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My body was again violated

I had had a traumatic childhood. My father sexually abused all three of us children, me the most. When my mother and my sister tried to resist, he was so systematic, contemptuous and mean that first my mother and then my sister became psychotic. I saw my father pay out $600 in cash to get my sister an abortion. My mother tried to kill me. I did not think I had any value or rights or that my feelings were valid and or to be trusted or followed.

It was October of 1972. I had been married for almost 4 months. I was using contraception but it failed. I wanted the child but my husband did not. My husband was in school and I was supporting both of us so I thought that my desire to have the child was selfish and unreasonable. My husband dragged me to Planned Parenthood, saying, "This is not to get an abortion. It is just to talk, to get options." The counselor at Planned Parenthood yelled at me, calling me immature and accusing me of playing games because I was resisting the idea of an abortion. She said I would have to have the abortion immediately because after 8 weeks it becomes more complex and dangerous. I would fly to New York, where abortions were legal, and have it there. There was not time to think about it.

I thought that my desire to have the child was selfish. My husband and the counselor seemed to be calling me bad. I thought: My father had not wanted me; my husband does not want this baby. My father used to kick my mother; my husband hit me when angry. Both of us had sexual abuse in our backgrounds. My whole being said "NO!" to the possibility of recreating my childhood. So I consented to the abortion.

I flew into New York. The abortion van picked us up at the airport. I was so upset about the whole ordeal that my temperature went up to 100 degrees and they put a sign (T=100) on the chart I was carrying around. We went to various rooms. In the first room they took history and vitals. The second room was open and filled with beds -- no curtains no partitions, no privacy. We all got lined up and injected. It was clinically sound and impersonal. They asked each of us whether we wanted a spinal block or a general anesthetic. I chose the general anesthetic to avoid all I could of the ordeal. They woke me up and told me to walk around to wear the anesthetic off more quickly even though I was groggy and achy. They took me into a corner and explained that since I was Rh-negative, I had to receive an injection. We were then herded into another room and given instructions not to have sex or bathe for 6 weeks and that we could experience "period-like symptoms" for up to 6 weeks. They gave us lessons on contraception so this wouldn't happen again. The whole experience was shaming even through the haze of numbness. The abortion van took us back to the airport. Since I was early, I got on an earlier plane. When my husband found me wandering around the airport, he expressed fear that I had backed out of the procedure.

It is very difficult for me to separate the effects of the abortion and the sexual abuse. The abortion feels like an extension of the sexual abuse. I believed that I had no right to make my own decision; my body was again violated by someone else's selfish concerns. The feminist movement was working very hard on the legalization of abortion at this time. I now think that is why I got pushed so hard by the Parenthood counselor. I could have said "no" to my husband and I could have said "no" to the abortion but I had no resources for either.

I was unable to get pregnant after the abortion. I do not know if that was from physical damage or psychological trauma. I did have a series of hysterical pregnancies in the five years following the abortion.

I think that the abortion killed my marriage. Something died in me and I grew away from and (for other reasons also) quit trusting my husband.

I became Catholic about 6 1/2 years following the abortion, perhaps through the abortion. My husband tired of my wanting a child, so he pressured me to go to graduate school. There I had my first real exposure to Christianity. During my third year, I went to mass. I knew I had found home and nothing could keep me from becoming Catholic, not even the strong objections from my husband. He left. A few months after the divorce was final, I entered the Catholic Church.

Because God brought me into His church after my abortion, I know He loves me and is not holding it against me. Although I very strongly regret the abortion, I do not feel a lot of guilt I did not know God I made my choice in the midst of distortions and lack of resources. I have prayed for the child that was never born. The hurt is at the same time subtle and gaping. It is difficult to separate from other trauma. Sometimes it feels like the abortion had little effect, but when I really touch it, I cry deep and endless tears and sometimes get that mysterious 100 degree temperature again.

I have sought healing from a priest, a nun and a counselor. I was wounded further by the priest and the nun. The counselor helped me a lot in general but was not that helpful with the specific wounds of the abortion. I think professionals do not understand the effects of an abortion, myself included.

Since I did not have the child, could not get pregnant later, and my husband left because I wanted to be Catholic, I am totally alone. I live alone, spend holidays alone, am alone when sick or hurt. On the other hand, I think God used the abortion to bring me to Himself (Isn't God amazingly wonderful!) which changed everything for the better and made feelings worth feeling and life worth living. ("Oh, happy fault!")

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