WASHINGTON, D.C., January 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a bittersweet ending to a joyful March for Life this year, dozens of post-abortive mothers took to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Monday afternoon to tell their stories of fear, anguish, and redemption, giving a rare glimpse into the terrible human cost of Roe v. Wade.
Of the 45 who spoke, 40 were newcomers, according to Georgette Forney of Silent No More Awareness, including a group of twelve that had traveled from Arizona to brave the blustery January weather. Over 100 post-abortion sufferers walked together in the March for Life.
Some described in detail the “horrendous” pain of the abortion procedure itself, which was to leave many with health problems and permanent loss of fertility. But even worse was the emotional devastation that followed: feelings of desolation, loneliness, and despair overwhelmed some mothers only moments after losing their child to abortion.
“All that remained was the guilt and shame, shreds of the person I had been before the abortions. Abortion is not a choice. For me it was a prison,” said one mother.
Mary Jane D’Andries of Pittsburgh recalled how she felt “so alone” the morning after her abortion forty years ago. “As far as I was concerned, the relationship with the father was over the moment he wanted me to have an abortion,” she said. “The loneliness was not due to his absence, it was due to my child’s absence.”
Many women said they suffered for years - 20, 25, 30, or more - with a painful burden of guilt, buried deep inside them. They described the years of drug addiction, dysfunctional relationships, sexual promiscuity, and depression that resulted. Several said that the rejection of their baby also led to the ruin of other relationships - with lovers, parents, and living children.
“I remember when I went to go get in the car [after the abortion], my one-year-old son reached out for me to pick him up, and I couldn’t,” recalled Cynthia Carney of Tulsa, barely able to speak through her tears. “My relationship changed with him that day. It’s never been the same.”
No Hope, No Choice
Many stories revealed the desperation women experience when they realize that no one will support them during their pregnancy - a desperation that has been compared to that of a suicide-minded individual when all hope seems lost.
Michelle Geraci described how workers at Planned Parenthood, which a friend had recommended as a place to get help, turned their backs against her hopes to keep the baby.
“Every time I called I hoped to get someone who could tell me somewhere to call to help me keep my baby. They would just tell me I was on my own,” said Geraci.
After arriving for an abortion, she accidentally caught a glimpse of her baby on the sonogram. “Something went through me like a wave,” she said. “I asked the doctor what that was, and she said it was nothing. She saw my face, and quickly moved between me and the screen. Then she stopped and said that I didn’t have to do this.
“I desperately told my situation and that I didn’t want to, but I didn’t know what else to do. I said I felt like I was on a roller coaster and I wanted off,” Geraci recalled. “She looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘fine.’ Next thing I knew, a mask was over my face, and I was thinking I was trying to say that getting off the roller coaster didn’t mean I wanted an abortion.
“Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a room full of girls crying. The girl next to me tearfully reached out to hold my hand. I was crying too.
“I took her hand, but I hated her, and I hated myself.”
After becoming pregnant following a rape, Pam Messina of Charlottesville, Va., said that the decision whether or not to abort “tormented” her. “I cried for days and was told I had to hurry up and make a decision,” she recalled. The day after aborting her child, Messina said her mother attempted to comfort her by saying that “she would have aborted me if it had been available to her.”
“She thought this would make me feel better about my decision; however, it made me feel much worse - because if I had been given a choice, I would have chosen to be born,” said Messina. “But my baby was not given a chance or a voice to speak to this request.”
For some, the “freedom of choice” provided by legal abortion was not freedom at all, but instead was used as a weapon against them.
When Jacquie Stalnaker of Birmingham, Ala. told her boyfriend about her pregnancy, she said, “To my astonishment he said it had to be aborted. He told me it was my life or the child’s life, but one of us was going to go.”
“We drove to the abortion clinic with the gun underneath the front seat of the car, so I knew he truly meant his statement.”
“As the procedure was being performed, there was no anesthesia, there was no numbness, there was no pain medicine,” said Stalnaker, an attractive and youthful-looking blonde, now 45. “I can tell you exactly the very second how it felt for that child to be disposed out of my body. They put her in a jar, they set her on the shelf, and sent me on my way.”
Stalnaker said that her boyfriend had driven away - she never saw him again - and as she walked across the parking lot she collapsed and nearly hemorrhaged to death. Since then, she said she has survived cancer three times, had a 25-pound tumor removed from her uterus, and has been unable to bear any more children - all effects, according to doctors, of the abortion.
The Face of Healing
Despite the darkness of their stories, all the women attested to a burgeoning of hope when they began journeying to wholeness again, through healing tears of true grief over their baby’s loss and gratitude for the forgiveness of God.
Although her life spiraled downward after her abortion, one mother said she was not consciously aware of her grief for years. But after opening her heart to his loss, she said she saw her son in heaven in a vision.
“When I saw him, I knew who he was immediately,” she said. “I saw his whole personality, his potential, his impact on others in his life, and I saw that I was responsible for taking that away.”
A remarkable trait the post-abortive women held in common was their affectionate attachment and even relationship to the little one that had been put to death - something many called the only path to healing.
A woman who introduced herself as “Chris” said that she heard “the little life within me crying out to live” in the last hours before the procedure: “Christopher’s cries for life would remain in my memory from that day on.” Years later, she said, she “began to reconcile with Christopher and to heal” at a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.
One woman even described a mystical experience after begging God for a chance to speak to her unborn child 23 years after the abortion, praying: “Miriam, please forgive me for what I did to you.”
“And she said back to me, oh Mommy, I’m so sorry for the 23 years of suffering that you have endured,” she said. “I don’t hear voices, but that morning, I heard Miriam, and she sounded like she was 23 years old. In fact, she sounded like one of my nieces. Miriam’s response to me told me that she loved me.”
A face and a name for their baby: this was the key to bringing back the women’s exiled motherhood, and the key, they said, to exposing the lies perpetuated by legalized abortion.
“I saw the truth I’d been denying: she was not a blob of tissue or a mistake,” said one mother. “She was my little Cecy, and because she was inconvenient, I allowed her to be killed. If abortion had not been legal, I would have made room for her in my life.”