By Laura Connell
I had my abortion when I was 20. I was working at a pro-abortion advocacy center at the time. I believe my knowledge that abortion was easily accessible, safe and free made me less concerned about using birth control properly. I knew before getting pregnant that I would have an abortion if I got pregnant by mistake. I did not consider any other option. Because of my job, I was familiar with the local abortion clinics and I called one to set up an appointment.
I was disturbed to find I would have to wait 3 weeks for my abortion because of the backlog. That would put me at 9 weeks gestation at the time of the abortion. I asked my co-worker for a picture of a 9 week fetus. She refused to show me and said it just looks like a shrimp. I now know that is not accurate. If I had seen a picture, would that have affected my decision?
During the next 3 weeks I developed terrible morning sickness which is a natural part of early pregnancy. I threw up every day, could not attend my university classes, and was miserable at having to deal with this aspect of a pregnancy that I was intending to terminate. I remember feeling very isolated as I did not want anyone to know I was going for an abortion. My live-in boyfriend (the father), immediate family and two close friends knew. They seemed saddened but, like me, knew it was inevitable, as if there were no other choice.
We called ourselves pro-choice but when I became pregnant, there was no choice. No one I knew ever suggested that I might keep the baby or give it up for adoption. Abortion seemed the only option.
The abortion procedure was fairly painless and I was treated well by the nurses. I remember when it was finished the doctor smiled and said “you’re not pregnant anymore!” I was so relieved and the morning sickness went away instantly.
When I went into the recovery room, the woman beside me said she was there because she already had three kids. I was puzzled that a married mother in her 30s would have an abortion. Another woman said she had just had her third abortion. I was very naïve, having been lied to by the center where I worked: that abortion was only used by young, desperate, unmarried women and multiple abortions were rare.
Immediately following the abortion I felt sad when I saw young children, whereas before I did not notice them. I kept my abortion a secret and never shared any feelings about it. I would change the subject if abortion came up, I avoided movies or shows dealing with abortion, and I took it personally if someone was against abortion or suggested that there might be side effects. I had extreme physical responses to such situations and would often flee.
I did not get a chance to heal emotionally and my emotional outbursts may have been related to that experience. Recently my mother says I changed 20-some years ago and became very mean and angry toward her. I can’t help but think the timing would suggest my abortion had something to do with that. My mother knew I was having an abortion and did not support me in any way.
Other ways I responded were in body image issues and alcohol addiction. I began to feel very detached from my body, even hating it and trying to control it through exercise and monitoring food intake. My alcohol consumption increased to the point of an addiction from which I have since recovered through the grace of God.
When I came to know the Lord I sought His forgiveness for my abortion, for killing my baby – the life He had created in me. Before then, I always viewed myself as a victim: I had an abortion done to me and I had no other choice. That was not really true. I committed the sin of abortion of my own free will. If anyone had offered support I may have still gone ahead with the abortion; I will never know.
I have struggled with accepting God’s forgiveness for this sin, but I am learning that we are never beyond His reach. The Bible study I am doing through the Pregnancy Care Center is helping me see the depth of God’s healing and forgiveness, that He will make us whole and complete. All we have to do is accept His love, grace and mercy.