Stephanie Chatfield began her confession by thanking the person who pressured her into it. The wife of Michigan GOP State Rep. Lee Chatfield wrote in Facebook post last Friday that someone recently contacted her husband about swirling rumors, threatening to expose her.
“Your desire to see this story go public emboldened me to do something that I should have done years ago,” Chatfield, 28, said. “And no matter the intentions of anybody wishing to see this story go public, this I am certain of: God meant it for good and will glorify Himself through this.”
The post, which was shared on Lee Chatfield’s public Facebook page but signed with Stephanie Chatfield’s name, was titled “Be Pro-Life — But offer help to women in need.” It told the story of an alcohol-laden high school party, an alleged rape, an abortion and years of regret — a story made all the more distinctive because she is now married to an antiabortion lawmaker running for reelection this year.
Lee Chatfield, also 28, is the co-sponsor of a bill that would ban and criminalize “dismemberment abortion,” the most common method for terminating a pregnancy in the second trimester, according to the AP. While other procedures would remain available, opponents of such bans have argued that they would force women to seek medically unsafe abortions.
“By putting a stop to dismemberment abortions in our great state, we will set an example for the rest of the country,” Chatfield said in a statement about the proposed legislation. “Michigan does not stand for and will not tolerate these ghastly and depraved practices.”
The Washington Post has not independently verified the events described in the Facebook post.
She has no memory of that night, Stephanie Chatfield said. She knew only by her appearance and physical condition the next morning that she “had been taken advantage of.” Three weeks later, she learned that she was pregnant.
Chatfield told no one. Not her friends; not her parents. “I was ashamed and I was scared,” she said, and one week later, she resolved to abort her child — the “worst [decision] of my life.”
The choice has followed her in ways that she had not foreseen, Chatfield said:
To tell you the truth, I desperately wish that I had the courage as a teenage girl to accept and welcome my child into this world…. But I didn’t, and I made a decision that I’ve thought about and regretted nearly ever day since. It’s haunted me…. I knew that what I did was wrong at the time, but I never imagined the weight and guilt that I would carry as a consequence.
She said she bemoaned the fact that she had not leaned on her loved ones for help, and instead relied on herself to take action. It was only after she spoke to Lee (they were broken up at the time) and her parents that she realized “the full forgiveness and grace that God freely offers.”
At the end of the post, Chatfield offered comfort and advice to young girls and women who might find themselves in a similar situation. She implored those facing unplanned pregnancies to remember that they had support systems they could lean on, including crisis pregnancy centers, and that they should not fear others’ judgment.
She told those “who’ve had abortions and might be battling with guilt” to consider Christ’s mercy. “God has forgiven me, and He’ll forgive you too,” Chatfield said.
Finally, Chatfield addressed pro-life advocates and stressed the importance of helping women in need:
To all Pro-Life advocates, be against abortion — yes, but let’s continue being proactive and looking for young girls and women who are hurting, suffering and confused so we can offer them assistance.
Expressions of support have filled the post’s comment space, as users commended Chatfield for her honesty and courage. Some shared stories of their own abortions or teenage parenthood.
Spokesmen for the Michigan State Police and Michigan House Republicans told the Associated Press on Tuesday that no investigations were planned around the alleged threats.
Speaking to the AP, Lee Chatfield’s two opponents for his state representative seat in November — Republican Kathy Twardy and Democrat Phil Bellfy — also both denied having anything to do with the disclosure.
“Obviously if somebody is using personal histories or information as leverage, that’s very troubling,” House Republican spokesman Gideon D’Assandro told the Detroit News. “We’ll have to talk with Rep. Chatfield and see if there’s anything we should be doing to help.”
Fellow Michigan GOP State Rep. Kurt Heise wrote on his own Facebook page: “It’s horrible how politics has become in our state. Going after a candidate’s spouse and children in this way is reprehensible and should be condemned by good people everywhere.”
In introducing his wife’s statements on Facebook, Lee Chatfield wrote, “I’m extremely proud of my wife for her courage!”
Lee Chatfield is a proponent of defunding Planned Parenthood. A photo posted to his Facebook page last August shows him protesting outside one of the group’s facilities.
More from Morning Mix