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Normal life? Never again!

"How can you say abortion isn't the easy way out if you've had one yourself?" The question asked, by the young woman seated across from me, stung. With a quick, silent prayer for strength, I admitted, "Because it was wrong."

The pregnancy test positioned on the table between us displayed a clear blue plus sign. The young woman was pregnant, and abortion was a real possibility for her. We began to discuss both our crisis pregnancies and talk about the option I had taken and the consequences of my actions. The years have not dulled the memory of my abortion. In fact, segments of the experience which I had blocked out continue to surface. Each time they do, I must deal with the abortion again.

My story echoes many others. I had gone in for a pelvic exam to obtain birth control pills. I was told I was pregnant, and given the name of an abortionist. I was unmarried and terrified that my family would reject me if they found out I was pregnant. I had recently begun dating a man who I thought was my knight in shining armor, and this was not his child. I wasn't willing to lose him for something the clinic called an obstruction. 

My best friend, at the time, telephoned the abortionist for an appointment and drove me to the abortion clinic the next day. As we sat in the waiting room, I glanced at the many other young women in the room, filling out forms. Weren't they scared? If they were, they didn't show their fear. Several of us were called into a room for a counseling session which consisted of "Are you here by your own free will?" and "The procedure is very simple and doesn't take long." Pregnancy options, fetal development, or the physical, mental and emotional ramifications from aborting were never discussed. We were told, "This will be over quickly and you can get back to normal life." Normal life? Never again!

I remember lying on the surgical table and seeing the medical instruments. I was extremely frightened and I tried to sit up and cried, "No, I don't want to do this!"

The nurse pushed me down on the table and said calmly, "It's too late for that now, honey." To be held down and feel my baby being ripped from my womb, under my signed permission, was the worst, most horrifying experience of my life. Normalcy died. Also a part of me. I hated myself. I tried to change my image, to disguise the real me. Yet, under the mask, I felt hopeless. I knew what I had done.

For the next two years, any time the abortion issue would come up, in a discussion or on television, I would become flushed, sick to my stomach and almost faint. I thought, "They must know I had an abortion. I'm so ashamed. I'm so filthy. They must see it on me!"

My brother once told me that my father would kill me if I ever had a child outside of marriage. I knew that statement was false when I visited my parents' home one evening and the abortion issue was raised. My father turned to me with tears in his eyes and said, "How could anybody do that? How could they murder a tiny, helpless baby?" I couldn't answer him. I couldn't tell them that I had murdered their grandchild. I knew then that my unplanned pregnancy may have been hard on my family, but they would have accepted and loved my child, even out of wedlock. It was their grandchild I had deprived them of ever seeing or holding.

The guilt of my actions continued to eat away at my relationships. My friends, who had encouraged me to obtain the abortion, quickly distanced themselves. Family members who knew looked away and talked behind my back. My knight in shining armor soon tarnished and we broke up. My patched world was tearing apart at the seams.

At this point; I met my future husband, who was a Christian. I was tired of pretending, so one night while we were talking, I opened-up my festering wounds and revealed my hidden nightmare to him. Then I waited to be accused and cursed at. There were no accusations, no rejection. He accepted me, past and all, and we began to build a friendship with each other. My future husband talked of a personal God and His love and His forgiveness. I listened as he read parts of the Bible to me about a Jesus who died for me. Yet I still couldn't accept or forgive myself. 

One day, the guilt lay so heavy on me. I walked to the surging river. For hours, I contemplated taking my own life. All I had to do was let go of the tree branch and fall into the water and be swept away. The temptation to do so was incredible. Yet something held me back. After several hours, I left my perch in the tree and returned home, and shut myself in the bedroom. I screamed out my shame, my anger and my frustration at, and to, God. Then all the words I had heard about His love began to penetrate the thick wall I had built up around myself. I didn't know how to pray properly but God understood when I cried, "My life is crap, but if You want it -- You can have it." I asked God to come into my life several times after that, for I couldn't completely believe that He could forgive me, with the stains of my child's blood covering my hands. I know now that God loved me so much that he gave Jesus up for me. When I was on top of that abortionist's table, Jesus had already died for me. I never had to ask Him twice to accept or forgive me.

My child died on that table. From the weight of the guilt, I came to a point where I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord....God knew the days ordained for my child, the child He knit together in my womb. He knew the outcome for the child, just as He knew the outcome for Jesus, and for me.

Twelve years have gone by now. Dealing with the past has been and continues to be a struggle at times. But God lifts me up and reminds me of His love, His grace and His forgiveness. I now volunteer in a center for women with crisis pregnancies. I counsel a large number of abortion minded clients; almost all of them do not comprehend what an abortion procedure really is. With the correct information, several women have changed their opinion on abortion and have chosen to give birth to their children. I also counsel women who have had abortions and are suffering from post-abortion syndrome.

Guilt still accuses me, and at times I fall prey to it even at the happiest moments in my life, such as viewing the ultrasound of my third child at fourteen weeks. I was jolted again by the stark reality of my sanctioned choice. I cried as I watched the tiny arms flail and the spindly legs kick. At the births of my children, I was overcome by 'what if's?' What if my first child had lived? What if I had never had an abortion? What color eyes, hair, sex? At those times I've had to lift my 'what if's?' to God and let go of my unborn child once again. But it's a healing release. For I know that child is resting safely in the heavenly Father's arms and someday -- someday we will be reunited in Paradise.

Celebrate Life/ May Jane 1994

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
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