Jacquie Stalnaker is one of those special people who not only have managed to overcome the very difficult situations in her life, but managed to use them for good and to help others.
Stalnaker was the featured speaker at the benefit for the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center on Feb. 11 at Classis V in Amherst. She shared her personal testimony which has led her to do lobbying and be a strong voice against abortion.
Stalnaker grew up in a small town in West Virginia. Encouraged by her parents, she went on to pursue her dream of competing in the Miss America Pageant. She did win the Miss West Virginia competition and then became an ambassador for the American Heart Association.
"I remember telling my mother I'm going to have a career, family and success and everything will be great," Stalnaker said. "The only thing missing was the right guy."
Stalnaker met a guy, fell in love and found out she was pregnant about three weeks before she was to be married.
"The first thing he said to me after I told him I was pregnant was to get an abortion," Stalnaker said. "He said abortion was the only answer."
Four days later, Stalnaker woke up with a gun to her ribs and her fiancé saying it was her or the baby. With the gun still in her back, she walked up the stairs of a facility to have the abortion. Once inside, the gun disappeared and she was taken away. When what she described as a rough experience was over, she came out to find her fiancé was gone.
Stalnaker struggled after the abortion and tried to get help. It took her a long time before she could tell her parents. She finally spoke with some priests and went on a healing retreat.
"When you lose a child there are 22 stages of grieving," Stalnaker said. "I was counseled so much at the retreat."
After the retreat, Stalnaker felt a calling to speak against abortion and the effects she personally experienced. She shares about her daughter, Lily Gabrielle, whom she said is with her all the time. Since relocating to Birmingham, Ala., her efforts have helped pass six laws in five years and shut down two abortuaries.
"It is what I am called to do," Stalnaker said.
She continues to share her testimony wherever she can. She has spoken on the steps of the Supreme Court and at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
"I'm doing this to honor my daughter," Stalnaker said. "I doing this to honor all the children this has happened to for me and for all who can't speak up like grandparents and siblings who have lost someone. I'm doing this for our society."