I was wounded by an abortion that happened 10 years before I was conceived, when my parents aborted my older brother. I was 24 when my mother told me. My immediate reaction was to embrace her as she cried. Having experienced an unplanned pregnancy, I knew the fears, pressures, and doubts that drove her to abortion. I also felt anger toward my father, because he pressured her to abort my brother. And I felt sorrow. In one sentence, I gained and lost a brother I never knew I had. I immediately mourned for him. His name is Michael.
Years later, Mom urged me to read research by a psychiatrist named Phillip Ney. I learned how deeply my mother’s abortion had wounded me, and that many of my struggles could be attributed to something called Post-Abortion Survivor Syndrome. Symptoms include depression and anxiety, mistrust of parents, fear of abandonment, an unhealthy need to please our parents, irrational fears, aimlessness, addictions, an attraction to the paranormal, anger, a tendency to self-harm, repeat abortions, poor self-image, and survivor’s guilt because we are alive and our siblings are not. I have suffered from most of these.
As a child, I was afraid of everything – of people looking in my bedroom window, that E.T. lived in our attic, that our bathroom was haunted. I saw ghostly apparitions and felt drawn to seek them out. I took my anger out on my little sister. I’ve been a smoker and have an eating disorder that led to illness. I had no direction in life. I’ve had mental breakdowns during which I self-harmed or thought of suicide. I struggled with feelings of worthlessness. I battled these feelings daily.
After learning of Mom’s abortion, I told her of a feeling I had always had – that I hadn’t been safe in the womb. It makes sense, if that’s where my brother’s life ended. Dr. Ney heard similar things from his clients. Many of them somehow knew they had older siblings, even if they never knew of their mother’s abortions or miscarriages. I don’t remember feeling I had an older brother, but I do remember always wishing I did and feeling like I didn’t fit the role of oldest child.
Over the last few years, God’s been uncovering the roots of my problems, and I have been healed a lot. I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat two years ago, and had a life-altering experience, a flood of healing and hope. I want to share my experiences, so other siblings of aborted children can understand their pain and find healing, and so women considering abortion can understand how many people their decision will affect.
Abortion doesn’t happen in a bubble. It’s like a stone dropped in a pond. The ripples move out, and affect all who know and love that woman. Abortion hurts women. Abortion hurts families. Abortion hurts everyone. It doesn’t solve a problem; it causes more.