At age 16, I became pregnant by a boy I had dated for about 3 months; he was two years older than me. When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to solve the problem quickly. I didn’t want my parents or anyone to know I had been having pre-marital sex. I was known as a good/perfect girl who did everything right. I knew in my heart abortion felt wrong, but because it was legal I thought it must be okay. I had the abortion on a Saturday in October. The clinic was sterile and cold but the people there tried to make me feel better; they gave me a pill to relax me. My oldest brother drove me to the clinic but waited in the car most of the day. When my turn came to go into “the room,” I remember wanting to turn and run. I laid on the table with my feet in stirrups, and the doctor came in. I don’t remember him, but I remember the loud sound of the machine. It sounded like a big vacuum, which is what it is. When they shut the machine off, the nurse started to walk by me holding a container. I asked her if that was my baby. She said don’t worry; relax. Tears streamed out of my eyes as I fell into a dreamy sleep. I could hear noises in the room, but I couldn’t move. I lay there a long time; it was dark when I came to, and they told me to dress and go home. I stayed at my sister’s for the weekend. I lay in bed that night feeling lost, alone and empty. When I woke up the next morning, I decided to pretend the day before hadn’t happened. I stayed that way for years. A few years later I got married, and about a year after that my husband and I accepted Jesus as Lord. I confessed my abortion and put it back in the closet where it stayed. It was that way for many years. Then I got pregnant and lived in fear of how God might punish me.
After my daughter started kindergarten, I felt I wanted to grow closer to God, so I started praying, “Search me God and show me anywhere in my heart that isn’t pure.” One day while talking with some close friends about abortion I realized I had played God when I aborted my baby. A few days later I started thinking about the baby I aborted for the first time since the abortion took place 18 years earlier. I broke down weeping, because for the first time I wanted to hold her; I wondered what my life would have been like with her as part of it. What I had worked so hard at keeping in the closet had finally come bursting out, and I couldn’t stuff my feelings back anymore.
I hated myself for what I had done. I was ashamed and felt the full burden of my guilt. It was overwhelming, and I knew I needed help. I began the post-abortion counseling program “Forgiven and Set Free” but was very afraid because I had to go back and face every detail. However, afterwards I knew it was a very healing experience that was critical to go through. It was life-changing for me. That was six years ago. As I dealt with my abortion I realized that a lot of my behavior and choices from the time I had the abortion until then were related to how I felt about the abortion – from becoming involved in drugs and alcohol to being extremely promiscuous. I now see how many of my decisions were based upon my disgust of myself; I wanted to run from myself and hide from the truth. When all the truth finally came out, it was like I was finally free. I felt forgiven by God and my baby, and I finally forgave myself. At the last counseling session, we held a memorial service and I named my baby. And now, in my work I feel that even though her life was ended before it began, that precious life is honored and has a purpose.
Six years ago, I would never have imagined doing the work I do now. I was ashamed and felt I had to stay quiet about a woman’s right to choose because I had. That’s a lie; as men and women experience forgiveness, it gives them courage to stand up against the atrocity of abortion.