On my Heart

Ohio,  United States

I waited a long time to speak out about my regret of having an abortion because I was afraid.  Afraid of what people would think.  Afraid of what people would say.  Afraid I would offend somebody. Afraid I would hurt somebody. I don't want to be afraid anymore.  The time has come where I feel I need to tell what has been on my heart for so many years now.

I had an abortion because I was young - sixteen the first time - and I believed the lies. I had more than one abortion before I realized the truth. They were people, my children, separate human beings with their own blood type and unique DNA and brain waves and they could feel pain and they needed me.  They were not just a part of my body that I could choose to dispose of.  They were my children.  They depended on me to survive like all children depend on someone to show them love and meet their physical needs.  I did not realize this truth until years later and now I live knowing that I paid to have my children murdered by a doctor that could "help" me by ripping them apart and removing them from my body.  My body was the only place that they should have been completely safe from the world.  I wish someone had told me the truth - that they were my children and although I was still a child myself, they depended on me.  I was all they had in the world and I was the one that decided they did not deserve a chance in this world.

This is my story.

I was sixteen and dating an older guy that my parents hated.  I had been sick and throwing up terribly for well over two weeks.  I was missing a lot of school and I felt terrible all the time.  I took birth control but I wasn't very reliable about taking it at the same time and sometimes I would forget.  I took the pregnancy test the day before Thanksgiving at my mother's request and when it turned up positive I drove straight to my mom's work.  As soon as I walked in she could see the look on my face and knew immediately.  She quickly took me in the back room and I could not even speak, I just sobbed.  She handed me a tissue and said "Don't worry, everything is going to be fine.  We'll get this taken care of."  I knew she meant abortion and it actually made me feel better.  I went to Thanksgiving dinner with the family the next day and had an uplifted attitude.  After all, I didn't have any problems with abortion.  It was just birth control after-the-fact to me. 

I had my abortion on December 12th.  I don't remember much about it.  Everything felt sort of robotic, just going through the motions to get it over with.  I had to pay up front and the counseling session lasted less than about two minutes.  I never met the doctor.  When I was on the table in the stirrups the nurse told me she was giving me something in the IV and that I wouldn't remember anything.  That was true.  Just after she said that, she opened the door and a man walked in.  I don't remember his face.  The next thing I remember is the nurse helping me stand up and walking me to a large room where other women (nurses maybe) were passing out juice and cookies and helping other girls up to use the bathroom.  There were about twenty large leather recliners and almost every one had a girl in it.  No one talked.  They had MTV on the TV.  There were a few girls crying quietly but no one talked to them.  I remember thinking "What are they crying about?  It's not really a baby."  My heart was so hard back then, I had no compassion.  After an hour or two a nurse took me in the bathroom to check that I wasn't bleeding too much and then she showed me the exit and said I was free to go. 

When we were back in the car my mom asked how I was feeling and I said I was just hungry.  As we sat at Denny's and ate my mom prodded a little more and asked again how I felt.  I said "Honestly, I feel like a huge weight has just been lifted.  I feel relieved.  I haven't been able to eat for weeks because I've been so sick but I don't feel sick at all.  I feel good."  Everything I said was true.  I did feel great.  The sickness was almost completely gone immediately.  After that day, my mom never asked me about it again.

I didn't think about it anymore either.  Not much at least.  My boyfriend and I broke up because I thought we should stop having sex for a while but he didn't agree.  I was angry all the time and I didn't know why.  After all, it had been my decision to split.  I started sleeping around a lot and I got pregnant again seven months later.  This time I knew immediately. 

I was at the county fair with my little sister and after getting off a ride I ran to throw up in a trash can.  It was the first time I had thrown up but I knew that feeling. 

I felt something like shame.  I had just had an abortion and now I had to get another one.  My mom took me again but I remember even less about the second one. 

After the second abortion something in me changed.  I wasn't angry anymore but I still wasn't myself.  I was sad.  All the time.  I had this overwhelming urge to make my life perfect so that when I had "real" children someday I would be the perfect mother.  I didn't understand why I was thinking about this all the time since I still didn't believe that I had killed my children.  I called back the Planned Parenthood that had referred me to the abortion clinics and that I got my birth control pills from and asked if I could talk to someone about my feelings.  The person over the phone wasn't even a nurse but told me the feelings were completely normal and most women experience some feelings of sadness afterward but it is just hormones working themselves out.  But the feelings didn't go away and my sudden feeling of needing to be perfect just blew up in my face because when I failed to be the person I thought I needed to be - to make up for my past mistakes - it sent me into a downward spiral of depression.  I did drugs a lot then and was high my entire senior year.  I don't remember most of that year.  I ended up joining the Air Force because I felt that I just needed to get away from that place.  I felt like I could leave all the past behind me and start over.  But that didn't work either.

As time went on my thoughts kept coming back to the abortions and I still cried.  I broke down into full on sobs every year at the anniversary of my abortions.  I still do to this day.  But even through all the sadness, I never let myself believe that what I had actually done was kill my children.

It wasn't until I was married and pregnant with my oldest son that it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Why was this baby any different than the ones before.  Surely a child is not really a person just because I say he is.  In that moment when I realized what I actually had done I felt two things: I felt like a terrible person whose life until that point had been nothing but selfishness and shallowness and I felt again relieved.  Relieved that I understood why I was so depressed for the past five years and could finally tell someone and begin to heal from what I had done. 

It is a decade later and I am a mother of 4 now, all unplanned, and I can honestly say I do not regret a single second of my children's lives, inside or outside the womb.  I am only sorry I didn't understand sooner that the gift of being a mother came not through being financially prepared for a baby, or through planning the perfect time to fit a child into the life I wanted, but through finding the ability to put the life and needs of another person ahead of my own. It breaks my heart that our world gives us, gives children, the *choice* over life and death of our unborn children and they tell us it is OK. We have guilt and regret for a reason; we are doing something unnatural, inhuman.

I do not think that having an abortion makes someone a terrible person. I don't think I am a terrible person.  Just a naïve and selfish one.  Yes, I was once naïve  and selfish; I was a child.

I was naïve to think that by getting rid of the "problem" everything would be OK. It's not. It never will be. I was naïve because I was so willing to believe what the world was telling me. I believed that it is my body and I have a right to do what I want with it. I believed that this wasn't really a baby but more like a part of my body that I had control over. I believed that graduating high school and college and getting a good paying job for myself would make me happy and that making myself happy was the most important thing to consider. I believed that I couldn't attain that happiness if I went through pregnancy and had a baby. I believed all these lies; I was a child.

I was selfish because I thought I had a right to life more than my own children. I was selfish because I never considered the fathers' feelings. Not even for a second. I was selfish because I didn't stop having sex after the first abortion knowing that birth control had failed me already. It was all about me. I was so selfish; I was a child.

I was a naïve and selfish child being told by my world that it was OK. No, more than OK. It was my right and it was the right thing to do.  Only now I’m not so naïve and I am not so selfish and I regret what I’ve done.

I had an abortion, and I am sad about it. But I can't say that. That is something shameful.  Something that must be kept hidden.  Nobody wants to hear about it.  We say abortion is OK.  It is our right; But don't talk about it.  We have cable television and radio shows talking about sex, drugs, birth, and everything in between; but never tell people you had an abortion.  We speak of it being a fundamental right of women; but please, do all of us a favor and keep it to yourself.

Maybe we are afraid of having the truth exposed and being forced to face it.  I know it's scary to face the truth when you have allowed yourself to believe the lies for so long.  I was afraid.  But the truth is more important than our fears.

I am OK now because I found forgiveness, grace and truth through Jesus Christ.  I am still sad, but I won’t condemn myself anymore.  I will live knowing that I have been given a new life in Christ.  I am HIS child; and he intends for me to live in abundance, not shame.

Priests for Life