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I am a 40 year old Catholic woman who has had 2 abortions. One at the age of 21, the second at the age of 26. Before you go on reading I would ask you to consider the following words of Jesus from John 8;7, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”.
I grew up in a good Catholic home. When I became pregnant at the age of 21, I was living on my own. My boyfriend had recently left to return to school in another state. We had plans of re-uniting again. Some of my first reactions to being pregnant were disappointment and fear. I never wanted to be pregnant without being married. This was unexpected and I just wanted it to go away. I only mentioned the pregnancy to one close friend, who advised me that we could take care of it. Her loving response was to help me get an abortion. Up till this time, in my head I had never agreed with abortion, but it was what I wanted then. They call it 'crisis' pregnancy for a reason. I was scared, I was vain, I didn't want to be pregnant, I was alone. When I talked to the father long distance, (he also from a decent Catholic upbringing), said that he thought “it” (abortion) was the best thing to do. I didn't let myself think about it. My above mentioned girlfriend took me to an abortion clinic. I remember sitting in a room with other woman. No one talked, we were in hospital gowns. I remember signing something. I was put asleep. When I awoke, my friend was outside waiting. She drove me home. I cried, she tried to comfort me. In the ensuing days, again I tried not to think about it. There was a small sense of relief. I was glad not to be pregnant. Looking back now, I tucked away a lot of thoughts and emotions. I think I knew abortion wasn't right, yet again, did not delve into thinking about it.
5 years later, different boyfriend. A good, loving man. A relationship going well thus far. I discover I am pregnant after a test at a pregnancy center. Again, fear, disappointment overwhelm me. I have concerns about not being a good Mom. I never wanted to marry just because I was pregnant. I don't want to be pregnant. I don't want to be a Mom. I don't want to tell my loving, Catholic parents who I knew would be disappointed in me. I'm athletic, I don't want to lose my figure. I don't want to have a child this way. I tell my boyfriend. He is excited, elated. We have a toast to celebrate. I later tell him my feelings, fears, he says he will support me whatever I choose to do. I don't want to be pregnant, don't want to marry, at least not yet. Our relationship is still young. I feel helpless, stuck. My family is hundreds of miles away. Still, I am an adult, no way am I going to tell my parents, so disappointed they will be so I think. I tell my boyfriend I want to abort. He supports me. I make an appointment at an abortion clinic. I remember entering a Catholic church, which at the time I did not visit very much. I attended a Mass, desperately praying for help. I really didn't want to abort, yet at the time the feelings of isolation, my fears were overwhelming, the shame I might impose on my parents. No one at church acknowledged my presence that day. I prayed for help. I left church.
My boyfriend drives me to the clinic. We don't talk much. I don't remember much at the clinic. I am put to sleep. When I awake, I am no longer pregnant. This is what I wanted. It is different this time. I feel very tired and sick from the drugs. We drive home in silence, me sleeping most of the way home on our hour plus drive home. This time it was different. Something in me changed immediately. Something inside. The world was colored differently, gray. As I look back I see it must have been similar to how Adam and Eve felt after eating the apple. I realized I was naked. I realized I had sinned, though at the time I would not call it that. Something inside me died that day, and my life thereafter was very different. Shortly after having the second abortion I tried talking to my boyfriend about how I was feeling. He didn't want to talk. Said what's done is done, let's move on. I also found out later how much he had wanted the child. My heart sunk. The help I might have prayed for had been right in front of me. I felt worse. It is hard to summarize all the changes in me that occurred. Something in me changed immediately, others things gradually.
Over the next 10 years life was different for me. It was as if someone sucked the joy out of life. I was in and out of clinical depression, at one time to the point of thinking suicidal thoughts on a daily basis— the pain was so unbearable. After my boyfriend and I broke up about a year or so later, the emotions seemed to intensify. Prior to the abortion, we had gotten along well and communicated well. After, we were suspicious of one another, and kept running into walls the other had put up. My emptiness increased. The world looked so different. I did not like or trust people as much, especially men. I withdrew. I know now that along with other factors, after an abortion, your body changes. Hormones change. My body had been preparing for pregnancy, then I was not pregnant. This change, along with other emotional and spiritual factors can send a woman into a depression. No one told me about this at the clinic. I began drinking more, it dulled the pain. Until the time came I could not control the drinking anymore. It began to control me.
No one wanted to talk about the abortion. I was made to feel something is wrong with me, that I should not be concerned about it. In the course of 10 years, I went to doctors, psychiatrists and counselors. Got better but not well. I thought I had dealt with the abortions. Knowing I did something that went against my own belief system. I was sorry. I repented. I went to confession. Still the pain of the loss was there, though I could not name it. I found I felt very awkward around children and babies. Silently, with my wine and own thoughts, my heart ripped apart when I thought of the lives I had ended.
While taking a college biology class and looking at cells, I gained an appreciation for life. At that time I viewed a video put out by Time/Life that showed what happens at conception. I was amazed and in awe when I saw those cells dividing soon as the sperm penetrated the egg. This was a turning point for me in both gaining an appreciation for the body and conception, and realizing what I had done. I had ended a human life. The only thing the sperm and egg were programmed to do was begin the process of creating a human life.
After years of hating myself, carrying this pain that would not go away, the beginning of my time of true healing began. I had picked up a booklet entitled “5 Steps Toward Post-abortion Healing” by author Holly Francis. I had also found some pamphlets in various churches that had a checklist of symptoms listed regarding post-abortion. As I looked at the list, there I was all over these pages.... extreme regret, guilt, extreme depression, uncontrollable crying, inability to forgive myself, suicidal urges, alcohol abuse to name a few. There was also hope in these pages, and for the first time there was truth. All these things I had been experiencing were very real, and they all stemmed from my choices of years ago. I felt hope. I began to follow the booklets guidelines and began with God to look back with Him over my past and what happened. At last the pain was surfacing and lifting to be healed by God.
As I look back now there were many regrets. I do know now I am truly forgiven. I also know my weaknesses, and that I need God's strength and grace to help me. I also know what mercy is. I had heard it in church and heard it in sermons. I now have tasted it. It is both humbling and glorious. The greatest regret I've had is the knowledge and reality of the fact the two lives I ended I will never see in this life. Many evils one can apologize and try to make amends. Abortion is very final. I know I am forgiven, I also can not undo those choices and allow those lives to live here on earth. If anyone is reading this now and feeling the painful loss of a child through abortion, I can say this, God can and will heal your broken heart if you come to Him. Nothing and no one else will. Also, use resources like Project Rachel in the Catholic church, or P.A.C.E. through pregnancy centers to help you through the stages. I have come to the conclusion it truly is always better to choose life.
My other regret that has been difficult to get over was my anger at myself for taking what at the time seemed the easy way out.
One final thought for anyone who has been suffering after having an abortion and doubts God can or will forgive you. In the bible in the Old Testament read some of the story of Moses. Before Moses became the great Prophet and leader for God he was, he killed a man. He killed a man and then hid in the desert for years. God did not forget him, nor did he deny him access to His kingdom or his love. He in fact had a great job for Moses to do. God wants to do the same for you. Lead you out of hiding, heal you of the pain, anger and shame you may be feeling. God wants to make you whole again.