My name is Sandy, and I thank you all, for the great privilege of having you before me today, to listen as I share my experience of abortion with you. There is an apprehension and sense of vulnerability in sharing my story, and it becomes very hard at times. Telling our stories is so important. It is the first step to healing. To express and give voice to what actually happened.
In April, 1975 I had an abortion done at the university hospital In Madison WI.
The abortion was done against my will and heart’s desire. I was 16yrs. old at the time and my parents had been separated a year and going through a divorce. The abortion was done as my father was afraid if anyone else found out that I was pregnant, he would lose custody of my brother and me. We would then have to go to live with my mother. My mother conceived me before marriage and I was her reason she got married. Thus, she counseled me to get an abortion and not ruin my life. I felt so ashamed of myself, I felt panic, confusion, fear and after I bargained with God, and the disbelief settled; I got my courage up and shared the news with my boyfriend. He wanted to get married, but we both felt we were too young. We decided we would make a plan, to place the baby for adoption. We went to Planned Parenthood in Milwaukee, thinking they were there to help make plans for being a parent. We thought we could get more information on adoption. We were so surprised that the information we were looking for, Planned Parenthood didn’t share with us but instead recommended abortion.
I left feeling very unsupported and wanting no part of what she was suggesting. We begged my dad for the longest time to reconsider. Finally the day came that he was driving me to the hospital. I remember going in for the procedure and lying on table in this cold sterile metal furnished room. I remember the nurse telling me how they would pass a long needle into my abdomen to exchange the amniotic fluids with the saline solution. I remember the doctor inserting the needle and my leg jumped and hit a tray of instruments near the bottom of the table I laid on. It sent all their instruments flying. The doctor cursed me and told me not to move again or I could cause problems with my uterus. I told him that I didn’t want to be here or have the abortion done! He told me that my parents brought me here for this to be done and so this is what they were going to do.
After it was finished, I remember going back out to where my boyfriend and parents were waiting. I broke down and sobbed. More than a medical procedure happened. I felt like I had died from the inside out. After the procedure we went back to my hospital room to wait till the solution caused me to go into labor and my baby to be aborted. I was instructed that when I felt pressure developing I was to bear down with my abdomen and not sit up but to ring for the nurse to come. I remember clinging to a little stuffed animal the whole time I went through the aborting labor, alone with no one else around.
After returning home, we rarely ever talked about this experience. Occasionally I would cry with my boyfriend but no one else knew about the abortion besides our parents. So, I stuffed this down inside of me and tried to go on with life. I cried often, not understanding why. Mike and I stayed together for about 5 years and then broke up.
In the spring of ’82, my younger brother married. Then I got news that my boyfriend had married. I felt like an old maid, used and who would ever want to marry me? As a young girl all I dreamed of was one day being married and having many children. I had bouts of depression and I thought of suicide. I never tempted to take my life but instead the grief and shame, led me to become a Christian. I took my shattered heart and broken life and laid it at the feet of the one who made me. God the greatest physician and best cardiologist out there took my life and made my heart new again. With God, everyone is in His network plan and there are no co pays! I learned that God loved me and no matter what I had done in my past, that I could find forgiveness.
Shortly after that I joined a bible study where I after 8 years of silence, I finally shared about my abortion experience. I received some dignity back when, they didn’t pass judgment but loved me and told me of Christ’s redeeming blood and how He can take anything and redeem it for His glory. Shortly after that, I found a group called WEBA…women exploited by abortion. It was then that I came face to face with what a 4.5 month old baby looked like. That pamphlet photo was devastating, and I cried for days when I realized I didn’t just have an abortion but I aborted my baby. I did a study by Linda Cochrane called “forgiven and set free”. I learned more about forgiveness and that we have to receive His forgiveness and forgive ourselves. I prayed this for myself and surrendered it all up to the one who gave His all for me. After that night, the scar that I felt every time I showered, where the needle passed through my abdomen, it simply disappeared. It was no longer evident and a constant reminder of my past. God used that to bring me full circle to Him. I learned that my baby was in heaven waiting for me.
In Jan of 1984, I married a very forgiving man who knew my past experience and loved me unconditionally. Within the first 6months we conceived and we were so excited to go home and share the news with my husband’s parents. We had just pasted the 3rd month. It was during this visit, Labor Day weekend that I started to hemorrhage. We went to the ER in MN and sought care. A doctor was called in to help. When he took my history and found out that I was miscarrying, but then also that I had had an abortion in my past, he scolded me for ruining his weekend because of stupid decisions that I had done in my past. He felt it a bother to come in on his weekend to care for me. I vowed never again, to share that kind of history with doctors. The ultrasound showed no heart beat and so they admitted me to the hospital and started me on Pitocin to help pass the baby that had died. I felt so alone once again, I had severe cramping and back labor and nausea from the pitocin. It took a day and a half, before the pregnancy was expelled. My husband and I called our pastor and friends to pray and help us to find encouragement to go on. During the first 10 years of our marriage, we suffered 10 miscarriages. All my miscarriages never seemed to pass the 4 month mark. I often wondered if my abortions were the reason for my miscarriages and infertility problems. I was never warned of any such consequences.
We did most of our infertility workups in Madison at university hospital. I started with one specialist but asked to be transferred as I just didn’t feel comfortable with him. At one point our insurance changed and we ended up transferring to a specialist in Chicago. We had all our records transferred and along with those records, came the record of the abortion. The records that followed us stated I had terminated a male pregnancy at 4.5 months gestation. It truly wasn’t a clump or blob of tissue. Knowing that I had a son, now in heaven, helped to bring some more closure to my heart. But also with those records I found out that the doctor who did my abortion was also the first specialist we were assigned to. This was the uncomfortable sense I felt, now I knew why. I then made one last appt with this doctor to talk with him. My questions for him included how could he consult with a couple in one room for infertility and then go to another room to perform an abortion to kill the baby? What were his passions in what he was doing? To bring life or to end it? I shared the pain I lived with and the anger that he still proceeded to do the abortion when I told him I didn’t want it done and he still denied my rights because I was only 16 years old. I told him of the regret, deep remorse and pain I had had, having had that abortion. I told him that I felt the abortion caused me more emotional, spiritual and physical consequences than if I had carried the baby full term. He told me if that is all that I came in for, then I could leave. He told me that he was performing services that women asked for and desired.
My husband and I went on to adopt two infant boys after all our miscarriages. My husband has since passed and as a widow, my boys bring me so much joy. My youngest son was conceived by an act of a rape. But you know; no life is created by accident; every life has a purpose! I watch my two boys today at the ages of 18 and almost 16; I see how individual they are and how God has a plan for each of them. I feel so cheated that I never got to know my first son.
I felt at one time that I had committed the unpardonable sin and that there was no grace, there was no forgiveness; no mercy for me. I felt unsupported, rejected, guilt, shame and condemnation from myself and I suffered alone and silently for too many years, until I gave voice to my story. I have counseled with many women since, and have found that I am not the only one who struggled with a decision of abortion. I came to realize that I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t get over it, and what a relief to find that I was not alone. God took the worst thing that ever happened to me, to bring about the best thing in my life – salvation and knowing Him, which brought peace, freedom and joy back to my life.
I have learned that even if our storms are not calmed or removed, at the very least God will see us through the storm. With that, God uses our walk to encourage others, and that is why I am silent no more.