The news coming out of New York has had my heart stirred up – stirred up with memories of my own abortion. I hate the lie that is being told to women, that it’s “my body, my choice.” Oh, sweet sister. It is your body and it is your choice. But what would you choose if you knew the price you would pay for aborting your pregnancy? You see, there is a price. Some will tell you that a baby died and try to make you feel guilty for ending its life. Some will tell you that they believe that life begins at conception and you are stealing a life. Some will tell you that it is just a group of cells that don’t really matter, that won’t feel the pain of the abortion. Some will promise you that you will find freedom through abortion.
I am going to tell you something different: It doesn’t matter whether you consider that lump of cells a living being or just a fetus. I was twelve when I had an abortion. I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t care. All I knew was that my abuser was fixing the problem he created. How could that be wrong? But here I am, decades after the fact, and I still grieve during the season when I had an abortion. My body still relives the pain of it and my heart still knows that something is missing.
Abortion doesn’t just end the problem of an unwanted pregnancy or a child born with some devastating illness, it creates a host of other problems for the woman (and many times the man). One problem is solved by unknowingly creating many more. She may be able to deny it for years and through multiple abortions. She may reason that even science hasn’t decided if the fetus is a life or not. Her reason for an abortion may be her youth or her inability to give up a child for adoption. Maybe she is just afraid. Can I just say, maybe she just isn’t ready? And my heart aches with her.
But there is this: Abortion creates more problems than it solves. At least it did for me. Depression, a low self–worth, physical pain, infertility. These marked my life. No doubt, the pain of abuse played into those. I went through some intense counseling for the abuse, but the hardest thing to process was that I had an abortion.
Abortion has a physical, mental, and emotional impact on the woman who has believed the lies. Women who have had an abortion often feel grief that they are not free to express – because, let’s face it, they chose the path of abortion. They may feel guilt, self-hatred or shame. They may struggle with depression and self-harm. Some even struggle with addictions or mental illness. For me, I felt unworthy of love or life.
My story of abortion isn’t everyone’s story, but it is one I must tell. My pregnancy was the result of rape. I am one of those women that everyone thinks we need a law to protect – protect my right to choose freedom from a child who would be a constant reminder rather than forcing me to suffer the punishment of carrying a child to term when I had already suffered enough. If only I could have known when the pregnancy was being ended that now I had another trauma to struggle through…now I had the difficulty of walking through ptsd for the harm done to me and the misery of walking through all the overwhelming emotions of terminating a pregnancy.
It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I spoke of it to anyone, whispered it really, to my 12 step recovery group. And that only after I had emailed my pastor following Sanctity of Life Sunday a hypothetical, “Should this lady who had an abortion when she was like 11 or 12 tell her husband?” He, of course, said she should.
Courage. After telling the group of recovery women and the pastor, asking them to pray, I found the courage to whisper it to my husband. His tears and, “I know,” broke the dam inside of me. His tenderness and love surrounded my aching heart. I told him about it. And then, the next Tuesday, in counseling, I talked to my therapist about it.
Healing didn’t come through therapy, EMDR or through my 12 step program. All prepared and strengthened me for the healing that was going to be worked in my life by God. He had a plan so far from what I could imagine.
One Thursday in February, I found myself at a lake house in another state, surrounded by women who had had abortions. Every woman had the opportunity to tell her story, to grieve her child or children. I grieved with these women even though our stories were so different. My story was one of being pregnant through abuse and then being physically forced to have an abortion. Yet, my feelings were the same. I had carried the guilt around my neck like a millstone, nearly drowning in the shame. I found forgiveness for myself at that long weekend retreat…and I discovered an even greater forgiveness. The forgiveness of a God who loved me and sent His Son to carry my punishment on His shoulders, to bear my burden to the cross, to set me free..the kind of freedom that every woman there thought an abortion would give her. We each discovered that freedom did not come through our abortions. Pain, suffering and bondage did. Freedom came through Jesus Christ.
Jesus met me in my pain, my guilt, my shame, my grief. He held me in His arms and whispered to me that I was forgiven, washed clean. Whatever men had done to me, I am safe now and fully free in my Savior’s arms.
If you have had an abortion and are struggling with that decision, please contact a crisis pregnancy center near you. Many of them have loving and supportive after abortion care. If they don’t, they will be able to help you find one. The group that I participated in was led and attended by women who had been where I was, who understood the devastating effect that abortion has on the woman.
Jesus doesn’t just care about the aborted baby. He cares deeply for the woman who felt like she had no choice.