I Knew in my Heart this was Wrong...
My abortion experience
was the result of coercion, physical and mental, on the part of my first
husband. It was also the result of lack of education on the birthing and
abortion processes. I had been victimized by men as a kindergardener on the way
to school. A man exposed himself to me in a park at age 10. 1 was attacked after
a night class in college. And finally, I was the victim of an attempted rape at
age 22. My husband used my fear of men as a tool to control me. I had not
received any sex education at home or in school. I was the oldest of six
children. I was timid and shy.
My husband was my first boyfriend whom I met at age 18 in college. At age 25 or
26 I became pregnant. I was overjoyed at the hope of having my own baby. My
husband had sexually abused me for years. He went into a rage when he heard of
the pregnancy. He threatened to leave me and said I had ruined his life. Our
marriage appeared perfect from the outside. We were college graduates, had
excellent jobs, took vacations out of the country, had a big home, wore fine
clothes, etc. I told no one about my husband's abuse. When he told me to get an
abortion, I told no one about his pressure. I sought no counsel. I had no
knowledge what an abortion was. I did know I was afraid.
Within one year after the first pregnancy I became pregnant again while on a
different kind of birth control. The intimidation from my husband was more
mental this second time. I drugged myself heavily to get through my second
abortion. I do not recall the second experience because of the drugs (or maybe
I'm repressing the circumstances). I do recall that I received no information
from the abortion clinic as to what was going to happen, this, after all, was my
My marriage eventually ended in divorce. I told no one about the abortions until
after my divorce, 10 years later.
I remember how "professional" the abortion clinic office looked. The
wallpaper had a serene forest scene. The atmosphere was carefully designed to
calm the patients. I stared at the wallpaper to forget where I was. There were
chairs in a row and girls sat alone. My husband was with me and I wondered how
the others could go through this with no one to support them. When a girl's name
was called she would walk through an archway to rooms beyond. The waiting room
was so quiet and filled with fear.
I began wearing maternity clothes right away when my pregnancy was confirmed. I
proudly told all my work associates, checked into insurance benefits and told my
friends and family. Secretly and subconsciously I was trying to persuade my
husband, through my joy, to forget his demands. Sitting there in the abortion
clinic, my efforts having failed, I felt totally defeated, as though I was being
led away to my own execution. When my name was called, I did not feel able to
stand and walk through the archway. When I did it, it felt like very slow
A very friendly and smiling assistant took me to an office and completed a
questionnaire. She requested my signature, showed me a model of the female
reproductive system and explained how conception occurred. I was told some
tissue would be removed by the doctor and that the procedure would take ten
minutes. I knew in my heart that this was wrong, but at this moment I felt the
clinic had total authority over me.
I was draped and prepared by the friendly assistant. The doctor said nothing to
me. The procedure caused severe cramps and I felt as though my body was being
internally torn. The friendly assistant kept rubbing my stomach and shoulder. I
asked to see my baby. I had heard the water suction machine stop. I expected to
see a small 3"0" mass of tissue on a little tray. Three times the doctor and
assistant said I didn't need to see, but I insisted. I could feel their eyes
burning on my face as they held up a large canister jar filled to the top with
shredded parts and fluid. I froze and became limp and lifeless. I kept thinking,
"What did they do to me?" I laid on a cot in a small room and could hear girls
leaving the clinic through the back door. I had absolutely no feeling and the
tears flowed out of the corners of my eyes like a river. Where was the friendly
assistant? Where was my husband? What had happened to me? What was that which I
had seen? Why was the canister filled to the top?
I told everyone who knew
about my pregnancy that I had a miscarriage. . I could not bear the physical
loss of part of me. I bought a gold necklace with a small dove. I told myself
this would be a symbol of my baby, always with me. Within 90 days of the
abortion my younger sister lost her 15 month old son to an accidental drug
overdose. When the small white casket was closed, I saw the real physical
death of my unborn child. I felt I was really losing my mind. My doctor
prescribed tranquilizers during, and for a period of time after, the funeral.
After the abortion I developed what has been called the "Shirley Temple
Syndrome". I had my hair cut like Farah Fawcett. I took all the pants and jeans
from my closet and replaced them with the most feminine clothes I could find. I
surrounded myself with bows and face that guaranteed that my image would be
"sweet and innocent." I was trying to prevent anyone from hurting me. I became
obsessed with any physical flaws on my body and spent hours pampering myself for
the sake of my "image".
I was working in a male dominated profession in a women's liberation era. My
"sweet" look, which was created to protect me, failed. I looked provocative to
the men I feared and found myself locked in clients conference rooms, solicited
for affairs, etc. This contributed to a deepened sense of intimidation by men.
At the time I did not understand why any of this was happening to me.
My "sweet" looks put me in a position of being non intimidating to men.
Professionally I was often involved in critical negotiations with men. I would
allow them to brag about their options and lay all their cards on the table. I
would then proceed to 'blow them out of the water" with intelligence,
assertiveness and a well prepared opposing opinion (based on the insight they
had generously given me). I had a tremendous sense of control (and relief) in
those situations. I became a workaholic. I worked late at night and every
Saturday and Sunday. I received much praise and reward and quickly moved up in
my profession. I strengthened myself with the fact that my success in the man's
world was due to my intelligence and dedication. Although my feelings for my
husband had been reduced to numbness, I convinced myself that I had a perfect
marriage and actually lived in a fantasy world. I had all the material goods and
pleasures around me to reinforce that opinion.
I began going to doctors for gastrointestinal problems. Every time the doctors
asked if there was stress in my marriage, I would indicate how perfect my
marriage was and what a good friend my husband was.
My marriage began to crumble as my husband spent more and more time away from
home and I became lonely and isolated. I began to hang onto conversations with
men who were family oriented and talked about their children. I would fantasize
that it was my children we were taking about, not theirs. I began to be
attracted to clothing in the children's department and I read psychology books
to help me adjust to never having children of my own.
My husband and I went to marriage counseling for six months. I began to open up
to the fact that the abortions were affecting both my marriage and my life. It
has been three years since the divorce and I am still involved with professional
counseling. Depression and anger still haunt me (over being coerced into the
abortions). I continue to have difficulty in situations where I feel men are in
control over me, either mentally or physically.
I am now fortunate at age 39
to be the mother of two beautiful little girls, ages 1 and 2. I treasure them
both. I now have a very loving and supportive husband who has helped me through
my post- abortion healing process. My new husband has had to deal on his own
with my prior abortions. I am no longer living in a fantasy world. I often ask
myself why I couldn't have been stronger.
I have a stepdaughter who is 11 1/2 years old (the same age one of my children
would have been). She is so sweet as she goes through all those things that
sixth grade girls must go through. When she curls up on my bed at night to tell
me about all her new adventures, it makes me realize all the love I missed
giving and receiving. I also have a stepson who is 14 1/2 years old. Two
children to replace the two I lost, plus two precious children of my own.
The realization of what happened to me during the abortion operation came while
I was pregnant with my first daughter in my new marriage. My husband was so
excited that he would be in the delivery room at the birth. He bought baby books
on the birthing process. One of them was the Nielson book with those beautiful
fetus photographs (like those that Right-to-Life uses in its brochures). I began
to learn all about the development of babies and saw the pictures of living
babies in the mother's womb. I kept saying to myself "No, no, this cannot be". I
read an article in a women's magazine of a woman's experience with abortion.
Suddenly, the whirling suction machine, the glass canister jar of shredded
parts, the photos of the Nielson babies all came together. I laid my face down
on the pages of the magazine and cried all afternoon. These were my children,
they were not just "the product of conception",
they were my children.
The abortions immediately
ended the temporary stress in my first marriage (caused by the pregnancies). But
they contributed to the end of the marriage and caused severe psychological harm
to me. I know I am still periodically denying the significance of my abortions.
For 10 years I refused to discuss them or let anyone know of the terrible
experience. I effectively suppressed the memories. It was not until I faced the
reality of the physical side of abortion and removed myself from the
intimidation of the marriage that I was free to begin dealing with the pain of
post-abortion trauma. I realize that I can never go back and remake my decisions
or redo my participation in the abortions. I must go on with my life. I went
through terrible pain and anxiety as I remarried and went through two beautiful
full-term pregnancies. Today I cry not tears of self pity, but tears of healing.
I accept the fact that I am the mother of four children: two born and two
unborn. I am now able to discuss and deal with my abortion experience, but the
memory will never go away. The destructive force of the experience is finally
loosening its grip. I have become a new Christian as a result of the
post-abortion trauma. I have released my pain, my guilt and obtained forgiveness
through Christ. I have found peace because I know I will be in heaven someday
and I will see my babies. Time and death are the only barriers to an eternal
reunion. God has taught me the value of life and that He is my friend and is
I believe God has prepared me in a unique way to reach out and witness to
others on the abortion issue. The terrible experiences that have occurred in my
life have prepared me to offer the understanding that is only possible from
"having been there". The healing process has taken years, but I am ready today
to take an active role in helping others to find themselves through where I was
many years ago.