I Am More Than a Choice

Illinois,  United States
  Wait, this isn't supposed to happen to me.  You're my friend, and we're supposed to be celebrating New Year's Eve! No, stop!  I told you to stop.  I don't care if I've been drinking.  I don't care if I came on to you.  No means no! 

What?  I'm pregnant?  This can't be.  I'm a good girl.  I didn't ask to be raped.  I can't be pregnant.  What do I do now?  I can't tell my parents.  Oh, God, why?

In 1978 at a New Year’s Eve party, I was raped.  My assailant was a friend.  He was handsome and charming, and I was as drunk as a skunk.  I'd had a crush on him in high school and loved the attention he was giving me at the party.  Until...

Within a few weeks, I was nauseous and could not keep anything down.  I didn't have morning sickness; I had all day sickness.  I didn't know what to do.  I was raised in a very Catholic family and "good girls" didn't have sex before marriage.  Good girls also didn't get drunk and make out with random guys.  Good girls were smart enough to keep their pants on!  I could never tell my parents I was no longer a "good girl."  Even though I had been raped, I wondered, “Who would believe me''? 

I chose what seemed to be my only option--abortion.  These were the years shortly after Roe v. Wade, so finding an abortion clinic was not too difficult-- I merely looked up “abortion” in the yellow pages.  I called the clinic and made an appointment.  They didn't even ask me if I was sure I was pregnant.  They just told me they could take care of my problem the next day.  Oh, and don't forget to bring the $250 fee.

I drove myself to my appointment, feeling a plethora of emotions—relief, horror, worry.  I just wanted my life to return to normal.  At the clinic, they took my fee, and a nurse led me into an examination room.  We did a urine pregnancy test, and it confirmed I was pregnant.  She told to undress, put on a gown, and wait for the doctor.  Those 15 minutes were the longest of my life.  At about minute 14.45 I was ready to get up and leave and go home to face my parents.  Then the doctor came in.  “Where are you going?” he asked, “This will all be over in a few minutes, just lay back and relax.”  His voice was so soothing.  He told me everything was going to be fine.  As he began a physical exam, he said I was 11 weeks pregnant.  He said I got here just in time, too much longer and they would not have been able to perform the procedure.  He explained that they were going to give me some anesthesia to help me relax during the procedure.  After I received the anesthesia, he began to explain the procedure.  He explained that he would be using suction to remove the tissue.  All I could think was, “Please, God, get me out of here.” The next thing I knew, the nurse was asking me to get dressed, saying the procedure was complete.  She stated, "See that wasn't too bad!"

As I prepared to go, they asked me to identify my ride in the lobby.  I said I came alone.  They said I would have to wait about 30 minutes for the effects of the anesthesia to wear off.  At about 30 minutes on the dot, I was told it was safe to leave.

I do not remember too much about my car ride home.  I remember going into my bedroom and sleeping until the next day.  My parents commented the next morning that I must have been pretty sick to stay in bed through supper.  I just smiled.

My life went on, but normal had changed.  For a while I branded myself a murderer.  I lost friends. They told me I was different and not fun anymore.  I took an overdose of pain medication.  I looked for love in all the wrong places.  I married the first person I dated after this, hoping that someone loving me would take my pain away.  It didn't and we divorced.  As I was going through my divorce, I met another man, got married, had children and got divorced.  My pain grew.

I can say that my pain has diminished greatly over the years.  I have learned through counseling, education and my work in the human services field that I am not to blame for the circumstances that brought me to one awfully difficult, life-altering decision.  I began to forgive myself yet found I was often surprised at the emotions that would pop in my head.  Even to this day, a sense of melancholy can come over me in a rush of emotion as I think about my first child.

The life I was thrust into after my abortion is not without some good things. First I had to come to understand that I was raped and my subsequent pregnancy only made my rape trauma greater. Add in an abortion, and I was a recipe for a real mess.  Today I know I am so much more than a choice I made about 35 years ago.  I am a good mother to two sons and stepmom to 4 others.  I've worked for many years helping others find their voice in difficult situations. My healing journey continues but I no longer dread what is around the next corner and I love myself again.

Perhaps the greatest gift I’ve given myself on my journey of hope and healing is attending a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend retreat.  I can't describe the profound effect that Rachel's Vineyard retreat had on my life.  Rachel’s Vineyard was the first environment in which I have ever felt safe discussing my abortion.  The caring and kindness of the retreat facilitators helped me understand I was not alone.  The retreat was the most deeply healing experience that I have ever experienced and through it I found that Jesus is a necessary part of my healing and drew me closer to his loving care and accepting God's forgiveness.  God stayed by my side every step of the way, and He continues to be my guide. That is why I am Silent No More!
Priests for Life