’t know where you are going, you don’t just jump off. You wait until you get to the end of the tunnel and you see the light,” she said. “You may feel your life is over, but it isn’t. There’s more ahead.”
The young mother said she was able to do it with the support of Grijalba, who was there “every step of the way,” personally offering help and connecting her to resources in the community. Grijalba also introduced her to others who have helped her on her journey.
Grijalba recently moved out of state, but Pickett has found support in the wider community.
Ange Popovich, Danna Dandurand and Melissa Vander Woude recently founded the group “Louisville Moms Helping Moms” and are providing support to Pickett and other women facing a crisis pregnancy.
Pickett has spent the past two years rebuilding her life. With the help of Grijalba and the other women, she moved her family to a neighborhood in Middletown. She lived in a high-crime area before, she said.
She’s also learning how to drive, so she can get a driver’s license.
Pickett said Grijalba and others who’ve rallied around and supported her have renewed her faith in people.
“I didn’t know so many loving people until I met Laura and the other women. I’d only seen the selfish side of people.”
Pickett is sharing her story and encouraging other women through her Facebook group “Mom With A Plan.”