I fooled myself
Some women who have an abortion never recover from the experience.
Bernadette is 37 and still attempts to come to terms with the abortion she
has 16 years ago. She was 21, carefree and loved life, when she became pregnant.
But neither she nor her boyfriend of three years has used contraception. "My
immediate feelings were of devastation when I knew I was pregnant. My boyfriend
deserted me and told me to get rid of it. I was so full of fear. I could not
tell my parents and I thought my career would be ruined."
Bernadette decided the only alternative would be to have an abortion. "I
fooled myself into thinking it was just a mass of cells. I only told a couple of
friends and my justification always remained. "It was the right thing to do."
Bernadette now looks back on that decision and blames it for ruining her
life. She believes that, indirectly, the abortion in her twelfth week of
pregnancy at a private at a London clinic caused her to abandon her career in
public service, that it was responsible for the break-up of her two marriages
and that it put her through two years of hell during which she turned to
"Basically, I was on a self-destruct mission. But it was not until years
after the abortion that I was bale to face up to what I had done and then
realized what I was suffering from was grief. I was mourning my lost baby."
Bernadette is a member of the British Victims of Abortion, a division of the
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, formed 11 months ago and now
backing David Alton's controversial bill, which receives its Second Reading
In the past year, more than 100 men, women and even grandparents have
contacted the organization, which offers a network of counselors around the
country. The callers include women who felt they were forced in some way into
having abortions and others who now regret their own decision. Some are men who
carry guilt and relatives mourning "lost children".
Because of her own experience, Bernadette now believes that all terminations
should be outlawed -- even in cases of gross handicap -- the only exception
being when the own mother's life is put at risk from the pregnancy. "This is
because I now believe that all life has a right to be born. And, I do not say
glibly. I have been through an abortion and I know the suffering it can cause."
Bernadette admits, however, that immediately after the abortion she felt a
huge sense of relief. "It was easy but I shall never forget every detail. It was
a business deal. The clinic was very impersonal. I tried to cancel the
experience form my mind. I even went back to my boyfriend and eventually
married, but the abortion had a terrific impact on the relationship."
"I kept asking him if I had kept the child would be have come back to me. In
the year we got married, I became pregnant but it was an ectopic pregnancy. I
also developed an infection, which meant that I had to have one fallopian tube
and an ovary removed. I was told that my other fallopian tube was damaged, which
meant that I could never have children. Even then, I denied ever having the
abortion to doctors. I couldn't say the word. Whenever it came up, I said
Her marriage broke up after 13 months. Bernadette comes from a Catholic
family and she says: "When I came home from my first marriage. I told my mother
what had happened and it nearly destroyed her. She was not looking at it from
the God angle, but from seeing a daughter in distress." Two years of unhappiness
"I pressed the self-destruct button. I started to blame everyone." Bernadette
gave up her career. "I simply had no values, no sense of self-worth, so I could
not continue. I took various different jobs, but I was far too vulnerable, far
too screwed up." That period came to an end when Bernadette met her second
husband. "Someone prepared to have me."
By some miracle, as Bernadette describes it, she became pregnant and gave
birth to her son. This second marriage lasted only six years. "It broke up
partly because of my destructive behavior. I became overly possessive. I can
link the problems and reasons back to the abortion." But it was this marriage
break-up which eventually set Bernadette on the road to understanding her
problem. "I turned to Christian counselors specifically because I thought
Christians believe that all human life is valuable, so they should not condemn
in any way."
This counseling helped Bernadette appreciate that, for years, she had been
grieving for her lost baby, but had been unable to response to the grief. "My
feeling about the abortion now is, of course, complete regret. I came to realize
the abortion solved no problems and the years that followed were wasted years
because they should never have been like that."
Bernadette has been divorced for seven years and says she still mourns for
her baby. "The loss is something that you never get over, but you can learn to
come to terms with it. I will always have that pain. The date of the abortion is
firmly fixed because it is the day before my own birthday."
Bernadette feels strongly that the baby aborted was a girl. "That makes it
even more reverent regarding woman's rights. The baby had no rights at all. But
I have asked her forgiveness in prayer." She will eventually tell her son the
whole story. "Although my son is precious to me it does not compensate for the
child I lost."