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Compelled to Speak
I had the right to choose. I was thankful for that right, as it kept my mistake from ruining my life. The summer I was seventeen I was installed as the “Grand Worthy Advisor” for a Masonic organization for teenage girls – essentially this role is the president of the organization statewide. Shortly after this event, I was beginning to embrace my new important role, and I found out I was pregnant. It horrified me to think that if I followed through with the pregnancy
I would not only lose the esteemed position I had earned, but I would also be expelled from the organization. This weighed heavily on me, and it was the primary influence for my decision.
Telling my parents was far easier than I imagined. I believe it was I who suggested abortion first, and they were fully supportive. In fact, our insurance covered the cost. A few days passed between having the conversation with my parents and my first appointment at the Boulder Abortion Clinic. I recall being so scared during that waiting period because I didn’t want to suffer with the decision, and I couldn’t figure out how life would possibly go on should I somehow change my mind.
Both my parents accompanied me to the abortion clinic. We were told about possible protestors, and even on the final day after the procedure, we left through a back door. I felt badly thinking of the people who may be protesting because I believed they were protesting a decision they didn’t and couldn’t understand. We actually didn’t see any protestors during the visits, and I wonder now if it would have influenced me if we had; I pray it would have.
During the first appointment I had an ultra-sound. I recall lying there and wanting so badly to ask to see the screen but worried they would think I was wavering in my decision. I wasn’t wavering at the time, but I have always wondered since then if I might have changed my mind if I had seen the ultra-sound. The appointment finished with the insertion of seaweed to start opening the cervix. The day that passed between the appointments was excruciatingly painful. I began to suppress the possibility of regretting the decision because at this point I felt there was no turning back.
We returned the following day for the actual procedure. I had been experiencing extreme pain from the seaweed. I wouldn’t realize until after my second child that it was like labor without contractions – my cervix was opening. The procedure was very quick in the basement of the clinic. It was a vacuum abortion, and I remember catching a glance of the bloody tube and thinking “at least I won’t see an actual baby.” After the procedure I was led to a recovery room with several other women. The last thing I wanted to do was show my face to anyone, so we quickly left out the back door
I’ve recently requested my records from the clinic and have had to read the documents a few times to understand. I was able to confirm the date – July 11, 1997, a Friday. I was 6 weeks pregnant, 8 weeks since my last missed period. The procedure itself took seven minutes. One saving blessing from that awful experience is my only picture of my unborn child. Being only six weeks pregnant, there isn’t much to see in the poor quality photo copy, but I know it is the one image that captured his existence and that cannot be destroyed.
Immediately after the abortion I was in a state of disbelief that the problem was fixed and all over with. I felt like I should experience some regret. I was told I may be sad for a few days, but it should subside, and it wouldn’t be normal to be sad for more than a week. During that week when I felt remorse or regret, I reminded myself that it would go away, wasn’t normal, and that I was fine. I started to believe that it was truly that simple; I had been able to take care of it and move on without missing a beat. I started to think that it didn’t even seem to affect me. The biggest guilt I had was having no guilt at all.
Fast forward 16 years, I had since converted to the Catholicism and received the sacrament of reconciliation, which I trust absolved me of my confessed sins, including the abortion. However, I continued to feel no effect from the entire experience and would only feel badly telling people because it wasn’t an emotional issue for me, and it seemed like perhaps it should be.
In order to volunteer at a pregnancy center in early 2013, I was asked to participate in a Bible study for women who had an abortion. It seemed a formality, and I obliged, even though I didn’t feel like I needed healing. After the first night of the study I realized I had never talked to anyone else who had had an abortion. The loneliness of the last 16 years started to settle in.
The other women were alone, too. We soon realized we had common struggles, issues, emotions, and life events since our abortions despite not knowing one another. It couldn’t be a coincidence. The hurt was surfacing, and it was very real.
Reflection on my life through the Forgiven and Set Free Bible study revealed the common symptoms of other women who choose abortion. Some were anger, rage, anxiety, depression, obsessiveness, perfectionism, and impatience; none of which were feelings I had about the abortion itself, just to life and people in general. I also had several years of promiscuity after a failed marriage to the baby’s dad, who is the father of my first born son and did not know about the abortion until several months afterward. The sin of these promiscuous years kept me from having an authentic relationship with God. I always knew something was missing and I kept searching for it, but in the wrong places.
I had to surrender this newly realized pain, anger, shame, and sorrow to God to allow myself to begin to heal from something that was ruining my life, but that I didn’t know existed in the very depths of my heart and now my soul. I trusted God’s forgiveness and love, but I never had thought to trust my own. Through this experience, and God’s grace, I have a relationship with my beloved Joshua, and I am finally able to be the mother to him through prayer that I was not able to be in life. I feel like my relationship with Joshua has broken down the walls and opened my heart to a free, faithful, and fruitful relationship with God.
While healing can be given, I have learned it also must be received. My healing is an ongoing process and not perfect. I share my story whenever possible so that I may continue to rid myself of the shame and silence that kept me from being closer to God. It is the evil one who gains glory from our silence. I am compelled to speak out so that I may somehow honor Joshua, and for the hope of possibly encouraging other women to seek the strength to recognize and share their own stories. Most importantly, I share my story to give honor and praise to God for His truly unending love, forgiveness, and healing.
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