One day when I was in third grade, my mom and dad asked me to sit down for a talk. They began by saying that since I was very little, my parents always found me sleeping curled tightly in the fetal position, buried in the covers and always to one side of the bed. I had a recurring nightmare of being trapped in a room with a window blocked by a knife, and they said they often found me talking to my “other self.” My mom said she though these were signs telling her to confess something she had done and hoped I would forgive her.
She told me how, at 39, with her 5 children grown, (the youngest was 19 years old and two were in college), she had found herself pregnant. She had been pressured especially by a particular friend to abort because she was too old and it would be “ridiculous” at her age, to have a baby. This was 1952, and her friend told her a self abortion method. She delayed her abortion attempt until the end of June, her eldest son Elliott’s, birthday. She was about 3 months pregnant.
She started to cry and told me never to believe them when they tell you it is not a baby, but just a blob of tissue. Tracing a tiny outline in the palm of her hand, she said “he was this big and a fully formed baby.” She could hardly continue. “He was a perfect little baby boy.” She cried to heaven on that cold bathroom floor and asked God to forgive her and promised Him if she were ever to become pregnant again, she would NEVER abort a baby. She flushed her little son down the toilet and said she lay on the cold floor crying until she was numb.
No one knew, except her and her so called “friend.” Later, she still felt pregnant. The doctor said that I was probably a tumor or an ulcer. And the first part of September, I kicked her! The doctor was amazed that I had been a hiding twin and survived the abortion attempt. She told no one of her pregnancy except my dad, and later, my youngest brother, 19 year old Fred, who I kicked.
I was due January 21, 1953, however, I was induced one month early on December 19, 1952, and after 3 days of labor, I was born at the Hour of Mercy, 3:30 P.M., Sunday, December 21, 1952. She asked me to forgive her. I asked if she loved me NOW because she did not know me then. She sobbed and sobbed and said, “Yes. I love you with my very life.” I said, “Ok,” and walking back down the hall to my room I could still hear her heartbreaking sobs. When my dad hurried and caught my arm, he whispered, “I did not do it.” And pointing to Mom, he said, “She did!” And I believe the Holy Spirit said this to him through me: “But your love was supposed to make her feel safe to have me.” Those words hit his heart and stopped him from coming any further. (Note: I never slept curled up or had nightmares after this day.)
Years came and went. My mom’s “illness” without a name was cyclical and caused her to take to her bed from the end of June to the beginning of September. Sometimes she flew into rages, or walked the floors night after night, or went on buying binges. She suffered from paranoia, and gobbled down her doctor’s pills. This led to stays in mental hospitals, filled with psychotropic drugs and painful electroshock therapy. Part of the therapy was to tell her it was shame abortion was not legal then, because she could have gone to college, had a career…and not wasted her talents. I remember when I looked deeply into her drugged eyes and told her one summer day, “I know my mom is in there somewhere and some day when I grow up, I am going to find out what this illness is!” We all suffered. Around me I saw other moms with similar problems and obsessions. Now we were living in the days of Roe v. Wade. Imagine the scope of my mom’s pain from just one abortion attempt, and now women have multiple abortions! Three months before my mom died, I asked her why all the breakdowns June through September every year. Why? she broke down in tears and said it was on Elliott’s birthday (the end of June) that she aborted my brother and when Elliott had died tragically at age 27, she felt she had caused the death of her first born son when she aborted her last son. By September she remembered the day I kicked her and how happy she was, and that would bring her out of her moods. She could not trust herself and hated herself for aborting her baby! How could God forgive her? It was a form of self punishment for a crime she felt she could not be forgiven. I told her that is why Jesus died and that God forgave her when she found out that she was still pregnant with me. He trusted her to give me life. She never saw this until the day I told her. Three months later she died, but at peace, and forgiven.
Then and now, silence from the pulpit, the medical and psychiatric communities keep this killing cycle going. Now we have a name for the “illness.” It is post-abortion syndrome. But physicians and women’s (so called “rights groups”) do not even recognize it. How many suffer in silence, looking for help. Yet, we live in an age where Project Rachel groups, St. Raphael Ministries retreats, and pro life organizations are breaking through the silence barrier and helping all the victims of abortion to find healing through the cross of Jesus and the life giving sacraments, especially Reconciliation.
I can remain silent no more. I was a survivor of abortion. Life is never a mistake; life is always a blessing from God. Every single person has a divine mission that only they can fulfill.
The Bible says, “…and a child shall lead them.” It is the worst of times because of great sin, but it is the best of times because of an abundance of God’s grace. Love is a decision. Let us decide to be silent no more.