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It Never Stops Hurting

It hurts the most when I hold another woman 's child, feeling his warm breath on my neck..

No, I really think it hurts the most when I see a pregnant woman sharing a tender look of love with her husband..*

No, wait. Perhaps it hurts the most when .....

The honest truth is, it
never stops hurting.

The battle rages on inside me. The anguish and guilt live with me day and night. Reminders are everywhere, and cannot be ignored ... The sound of children laughing, the neighborhood playground, the infant department at the local clothing store, birth announcements in the weekly newspaper...

Having been on both sides of this most painful and personal anguish of abortion not once, not twice, but three times, I feel I am more qualified to comment and state my moral conclusions than the average person.

I'm known as a strong-willed, emotionally "together" woman, and always felt I had my mental survival instincts honed to perfection. The abortions would not bother me, because I could rationalize each and every one.

The first was a medical decision based on the opinion of three doctors who all felt that conception took place just prior to a series of 30 plus xrays I had undergone for locating the cause of an unexplained and near-blinding illness I had developed. When I learned of my pregnancy and was given my doctor's advice against continuing to carry the child, I was devastated. I flatly refused to consider an abortion, telling myself and anyone else who would listen that it couldn't be happening to me, and that my baby would be all right. I was also determined to find another doctor who would agree with me. I desperately wanted another child. However, three different doctors in two different states all concurred with my family medical team that a genetic abortion was the only reasonable and sensible option. Finally under extreme pressure from family and well meaning friends, I agreed.

Several years later, it had become obvious that my marriage was failing, and had moved beyond the point of reconciliation. I was experiencing inner growth that my husband could not share, and after much pain and soul searching, we separated. A few short weeks later, I discovered I was pregnant again, but because of our marital circumstances at the time, my personal plans for a new life without my husband, and my new found love of self, I decided I simply could not have this child. There was a vast age difference between my husband and me that all of a sudden seemed to make a major difference in my thinking, he was resigned to accepting our decision to part, and this complication just could not enter into the scheme of things at this time. After all, I already had three healthy, beautiful children.

Following another marriage some years later, frought with stormy trials and tribulations, I once again became pregnant. This time, I considered my age (beyond the usual accepted for child-bearing), the immaturity and mental instability of my husband at that time, my soaring journalistic career, ...oh, I had it all worked out in my mind again. I simply could not complicate my life with this unwanted, unplanned and inconvenient pregnancy.

I never let myself think in terms of "what if..." and I cried and ached once again for the child I would never carry, but after all, it was only a mass of shapeless, unrecognizable, non-viable cells at this point ... wasn't it?

Some time later, I became involved with a group concerned about the insane and inhuman way in which many women in this country are looking at abortion as an alternative birth control method. I was appalled myself at the casual, almost carefree way many of the women who were in the clinics with me as I terminated my pregnancies behaved toward this painful experience. Even then I knew I had to begin trying to do something on a personal basis to attempt to change the accessibility of abortion on demand.

This group worked with literature and photos depicting complete fetal development from the moment of conception, and for the first time, I realized my 12-week- old embryo was more than undecipherable parts, but a miniature human being. His heart had begun to beat before I was even aware he existed. He had begun to develop lungs, liver, kidneys. Development of the eyes, ears, nostrils and mouth were begun. He felt pain, warmth, cold, had sleep patterns, could cry and respond to light. He had brain waves, fingers and toes. He was easily recognizable as human.

Clear to me now, life begins at conception, and it was not sacred for me to take life at this stage.

My greatest pain today is simply this. I cannot undo what I did. I can never undo what I did-not once, not twice, but three times. The decisions were mine alone, they were final and irreversible, and so now is my torment. My husbands were involved in the discussions, but I alone made the decisions each time.

The children to whom I arbitrarily denied life would have been 13, nine and five at this point in time. I will never know if I had sons or daughters or both. I will never know if they would have grown to be strong and beautiful human beings with something wonderful to give to this world. I denied their siblings and their grandparents. I denied their entire families and their generation. Most of all, I denied them the opportunity of life.

I have an abiding faith in God, and called on Him in the dark hours following each experience to forgive my sins. I also requested His help in becoming a better person because of the choices I made. I have weathered
every storm in my life with God's help, and this was truly the worst experience I had ever gone through.

I truly believe I have made peace with God and feel He has forgiven me, but personal forgiveness does not come. I wonder if it ever will as I continue to mourn the loss of my unborn children.

I believe every woman's basic problem in dealing with an abortion or multiple abortions is to fit this new and generally unwelcome bit of data into what she already knows about herself. It was no different for me. I have never considered myself a "bad" person for choosing abortion, but rather one who perhaps made rash decisions based in panic and selfishness. In my darkest hours, which still come, I so often long for another child, even now.

It is also obvious to me that all women do not feel as I about their abortions. Those blessed feelings of relief following the decision and the actual procedure can last for years, but I firmly believe that eventually all women will have to face themselves and deal with their denial and their action. It may take months or it may take years, but I believe it has to happen.

An abortion is a deeply personal moment, and mine have made me an even stronger woman than I was before. Perhaps it is guilt, but my experiences have made me more acutely aware of the problems represented by legalized abortion, and I have since dedicated myself to fighting in some small way for the cause of life.

I'm not one to preach on street corners, but if my writing profession can make the difference in even one woman's decision to seek an alternative to abortion, then I will feel I have accomplished something else worthwhile from my own experiences. Because I have always had a very positive self image and have the strength and openness to feel and speak about my emotional conflict, I also believe I can reach others who may be struggling. My Pro-Life work will hopefully be my personal vehicle.

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
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