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I was desperate

I was 19 when I had my abortion. I was raised Catholic, but did not have a good grasp of what that meant at the time. I knew in my heart my decision was wrong, but at that time, at least where I was, the Church was not confronting this issue loudly enough for me to hear. So, I allowed myself to believe the lie that if I had the abortion early on (I was about 5-6 weeks) that I wasn’t killing a baby – just stopping a pregnancy.

I was involved in a very bad relationship at the time. It was emotionally abusive and violent at times. The fear was always there that he would hurt me (mostly in a fit of rage) or himself if I made good on my desire to end it.

I was desperate and would do anything at this point in my life to end this poisoned relationship. I would try to meet any terms he laid down in the hope to gain my "freedom."

One of these terms was that he would see what it would be like for me to "be with" someone else so he could cope with that possibility.

He arranged the whole situation with a mutual "friend." We were supposed to get together with him and his girlfriend. I didn’t believe this would ever happen because it was totally out of character for both of us. I thought it was more of a stupid game. It wasn’t. When I went out with him on this particular night, the friend was there, but his girlfriend wasn’t. It was becoming more real as time went by, but I still wasn’t convinced of it.

On the other side of the coin – I had been trapped in this situation for so long. I was waiting for some knight in shining armor to come along and "rescue" me. Maybe this was him? Maybe he would see how bad my situation was that I would even consider this. Maybe he’d take me and protect me. I was young, totally foolish from the constant barrage of abuse – I was willing to believe anything.

The hardest part for me to admit – even to myself, is that that girl in that car was me. I allowed myself to be used and I became pregnant.

At this same time in my life, I was scheduled to have minor surgery on my teeth. My father was making kind of a big deal about getting it done now before I would no longer be on his insurance. (Ironically, and this being one of the major factors in a rushed decision, the insurance didn’t pay for the surgery at all.)

From the day I found out I was pregnant for sure (because I knew right away I probably was) to the day I was scheduled for extensive x-rays for surgery preparation, was only a matter of two or three days.

So, I felt I needed to make "my" decision before the x-rays were done. I felt that that alone would deform or kill the baby, and if that didn’t, surgery surely would.

But if I cancelled the surgery, what reason would I give to my parents?

When the x-rays were about to be taken, after the nurse had asked about possible pregnancies, I almost jumped out of the way and screamed, STOP! But I was frightened . . . What would happen then? Would she have to tell my parents? Etc. etc. etc. I didn’t move. I felt I had killed the baby then and there. I was numb. (In hindsight, probably the best thing I could have done was to tell the nurse, she might have been able to help me. Maybe she could have given another reason why I couldn’t have surgery – Just to buy me some time to think.)

It wasn’t that my parents wouldn’t have helped me, or that they would have been totally shocked, because I had been with this boy a long time (since age 12-13). But they would have made me have the baby and that was something I wanted to decide for myself.

I wanted to tell my mother though and I almost did. I still remember sitting at the kitchen table – she was reading the paper, I wanted her help. I wanted to share this new life with her. But she looked so calm and serene, just a few words from me would shatter that and I wouldn’t be able to take them back.

I went into my room. I remember reaching out to God and I did feel him reach back. I knew he wanted me to trust him, but I wasn’t sure. Then all the fears came flooding back – I turned away and didn’t look back.

I couldn’t handle knowing that I could have this person’s baby and remain connected to him forever, or how it would change my life. I didn’t want to give him up for adoption either. (I was far too selfish for that.) And most of all facing the possibility that it wasn’t even my boyfriend’s child. How could I explain that? How would I ever live with that? I wasn’t sure that I could. And if it had turned out that way neither could my boyfriend. He had told me since early in our relationship how he wanted me to be the mother of his children. If he was sure the child was his, he would never have helped me to go through with it.

So, with all those factors in mind, and not once considering what I was taking away from my unborn child, I made the only decision I thought I could make. I made an appointment at the abortion clinic.

Even after all the convincing arguments I had given myself, I still wanted a way out. I was really hoping that the "counselor" at the clinic would help me. She was my last hope.

I wanted to ask her if the possibility existed that even after x-rays and surgery that they baby might still be o.k. or if I should just have the baby because I wasn’t sure about this. (and some other questions that I just can’t recall right now.) But when I went in to be "counseled" I was informed of the procedures and told what to do and where to go from there.

I remember, they put me in this little changing room (department stores have better ones). This person (I don’t think she was even a nurse) gave me a pill in a cup. She told me, without taking any kind of history on me, to take it. It will calm my nerves and relax my body. It was a hit of valium.

Me and the other girls and women in our "group" were then taken upstairs to our rooms, like a heard of cattle to the slaughter. (That memory may be a little disordered – but that’s how I remember it.) I was in total disbelief at this point. I just went along.

The "procedure" was painful – they offered me more pain killers – but I figured the least I could do at this point was to feel the pain.

I don’t know how long it took. I don’t think it was more than 20 minutes, but it may as well have been 20 hours.

After I was "finished," they put me in the post abortion room with everyone else that just came through the assembly [line].

I remember a really young girl. She didn’t look well. I wanted to help her, but how? There were about six of us. I remember one woman quite well, lounging back reading a magazine as if she were in a beauty parlor. I think it was her second or third abortion. She and her husband didn’t want any more kids. The "doctors" and "nurses" were having a conference back and forth about another girl who was further along than they had thought. After some conversation they took her. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I wanted to tell her not to go through with it, that it was too late. She was desperate. Who was to tell her what she should do.

Before we left they handed a petition to us and kindly asked that we all sign it to keep abortion legal. I didn’t want to sign it. With all my heart I didn’t, but what kind of hypocrite was I anyway? I’m pretty sure I signed it. I don’t remember writing.

After I was released, my boyfriend and I left in his car. I didn’t want to think about it anymore. He asked me how I was, but what could I say? He didn’t want to talk about it either. We got "high" and went to a movie. I was completely empty. I stuffed everything neatly away in a dark corner of my mind. After all I still needed to deal with this unwanted relationship and all the problems that went with it. I had no energy to spend on being remorseful. I couldn’t change it now. I closed the book.

I did however, pick and choose certain people I would reveal this to. The guilt was too great. I wanted to know if they would still like me/love me. Would they understand? Maybe they could help me to understand what I had done.

The biggest question – Did God still love me? Could He? I thought I was automatically excommunicated from the Church. Funny how I thought that after, but before I wasn’t sure how the Church stood.

I did eventually return to confession and confessed my abortion. I don’t remember how long after that was because I confessed it more than once. I knew I was supposed to accept God’s forgiveness, but how could I when I couldn’t forgive myself? Until I could do that, I didn’t feel I was forgiven.

I knew that God can forgive anything, but I did feel that this was the unforgivable sin because it was unchangeable!, and because of the innocence and helplessness of the child. Where was my child anyway? What did I deny him? How could I hope for anything for myself when I took away something so precious from him, his life, his chance to give glory to God. I wasn’t happy with "He’s o.k. now." "He’s in limbo." Or even the he was with God, but in lesser glory and would never know the difference and now I could go on with my faith, journey and still achieve the kingdom of heaven. I didn’t’ understand. That didn’t work for me.

After many discussions with priests and much growth in my faith and my trust in God, I now know that anything is possible in the ocean of God’s mercy. I do however, hope and pray that all these aborted children are martyrs in the eyes of God and have achieved greatness in His kingdom.

I’m 31 now and have been blessed with three more absolutely wonderful children, all girls ages 7, 5, and 20 months.

The full impact of what I had done didn’t begin to hit me until after the birth of my first child.

I was so filled with joy at her birth, but not 10 minutes, maybe less, after she was born, they suspected a problem and started taking a history from me and so matter-of-factly asked about my past abortion. I thought I would throw up. I didn’t. I held it in. I held it all in just like before. But this isn’t something you can keep in forever. It comes out one way or another.

I will always struggle with this self inflicted tragedy in my life, but through the grace of God, I go on. I know He still loves me. . . and continues to call me home.

I want to thank you a thousand fold for being there to fight for life and to help the women who need you so desperately with such compassion and forgiveness in your heart.

It hurts to watch your show, but there is still so much I need to know and so much I want to do to help.

I also want to thank you for the format laid out in, "The Abortion Case Study Project." It really helped me to sort my thoughts enough to write this down. I’ve wanted to do this for so long, but I’ve never been able to put it all together in my mind. I could only handle a piece at a time.

My parents still don’t know. They think I’m just a great wife and mother. They are so against abortion too. It would kill them to know, but I still wonder if I should tell them. I don’t want to do so if it’s only to unburden myself, but should they know and be able to pry for and hope for their grandchild?

With all that said, believe it or not, I’m only now reaching the point of this letter.

Again, I am not sure of the time frame, but about a year later, my older sister became pregnant. She was not promiscuous, but made a one time mistake.

She had advised me (against her better judgment) to have my abortion because she was afraid for me, but I still didn’t think she would go through that herself. Yet, I couldn’t see her with a child. Children weren’t her strong point and she was very wrapped up in a demanding job.

She ultimately decided to take the same road I did.

The pain of the abortion hit her immediately though. She was in desperate pain. None of which she shared too much with me at the time.

At about the same time, a very close friend of hers (a foster sister of ours for a short time) that she had distanced herself from, committed suicide. She had had serious family emotional and mental problems.

My sister felt and still feels a tremendous amount of guilt for not being there for her long time friend.

She has been carrying the burden of both these tragedies in her life for a long time and sees them almost as one combined incident.

She did go to confession, but the priest that she spoke to was less than compassionate about either situation and told her so frankly, she was devastated.

She does not accept that she can be forgiven (I don’t know if the priest gave her absolution or not.). She feels she has no self worth what so ever.

She has been alone with this for many years. She lives alone, works a lot, and shares very little with me (up until recently only bits and pieces).

She has been a heavy drinker for some time and has had a few breakdowns, one very serious. Lately, she’s been having more drinking "episodes" (uncontrollable emotional breakdowns). Other than these, she has been very good at hiding the extent of her drinking.

Like I said, I didn’t know how serious things were. I’m fearful that if I don’t find her some help, I will find her dead.

She doesn’t want to kill herself, but she wants to stop the pain and hurt herself. She needs forgiveness and peace. 

Work or stress of other related factors have always been the blame. I knew she had a drinking problem and I knew she was attempting to hide it. But I had no idea up until very recently just how serious it is and only now is she admitting the direct connection between the abortion and suicide and her serious self abusive life style.

She is a serious, hard core, alcoholic with a wall in front of her that could stop an invasion and a tongue sharper than a sword to cut you down if you try.

It’s been a no win situation, one I’ve been praying for, for some time.

But only yesterday did I finally get the full scope of what serious danger and tremendous pain she is in. She had another breakdown, but usually she claims it’s just the booze and she’ll be ok (and always seems to be on the surface until you try to bring it up). But this time she opened up to me in a way she never has – she was honest and told me everything that’s been going on. She was reaching out to me – she is scared, and so am I.

Priests for Life
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