South Dakota—Bill Connor is a successful businessman who owns Prairie Coach Trailways in Dell Rapids. He also started “Angel Bus,” a nonprofit organization that provides luxury bus rides to terminally ill children who travel to the Mayo Clinic for treatment. When he had one of his buses for sale, he sold it for a good price to the new “Fleet for Little Feet” mobile women’s clinic project started a few months ago.
But if Bill Connor had been conceived in the modern abortion-on-demand environment in which we live today, it’s uncertain whether he would be alive to make these important contributions to society.
Bill was born 48 years ago, prior to the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the United States. The circumstances surrounding Bill’s birth are troubling, and many today argue that women should always be able to abort children like Bill. You see, Bill’s mother was a young teenager when she was sexually assaulted by the father of the children she had been babysitting. The man molested Bill’s mother for five years, until she was 15, and Bill was conceived through that abuse.
“I am a product of rape,” Bill says.
“He was basically a thug,” Bill said of the man. “I never had much of a relationship with him because he was such a bad person. He perpetrated this sort of thing on other girls, too. He had my mom terrified, telling her that she was just as guilty in the molestation as he was, and that if she said anything, she would go to jail, too.”
His early years were challenging by any estimate. Growing up very poor, he and his mother lived with his grandparents for a number of years, and they also relied on welfare to make ends meet.
Bill said he always thought of his grandfather as his “dad,” and even called him that. Eventually some of the other boys made fun of him and told him that this man wasn’t his “real” father, but he was all Bill had ever known.
His mother eventually married, but it turned out that this man was much like his biological father, in that he was a pedophile also.
“He tried stuff with me, but fortunately I was big enough to fend for myself,” Bill said. “He succeeded with my younger sisters. I eventually ran away from home, and ended up in foster homes.”
He spent time with several families, several of whom weren’t very “nurturing.” He eventually lived with the Johnson family.
“They were good to me, “ Bill said. “I remember eating dinner with them. They would put out a big plate of chicken. I could eat as many pieces as I wanted. I could even have a whole glass of milk. I didn’t know what that was like. I wasn’t used to that kind of luxury.”
His foster-father encouraged him to play basketball, and he became an All-State, All-Conference player. He went on to get an education and a good job in the banking industry. When he turned 40 he and his wife started the bus company.
Despite his troubled beginnings, Bill refuses to call himself a victim. “I’m not a victim, I’ve been blessed to have an opportunity at life,” he says. “I’ve never felt victimized. My circumstances weren’t as pleasant as some others, but I’m thrilled to embrace life.”
Bill has fresh reason to embrace life as he does, having come through leukemia treatments and a bone marrow transplant. “I have a new lease on life,” he says.
The remarkably positive outlook Bill has on life is exceptional, given all that he has gone through. In his 20’s, he was living in a state of denial about his past, blocking out the unpleasant memories, but when he started to manifest physical problems such as anxiety attacks and fainting spells, he started to come to terms with the entirety of this life.
Would Bill even be here if abortion had been legal when he was conceived?
“I’ve thought about that often,” Bill said. “If it had been an easy option, I don’t know what my mom would have done; I’d like to believe she’d have done as she did.
“Society was pro-life back then, but since then it has deteriorated into this post Roe v Wade thing.”
What would Bill say to a young woman today in a situation similar to his mother’s?
“I would just say ‘Look at me. Look at my life and the things I’ve done, experienced, the children I’ve brought into the world. I would have been denied all that experience and joy because of a crisis decision.’
“I understand that in a crisis, you just want the ‘fire’ to go away. One way or another, it will go out, but what is left after the fire is out? What consequences are you left to deal with?”
Bill says he is troubled by a trend that has developed in our society to only accept responsibility for acts we intentionally commit, while refusing to take responsibility for our reactions to challenges we face.
Bill asks, “If you’re driving down the road and there’s a traffic jam and you choose to drive down the sidewalk to get around it, but run over a bunch of people in the process, are you responsible? You didn’t mean to kill them, you just didn’t want to wait in traffic. Should you be responsible for their deaths?”
Bill likens this scenario to what happens when a woman is raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, and a pregnancy results.
Bill would say that the woman isn’t responsible for what happens to her, but she is responsible for the decisions she makes as a result of dealing with that circumstance.
For Bill, the answer to a rape exception for abortion is obvious.