FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ — The most difficult moments of Lori Gray’s life make up the story she’ll share with anyone willing to give the time and listen.
Before she was an electronics technician for the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration, and long before she was a leader in the Arizona GOP circles, Gray was a teenager living in inner-city Detroit, Michigan. She was a straight ‘A’ student who wanted to take her basketball talents away from a private catholic school.
“After the 8th grade, I begged my parents to let me go to public school and they did,” she said.
In 1982, at 16 years old, just over a decade after Roe v. Wade went into effect, Gray got pregnant.
Like any 16-year-old who just received life-changing news, she reluctantly told her parents.
“They made the decision that they were trained to make, which is ‘you don’t have to do this.’ When I say trained, that’s the propaganda that had been going through our community. Have the abortions,” she said.
Gray says the same gynecologist who brought her into the world was the one who performed her abortion.
Afterward, Gray says she wasn’t informed or prepared for the depression that followed, leaving her “a very distraught 16-year-old.”
A little over a year later, she dealt with the toughest decision she’s ever had to make – all over again.
“I don’t usually tell this part of the story because there was two abortions, but I’m fine. The second one was when I was 17-and-a-half. And I didn’t tell anybody about that,” she said.
Gray said back in the early 1980s, she didn’t get an ultrasound before either of her abortions. She says there weren’t counseling services before or after, and she wasn’t even sure what the procedure entailed. She does remember paying $275 for that second abortion that changed her life forever.
“I bled for three weeks, I never told anybody. It’s just the grace of God I’m still alive,” she said.
Years later, as Gray sought to start a family of her own in her 30s, she says damage to her cervix done during the second abortion procedure left her unable to have children going forward. After hearing that news, she said she was in denial. Another trip back to the doctor years later reconfirmed she couldn’t carry children. As difficult as it may be for her to rehash it all, that’s most of the story she shares as an anti-abortion advocate for Arizona Life Coalition, of which she’s a board member.
These days, Gray lives in Fountain Hills with her husband. She said “God blessed” her when she met married a man with six children and now 11 grandchildren. Both of her parents have since passed. Before her mother died, Gray said she apologized to her for influencing her to get her first abortion when she was 16. When asked if she and her mother would have been given an ultrasound or heard the baby’s heartbeat before the abortion procedure, she may have had a change of heart.
To the women facing the questions she did when she was 16 – she wants them to know that there are other options than the ones she made that changed her life forever.
“If I would have told my parents the second time, what would have happened?”