I had an abortion in August 1975 when I was 19 years old. I lived in a small town in Maine at home with my Dad who was verbally abusive and a heavy drinker. I was afraid of Dad and afraid of what the small-town-busybodies would say when they found out I was pregnant. The baby’s father didn’t hesitate to strongly suggest abortion. So I took what I thought was the easy way out and had an abortion. I was told I could have this procedure, forget about it, and go on with my life like nothing happened. I was young and naive, so I believed them.
Although I had been told the baby inside me wasn’t much more than a bunch of cells, deep down I knew this was a little life that trusted me to protect it. It seemed easier not to dwell on what I thought was true, so it served my purposes to bury my doubts. However, during the abortion, with the truth ripping at my soul, I cried bitterly as I lay on the table. I believed my baby’s soul was floating upward and away into the darkness of space without love and surrounded by the cold. In the days and years to come, the terrible emptiness of that thought took me to untold depths.
When the abortion was over, I asked the nurse if my baby was a boy or a girl. She answered harshly, "How should I know? It came out in lots of little pieces." Then she walked away carrying a little bundle of what used to be my baby. I was horrified, but I shut down my heart, choked down my feelings, got up and walked away. Later that week, the baby’s father stopped by to see how I was and walked away, too.
I managed not to think about it most of the time but a slow insidious grief crept in. I became withdrawn. I allowed thoughts of condemnation to seep into my mind. They were words of deep shame and worthlessness. The abusive words I continued to hear from my father rang truer than ever because now they validated the horrible person I had become. I hated myself. I apologized for my very existence and felt grateful that anyone would bother to house me. I thought I would be better off dead so the rest of the world would have one less burdensome mouth to feed.
A year later I married a man who knew nothing about the abortion. I hoped I could fix my pain by changing my living situation and my home. I was just making more mistakes to try to fix the old ones, and more people were getting hurt in the process.
By the time I was twenty one, I had been married, divorced, and alienated from my dad. I drank too much and continued down a path of destruction. I was an emotional meltdown waiting to happen. That meltdown came three years later in the form of a terrible nightmare. In my dream I gave birth to my lost baby. I was excited at the thought of seeing my baby, but before I could hold it or even see it, the doctor wrapped it up and took it away. I ran down the hall crying for my baby, but when I found it I was horrified to see the doctor chopping it up with a butcher knife. I awoke screaming at the doctor to stop killing my baby.
After the dream that night I lay there in the dark crying and bitterly hating the doctor. As I sorted out the memory of my dream, I was initially relieved that the nightmare was just a dream. It hurt as I felt strong maternal instincts for my baby and dearly longed for it to be alive with me. But then the deep hidden truth crept in -- this nightmare was real -- the baby was real -- the doctor was real -- that horrible death was real -- a powerful Truth spoke directly to my soul, “The doctor didn’t kill my baby. I did."
I cried for two days. I couldn’t get out of bed. I just cried. As I lay there alone, I decided I should die. Then I thought about hell. Prior to this I didn’t think hell existed, but now I realized there must be a hell for people like me. If I killed myself, I would surely go there. I wanted to crawl out of my own skin and be someone or even something else. Then I thought about God. I didn’t know much about God, but I knew He was angry with me. I surely didn’t deserve anything else but death and hell.
After the second day of crying, I mustered up enough self-preservation to run away. I decided to run away from me. I hoped maybe I would be able to start a new life again somewhere where nobody knew me. Then maybe after twenty years or so God would forget what I did, and He would let me be His friend. So I grabbed a few clothes, my guitar, and drove away. I left what I knew behind and went looking for God.
My real mother lived five hundred miles away. Since age thirteen, I had been told by my dad that Mom didn’t want me. I visited with her about once a year during my teen years. Every time I saw her it seemed like she wanted to be with me and that she loved me. But after she went home again, Dad would spend weeks undoing any goodness I was feeling by lecturing my sisters and me about how much Mom didn’t want us. But now, away from anyone’s influence but my own, I decided to go see my mother. I planned to spend the night and then drive on toward my quest to find God. On my way I remember imagining a little scenario:
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start a new life, my old life somehow erased. I could find good people who really cared about me, even a nice man who would love me and take care of me. We would start a family, maybe have a baby, find God’s forgiveness and love, and mom’s love...
Then I shook my head and told myself to stop dreaming foolish dreams.
When I got to my mother’s house, she accepted me with open arms. I told her why I was there, and of my need to find God so I could find forgiveness and a reason to go on. I don’t exactly remember the words my mother said, but I know her actions spoke volumes—she loved me unconditionally. Mom suggested I stay with her for a week or so to just settle down. She wanted me to talk with her pastor. I ended up staying with my mother for several months. During that time I attended her church, was counseled by her pastor, and enjoyed the respite in my mother’s love. It took weeks for me to even start to believe what my mother was telling me about her love and God’s love. She read from the Bible and showed me verses about God knowing our terrible mistakes but loving us anyway. I finally accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, because I realized I had no hope without Him. Several years later I remembered the wonderful little scenario I had imagined in my car -- that scenario completely came true. God gave me a new life, He forgave my terrible past, I met new and kind people who cared about me. I met my future husband who loves me for who I am, and we have a beautiful daughter. My mother loved me, and all because God truly loved me and rescued me from myself.
This was a beautiful beginning to a whole new life. However, after twenty nine years as a Christian, “understanding” that Jesus forgave me for my abortion, I began to realize I only believed it in my head, but I didn’t believe it in my heart. I just couldn’t forgive myself for what I had done to my baby. Quiet condemning thoughts crept back into my mind, almost by habit. I was a singer/songwriter, so people would come to hear me sing my songs about overcoming abuse and finding hope in Jesus. I would tell people the story of my life, but I never told them about the abortion. I eventually put my music aside, went to school, and became a nurse. As a nurse, I tried to make up for the life I took from my baby by “saving” the lives of others But the more I tried to make up for my mistake, the more I fell back into old habits. I got caught up striving to undo my past, and in doing so, the less Jesus could do for me because His forgiveness is based on a free gift that can’t be earned. The more I strived to do the right thing, the more I feared making a mistake that would undo all my striving. I lived in terror of someone finding out my secret or a patient dying on my watch. Then I would be right back where I started. Guilty of causing death. Worthy of death. A killer. A murderer. Condemned. Worthless.
I had another breakdown in March 2010 at my nursing job. Once again, all I could do was cry, and I had to quit my job. The untold depths of worthlessness and shame had all come flooding back. This time, thankfully, I had (and still have) a loving and supportive husband who stood by me the whole way through. I confided to a female friend about my abortion, which led me to Crossroads Pregnancy Care in Quakertown, PA. There they offered a small personal Bible study specifically for post-abortive women called "Forgiven and Set Free." This study showed me with scripture after scripture that I truly am loved and forgiven by God -- even for the abortion. But, more so, it showed me in the Bible that I can be confident that my baby is safe. My baby is no longer a soul floating out in cold, dark space with no love. My baby is in heaven in very warm and loving arms. My baby doesn’t hate me or condemn me. Neither does Jesus. Actually I can now say, “I LOVE MY BABY!” I want to shout it from the rooftops that, “I LOVE MY BABY!” You see, I needed to finish the healing by understanding that my baby is ok too... and it’s ok to love my baby -- it is a natural mother’s response to love her baby. To kill my own baby and then ignore that I killed it was completely against every maternal instinct God had ever given me. I couldn’t be healed if I couldn’t reconcile the whole thing with not only myself and God, but also with my baby.
Now I understand Jesus indeed has taken away every bit of my condemnation and sin. Now I can say with confidence, I am healed and forgiven. Now I know my baby is safe and loved. It took 35 years of my life to reconcile that one foolish mistake. Remember the abortion lie that promised to help me “forget about my baby and go on with my life like nothing happened?” Now, after 35 gut wrenching years, I can go on only because I found forgiveness and peace in the truth - not the lie. I spend my time in prisons, rehabs, crisis pregnancy centers, churches, and one-on-one counseling sessions working through the Bible helping other women heal from their abortions. I sing songs about healing, and I tell my whole story... including the abortion story. Because of God’s grace, and His grace alone, I have been given the privilege to meet other women in their own struggle with abortion, and I can show them the beautiful complete healing of Jesus. Because of Jesus' incredible gift, I am therefore, silent no more.