- (Photo: Contributed)
Just eight years ago, Alabama native Starr Rogers, 56, was getting ready to die.
She aborted four pregnancies during her first marriage and none of them belonged to her husband. And after she left him, she almost killed a fifth for the man with whom she had betrayed him.
In 2006, more than a decade since that dark episode in her life, Starr Rogers, a troubled mother of four, was getting ready to commit suicide and put an end to the haunting memories of her "nasty" life.
And this is how her life began.
Rogers grew up in a small town in Alabama called Eclectic. She was born there, she said, in 1957. The 2000 census pegged the population at just over 1,000, but during the time she was growing up "there probably weren't 300 people," she said. It's the kind of town "where they roll up the sidewalk at nights" and "if you close your eyes [while passing] you'll miss it."
Her family life was so dysfunctional, she said, all she wanted to do was get away from it as fast as possible.
In 1973, at 16, a door opened up for Rogers and she ran through it. "I said, 'yes,' to the first boy who came along [and] asked me to marry him," she recalled.
He was 19.
Rogers and her new husband moved in together and tried to create the blissful life she was longing for, but they failed miserably.
"I was 16. What did I know about getting married?" she asked, in a heavy southern drawl. "It was just bad. I didn't care for him. He was just my way out to get away from home."
One day, still stuck in Eclectic in a marriage with the first boy who asked her to marry him, Rogers met another man who would quickly become her lover.
"He was my insurance man. I don't know if they still do it now, but back in those days your insurance man would come to your house to collect your insurance money. That's how I met him," she explained.
"I just thought this was going to be a man who was going to be my be-all, end-all, do-all, just my everything. I didn't know he was Satan when he [came] through the door. That was my mistake, the worst mistake I ever done," she said, regretfully. "We got to know each other. I had an affair. I got pregnant and it just rocked on."
He was married too.
She said they carried on the affair for 10 years behind her husband's back. And when the insurance man got her pregnant the first time, she gave birth to a daughter and told her husband he was the father.
Rogers' husband eventually found out the child was not his, but he forgave her and kept the marriage together. Her husband's forgiveness, however, was not enough to stop her from sleeping with the insurance man.
"He (husband) thought that I had just stopped that after he found out the baby was not his," she said. "He was going to take her and raise her just like his own child. But I continued being the evil woman that I was. I continued on having an affair with this man."
Rogers stayed married to her first husband for 10 years, and in those years the insurance man impregnated her four more times and she aborted all four pregnancies, which were never more than two years apart.
"You know [it was] getting pregnant and aborting the children. Get pregnant, abort; pregnant, abort; pregnant, abort; pregnant, abort. I mean that was just the way it was," she said, singing the occurrences in a melancholic rhapsody.
Rogers eventually divorced her husband in 1987 and ran to the arms of the insurance man after his wife gave him the boot.
"It was just all so bad," she said.
Rogers felt like she was finally getting what she wanted – a man she thought she loved and the chance to be happy. But it was all fool's gold.
"You woulda' thought everything would have been spectacular, but no. That wasn't gonna happen with all the evil and nastiness in it," she said in hindsight.
She quickly got pregnant again by the insurance man after they got married, and said she was happy. This time for sure, she reasoned, she could have his baby without the guilt that had followed her first child.
"You thought it would have been OK. I could be pregnant [now that we're married] we would have this baby and everything woulda' been great, but no. He did not want this child," said Rogers.
The insurance man had two children already from his previous marriage.
"He wanted me to have an abortion," she said exasperatedly. "By that time I wanted my baby. But because I was just dumb and ignorant, I was into this man and wanted to do everything to please him and everything. I said, 'OK, we'll go do it.'"
Rogers was already in her third trimester in 1988 when she decided to have the abortion. Alabama's tough abortion laws prevented her from aborting a pregnancy that old, so she had to go somewhere else.
"I had to go to Atlanta, Ga., to have it done, because over there, when you're so far along, they do the saline injection on you," she said.
"Do you know what that is?" she asked, before deciding to explain.
"It's where they put you into labor. They inject the saline solution. What it does is it just burns the baby up inside of you and you deliver a burned baby," she said.
When she eventually got to Atlanta and found the place where she would be killing the baby she wanted so badly, she felt she had descended into hell.
"It's just like walking into hell really, because there were so many women in there. I mean, this place was just packed," she said.
But something happened at that Atlanta abortion clinic that pushed her to choose life for her baby.
"They sent me to a room where this lady was and she started talking to me. She started telling me every detail of what they were gonna do to my baby and I just started crying because I wanted this baby. And she even showed me — you know they're not supposed to do this — but she said, 'Out here in the back is where we put the babies,'" said Rogers.
"She said, 'That is where we're gonna put your burned baby. And I just started crying, and she just comes over to me and she just starts holding me and said, 'You want this baby don't you? You don't want to do this, do you?' I said, 'No ma'am, I don't.' She said, 'Well, you just go back to Alabama and you have your baby,'" Rogers recounted.
"She's just holding me. We're both just hugging and crying, and I know with all my heart Jesus put this woman in there. I know that it was an angel He put in there because it was time for me to stop the killing of these children," she said.
So Rogers went back to Alabama and told the insurance man that she was keeping their baby whether he liked it or not.
"I told my husband, 'I'm not getting rid of this baby,' and he just pitched a fit. He wouldn't have anything to do with me. He was just so mad. Even when I had this child he didn't even come to the hospital for three days after gave birth," she said.
Her husband's anger, however, wasn't going to blunt the joy she felt in choosing to give birth to their son.
"The night that baby was born it was just so wonderful. That baby, I had wanted him. After what I did to all my others, God saw fit to give me another child and it was just wonderful.
In 1991, after delivering a third child by her second husband, the insurance man, Rogers had her "tubes tied" (tubal ligation) to avoid getting pregnant again. But a year later, in 1992, Rogers said she got pregnant again and had another boy.
And while all of this was happening, she said her husband hated her for having more children.
Rogers said she finally "wised up" and divorced the insurance man and went home to her first husband.
"I know. Isn't it insane?" she admitted.
"He took me back and we stayed together for almost 10 years. We didn't get married, we just lived together. Of course, you know that was living in sin, so that wasn't gonna work out either," she explained.
But it was more than just living in "sin" with her first husband that had become problematic for Rogers. She had also begun sleeping around again.
"I was just like the Tasmanian devil," she said. "I had so much anger inside of me. I wanted to kill everybody."
She met another man in 2006 and she walked out on her first husband for a second time. She got married again that same year.
Everything was going well until she realized she was having trouble forming a lasting bond with her new husband and her world was threatening to crumble, again.
So in 2006 Rogers began thinking that perhaps it was time for her to end it all and she wrote each of her children letters, apologizing for taking her own life and got ready to deliver them.
But Jesus, she said, wasn't done with her yet.
"One day I was at my library and I saw a Christian magazine. It's called, Journey magazine. It's just a little local magazine that we have here. I just opened it up and started reading. There was an ad that read: 'Have you had an abortion?' If so, it suggested calling a phone number for help."
Rogers struggled with the thought of calling the number for help until she finally gave in.
"I called this lady who does post-abortive work with women and I started going to see her. I was so bad that instead of being counseled with group of women, which she normally does, she pulled me aside and started seeing me one-on-one," she said.
"I done that and I tell you that was the hardest thing I had ever done. This work, you had to go into the Bible to find the answer to all these questions. You had to do all this writing about your life," she continued.
She said she went through a process that took her two years and during that time she discovered the love of Jesus.
"I am a completely different person. I am not that nasty woman that I was. I am Jesus' daughter. I'm His prize. And that is why I'm so happy because I don't have that nasty anymore. I'm clean," she said.
Rogers said she is still happily married to the man she met in 2006 and plans to remain that way "'til the Lord calls me home." She has also remained faithful to him.
"Ain't it amazin' what Jesus can do to a person," she said, laughing. "I have been so happy since I got set free from all that. In my heart, I'm a totally new person. And it's because of Him."
"Jesus is so great and good, because through all the stuff I put my children through, Jesus gave me four of the greatest children," she added.
Rogers currently works with her two daughters as a childcare provider at their church in Millbrook, Ala., and her two sons are carpenters.
"They didn't have no balanced life coming up with a mom like me, but they have never even given me a moment's trouble. I think Jesus kinda knew that, He knew I probably couldn't take it on top of everything else," she said.