In 1971 I was a 17-years-old senior at a Catholic high school. I met a boy who was in college. He wasn’t much to look at, but he seemed very gentle and sweet. We started going out together and I became acquainted with his parents who were from Hungary. His father taught history at the college. I thought they were very interesting and compared with my parents, they seemed very hip. They were very permissive and allowed us to smoke pot and basically do whatever we wanted to do. I wasn’t practicing my faith, and the religion classes didn’t really discuss Christian sexuality or chastity. So when I turned 18, I decided I wanted to lose my virginity. His parents let us stay in one of the bedrooms of their huge antebellum home. I had started cutting school and hanging out with his friends when I found out I was pregnant. My birth control method had failed.
His parents invited me to go on a vacation up the coast to Maine and Canada. I can’t really remember if this “vacation” was planned before I got pregnant. We drove up the east coast and stopped in Maryland for steamed crabs. I got sick to my stomach and stayed that way, so they took me to a doctor who gave me codeine to help with the nausea. I was also pretty depressed and confused about the whole situation. I felt awful and sometimes thought about killing myself. I don’t remember talking to my child’s father or his parents at all about the pregnancy though they took me to a clinic somewhere in New York so I could get an abortion.
I got undressed, lay on a table, and a doctor did the procedure. It was very painful and I cried. I remember the doctor saying, “You got yourself into this, so quit being such a baby.” He also said that if I made one move we were going to have “a big mess." I could see the blood going through the tube and I knew I had made a horrible mistake. I can’t put into words how I felt.
When I got out of there, I went into a room with about six beds where other women were recovering. The nurse never smiled at me or said anything. My boyfriend’s mother came in and I started sobbing. She hugged me and cried too. We didn’t stay there very long. When we left they took me to get something to eat and acted like it was perfectly normal. It was as though I had just left the dentist’s office.
After the abortion, my boyfriend and I stayed together for about a year even though I couldn’t stand to look at him and didn’t want him to touch me. When we broke up I met other guys with whom I had empty sexual relationships. I kept breaking up with them because I could not get along with them. I lost all self-respect. Life really had no meaning, and I felt like I was just going through the motions. I didn’t finish college, but I enrolled in nursing school when I was 26 and soon learned I was pregnant again. The father and I had already broken up.
This time I told my parents. My father was so mad and disappointed that he threw me out of the house, so I went to stay with my sister and her family. I had a baby girl in 1981 and realized then what a miracle life was. It made me believe in God again and I went back to Church.
Six months after my daughter’s birth, I married her father. We had a boy in 1986 and afterward, my husband joined the Merchant Marines. He assisted us financially, but we all suffered, especially the children, because we didn’t have a real home. My husband and I fought whenever he returned and our children continue to suffer emotionally from the environment in which they were raised. My husband died of pancreatic cancer in 2000, but not before he too went back to Church.
A couple of years ago, I went to a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat in the mountains of North Carolina. It helped to finally grieve the child I’d aborted. Hearing the other women’s stories helped me to see that I wasn’t alone and that abortion destroys hurts everyone. I experienced a sense of healing and peace and was able to let go of the anger I had felt against the people who were involved in the decision. I was able to forgive them, with God’s grace. I will never forget the pain of abortion. It left a scar on my heart.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and that God does bring good out of evil. I am closer to Him now because I am so thankful for his mercy and forgiveness, and I recognize that life is a great gift from God.