During my senior year of high school, my girlfriend and I conceived a child. My girlfriend told her parents, and her mother told her to abort the child. Together, we agonized for three months before sadly choosing to abort our baby.
There weren’t any abortion clinics in our state who performed second trimester abortions in the 1980’s, so she drove out-of-state. When she returned, she told me that the baby had been a boy and that the doctor used something like a vacuum cleaner hose. At first, I was relieved that it was over. But the decision to abort my son turned out to be one of the most painful experiences of my life.
I am Catholic and had been taught that abortion was wrong. But I had no idea how it would affect me spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. I went to confession immediately after the abortion, and I knew on an intellectual level that God had forgiven me, but I struggled to forgive myself.
After graduating high school, I thought I might be called to the priesthood, so I entered seminary, where I gave my aborted son the name John. A few years after leaving seminary, I started dating someone. Six months later, we found out she was pregnant. Thankfully, we didn’t abort this child, and my wife and I went on to have five more children. We have been married for twenty-five years.
Still, throughout my marriage, I carried pain, guilt, and shame. Finally, one day I kneeled before the Blessed Sacrament and begged God to take the pain way. Two weeks later, my youngest daughter died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. As the grief set in, I realized that I was experiencing a very familiar pain. It was the same pain I felt when I would think about the abortion.
My wife and I then attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. This retreat confirmed that I was carrying grief for my aborted son. It had never occurred to me that I was grieving. How could I grieve for someone whose death I had caused? But I thought of all the consolation that I had received when my daughter had died... I hadn’t had the opportunity to grieve like that for my son. By continuing to acknowledge and grieve for my son, I continue to find healing.
My hope is that my testimony will help other post-abortive parents to seek healing, and this is why I am silent no more!