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Abortion is Not Therapeutic

On Christmas Eve we met. I was 18. He was 19. When he opened the front door that first time, I knew that I would love him forever.

As our whirlwind romance grew in momentum, we began to see a lot of each other. I was in my first year of Registered Nursing training and he was touring with a rock and roll band. Whenever I could, I found my way to the city or town where they were playing. Each night after the bar closed, we'd leave together to engage in some "harmless" heavy petting. But one night it went farther than either of us had planned. I knew right away that I had conceived and told him as much.

Apprehension filled the two weeks prior to my first doctor's visit. When the results of the test came back, I was astonished to learn that they were negative. I just "knew" that I was pregnant. Two more weeks of tension and I went back for a second test. Again the results were negative. By then I had missed a period, which had never happened before. Adamantly, I made a third appointment and the fact that I was "with child" was finally confirmed. All the doctor said was: "If you decide that you want a therapeutic abortion, just let me know and I'll refer you to one of my colleagues."

Frightened and desperately in need of answers, I went to see a nursing instructor who I greatly respected. She instructed me to count the cost of giving up my career to raise a child on my own. When I asked about adoption she asked me if I really wanted to spend the rest of my life wondering if my child was okay. She explained that at six weeks, my womb held only "blood and tissue" and that the "procedure" was painless. She advised that as far as she was concerned, abortion was the "only" 'option. "I'll make all the arrangements".

"Don't worry," she comforted.

Two weeks later, I met the gynecologist who was to perform the abortion. His cold, calculated manner frightened me as it was designed to do and after a short, awkward conversation, he explained that I would have to wait at least another two to four weeks before the "Procedure", as he had to take my "case" before a board. I remember wondering what "case" he would present, since he had only asked for my name, address, age, marital status and O.H.I.P. number.

I have "blocked" many of the thoughts and feelings that I battled with during the next four weeks but, I do remember having so much morning sickness that I could no longer survive the 18 hour days that were required of nursing students and as a result, that which I feared most came true. I officially dropped out of the R.N. program two days before the "procedure" was to take place.

Arriving at the suburban hospital, I was taken to the obstetrics /gynecology ward and bedded in a room with six other girls, scheduled for abortions. My boyfriend had insisted on coming with me but embarrassed by the silly, incessant chatter of the others, I asked him to leave and withdrew into an impenetrable world of despondency. As the hospital lights dimmed for the night, a nurse roughly administered a shot (to help me sleep) and inserted a reed into the cervix that would aid in dilation.

The shot did not have its desired effect and I laid awake, contemplating the next morning. At about 3 a.m., one of my "room-mates" began to scream, horrible, bloodcurdling screams. This went on for about 10 minutes. Then I heard the nurse telling her to push. As long as I live, I'll never forget her words, as she wailed hysterically; "I've killed my baby. Look at it! It's all burnt! Oh God, I want to die. Please kill me. Kill me now ... pleeasse." The nurse quickly gave her an injection and scurried from the room, bedpan in hand.

That's when I fell apart. Following the urge to run out of the hospital and never come back, I slid out of bed, but my legs folded under me due to the sedative. The girl next to me rang her bell and in a matter of seconds, several nurses had me back in bed. They explained that it was too late to change my mind ... the cervix was already open. Besides, the other girl had been five months along, whereas I was as only three months. How could I be killing my baby, when it, wasn't even a "baby yet?" They administered another sedative.

Shaking violently, I was wheeled up to the Operating Room at about 6 a.m. (My abortion had been previously scheduled for 8 a.m.) Silently, avoiding eye contact, they transferred me from stretcher to table. The doctor arrived and went about setting instruments on a tray. I kept waiting for him to say Hello or inquire how I was. But he did neither. Instead, he waited for the anesthesiologist to inject the anesthetic into the intravenous catheter. Then, leaning over me until I could feel his hot breath on my face, he whispered in contempt; "If you ever come back here again, I'll make sure that you "never" have any children." His words mingled with the blackness that brought unconsciousness.

Later that afternoon, I was released into the arm's of the man I loved ... now a little less. Neither of us admitted it until recently, but the abortion put a wall between us that stayed there for 10 years. Deep down inside, I blamed him. We were living together at this point and when we returned to our one room apartment, I lay down on the bed and stayed there for the next two weeks. I refused to eat, to dress, to wash. I did not feel like a complete person anymore. You see, something was missing ... replaced by an overwhelming emptiness that engulfed me for the next ten years.

Finally, behind in the rent with the threat of eviction hanging over us, I took a job as a Receptionist at a carpet store for $100.00 a week. He worked as a shipper for a clothing company. And we were eventually joined in Holy Matrimony. But even that happy day was marred when someone commented that "we had to get married because I was pregnant". I ran sobbing to the washroom. How I wished that that was the reason. Little did they know that I had killed my baby less than three months before.

In our fourth month of marriage, I again missed a period. Although I did not feel ready to be a mother, I was excited at the prospect and felt that maybe a baby would help heal our broken relationship. I made an appointment to confirm the fact, but miscarried before I could keep it. My husband did not learn of this until recently. I was too ashamed to tell him. After all, it was merely my due for killing the first one, wasn't it?

The next few years were a nightmare. Both of us were unable to hold down a job for more than three months at a time. We drank heavily and experimented with drugs. Our arguing soon turned to violence as we came under the control of a "rage" that seemed destined to destroy our marriage. I found myself restless and unable to concentrate and in the first year alone, I walked out on my husband three times.

One February, I began to experience an abnormal type of pain, which swept up my legs to reach an excruciating crescendo in my back. I saw two different doctors as the pain increased in intensity. Both had a different and opposing diagnosis. The first thought it was "muscle spasms" and prescribed a relaxant. The second thought it was "severe constipation" and prescribed a laxative. Nothing helped. I walked hunched over, weak and nauseous. One day, I collapsed while standing in a bank line up and was rushed to the hospital. After quickly examining me, the intern diagnosed it as a bladder infection and sent me home with a prescription for an antibiotic. I was in so much pain that my husband had to carry me out of the hospital. That night as I lay curled in pain, I tried to prepare myself to meet my Maker. I tried to confess my sins and find forgiveness but I just didn't feel like I was "getting through". As far as I was concerned, I had committed the "unforgivable" sin.

Finally near dawn, my husband took me back to the hospital. Several specialists examined me. As an obstetrician touched a particularly tender point on my abdomen, his face suddenly clouded and he began to run towards the elevator, pushing the stretcher in front of him. In less than five minutes, I found myself loosing consciousness to the anesthesia, without a single explanation from anyone as to what was wrong.

As it turned out, the second that the scalpel cut through the last layer of skin, the fallopian tube which held the four month old fetus burst wide open. I was given three pints of blood over the next 48 hours. Heartbroken, I wandered the obstetrics floor (complete with nursery) for the next month and left minus a tube, an ovary, a job and a baby. All I had to show was a foot long scar on my stomach.

One night a few months later, while driving across a, I felt an uncontrollable urge to just steer the car off the side. To this day, I don't know what happened but I just couldn't seem to turn the wheel. Driving to the next exit, I signed myself into the psychiatric ward of the same hospital where I'd been admitted for the ectopic pregnancy. The next day, the psychiatrist confirmed what I'd supposed all along... miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, drug and alcohol addictions and suicidal tendencies were all directly related to abortion. I went home a few days later, wondering when or if it would ever end.

Now we have finally come to terms with what we did. We have had counseling and one thing is for sure: ABORTION IS NOT THERAPEUTIC.

Priests for Life
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