What Difference Does it Make?
I’ve been following the Gosnell coverage on Twitter and around the Catholic Blogosphere tepidly. I am trying to exercise some caution for my tender soul as any foray too deep into the details has a strong likelihood of disaster. I skim over the day’s coverage, say a quick prayer, and then try to move on. I follow the story with the hope that I’ll start to see some kind of turn around in the abortion “debate.” How could somebody read the Grand Jury report and not completely change their thinking if they claim to be prochoice? But that may be the reason nobody who is prochoice is reading it – for fear of what may happen. Kind of makes the safe, legal, and rare argument null and void when you see what looks to be a very viable baby, a human being, with a hole in their neck just big enough for scissors to fit through in order to snip their tiny spinal cord.
I don’t usually enter into the debate battleground because I’m not strong enough to defend my position without using the biggest weapon in my arsenal – the fact that I had an abortion. Until I’m ready to engage with everything I’ve got, I think it’s better for me to battle in ways that preserve my sanity – as fleeting as it may seem at times.
Today I came across a tweet by Live Action, that I followed to The American Thinker and an article entitled, Gosnell’s ‘House of Horrors’? What difference does it make? by Lauren Kathryn McCall. [emphasis mine.]
The words uttered by a certain secretary of state emeritus keep coming to mind as I read the accounts of Kermit Gosnell’s services in Philadelphia.
Filthy equipment, underage and unqualified staff, bodies of children in orange juice containers, animals running loose. One would think that is the greater scandal here.
I have an anaphylactic response to the premise of the outrage here. What difference does it make?
The clinic I went to 30 years ago was immaculate. The furniture was comfortable. It was staffed by registered nurses and board-certified physicians. There were warm smiles, cold utensils, and a professionally produced follow-up instruction sheet to accompany you out the door. My baby was early first trimester, tiny in size.
And I am sure that my experience is exactly the same as those of the clients of Gosnell’s clinic. The effect of destroying our own children and the consequent damage to our souls and society does not discriminate when it comes to hygiene, credential, or zip code.
Or size of the baby.
One step out the door, and I am quite sure I would not have noticed — or cared — if the place was filthy or ill-staffed.
The memory of paying a stranger to murder my own child, pretending to return to a normal life, and then subsisting in a society of unfathomable contradiction and hypocrisy toward the unborn trumps any outrage about filth or licensure for me. What difference does it make?
Almost thirty years ago to the day, I am exhausted from the pretense, denial, and fakery that is the post-abortive life. Good God, if it were any different, I would question if I am still human! Stories abound about the addiction, suicidal tendencies, and promiscuity that follow abortion. Perhaps, though, the greater population of women are like me. We returned to our careers, raised our families, and have tried daily to hide the consequences of misery and disorder that abortion has wrought in our lives. Each day its shameful reality compounds to a degree that we struggle to comprehend.
As for the effects on society and our future generations, I can only shudder. So I retreat to the aforementioned pretense and denial. I wait for the headlines and feigned outrage to disappear. They always do. Reconciliation with my God, counseling, and spiritual support only mitigate the horror and pain I live with each day.
So the fact that the place was filthy and the staff was unlicensed doesn’t make a bit of difference to me. Not a damn bit of difference at all.
“Ditto” doesn’t express my endorsement of Ms. McCall’s sentiments very effectively, but it was my first response. Gosnell and the atrocities he has committed stir up rage within me and sadness and a certain knowledge that only those who have had an abortion truly understand. That knowledge is what leads me from the outrage to the realization that abortion is always an atrocity. A postabortive woman stands on the edge a great precipice of spurning Gosnell and condemning he and his minions to the very depths of hell for what they have done and condemning ourselves at the same time. We all fall together. What Gosnell has done – scandalous, atrocious and just plain evil – is really, not one damn bit different than the abortion I had. The abortion I paid for. The abortion I lay on the table for. The abortion I drove home from, the memory of which I stuffed into the dark corners of my mind and heart for decades. My abortion was just as gruesome. The instruments may have been cleaner (were they?) The floors may have been scrubbed till the wax shone (were they?) It doesn’t matter – my daughter was killed and deposited into a glass jar (piece by tiny piece most likely). I don’t know what happened to my daughter after I left the room. Where did that jar go? I’ll never know. I have to find solace in the fact that her soul went to Heaven that moment and she never knew what the tearing of her tiny body felt like or how cold the jar was.
But, the truth remains, I don’t know. I’ll never know what happened to Grace’s body after I left. Where do all the bodies go from all the safe and legal abortion clinics? I’m sure that is something that no prochoicer ever wants the answer to. Maybe if we investigated where all the bodies go – 12 weeks or 32 – people would start to see that’s its all the same. Pristine procedure rooms and sterile instruments are just as bloodied by abortion. It doesn’t much matter if they started out clean or not. Gosnell’s evil is horrifying but it’s no anomaly. For every one Gosnell that is caught, I have no doubt dozens more are hurriedly cleaning up their own house of horrors before the feds show up, maybe a bit more hastily at the current moment.
Abortion is abortion is abortion. 17 year old girl, 30 year old married mom of 3, rape victim, welfare recipient, or Main Line resident who believes the lie that their maybe trisomy 13 baby will ruin their life. Abortion is abortion is abortion. It kills a life and ruins those left to live their now “unencumbered” life.
So maybe my outrage over Gosnell is misplaced because my outrage is really about there being none to speak of when I walked in and out of the abortion clinic. I drove home and continued on with my life. I’m outraged over the severed baby feet in Gosnell’s clinic and the snipped spines and I’m just as outraged over Grace’s short life ending in a glass jar. That’s the reality of abortion – no matter where the babies end up, no matter if they are whole or in parts, the reality is they are dead. So, you are right Ms. McCall, there’s not a damn bit of difference at all.
Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei, miserere mei, peccatricis.
There are more than a thousand women who’ve had the courage to come forward and share their stories of abortion and to show the world that “abortion is harmful emotionally, physically and spiritually to women, men and families, so that it becomes unacceptable for anyone to recommend abortion as a ‘fix’ for a problem pregnancy. Here are 3 stories from the Silent No More Awareness website: http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/testimonies/testimony.aspx?ID=2751
My name is Debbie Schneider. I came here today to speak to you about my personal abortion experience. I had an abortion almost 41 years ago and I understand first hand the pain post abortive women experience. I speak out to tell you that what I was sold as a way to “solve” my problem was nothing like I actually experienced that day so many years ago. The perplexing question I keep asking myself is how I could have fallen for such a sales pitch when I was such a smart young woman with an inquiring mind for everything else in life. What made this situation so different? What was it the clinician said and why did I believe her?
I had my abortion when I was 18 and in my first quarter of college. I had a steady boyfriend of three years, we were very much in love and we planned to be married in a few years. It was 1971 and abortion had recently become legal in Washington State. I went into the clinic for a pregnancy test and was sold an appointment for an abortion at an abortionist’s office the following week.
I believed the sales pitch because I was scared. I wanted to stay in school and accomplish the plans I had made for myself. I didn’t want to disappoint or embarrass my parents. I felt very ashamed that I could have let something like this happen to me. I thought the abortion would just erase what had happened with no consequences for my choice. I bought into the “blob of cells” lie. It was never presented to me as a baby and was told that I could always have a baby later when we were ready. I bought into the sales pitch because I needed to. I needed to preserve my self esteem and pride. I needed the nightmare to just go away.
What happened to me that next week was something I buried deep inside me for the next 33 years. I was driven by my dad to the clinic and dropped off. I sat alone in silence in the waiting room. Lying on the gurney in the procedure room, I looked around and I could see jars with little pieces of tiny body parts in them. There was a big suction type machine with a large jar by me. I realized that I had been lied to about my 11 week old baby being “a blob of cells.” Those jars of body parts were from previous abortions. In those early days, the abortion industry didn’t think or care that women could be traumatized by something they paid for and wanted to do. After seeing these jars, I started crying and told them I didn’t want to go through with the abortion. I was held down by the nurse and told that it would be over soon. I was terrified as the doctor put his hands and instruments inside me. Tears rolled down my face, as he scraped my baby from me and sucked it out into the jar. As I lay there helpless, I felt like I had just experienced the worst form of sexual assault I could possibly imagine, with the private parts of my body grossly violated and my baby dead. I went out the back door and found my dad’s car, where we drove back home in silence. We never spoke about it again. I later told my boyfriend never to speak of it again and we didn’t for the next three decades of married life. They never told me that part of me would die that day and that the love I had with the father would forever be changed. Of course if I had known what lay ahead of me, if I had known even basic facts, I know I would never have gone through with it. My boyfriend and I consented to something we knew nothing about because we were not told the truth about anything. We bought into a carefully constructed lie.
The important things I want you to know is that choosing abortion comes with a real price. It doesn’t come with a warranty that guarantees that you will be happy with your decision and experience. The true cost is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain that you experience when you are responsible for taking the life of your own child. I felt I had no recourse against the people who had lied to me. By giving my testimony, I am silent no more about the false claims of the abortion industry. Since abortion fails to deliver on its promises, abortion should be recalled.
My name is Carol Marie, and I’ve had two abortions.
My first abortion was during my senior year in High School and I aborted my child to hide the fact that I was not a virgin. It was the 70’s, a time when the “Hip” culture told us it was modern to experience love through sex without marriage, and yet the so called “vestiges of a day gone by” told us that “nice girls” didn’t do these things. I wanted to be seen as a nice girl and my child paid the price of my refusal to be honest about my situation.
I remember very little about the actual procedure. I went to Kaiser in Santa Clara and was sedated, so I didn’t consciously feel the speculum or hear the suction.
What I do remember is telling Craig, the father that I was pregnant and waiting to see his reaction. We’d already broken-up before I knew I was pregnant and I knew I didn’t love him, but I also knew that it was his child and that he needed to be part of the decision making process.
I think I was relieved at the time that he didn’t encourage me to spare our child. I now wish more than anything that he’d stepped up to protect our baby, as any father should. I remember my best friend Janet telling me to go to Planned Parenthood and that they’d help me “take care of it”.
I remember the dingy waiting room and the so called “counseling” that simply confirmed me in my focus on abortion, never offering me information on CHOICES. Only one choice mattered there.
I remember after the procedure was done that the father of the kids I babysat, who was a Kaiser doctor, called my name as I walked away from the recovery ward and I told my boyfriend to ignore him, as though he had the wrong person.
I’ve often wondered if he was my abortionist.
You see, when you get an abortion, you most likely never talk to the doctor who kills your child. There is no Doctor / Patient relationship. He does his business and moves on, paying little attention to his so called patient.
My second abortion was several years later when in college. This time I knew I did not want an abortion, but my fiancé and my doctor, who had ordered an xray that had exposed my child to radiation, both pressured me until I caved to their insistence and once again I experienced the lie that is called a “CHOICE”.
I never had the large family I’d always wanted and I can’t help but know that God had twice offered me a better path towards fulfillment.
My memories of the days my child are vague, most likely as a defense mechanism of a trauma I’d rather not remember.
I was sold abortion as a solution to my problem, a means to an end. I now know, without a doubt, that I was sold a pack of lies.
My name is Karen from Phoenix, AZ. I was 21 years old when I made the worst decision of my life to take the life of another human being who was innocent, vulnerable and unsuspecting. I bought a product that a previous Supreme Court determined was a safe, effective and legal remedy to a crisis pregnancy. I now believe I was sold a bill of goods that not only ended the life of my unborn child, but severely affected my life, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for almost two decades.
I was a junior at Michigan State University in when I visited the “WomanCare” Planned Parenthood clinic in 1987. The stunning confirmation of my crisis pregnancy was delivered to me while I stood in a hallway surrounded by strangers. Life as I knew it, had just changed for the worse. Through hot, angry tears, I sobbed that I could NOT be pregnant. I would have no part of a baby-limited future. I was in a disconnected panic. Confused, alone and unsupported I wondered aloud how I would deliver this news to my parents, family, friends, and floormates where I was a Resident Assistant. I believed that I was out of options and running out of time. I reached for the only conclusion that could deaden the pain. Abortion was not the ideal, but it was a solution…an easy way out that could be kept secret. A choice.
A very attractive clinic employee clad in business attire reassured me and told me that I need not feel afraid or guilty for choosing the product abortion. She herself was a satisfied customer with a testimony that seemed to indicate gratitude for the ultimate power of being able to control the size and spacing of her family. This was my final edification. Even though my boyfriend agreed to marry me, I would make the final, fatal decision for our baby. I chose my body, my plan and my convenience over his life. I bought an abortion…but I was never made aware of all of the small print.
Talk about the guy who talks like an auctioneer during those Rx commercials for drugs that they are trying to sell people on TV. Side effects like instant death, etc….
Numbed by twilight sedation, my conscience in self-inflicted exile, I allowed my accomplices – the abortionist and his nurse-witness – to rip from my uterus, my tiny, 10 week old son. His small frame captured on ultrasound only a week earlier was now in pieces in a plastic container. They told me that abortion is good for women; that it is a solution to the problem of a crisis pregnancy. That it prevents us from being punished with unwanted children. Let me tell you that this is a bold-faced lie. I was duped. The sights, sounds and smells of that day in January still haunt me. The images are as fresh today as they were 25 years ago. There was no one around me to advocate for the life of my son. No one to speak for him; to break into his mother’s crisis of the moment. The choice didn’t really feel like a choice at all. I wasn’t choosing between Cheerios or Frosted Flakes. I was in a desperate place and I did what many, young, unsupported, college women do when faced with a desperate situation—I purchased an irrational, illogical and fatal procedure while I was in a crisis state. And my child paid for this with his life. Now that I know what I know, seems like I should get my money back. Will PP pay for my mental health counseling? Will PP pay for all the years that I lost with my child? Will PP restore the life of my family member? Has PP ever been held accountable for the fraudulent services they are selling to unsuspecting “customers”. Where is the class action lawsuit? Where is the Amicus brief? Who will take up this cause?
The years following my abortion included inexplicable depression, anxiety, alcoholism and addiction; and divorce from the baby’s father in 1990. I am a living statistic. But thanks be to God and His grace working through people just like you, my story does not end there.
I found miraculous grace, healing and recovery from our Great Physician, Jesus Christ and the Sacraments of His church. Telling my story, first in the confessional and later to others whom I trusted thrust my secret out of the dark cavity of numbness where I had placed it and into God’s marvelous light where I could find forgiveness and healing. The dirty little secret of abortion must be exposed for what it is – it is a failure of Love. A failure with fatal consequences.
We all deserve better than the lie that is abortion. Women are not in a position to make decisions about anything when they are isolated in a desperate crisis. What we do need is support and love. I stand before you today to offer my personal experience as a woman who still mourns the loss of her firstborn child. Out of my love for Michael, my child in heaven, and my obligation to you; the real truth must be told about abortion and its countless victims. Abortion is not a choice, it is a weapon that causes death and multiple casualties. It is a product with lethal consequences. If it were really examined for what it is, there is no package large enough that could contain the disclaimer. There is no law firm stable enough that would defend its claims in court. There is no commercial spot long enough that would adequately explain all of the risks involved. Abortion is not good for consumers. It is not good for men, women, families or any member of society. It must be banned.
We are our brothers’ keepers. We are all responsible for creating a just society where the most fundamental rights of our unborn brothers and sisters are protected. Let us continue to work together to end the killing. It is my hope that I can be a light and witness to others so that the horror of abortion will exist only as a sad and futile relic of a bygone era in our nation’s history. And this is why I am Silent No More.
In her early twenties and just out of college Jill Marquis thought marriage seemed like the thing to do. But after a couple of years, she found herself feeling dejected. After beginning an affair, she soon discovered she was pregnant.
“I wanted to get a divorce,” she says, “And in my twisted way of thinking, I could not be pregnant and get divorced. I was operating on fear and panic. […] I thought, I can’t go on with my life. I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t tell my mother. I didn’t tell my sisters who I’m very close to. I knew I needed to live life my way.”
Marquis called the first abortion clinic in the phone book and went in for an appointment. There was no counseling. There wasn’t any talk about what her reason for getting an abortion was. The clinic simply told her how much the abortion would cost and when they could fit her in. She went back a few days later and had the abortion.
Marquis recalls the experience:
They don’t tell you that you have the option of anesthesia. It was extremely painful and no one prepares you for that. There was nothing kind or compassionate about it. It was an assembly line procedure. And it was extremely painful physically and in an emotional and spiritual sense. I didn’t feel like anyone cared that I had tears streaming down my face. It was in and out. And I have really come to recognize that this is big business.
Marquis went on with her life, catching a flight to New York City the very next day for work. Her marriage ended and she eventually married the man she had an affair with. The pain over her decision to have an abortion did not truly surface until she became pregnant with her next child.
“Nobody told me,” she explains, “that it might come back to you when you have the ultrasound of the children you want to have. There I was looking at this ultrasound of the baby growing inside me and [I was] screaming in my mind that that was a baby you aborted. A baby that you killed. I stuffed it down for a very long time and tried to silence that voice. Looking back on that decision it was the most selfish thing I ever did in my life because it was all about me wanting to live life on my terms.
Marquis says another thing no one ever told her was that having that abortion would make her keep her future children at arm’s length. Afraid that God would retaliate for her abortion by harming one of her other children, Marquis didn’t allow herself to engage with her children. It wasn’t until she came to grips with her abortion that she was able to become a true presence in her children’s lives and completely bond with them.
But there was one more thing that no one told Marquis at the abortion clinic, and that was how broken she was going to be. That she would spend years and years trying to fill a void with everything from people to experiences to alcohol because there was an aching need inside of her that she just didn’t know how to fix. Marquis explains that the clinic won’t tell women any of this, quite simply because that isn’t their purpose. Their purpose is to get a woman’s money and to get her in and out.
It wasn’t until her two children were in middle and high school, that Marquis finally sought help for her post-abortive feelings of remorse and guilt. She knew that she was never going to get better until she came to terms with her decision to abort.
Through a series of events, Marquis was introduced to Surrendering the Secret, a post-abortive study and support group. Marquis decided that she wanted to bring this ministry to her church and she approached her pastor about it. Along with a counselor and another post-abortive woman, Marquis was able to experience the study and began to realize that most of her adult issues came back to her abortion and to the frame of mind that many things in life are disposable. What should be sacred is not sacred, from relationships and marriage to our own children. She credits Surrendering the Secret with saving her because it completely changed the trajectory of her life.
Marquis hopes that any woman considering abortion will realize that it isn’t a problem solver, but that it’s actually going to “bring about devastation that you had no idea could exist”. She also wants women to know the facts. According to numerous studies, abortion can cause mental health problems among women who have abortions. A 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that women who have had abortions have a 61% increased risk of mood disorders as well as a 261% increased risk of alcohol misuse and a 313% increased risk of drug misuse. In addition, they show a 61% increased risk of social phobia, and a 59% increased risk of suicidal thoughts.
Iman Essiet went to Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Center in New York to get an abortion. They asked her if she wanted to be awake or asleep for the procedure. She decided to be asleep, hoping that would make it easier. Iman sat in a room with a Planned Parenthood counselor before the termination. Yet Iman recalls receiving little or no counsel.
She was asked, “Do you want to do this?” She said, “Yes,” and the paperwork came. Although she was just 16, the counselor didn’t ask about her parents. As Iman told me in our interview, “I was the adult that day.”
Did she fully understand what she was doing? Iman states that she didn’t. Did she receive information on options like adoption or crisis pregnancy centers? Iman didn’t even know they existed and were located in her neighborhood. For an organization that prides itself on offering “choices,” Iman felt she had only one. She believed her option was to abort her child or suffer poverty as a teen mom. The counselor at Planned Parenthood reinforced those beliefs.
After her abortion, Iman tried to sweep it under the rug. Her boyfriend’s cousin invited her over saying, “You shouldn’t be in the house alone because you’ll feel sad.” Time passed, and life continued on as before. Soon Iman became pregnant for the second time. Her sister overheard her talking about this pregnancy on the phone and told her she must abort. The word spread to her family and they came together, further pressuring her to abort her child.
Iman was steadfast in her conviction to not have another abortion. The father of the baby didn’t want a child. Iman’s mother offered her thoughts, saying abortion was a quick process. The mother of her boyfriend called as well saying, “My son’s no good, you don’t want to have his kid.”
Though Iman resisted at first, eventually she found herself back at the Margaret Sanger Center. This time things were different. “I don’t want to abort,” she told the clinic worker. “My family’s making me.” The worker didn’t seem to be really listening.
“Can I see the sonogram?” Iman asked. “No, absolutely not,” said the worker. The worker never gave a reason why she couldn’t see her sonogram. Iman said, “I know I would have kept my baby, if I could have seen that sonogram.”
The second abortion was harder than the first. Iman became numb to everything in her life. She was furious at her family for pressuring her to abort. She couldn’t forgive her sister. She believed no one cared about her. She felt like Planned Parenthood had put her on an assembly line. They didn’t care about her well-being. The clinic worker didn’t want to help her when she was conflicted about her decision. They, like her family, were not looking out for her best interests. Planned Parenthood’s slogan is, “Care, no matter what.” In Iman’s story it was more like, “No matter what, we don’t care.”
Iman’s second abortion was not her last. Over the next few years Iman went through with three more abortions. She was a mother to five children, yet all were terminated. Looking back, Iman believes choosing abortion put her on a vicious cycle. Having an abortion numbed her heart; it made her stop caring about herself and others. She began to think that having abortions was just a normal part of her life. She was disconnected from her own emotions and pain.
Yet in the darkest time of her life, a light of hope shone through. That hope came in 2010 when Iman began a relationship with Jesus. Iman accepted God, and her life began to change. She started going to church and allowing herself to receive the love she desperately needed.
Nine years after my first abortion, just three years after the second, I began to have nightmares. I realized my abortions had nearly destroyed my life. I learned that my problems with guilt, low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, nightmares, and alcohol are actually not uncommon with women who have had abortions.
Wanting to help women who were experiencing unplanned pregnancies, I got involved in the Movement. I met other women who had abortions. As we shared our stories we began to discover that while each of us felt very alone and guilt-ridden, our stories had something frightfully similar in common: We were experiencing what is now referred to as Post-Abortion Syndrome.
Fortunately, now there are post-abortion support groups that provide a woman with a safe place where she can discover that she is not alone and can deal with her grief, accept forgiveness, and finally forgive herself and others.
As I began to heal, I realized that not only had the abortions affected me and my life, they had a profound effect on those closest to me – my children and my parents.
Each of my children handled learning about my abortions differently.
When my daughter was nine she overheard me talking about my abortions. After the tears came the questions.
She asked, “Mama, did you ever want to abort me?” I was so thankful I was able to look into her precious blue eyes and say, “I never, ever wanted to abort you.”
While she found comfort in this as a child, unfortunately, as she grew older, she realized it just as easily could have been her. You see, I had five children: Brandi, Jami, Erik, Christopher. and Michael. When I had my abortions, I didn’t know who I was aborting.
Initially I was bitter toward my mother who took me to the first abortion. I wanted–or should I say needed–to blame her. For years I didn’t realize her pain. Sometimes she cried for me and the pain I endured, and sometimes for the grandchildren she’ll never hold.
Later I accepted responsibility for what happened and we forgave each other.
Even after all these years, it’s still not over. As I held my new grandson, I realized I didn’t abort two children, I aborted generations of children.
After trying to kill myself to escape the overwhelming guilt after my abortion, I emerged from my month spent in an adolescent psychiatric unit with an incongruous newly-found zeal for abortion rights. Within weeks of my discharge from the psych unit, I found myself on a bus to Washington, D.C. to march for abortion rights and soon after I began volunteering as an escort for a first-trimester abortion clinic.
An advanced degree in psychology isn’t necessary to see that I was plainly trying to assuage my guilt (and protect my delicate and damaged psyche) by assuming the precise opposite of what I truly believed. Freud called this reaction formation, one of many coping strategies he dubbed defense mechanisms. I certainly took reaction formation to the extreme by espousing the most diametrically opposed position of my innermost heart when I accepted the offer of a job at an abortion clinic.
I completely bought the bill of goods I was sold: that abortion was somehow linked to women’s equality, that giving birth and making an adoption plan for an unwanted child (rather than killing it by abortion) was somehow unduly burdensome for a pregnant mother, and that countless women would die if abortion was illegal. (Naturally, I no longer believe any of that propaganda.) Combine all of this with my unconscious overwhelming need to repress/transform my personal feelings about my abortion—and my longing for my lost child—and it created the perfect recipe for a die-hard abortion rights advocate.
We all truly believed we were offering women an innocuous, much-needed, and unfairly-maligned “medical” service. Although violence was not common, every publicized incident—but especially the murders, as well as the non-violent invasion, occupation, and blockade of the clinic where I worked—steeled our resolve in our self-righteous insistence that abortion remain safe and legal. Not surprisingly, it is easy to discount the opinions of people you think are trying to kill you.
As strange as it may sound now, my years spent working at the clinic were some of the best of my life. The camaraderie at work created a family-like atmosphere—it was a nearly all-female workplace (with the exception of a few of the doctors)—and as a very young woman (I worked there from age 18 – 23) I found this inspiring.
Then I started having nightmares—nightmares that were no longer only about my lost baby—but about all of the babies killed by abortion where I worked every day, all of the babies killed by abortion everywhere. My sleep was haunted by tiny limbless phantom babies… But even then, my desire to survive in a world without my child—because I’d killed him—warped my mind into believing that if all of these strong, capable women I worked with thought abortion was OK, I must be able to believe that too. So I pushed down the unpleasantness—muzzled my pesky conscience—and I kept going back to work, day after day. It wasn’t until many years and innumerable nightmares later that I finally opened my eyes to the brutal and barbaric truth: abortion is murder.
A cold day a year ago, I found myself contemplating the bizarre and unnatural process of in-vitro fertilization and surrogacy. After learning of a surrogate mother who accepted payment of her surrogacy contract in full to abort the innocent baby with Down syndrome she was carrying for an infertile couple, something finally (finally!) clicked in my mind—pregnancy was now a commercial transaction: the little helpless human a commodity to be conceived, sold, bought, and disposed of at will—how gruesome and indefensible and reprehensible—and I had been a part of that “industry” for years.
My conversion to the pro-life worldview could never have happened without the courageous public testimony of Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood Director who experienced a profound change of heart after watching an ultrasound-guided abortion, best described in her amazing book, Unplanned. Her courage and strength in the face of overwhelming opposition from her former employer (and former friends and co-workers) inspired the confidence I needed to fully change my mind and support the inherent right-to-life of all human beings from conception to natural death.
Within weeks of self-identifying as pro-life I began donating my time, talents, and treasure to the cause: I joined Feminists for Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, and Pennsylvanians for Human Life. Then I sought out my local chapter of 40 Days for Life and attended my first vigil outside of the hospital where my third son was born, and where abortions are performed. Next I began speaking to local church leaders about helping to support Amnion Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Taking these steps to help support the pro-life movement, and to foster the changing of hearts and minds, has been a transformative experience for which I am grateful. But I still miss my baby, and no amount of dollars I donate will make that pain go away.
Reprinted with permission from LiveAction.org
March 18, 2013, the day before my twentieth birthday… That was the day my entire world was turned upside down, and I was faced with something worse than any nightmare I could imagine.
I was only 16 years old when I was referred by a reputable clinic to Dr. Gosnell for an abortion. I can still remember the day I walked into his clinic for the first time, December 4, 2009. After a twenty-four hour stay in Philadelphia for the procedure, I returned to my home in West Virginia. I lived my life like nothing had happened. But make no mistake, I feel grief and think about it every day. Anyone who knew I was pregnant beforehand… I simply told them I miscarried. Only my mother knew, and I told my husband a few months before we got married. I lied to everyone else I knew, cared for, and loved, but I was prepared to take that secret to my grave.
That is, until now.
The morning of March 18, 2013 is when I learned the details of Gosnell’s arrest and his trial for being accused of eight counts of murder. My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach and I dropped to the floor in tears. I can’t even count how many times I became physically ill. For days afterwards, I woke up in the middle of the night, screaming.
How could I have gone for over three years without hearing anything about this? Why didn’t I see anything like what I read about in the articles when I was there over three years ago? The answer is gut wrenching and pathetic, the fact I am white and above the poverty line.
After a few days of thinking, and realizing the mainstream media wasn’t showing this story as much attention as it deserved, I decided I needed to contact these people and tell my story.
With absolutely no exaggeration, I can say I have no regrets telling my story. It helped me more than I ever thought it could with my healing process. It brings me peace knowing I’m a part of the voice.
I know one thing can come from this, from the pain I have endured; I can help someone else who may have gone through something similar, if not the same thing. Maybe I can have the courage and strength some other women don’t have or can’t find within themselves. Most importantly, I want to help end the “black out” on this whole series of events involving Gosnell. People need to be educated on what happened! I follow the trial online daily, and I was so excited to see the mainstream media began to shine light on this issue, but it doesn’t have to stop there.
Think of the Holocaust for a moment. It was a traumatic and gruesome time in our history, but yet it is still taught to the children in our schools. Why? To educate, to make sure history does not repeat itself. Gosnell can’t get away with this, and Pennsylvania’s Department of Health needs to enforce strict regulations on not just abortion clinics, but all clinics and other businesses and organizations. I hold them accountable as well, and this cannot be ignored nor forgotten.
To other victims out there, or those who know of victims, I know how difficult this is. I’m right here beside you, fighting this battle with you. I never thought for a second this secret of mine would ever come out, and I never wanted it to. I have the same fears you do, the judgment, invasion of privacy, etc. But, for other women, other victims, I am willing to expose my story, be a voice, to help you all, to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. No one deserves this and the more of us that come forward, the louder and stronger our voice will become. With enough of us, the media and the general population won’t have a choice but to hear our voice, to listen.
Stand by me, by all of us, the victims. Be a part of the voice. I, personally, promise you I will not let you stand alone.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
–Elise Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and writer
-former Gosnell patient
WORLD Magazine highlighted the story of Justine Kyker, as September 1st marked the 23rd anniversary of her abortion and she writes of the experience here. An excerpt:
She was offered a little white pill “to make you feel better,” accepted it, and became sleepy until she was on the surgical table. The abortion proved unexpectedly painful, and Kyker’s cries caused more people to enter the room. “Physically, I felt they ripped my internal organs out,” she said. “I was screaming.”
Afterward, Kyker was seated in a room with several other young women, with an employee at one end of the room. “I was sick, vomiting, and I was afraid I would get in trouble for eating,” she said. “The only sympathy I got was from the other girls who had just aborted their babies while the employee just sat there.”
She concludes her story with this powerful statement, “You will never regret giving birth to your child. You will always regret an abortion.”
There was a framed single-panel comic that hung in the hallway just outside of the Executive Director’s office at the abortion clinic where I used to work: it was a pen-and-ink drawing of an umbrella bucket next to the entrance of an office building with a picket sign in it that read, “STOP ABORTION” in large block caps with “right after my turn” scratched under it in script.
It was a cheap shot at the number of post-abortive women who now vocally support the right-to-life of the unborn. Yes, they—we—are indeed asking, praying, and working to stop abortion, but the timing of our activism falling “after our turns” is for many of us why we became pro-life in the first place. We know the truth about the horror and brutality of abortion firsthand, and now want to save other pregnant mothers from making the same mistake(s) we did. It is not at all like the cartoon attempts to “humorously” illustrate: that a pro-life advocate dedicated enough to make and hold a “STOP ABORTION” sign outside of a clinic would sneak in to kill an inconvenient ill-timed baby and then march right back out the door, picking up her sign on the way out, and re-join the picket line. This is insulting and absurd.
The pro-abortion movement makes a lot of noise about respecting a woman’s heartfelt and well-considered “choice” to have an abortion—but only if she remains quietly pro-choice and regret-free afterwards. That same woman becomes a “traitor” to her gender, a mindless follower of dogma, or an object of cartoonish ridicule if she admits her abortion was a mistake and now wants to help others avoid the same pain, guilt, sadness, and remorse she—WE—experience as a result of making an irreversible error so grave as killing our children.
Not all women who undergo abortions feel this way of course, but for many of us—especially those of us who have publicly shared our tragic experiences and the aftermath of our abortions to shine a bright light on the ordeal of “safe, legal, and rare” human abortion in the United States—it is a deep, dark scar on our hearts that has forever altered us.
We were duped. We bought the lie(s). We were uninformed, under-informed, or misinformed about the serious risks involved with “the procedure.” (See also: Study Confirms that Induced Abortion Impacts Women’s Mental Health) Or we were forced, coerced, or tricked by people who professed to love us. Or maybe, for some us, we just made the wrong choice and it didn’t bother us at all right away. Some of us were grateful the problem pregnancy just “went away” and it wasn’t until days, weeks, months, years, or even decades later we felt the pain.
It is sadly (but tellingly) incongruous that pro-abortion supporters equate their cause for the ”right” to murder our unborn children to women’s equality, women’s rights, and caring for women when it seems obvious that women hurting after an abortion are pretty much left to fend for themselves. This is intellectual dishonesty in blind service to keeping the lucrative abortion industry in business at the expense of not only the helpless children killed, but also their customers: the pregnant mothers seeking their grisly services.
It is shameful that the pro-abortion side mocks or ignores our pain, regret, and remorse—and refuses to warn women about these inherent psychological risks. The National Abortion Federation (a group of abortion businesses) quotes outdated medical and psychological journal articles on its website—not one of which was published within the past 14 years—to assert that there are no lasting negative psychological effects after having an abortion, but then also states, “…women who have concerns after an abortion should be encouraged to see a professional psychologist …” So which is it? Either your abortion is easy and emotionless or the after-effects send you seeking expensive professional psychotherapy? Don’t spend half the page explaining away a pregnant woman’s worries about the emotional impact of abortion only to end with that doozy.
As post-abortive pro-life women we know a one-size-fits-all approach to the psychological consequences of abortion is laughable. Our suffering is real, and we are living testimony to the truth of the barbarism of abortion, and our personal stories bear witness to the euphemisms and half-truths perpetuated by the abortion industry. But we are also grateful recipients of the healing power of forgiveness, and we will not sit quietly by and allow our sisters, daughters, and friends to fall prey to the big business mistruths of the abortion industry.
This article originally appeared on LiveAction.org. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.
It is sobering to stand before you and confess the most serious sin I ever committed. When I was sixteen years old, I met Steven Tyler at a rock concert in Portland, Oregon. We began a three year relationship that ended in a horrific abortion. I was at least five months pregnant and Steven coerced me into undergoing a saline abortion while I was in a hospital recovering from a fire that nearly claimed my life. Originally he had asked me to marry him.
I was happy and excited to have my baby. Then he approached me in while I was in the hospital and said I needed to have an abortion. At first I resisted him but after several hours I agreed to the abortion in fear after he threatened to send me away. I was forced to choose between Steven and my baby and I made the wrong choice. He said everything would be fine if I would agree to the abortion. The doctor prepared me for the abortion by telling me to “hold very still or you could be killed or injured”. Before I could ask what he meant he had stabbed my stomach with a needle and began injecting the saline. I remember gasping in shock and disbelief and wondering how had I ended up in this house of horrors. Nothing was ever the same between Steven and I after that terrible day. I could never look at him again without remembering that we had aborted our baby.
Within a year I returned home a broken spirit filled with a sense of grief and loss. I felt as though a part of me had died on the day my baby’s life was taken in that abortion. I had terrible nightmares that would wake me up reliving the abortion. After attending a church retreat I turned to God for healing and the courage to try to rebuild my life. I was baptized and confessed my abortion to God, asking for his mercy and forgiveness. I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat where I experienced God’s healing grace and the hope of his mercy.
To a woman who has had an abortion I would like to say that no matter how far we have fallen from grace, God’s mercy is greater than our worst sin.
To a woman who is considering an abortion I would say, stop…think again…and choose life. Abortion is never the answer. Abortion makes everything worse. I will grieve the loss of my son Michael every day of my life. I wish I could go back and choose life for him. I wish I could have watched him grow to be the man God created him to be.
I cannot go back… but I can be Silent No More about the sincere regret I feel for my abortion. I cannot go back…but I can embrace life today and declare that my role as a mother to my seven children is the greatest gift God has ever given me. I cannot go back… but I can be a voice today, inviting those who have been wounded by abortion to turn to God with their whole heart seeking his forgiveness and healing.
I invite you to stand with us as we March for Life and work to protect the baby in the womb today.
With God’s grace I intend to go forward Silent No More!
I stand here before you today with deep regret, yet joy and peace. I thank God for His unimaginable mercy and forgiveness.
It was in January of 1976, 37 years ago, that I participated in the abortion of my son, whom we have named Ryan Paul. I was only 17 and on a dangerous yet ignorant path of sexual exploration with the young love of my life. We knew we were in love, but we did not consider the consequences of our growing intimacy. When I learned that she was pregnant, we were stunned, and things happened very quickly.
I should have been responsible enough to know better. I should have been responsible enough to protect my unborn son, and to protect the mother of my child from a horrible, misguided, irreversible choice.
Today and every day, I ache with a deep pain over the most significant choice of my life, one that I can never reverse. Today I would do anything; give up anything to have that choice back, to have had the courage to say, NO. Instead, I said nothing. I was afraid, timid and complicit by my silence. Our entire family support system was swallowed into a surreal acceptance of abortion as a silent, secret solution, the quick fix for this problem. Had there been anyone, friends, or parents, anyone to have offered a choice, an option, and some support we might have listened and chosen life. Deep, deep down inside, I knew the truth. This was our baby, not just cells. But no, I said nothing, did nothing but accompany her along with her mother to Planned Parenthood to destroy our child. During the procedure, I felt numb and helpless. For this monumental failure as a father, I take full responsibility.
From that moment on there was a chilling silence about the abortion. It was not spoken of again by anyone, for many, many years. My response to the pain was to block my emotions with a hardness of my heart. I also felt trapped into accepting the lie of “choice” the supposed right to choose death over life. You see, to believe otherwise would mean facing my own guilt. Because of this personal experience, I understand the trap of choice that imprisons so many.
This young lady and I somehow endured and God blessed us with Marriage five years later. But over the next 20 years or so, we have struggled through her bouts of depression, low self-esteem and the buried guilt of her lost motherhood, the life that had been sucked away and forgotten by everyone else, but not her. I now understand and believe that a woman’s love for her child is stamped in her heart by God. Her baby cannot be ripped away without devastating and permanent consequences. The wound is forever. The “problem” not solved.
About four years ago we found repentance and reconciliation through an amazing retreat program called Rachel’s Vineyard. We learned that despite our horrible sin, that God still loved us that he had forgiven us long ago. Finally, we were able to forgive ourselves and those who were involved.
The healing process continues with my standing here today as another huge step for me. I know there are millions of men like me in pain or living with a hardness of heart that they may not even recognize. I want to tell all men who have participated in an abortion or had their children aborted against their will to let your heart out of prison. Help and healing is available.
I thank God for His strength, and His courage within me to speak out and to defend my child and his dear mother. The pain of my lost fatherhood remains with me every day. But now, through God’s grace, I live with the joy of forgiveness and peace. Now, by being silent no more, I want to help stop the madness. One by one, with healing, and by speaking out I believe we can. Thank you, and God bless you for being here.
I want to share my story in hopes that it will help some young woman not endure the regret I deal with on a daily basis. I have been involved with my boyfriend for over six years. It was an on again/off again thing. We got off track after year three and struggled for a while. We had a hard time being together, but even harder time being apart. I was so ready to get married and start a family, I already had an 11 year old from a previous relationship.
I found out I was pregnant two years ago. I immediately was excited, but yet also nervous as to how things would play out with us. I desperately wanted to get married and have the baby. I also wanted to get married and set the right example for my daughter. It was okay at first, but when we set a wedding date and talked about marriage things began to spiral. Time kept passing and things were getting worse. I was an emotional wreck. I handled things so poorly and was pushing my boyfriend away when he was dealing with his own issues.
I decided to have an abortion, but no one would take me. He refused as well as did my friends. I felt so alone and didn’t want to have a child and not be married. I was so fixated on that. My boyfriend finally agreed. The clinic told me it would be a two day procedure. The first day I was at the clinic during counseling filling out paperwork I was an emotional wreck and crying hysterically, but I knew my boyfriend thought we weren’t in a good place for marriage so I saw this as my only solution, even though I so did not want to do it.
Immediately after we left and went to the hotel room I began to panic. I didn’t care anymore about marriage or any of that. All I knew is I wanted my baby and the rest would work out. I called the clinic and told them I changed my mind, they told me it was too late. I explained, NO, I want to keep my baby please what can I do. They again told me it was too late. I then was in shock, I didn’t know what to think or do.
I have grieved for my baby every day since that horrible day. I am sharing my story because it was not too late! I have since researched and found other women who changed their minds at the very last minute during a second trimester abortion as well. It was the clinic that lied to me and I didn’t know where else to turn. My baby was still inside me and it was not too late, but I didn’t fight hard enough because I went on what they told me. My hope is that if anyone is contemplating an abortion and you change your mind at the last minute YOU CAN!! Don’t let anyone tell you differently, especially the clinic. Many clinics just want your money and your nothing but a statistic to them. I would still have my baby if they cared about us. I have not found healing and forgiveness yet, I am still working on that.
This week has been a complete hell.
Someone asked if I had heard about the doctor in Orlando who has been in a lot of trouble, and when I searched for news about it, I realized it was James Pendergraft, the doctor who did my abortions. He has now had his medical license suspended for the FOURTH time, this time for performing late-term abortions past the time when they are legal.
When I saw a picture of the clinic, I crumbled. When I saw a picture of the doctor, I began weeping and I couldn’t stop.
Every sight, every sound, every feeling came back. I can still remember the poster on the ceiling. It was the last thing I saw before I fell asleep from the anesthesia, and the first thing I saw when I woke up.
The article was full of stories about women like me…ones who have suffered for months, even years, because of incomplete abortions.
There was a woman who was awake and saw her baby being pulled from her as his body fell apart in the doctor’s hands. They had her frantic 911 call as she decided she wanted the baby to live after seeing that it actually IS a baby, but no one at the clinic would help. By the time the ambulance arrived, the baby was dead.
It’s an uncomfortable subject…because if I call it a baby, if I admit that it was a boy or a girl who had 10 fingers and 10 toes and a life that was already mapped out by God, then I am calling myself a killer. If I talk about it, blog about it, pray about it, then that makes it real.
But just when I think I’ve pushed the memories far enough behind that they won’t catch up with me, there they are again.
The self-hatred is paralyzing. It lurks closely and tells me that I don’t deserve happiness. The guilt is suffocating. It has affected every relationship I have. I can’t trust or attempt intimacy.
I would take a bullet for my out-of-the-womb children. Why didn’t I protect the ones inside?
I have given up hope that the past could have been different. I cannot change what I did. Every Bible study, counseling session, and prayer seems to just be a band-aid over a wound that will NEVER heal.
So, I will be a voice for my children who only know heaven. I will be a voice for the millions of women who live in regret, guilt, self-hatred and fear of being “found out”. I will be painfully honest about every feeling I have, and I will stand up for life even when it’s unpopular and politically incorrect. So, please spare me your pro-life/pro-choice arguments. I know what I saw. I know how I feel. I will NEVER be the same. I will NEVER get over it.
And if I don’t take this pain and make it my purpose, I think it might kill me.
Many former abortion clinic workers find healing and restoration after working in the abortion industry. You don’t hear many of their stories. Many will never be comfortable sharing their stories. We wanted to share this one with you.
I never witnessed “partial birth” abortion while I was employed there for two years. It became more and more difficult to ignore my feelings when we had particularly egregious situations, such as the young, wealthy married couples expecting twins who, after careful research, determined twins would not fit their lifestyle. So they aborted their 17 week old babies. And the woman who was having abortion #5…birth control was too much bother for her. I still didn’t feel strongly against abortion, but decided to move on to other employment. Interestingly, I ended up being a nurse in a Level 3 ICU Nursery, where premature babies are cared for. I loved it there. But I am not sure the irony had hit me yet, or maybe my denial system was still to strong. Somehow along the way, I would occasionally listen to Dr. James Dobson on Christian radio. Oh, how he irritated me when he talked about the sacredness of unborn life, all life! How aggravating that was to hear! He just didn’t understand! He was a man, after all! Still…I even accompanied my sister in law, and a good friend, when they had abortions, because it was “the wrong time” for them. But gradually, our great God was turning my heart. He was melting the ice that kept me from feeling the pain and reality of abortion. I had gotten married to a wonderful man, and we had our first daughter. And not long after, I realized how indescribably precious parenthood was. It was a new, scary feeling, to discover…I was one of THEM! The Pro Life people! How strange to have your identity change. I realized that none of the arguments “for abortion” that I used to believe in had any merit at all. I felt very sad for my friends back at the clinic, who still lived in blindness.
I will be forever sorry for my participation in the abortion business. I know I am forgiven by Jesus, but the sad burden will forever be on my heart, and I am not sorry about that. I deserve to “feel” that, I do not believe “guilt” is necessarily a bad thing…and it helps motivate me to work towards a world where unborn life is treasured, and no one considers abortion to be a viable option.”
I entered the Atlanta abortion clinic. When you go into these places, all they want to do is get you in and get your money. They sent me in to talk to this lady, and she was supposed to do all of this stuff. However, when I met with her, it was the strangest thing.
She told me all the things that they would do with my baby. She even showed me where they put the babies after they were aborted. She told me, “Don’t do this!” She said, “Go back to Alabama, and have your baby.” That’s what I did. I had a son.
Eventually I knew something was wrong with me. I couldn’t be at peace. There was a constant churning inside of me all the time. I had so much rage that I just wanted to kill everybody. The anger, the rage, and my broken heart were unbearable. Trying to numb my anger and pain, I kept having other extramarital affairs, but I found no satisfaction in a man.
I planned my suicide. I wrote letters to each one of my children about how sorry I was for committing suicide and how I loved them, but I just couldn’t take the pain anymore.
But God had a different plan! One day at the library I picked up a free, local Christian magazine. I ran across this article asking, “Do you need healing from your abortions?” There was a telephone number listed, and though I struggled, I called the number.
I am healed and able to forgive myself for murdering my children. I came to know our sweet, precious Savior and learned how amazing it is that He shed His blood for us. He alone can take you in His arms and wipe all the stains away.