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A Back Alley Abortion and My Own

The testimony I have enclosed is quite lengthy and perhaps a bit hard to follow for your purposes. I am presently working on a manuscript for a support group and may wish to use some of it. You may use anything you like…

1. My abortion occurred about 1974. The procedure had been legal for nearly a year. However, most of the abortion procedures were being done in the hospital setting because the clinics had not been opened.

My husband was in his second year of medical school. We did not plan to have children until after his residency. I had an IUD in place. When I missed my first period I did not worry because I knew I would not get pregnant with the IUD (Copper Seven) in place. After I began to experience morning sickness I became concerned about pregnancy. My husband took a specimen to the lab and was the person to inform me of the pregnancy. My immediate thoughts were about abortion. I had been an advocate of abortion and did not have any moral objection to the procedure. I rationalized my abortion with the idea that there could be some birth defects due to the fact that I had an IUD. However, the bottom line was, I did not plan to be pregnant and I did not really want to be pregnant at that time.

I was a part of a health care plan which was a forerunner of the H.M.O. type programs we have today. The doctor that I saw at the clinic I went to did not question my decision or encourage me to think in any other direction. He did not know me and did not seem to be concerned what my decision was. I simply told him I was pregnant and I did not want to be. He scheduled me an appointment with the doctor that would perform the operation.

2. The procedure was fairly painless since I had a general anesthetic. I remember feeling like a third party looking in. I had done the procedure so many times as a nurse, I felt like I should be up circulating the room. It was more unreal than anything.

Immediately after the procedure I encountered some hospital personnel that showed disapproval of my action. I was very shocked at this reaction. It was my belief that most medical personnel were in favor of abortion, especially if there were risks that something could be wrong with the baby.

Initially I was very hurt and angry. Yet I felt relieved that it was all over. Mostly I was confused about the vague feelings of loss and sadness that I experienced accompanying the relief. Afterward I felt an emotional distance toward my husband. At first it was like a quiet sadness. I couldn't talk to him about my feelings because they were so painful. Somehow, I felt that I had no right to feel badly about my abortion. Later the sadness grew into anger and isolation. It became difficult for me to share any of my feelings with him.

3. My memory around the time of the abortion is a blur. I remember at first feeling like I should receive some sort of badge of honor for aborting my baby. I was one of the few that had enough of a rational approach to choose not to have a child under less than ideal circumstances. That sense of pride in my cognitive ability faded into shame and disappointment almost immediately. I remember tremendous confusion. I had difficulty concentrating and getting a task done. I had what I now refer to as a cluttered mind.

I became very vocal about my pro-choice stand. I worked in a situation where I helped to provide abortion. The thing that causes me the most pain today is that I encouraged women to go ahead and have the abortion. I shared with them that I had one and that it had not affected me adversely. I did this in all sincerity and at the time truly believed what I was telling them. I was sincerely wrong.

Immediately after the abortion I didn't notice any real problems. However I do remember having a lot of anger. I couldn't drive down the road without getting angry at other motorists. Even tasks such as going to the grocery store and getting a check approved could trigger an outburst of rage. Gradually that disappeared. I found myself feeling less and less.

I have never considered myself a good mother. I always felt that the maternal instincts were not available to me. Bonding with our child was difficult and I never felt like I was capable of the same depth of love that other mothers seemed to demonstrate.

There was a growing anger toward my husband. The anger turned to apathy. Our relationship was bland for several years.

I felt different from other women. Somehow I thought if they really knew me they wouldn't like me at all. I distanced myself from most other women. I felt that I was radically separated from other women and took on a superior air that made many women uncomfortable in my presence. I did not allow anyone to get too close for fear that they would somehow know my secret.

4) I tried several things that did not work, they made things worse. First I tried to rationalize my action. When that didn't work I tried to escape the memory by hard work (2 jobs). Then I tried working in a setting where I was providing abortion services. After that I tried getting into church and helping kids with troubled backgrounds. When even that failed, I went through a period of intellectual pursuit and a search for truth. It was during my search for truth that I realized the incongruity of my abortion experience and my religious belief.

I did not have any release from the guilt until after I recognized my abortion as wrong. It was not until I took full responsibility for my actions, quit making excuses, giving reasons, and asked forgiveness from God that I was able to reconcile with this event and the people in my life. It took the experience of God's forgiveness to provide the model of forgiveness and reconciliation for my self-forgiveness and my other-forgiveness.

It has been helpful to share with others who have had the same kind of experience. It helps to see others struggle with the same things and know that you are not crazy. It was necessary to grieve for my sin and the destruction of my baby. However, I feel it is most important that we are crushed over the act/acts of disobedience, than it is to be concerned with our own loss. The more I focus on my loss as a result of the abortion the more elusive a sense of peace and wholeness becomes. It is only when I turn the whole thing over to Christ and accept His forgiveness and peace, that there is any release from the guilt. There is no escape from the consequence of the fact that I killed my innocent child. However, God can use this experience in my life to help build my character and allow me to rise above the consequences.

If one comes to that crushed position through recognition of the loss of the baby then it is beneficial. If one continues to focus on the baby and the personal loss of the infant, then a greater loss occurs. That loss is the opportunity of maximum growth and maturity through the experience.

It has been beneficial to help others face their abortion trauma and attempt to guide them toward a wholeness.

Complete wholeness was elusive until I had become completely open and shared the pain and trauma along with the anger with my husband (the father). His about face regarding the issue of abortion was very significant.

5) Because of my abortion I truly understand the significance of mercy. It is important to receive mercy but it is just as important to be merciful. I have a sensitivity to people that are hurting that I never had before. I am truly grateful for the tears that sometimes flow at inopportune times and embarrass me. I am grateful that although I may never be the mother I think I should be, I am a good mother.

I struggle to work for the pro-life cause with the proper motive. I constantly have to remind myself that I cannot make the past go away or change it. The more I can focus on the fact that my abortion was the reason that Christ gave His life, and that although I cannot change the consequences or erase the memory of broken dreams and innocence, I do not have to pay the penalty for that wrong. Healing has occurred and I am free from the pain that once silently plagued me. Days of depression come and go as they do with any loss. However, I am at peace with the past, present and future. My relationship with my husband is restored and intimate. We are happy and fulfilled. 

In my heart there is a silent corner. In the still dark of night, it is as if I can hear the cry of an unborn child. As the stillness persists and I listen more carefully, I can hear the cries of countless millions whose lives will remain forever untold, because there was no room to hold these little ones. I write my story with the hope and prayer that perhaps just one person will be made aware of the wrong of abortion before it's too late. Surely, some reading this would ask the question, " How could anyone calling themselves a Christian have an abortion? " It can and does happen. I 'm sure many who make the choice to abort a child are Christians. As I survey the church today, I find many who say, " I'm pro-choice, anti-abortion. No! I would never have an abortion. However I would not want to interfere with someone else's right to make that decision." If you continue this discussion, you must ask this person what they would do if their daughter came home pregnant, out of wedlock, at a very young age. We must learn to throw away the rhetoric, and call a spade a spade. If you are pro-choice you are pro-abortion. The truth is that you believe abortion is an option for an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. Even if you don't want to admit it, you are actually pro-abortion.

Come walk with me through one of the most difficult and painful events of my life. As I attempt to share the depths of this experience with you on paper, the words look empty and seem meaningless to express the thought and feeling I am trying to describe. What I hope you will see clearly is that abortion is not the benign procedure that many would have you believe it is.

Often its greatest defender is the woman who has been wounded the most by it. In her own way she is compensating for her sin. Until she learns to trust Christ to be the compensation for her sin there simply is no healing, or relief from the struggle she finds herself facing.

In the immediate years following my abortion, I cannot say I saw it as relative to anything that was going on in my life. The things that I am recounting happened over a fourteen-year period of time. During most of that time I did not view myself as having any real problems related to the abortion. In fact, I was a defender and advocate of the pro-choice stand. It was not until after I confessed and repented of my sin that I could see the effects it had on everything in my life.

Somehow I wish I could describe myself to you. But that would take too much of our precious time. However, let me simply share with you that, if anyone could get through an abortion without an emotional response, it should have been me. I am sensitive but not overly so. My ability to reason is highly developed. Overall, I am independent. I would describe myself as stable and well adjusted.

I grew up in the late sixties, a little rebellious, care free, but quite spiritually oriented. My personality has always been bubbly. Although I was popular with peers, somehow I was always struggling to know if I was accepted or not. Blessed with a keen sense of humor and the ability to get others to appreciate it, my life has seemed easy and uncomplicated in many ways.

Upon graduating from high school I did not want to become a secretary. I could not afford four years of college. Therefore, I went into nursing. It was during my nurses training that I met the love of my life.

We dated a very short period of time, and kept our relationship pure before our marriage. The things that attracted me most to my husband were his vibrant commitment to Christ, and his stable Christian lifestyle. I knew then, as well as now, that our relationship would be a lifetime one. We have built our home on Christian principles and our marriage has survived seventeen years, medical school, two medical residencies, and one child.

Things went very well for us the first years of our marriage. There were the usual adjustments, and for the most part they were not that difficult. The trials began when my husband entered medical school. His studies took a heavy toll on our time together. Somehow we remained active in our church. However, as we all know, the level of involvement in church does not always reflect your spiritual condition. My theology had become liberal and somehow I had begun to challenge every value and concept that I had always blindly accepted.

For both my husband and me this was a time of searching for answers to life's greatest questions. It was 1973; Vietnam, racism, and abortion, were the questions of the hour. My views had become much like those of my peers. Since I was spending the majority of my time with people outside of the Christian community my views were tainted with humanism. I liked the ideas of freedom to choose, equality, and progressive evolution of man.

During this time I was working as an operating room nurse. Much of the conversation around operating room tables those days centered around issues involving the sanctity of life. As you may have guessed, the opinions expressed were usually anything except Christian. Although a few recognized the value of human life, it was often overshadowed by the intellectual logic of this world. One of the major problems I see in medicine today is that we have the power to do things that perhaps we do not have the authority to do. We see this in most of the ethical questions asked in the field today.

One day while going through the routine of my scheduled cases, an emergency arose. My supervisor came rushing down the hall checking each room to see if they had an abdominal case ready to go. When she came to my room the answer was affirmative. We were prepared to do a hysterectomy. She quickly informed us that we were to have a change of schedule. There was an emergency abdominal bleed "on its way". It is always exciting to get to do an emergency case like that. As quickly as possible we began room preparation for the emergency. Before we were ready the stretcher appeared. None of us was ready for what was to come.

On the stretcher was the tiny form of a very young girl. She was obviously in shock, thrashing about, talking incoherently, frightened at the possibility of her own death. My heart broke as I grasped her tiny hand in mine, to try and help her feel more secure. Not knowing what to say I forced a smile, and stroked her forehead. As her eyes met mine she said, "Don't let me die. Please don't let me die!" I tried to assure her that everything would be fine. But we all knew that, from the looks of things, her chances of survival were uncertain. There was plenty of help for the time being, so I stood at her side, and held her small hand until the anesthesia made it go limp in mine. From that point in the room was hectic.

The details of what happened after that are a blur in my memory now. However, I do remember the frustration of not being able to get enough blood, and knowing that we were fighting a loosing battle. During the course of events we were informed that this patient's problem was the result of a "back alley" abortion. Questions filled my mind, anger dominated my emotions. This was only a child. Why? Why? Why? Something must be done. She was only fourteen, with parents that seemed to care. Yet her fear of their disapproval kept her from seeking help, until it was too late.

I watched her die, in spite of all medicine could offer. Everyone in the room was devastated. The surgeon in charge did not want to stop the now futile attempt to save his young patient's life. I remember the silence of the room as the order to "stop" finally came. When the ventilator was turned off, we all realized the rise and fall of her chest was only mimicking life.

Reality can be so cruel at times like this. We stood and watched as the surgeon pounded his fists into the wall, asking over and over, "Why?" There were tears in his eyes as he made his exit. Silence engulfed the room.

The scrub nurse and I were left to clean up. The memory of preparing her body for the morgue is etched vividly in my mind. As we moved her now lifeless form onto the cold metal morgue cart, I could almost hear those desperate words. "Don't let me die. Please don't let me die!" The fear in her eyes, the way she grasped my hand so tightly, haunted me for a long time. Helpless to do anything now, I watched as the orderlies took her body to the morgue. I remained in the room alone to finish the clean up. As I looked down at her blood, still moist on my gloved hands, somehow I felt responsible. Everything inside of me cried, "Someone has to do something!" The church has often rejected young girls like this. Shamed and shunned, how frequently they seek the only other solution that seems available, abortion. My logic led me to believe legal abortions would be the answer to the tragedy I had just observed. Surely if abortions were legal this would never have to happen again.

After I had cleaned the room and everything was back in its place, it looked as though she had never been there. Tomorrow we would all return, to this very room, perform our professional duties, and today would be forgotten. Who would remember this young life so senselessly spent? Doesn't anyone care about the others that will follow in her shoes?

It is with great regret I share with you that I became an advocate of legalized abortion. As an operating room nurse, I was one of the few who would perform the newly legalized procedure. You see, it was not that I didn't have any qualms about the rights and wrongs of it all, but I had seen the results of the "back alley". At that time I believed that legalized abortion was the only logical solution.

It was not as if I had not considered the eternal and spiritual ramifications of this kind of decision. In fact this was the easiest part to reconcile. After all, does God judge the innocent unborn? But what about the mother, whose life ends as a result of an incident like the one I have just recounted? Isn't it better for the innocent to rest with God, than for the unrepentant to die in their rebellion and sin? My thinking took me farther and farther away from the truth. Unknowingly, I was beginning a personal rebellion that would take me years to unravel and recover from.

Yes, I had logical answers to any of the questions you might ask regarding the subject. At the time they all seemed to make sense. First and foremost I had come to regard the fetus as something less than a human soul. It was, after all, little more than a parasite. If not hosted by the mother it would be nothing more than a tissue mass or another laboratory specimens. Surely the brain of such an immature fetus was not even capable of pain. My logic was well developed, but not sound. You see, I sincerely believed that life did not begin until it could support itself independently. Strange, I did not realize that it would have to be three or four years old to begin life, if that were true.

All of my answers were weak and needed more answers. But somehow I was never quite able to see that at the time. It was not until it was far too late that I realized I had been deceived.

It was early spring. My husband phoned to confirm what I already knew in my heart. "You're pregnant." There was no trace of joy in his voice. My initial response was shock. I had taken absolutely every precaution possible. I had never been careless with birth control. At the time I had an I. U. D., they were supposed to be nearly fool proof. Morning sickness had already set in, and added physical discomfort to my emotional pain.

Since I couldn't stop crying or throwing up, I had to leave work early that day. How often I had dreamed of this day. The way it was supposed to happen was so different than today. In my dreams, my husband would call me with this news and would be happy. That evening we would celebrate new life, and our love together. Uncertain of how it would all work out, he would still hold and kiss me; maybe he would tell me how much he loved me, and that together we could make it no matter what. Well, so such for dreams and back to reality. I remember asking him what we were going to do. After a moment of tense silence his reply came, "Go to your gynecologist."

Something inside of me was thrilled at the idea of being pregnant by the man I loved more than anything. But he was not so thrilled. His keen sense of responsibility and rational approach took over his feelings. Besides, there was an easier answer for me. Abortion was now legal. I'm sure it was I who first gave consideration to this option. You see, I believed in abortion.

We had often discussed abortion, and had seen the results of the "back alley". As medical personnel we had seen child abuse. Amniocentesis and ultrasound were new technology that could detect birth defects early in pregnancy. Although we had rationalized abortion in these cases, I don't believe that either of us had considered abortion as a personal issue.

During this time, I remember my thoughts would swing back and forth between being excited about this new little life, and depressed about the timing of it all. Now I know ambivalence is likely a universal reaction to any unplanned pregnancy. Unfortunately, in this situation, I allowed my tainted rational ability to take over.

Shortly after finding out that I was pregnant I began gathering information. My gathering was not very scientific, as usual. However, I asked in passing, every reliable source I knew, about pregnancy with an I. U. D. in place. My sources were the gynecologists that I assisted in surgery. I wonder if their answers would have been any different if reason for my inquiry. As it was, they were used to my endless brain probes.

As I gathered my information, I now know that I listened for what I wanted to hear. Here is what I heard: "There is a significant increase in both birth defects and spontaneous abortion in women who conceive with an I. U. D. in place." How significant of an increase? What kind of birth defects? These were questions I did not ask.

When I went to the doctor, I had just switched insurance plans and was part of a Health Maintenance program. What this meant was that I was assigned a physician by my insurance provider. I knew this physician well, and had worked with him often, but would never have chosen him as my physician. He was known as the man in town who did most of the abortions. In fact, he was the first to set up an abortion clinic in that city.

During my first visit to his office I don't remember much, except that I told him I was pregnant and that I did not want to be. I remember telling him that my husband was in his second year of medical school, and that I was our only means of support at the present time. I'm certain that at the time of that visit, I had already made up my mind about what I would do. However, I was never asked, are you sure. No other options were even presented. In all honesty, the decision to have an abortion was simple, clear, and unchallenged. It was not a difficult decision to make at the time. Living with it afterward was not so simple.

Almost before I knew what was happening, it was done! I remember a tremendous sense of grief and loss. But those feelings were not well defined, and they had no object. Perhaps I did what the simple minded often do, I detached myself from those feelings. You see, I thought that I had no right to even feel badly about my abortion. I had made the "choice" and, somehow, now it did not seem like a choice at all. It may interest you to know that all the women I have heard talk about their abortions felt, at the time, that they had no other choice. Most will say as I would, "It was what I had to do."

Afterward, since I had no right to my emotions, I had to mask and ignore them. The way a person can do this is through denial and rationalization. Rationalizations that I used included: I would have miscarried anyway, perhaps the child would have been handicapped, and it is not fair to bring a child into this world and not be able to care for it properly. Afterward, in my mind, I had not had an abortion at all. The procedures that I had were a removal of an I. U. D., and a voluntary interruption of pregnancy. Certainly, this had nothing to do with abortion.

Legalized abortion was new enough that there were no clinics in our town. Hospitals were doing most of the procedures on an out-patient basis. Because of the fact that I knew most of the surgeons so well, I chose a hospital where few of them went. Strange as it may seem, it was Children's Hospital. What irony, a hospital dedicated to the welfare of children allowing abortions in their surgery suites.

The hospital was close enough to walk. I do not have any sentimental memory of that day, until after the fact. My husband went with me. Very little was said between us. However, I felt as if I was doing this for him, and not because it was what I wanted. No, he had never asked me to have the abortion. In fact, I remember him saying that we could make it if we had to. But I loved him so much, and to see the uncertainty and concern that it brought him was more than I could bear. No, I did not think of the new life within me; I thought of myself and my husband only.

As I was being induced with anesthesia, I remember seeing the suction machine and thinking about the procedure that would now be done on me. How many times had I seen it done before? Somehow it was as if it were actually someone else about to have the abortion. Besides, it was not an abortion, it was a voluntary interruption of pregnancy.

When I awoke in the recovery room, it was as if something inside of me had died. It was a loss so personal, and so deep, I felt as though it was a part of my personality that was gone. Quickly, I dismissed these feelings as renegade emotions. Logic and rational thought should bring them back into perspective. There had been no loss; I had made a "choice". Yet, somehow I felt older. That day was the day my youthful joy and innocence died. I sincerely believe that women who have an abortion do feel the pain of loss, just as the innocent fetus feels the pain of violence. Yet because of the fact that abortion is now socially acceptable, that same woman thinks there is something wrong with her because she feels that loss.

It is not socially acceptable to find yourself grieving or even feeling badly over an abortion. If a woman finds herself in this position she faces two groups of people. First, she faces the anti-abortion people who smugly tell her, "What did you expect?" Then they almost seem to delight in her deepest, most private pain. Here she is easily exploited for the pro-life movement in ways that may not be in her best interest at the time. Secondly, she races the pro-abortion people. She is now a traitor, a bit unbalanced, or one who has gone over the edge. Therefore, she will likely keep her thoughts and feelings to herself.

In the recovery room, the nurses were hostile, and would not respond to my requests for assistance. As I awoke from the anesthesia I remember severe abdominal cramping like menstrual cramps, only much worse. I called out for a nurse. Several were around but none would respond. Again and again I called. Eventually one came over to my cart and informed me that my nurse was at lunch and that they did not take care of V.I.P. patients (that is, voluntary interruption of pregnancy). Right then I knew I could never talk with anyone about what I had just experienced.

When I dressed to leave, the out-patient surgery attendant asked me, "Why did you do that?" I gave her all of my answers and reasons. She was cold and angry. My reasons did not seem good enough for her. I sincerely did not understand. No one had anything like that to say to me before. Why? Why didn't anyone talk to me before I had the procedure? Why didn't I talk with anyone? I'm not even sure I talked with my husband very much about this decision. Surely I could never talk about this pain and now the doubts about the correctness of it all.

Initially I also felt a sense of relief that it was all over. But it was a strange brand of relief that did everything relief should, except make me feel any better. All I wanted to do was get my life back to normal.

When I went home that day, still groggy from the anesthesia, one of the first things I did was to try and cook. Cooking always makes me feel good. But as I reached for the cooking oil on top of the refrigerator, I lost my balance and fell. All I accomplished was the cleaning of the kitchen carpet. My husband came in the kitchen to see what the problem was. I felt so badly, all I really wanted was for him to hold and comfort me. Instead he went back to study, while I went to sleep. Later that night, I remember snuggling close to him. But his arms seemed less warm, and the comfort of them was somehow lacking. I remember thinking that maybe nothing would ever be quite normal again.

When the few people that knew about my pregnancy asked, I told them I had a miscarriage. Besides, it wasn't far from the truth. After all, chances were that I would have miscarried anyway. Strangely enough I really believed that I had only helped nature along. It was the only way I could deal with the fact that I had an abortion. Now I hated the word abortion; surely it did not apply to me. My entire energies were directed at putting the whole thing behind me. Consequently, I never talked about it again, not even with my husband. When thoughts of it appeared, I simply got busy doing something. It was not difficult to discover that if I stayed busy enough, I would not have to think so much. You see, I found myself either too busy, or too tired to confront any major issues. However, in the years to come, things did happen again and again to remind me. Anger and resentment burned just beneath the surface of that painful memory. As a result, my relationship with God was less than it had ever been. This frightened me, because I had grown up with the knowledge and presence of a personal relationship with Him. It was then that I really began to ask Him to forgive me of "whatever." Yet, somehow, my abortion was a distant experience belonging to someone else; certainly it had nothing to do with my problem now. Besides, I had good medical cause. What else could I have done? To my surprise the heavens were closed and God was silent. No, His arms were not too short to reach me. What had happened was I had rationalized my sin so well that I saw no need to repent. Yes, I desperately wanted God's forgiveness, but refused to admit that I needed it concerning my abortion.

Deep down I did know the truth. But somehow I could not come to terms with it. Now I became fearful that God would somehow "get me" for having the abortion. That fear permeated my thoughts until just recently, when I learned the true meaning of confession and repentance. It has taken nearly thirteen years to make any sense out of this experience, and then it was only by the grace of God.

About three years after the abortion I began to have the desire to have a baby. This desire was intense. Thoughts of getting pregnant consumed me. If I could fill my empty arms with a warm soft bundle, then perhaps I could put away the growing anger and resentment I had about the first one.

Getting pregnant became an obsession. There was one problem. My husband did not share or understand the urgency of my desire. Of course he wanted children, but not yet. How can I describe the pain this brought? "Not yet," That was the problem the first time, and he didn't even remember.

Now I had begun to blame him for the decision I too had made. No, he really did not understand. We had set a date to begin trying to conceive, but I became unhappy with the length of the wait. There was no compromise or change possible. I resented his rigidity deeply.

At one point during this time, he told me to leave if I didn't like it. That may be the closest I've ever come to doing something like that. Then I considered just abandoning birth control without his knowledge. However, I knew this would destroy the trust of our relationship. Instead, my anger burned into resentment and bitterness. Somehow I cold not bring myself to share or talk about these thoughts or feelings with anyone. Especially not my husband. The words would not begin to form. When I would try to express myself concerning this, only tears would come. Those tears represented weakness to me. Somehow I've never liked the image of weak women; therefore, I buried all of my emotions surrounding this whole issue. I swallowed my tears and depended on rational process and logic to deal with my feelings. Although at the time I did not see the abortion as the root of my feelings, I can now see clearly that it was.

Many times during that period I can remember looking at my husband and thinking, "Don't you remember?" Deep down I regretted the abortion. We would have had a three year old. Again, I rationalized how much better off we were, not having to face being parents prematurely. The only things I would say about abortion were positive.

Perhaps I had not been totally honest, even with myself. How could I begin at this late date? What was done, was done, no changing it now. Then I blamed myself entirely for not having considered the options more closely. Therefore, I did the next best thing I could; I built up my intellectual defense. If you cannot confront what you have done then you must defend it. Yes, I was pro-choice, pro-abortion. In my thinking, I had to either defend what I had done or be hurt by it. It was much easier not to acknowledge the pain.

Can you begin to see the inconsistency and the turmoil of the thought processes here? Situation ethics and humanism had crept deeply into my thought process, and I was largely unaware. Yes, I went to church; I taught Sunday School; I did all of those things that should make me a good Christian. But I found myself doubting the validity of everything. For a period of time I seriously doubted my salvation. After a time of close introspection, I still knew that I had trusted Christ as my personal Savior. Yet, it just wasn't right, and I couldn't understand why. There was a block in my relationship with God, and I didn't know what it could be. I went to seminars. I studied the Bible. I did everything I could, except confess my sin and repent.

Finally, the time arrived for me to get pregnant. How could I express the fear and anxiety I experienced at this time? My biggest fear was that I would not be able to conceive. Perhaps this is how God would balance the scales of right and wrong. After all, I did not deserve anything so precious as a baby. Isn't it wonderful that our Lord does not always give us what we actually deserve? His mercy was beyond my comprehension here. I became pregnant almost immediately.

After I conceived, my fear turned to anxiety. What if God really did want to punish me? My fear of birth defects grew and became unreasonable. I began to earnestly pray. My prayers seemed like vapors that quickly dissipated. And again I had the nagging feeling that my difficulty in relating to God was somehow related to the abortion. So I asked Him to forgive me. But in that asking I still gave Him all of my reasons and excuses. Somehow, I still was not able to change my views on a woman's right to choose

Finally, I reasoned that every new mother encounters these feelings. Being pregnant was not pleasant for me. In fact it was awful. I was sick most of the time and tired the rest. I was plagued by fears, and still angry with my husband because it had to be his way or no way. While it was the worst time, it was the best time. That sense of a new life growing within me was the most precious gift I have ever received. Yes, I now painfully remembered the gift I had refused.

It's funny how I knew that this baby was a boy long before he was born. As I gave birth to him, and his body was separated from mine, I was grieved to know somehow we would never be that close again. For days, maybe even months, I was in awe of this new little creation. He was perfect in every way, a good baby. More than ever, I knew I did not deserve this good and perfect gift. Now I was truly sorry for destroying that first gift. Perhaps it was one just like the one I held in my arms and nursed at my breast. My sorrow centered around what I had lost, but again it was something less than true confession and repentance.

From day one, I felt inadequate as a parent. It was as if I somehow had not been given the same natural mothering instincts that everyone else had. Caring for small children does not come easily for me. In the back of my mind, I used this to explain to myself how I could have ever had an abortion. When you tell yourself something like what a lousy parent you are, you begin to act it out.

After having our child, it became more difficult to think about having had an abortion. In my heart I knew the wrong that had occurred so many years before. Now there was nothing, absolutely nothing, I could do about it. Since it doesn't make any sense to cry over spilled milk, I simply didn't think about it. In all honesty, it was only on rare occasion that I found myself being consciously bothered by, or cognizant of my abortion.

Yet, it continued to affect so many things in my life. Yes, there were times when I would see a child the age ours should have been, or an endearing toddler. And I would stop to think of what could have, or would have, been. Those were the most difficult thoughts to deal with. But these thoughts are relatively easy to control. I simply put them out of my mind as soon as they came, and did not allow myself to wallow in the sorrow they brought. By now I was fairly skilled at detaching my feelings. When these things came up I simply reminded myself, "It was your choice. You have no one to blame but yourself." it somehow made the pain go away. But it also made a lot of other feelings go away, too.

Where was my husband during this time? Working. He has always worked harder at everything he does than anyone else. I reacted by becoming more and more involved with our church. Working with the youth was my niche. Those kids were all so special; I sincerely loved each of them, and felt privileged to be a part of their lives. During this time, I sensed that my husband and I were growing apart because of our different interests and involvements.

As I reflect, I can see how, even then, the Holy Spirit was working in my life, trying to help me to acknowledge the sin I needed to confess and repent of. One day I received a letter in the mail informing me that one of the girls in my Sunday School class was pregnant. It didn't take me long to figure out who it was. It was my pastor's daughter. Not knowing what else to do, I gave him the letter I had received from an unknown source. He took the letter, and let me know that he knew who it was. Nothing more was said. But I often thought I saw the pain in his eyes. I never told anyone about the incident except my husband. Later, one of the girls told me she thought Sandra had had an abortion, and was concerned about her present state of depression.

This was the first time in a long time that my husband and I discussed abortion. Together we reasoned that a pregnancy at fifteen would ruin Sandra's life, as well as damage her father's ministry. How could she carry the baby to term and give it up and not be haunted the rest of her life? Worse yet, what limits would be placed on her life if she were to keep the baby and raise it? As I reflected on my own experience, I felt that I had dealt very well with having had an abortion. Yes, on the surface I had done very well. But deep down there was an angry, painful scream. It was a silent scream that I could never let be heard. As I looked around at the things I could see, my life was great! How could I ever dare to complain? We had all of the things I had ever wanted, and more. But deep down I felt wounded, angry, bitter, and alone. And I didn't know why. There was a war going on inside of me. Somehow I knew I would never win this one so I ignored it. I did that by becoming more involved in church and work. It helped some for a while.

Shortly after all of this I had an ectopic pregnancy. Birth control had become a real problem for me. The pill caused me to have high blood pressure, and I was allergic to the spermicides. Now I had an ectopic pregnancy with another I.U.D. At thirty-two I was not able to decide if I wanted another child. It seemed more reasonable to want a child I could not have than to have a child at a time I did not want. It was a quick decision made under stress, but I had my tubes tied during the emergency surgery for the ectopic pregnancy.

When we moved to the city in which we now reside, I began to regret having made the decision not to have more children. Well, actually, I had begun to believe that there was a child out there that needed me. More than anything, I wanted to adopt an older child. Now I understand that this is common for the aborted woman. It is more commonly known as the "phantom child." For a short time I was obsessed with this.

Life continued. My husband's practice grew. The demands on his time left less and less time with the family. More and more, I felt estranged and left out of his life. I felt as if he really didn't care about me and doubted his love. He seemed to be more interested in medicine than in me. But you see, that was the way it had always been. Again I remembered the abortion. Where were the words, "We've got each other" or "Together we can make it through anything"?

My worst fear was that maybe I hadn't given him the chance. What could I do now, if that were true? Why even bring it up at this late date? The past is past, and nothing can change it now. So again, I buried my feelings and thoughts, but it was harder now. Besides, he would think I was stark raving mad if I told him these things. I knew that the abortion was not the problem at hand, but the memory of it compounded my feelings of insecurity, anger, and resentment. Somehow I could not deal with any of the present problems without dealing with my feelings about the abortion. .

Now I had to work harder at not thinking about the past. This time I went on an intellectual pursuit. I dug deep into psychology, philosophy, and theology. The deeper I dug the colder emotionally I grew. My mind was expanding but I felt as if my emotions were dying. I had tried every way known to man to get my husband's attention, and had been unsuccessful. So I gave up. I ceased to hope for a better day. No, I was not happy, but I was not unhappy either. My parenting was at an all time low. Somehow, even though I had a fair number of friends, I felt isolated. I felt as if I had this "big secret". Somehow I felt that if any of my friends ever really knew me they wouldn't be my friends anymore. Therefore, I didn't put much effort into friendships. My relationship with God seemed more like an intellectual assimilation.

It has always been my belief that you make the best of anything. So I resolved to make myself happy. The only way this seemed possible was to let my husband live his life the way he wanted, and I would live my life the way I wanted. This way he could have his work and his life, and I would have mine. No, divorce or separation was not a question; how to survive was. It seemed like all we ever talked about was his business or my business. In all honesty, I was bored and angry. All of my best efforts seemed in vain. Now it just didn't matter anymore. The only way to be happy was to find fulfillment outside of the home. Therefore, I sought out friends within the church. Not ever being willing to put myself in a compromising position, I chose my friends from the female population. They provided me with the companionship I so desperately longed for.

Much to my surprise, after about a year of the kind of behavior that accompanies attitudes like the ones I had, my husband became alarmed. I was totally unaware of his concern until he became jealous of a friend. His jealousy was unfounded. My reaction to his jealousy was that I considered it to be absurd. So I ignored it. That probably was not the best way to handle the situation, but when I realized how upset my husband really was I was flattered. A spark of hope kindled. Maybe he did care about me more than I realized. But that hope was dulled by memories of the past promises and resolutions. I dare not believe in tomorrow again. It was enough to face each day at a time. Now it seemed like my husband was making an effort to set some priorities. I could tell he was trying, but I was afraid. So many times before I had hoped, only to be disappointed. What I needed most was time.

During this time our church invited a pro-life group to speak to our Sunday School. Now, I will support just about anything that my church does, except this one. This time they had over-stepped their bounds. The simplest way to handle this one was not to be there. Unfortunately, the group they had invited was known as a radical group in our community. To this day, I continued to believe that this group had no place in our church. It is my belief that if the church is going to have a pro-life group, it must be something totally different from anything the world has to offer.

Yet, I can see God's hand even in this. In retrospect, the whole thing was like being set up. Shortly after the program, three different women shared with me how they felt condemned by some of the things said. You see, if you are already down on yourself about something like abortion, it doesn't take much to put you farther down. Why did they all call me and not someone else?

For the next few days I pondered and brooded over the whole thing. Finally I decided to take action. So I did what every conscientious church member would do. I went to the source and complained! Yes, I thought I could do this without divulging my real reason for the complaint. After all I had at least three good reasons. Of course, it was my first obligation to protect the identity of the women I had talked with.

As I spoke with this minister, it did not seem that he understood my concern. Somehow he just didn't seem to comprehend what the problem could be. It frustrated me, when he pointed out that I had not been there and could not know what I was talking about. Before I thought, I found myself telling him that I could know because I had had an abortion. Afterward, I could have died. I can't begin to tell you how uncomfortable having said this made me. The person I had just revealed myself to was shocked, but not nearly as shocked as I was. I wanted to take the words back, tell him it was all a lie. Anything would be better than what I had just done. Suddenly I had run out of excuses and rationalizations. For the first time, I found myself saying that abortion was wrong, and that it was a sin in my life. After that I didn't want to say anything else. I was shocked and horrified that I had told another person about this event, and had failed to give the reasons that would defend me.

When I left his office I couldn't believe what I had done. I had shared this with only one or two other people. However, when I had done so, I gave them all of the excuses and reasons why it was the right thing to do. In my mind the abortion was wrong, but I had never admitted that it was a personal sin. It was always what I had to do, and in the end I was always justified.

It was much easier to finish things with God now. The Holy Spirit directed me to Psalm 51. This is a Psalm that had been meaningful to me for a long time. But now, "Create in me a pure heart" became my personal prayer. Right then, I knew that there was a lot of work to be done. I also knew that the work would not be easy. However, I knew that it would be better.

One attitude at a time, bit by bit, the Lord has been showing me how to change my mind and be renewed. "Repent and return, that your sins might be wiped away, and that times of refreshing might come from the Lord." (Acts 3:19) My old cultural theology is being laid to rest, while a Biblical theology is taking over my life. I am learning to measure my life in terms of the Bible, and am leaving the "osophies" and "ologies" of the world behind.

Now I have seen my sin nailed to the cross, then laid to rest in the tomb. Where that sin was laid, now I see God! Through His grace and in His mercy He has made the change. Where there once laid sin and death, God brought love and life.

It has been nearly a year now. Changes are never sudden for me. My husband has been loving and warm. But I still find it difficult to talk with him about the abortion. That really isn't his fault. At first it was anger that kept me silent; then it was fear. Now it is probably a habit that needs to be broken. I doubt he will understand the depth of pain I have felt in regard to this. But I presume that he has figured out that women react differently to these things.

Healing has been taking place in my life. The anger is more in proportion to the situation at hand. My unforgiving attitude is fading. I don't feel so different from other women. The emotions that once seemed so cold are again warm. Best of all, the joy of my salvation has returned. Yes, I could continue to name the benefits. Now my life can never be the same but I know it is better.

Sometimes even now, there is some pain in remembering. But I have found relief from the pain as I learn more and more to focus my attentions on the mercy of our loving Lord. I see Him as He embraces the sin and pain of the world at Calvary. But I know Him in a very personal way, as He embraces me in my pain. Now I know exactly what Job was talking about, when he said, " My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:5-6.

It is my personal preference to deal with this whole thing at a distance. Church people will be the most difficult of all to deal with. I'm sure it would be easier to talk with an unbeliever, and share with them the mercy and forgiveness Christ can bring, even through an event like the one I have just shared. However, I'm certain that when and if I talk with the Christian, especially one who knows me, I risk judgment and hostility. God will forgive me and bestow His mercy and grace upon me freely. My fellow man will judge and condemn me. Therefore, I will focus my attentions on my Lord and my God, and seek Him in everything. Yes, I still care what people say and think. But I know that I must answer only to God, and to Him I am reconciled.

If I had my way, I would remain forever silent about this matter. But my heart aches for the broken heart of God concerning this sin. Perhaps the thing hurts me the most, at this point, is the awareness of 'having disappointed my loving Father. Therefore, I must somehow warn the others.

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •