How Did This Ever Happen to Me?
"I was very, very confused. My feelings were so mixed. All along I was told it was the right thing to do, but then why was I feeling like it was so wrong and terrible? I hated myself so much. I wanted to scream. I wanted my son or daughter back but it was too late. The nurses wouldn't talk to me. All they would say is 'relax,' or 'it's okay, it's all over now.'"
hen we submitted to our abortion(s) we never dreamed it was not the end, but merely the beginning of our problems. Most of us thought we were escaping from an impossible situation. We traded a pregnancy for freedom ¾ or so we thought. Now, in the midst of our tears and pain we begin to question the cause of our anguish:
· Why was I so stupid?
· Why was I driven by such desperation?
· Why did I say "yes" to abortion when I meant "no"?
· Why couldn't I have made another decision?
· Why was I too cowardly to stand by the ideals I had always held?
· How could I have done such a terrible thing?
· How did this ever happen to me?
We ask ourselves these questions over and over. Desperately our minds turn them this way and that as we search to give some meaning and reason to the horror in the midst of which we find ourselves. We can hardly believe abortion is a reality in our lives. Yet it is.
Most of us never in our wildest dreams imagined we could ever abort our own unborn babies. In fact, some of us were opposed to abortion prior to our untimely pregnancies. Many of us never gave abortion much thought one way or the other. And to a few, abortion was a matter of choice ¾ an option readily considered and chosen. The truth is that no person knows what he or she will do in a particular situation until faced with the reality of a decision.
Because the questions concerning the beginning of our abortion experience bear so heavily on our minds, first we will briefly explore some of our initial questions. These are the ones that usually surface as we begin to mentally explore our abortions. These questions are our attempts to see if there can be any positive answers to what we have done. Sometimes they are our attempt to escape personal responsibility for our actions. Most often, however, they are honest questions that were never asked before our abortions. Knowing the answers will help you to understand why you feel as you now do about your abortion.
What did the abortion do?
We need to explore this question and come to a definite answer. Scientists and medical professionals agree that human life begins at conception. From that point on nothing is added to the new life except time and growth. "Biological data confirms that the life of a newly conceived human embryo is a life belonging to neither the father nor the mother but to a new member of the human race, who will grow up into a fully developed adult if given simple nourishment and protection."
On the legal front, there is also support for the stand that human life begins at conception. On July 3, 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Missouri statute, leaving intact that statute’s preamble which states that human life begins at conception (Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services).
As further proof that human beings reside in their mothers' wombs prior to birth, technology has advanced to the point that in utero operations are performed on the baby. He or she is recognized as a human being who is alive and treatable. Tort law considers the unborn baby a person. His or her death is considered a crime if it occurs due to an attack on the pregnant woman. In some states the parents have been awarded remuneration for the crime against the unborn child.
Even pro-abortion advocates no longer argue for abortion on the grounds of the viability of the fetus or when life begins. The argument used today focuses on a woman's right to do as she pleases with her own body. What pro-abortion advocates never mention is that by doing what she wanted (sex) the woman invited a new person to reside within her womb for approximately nine months. The simple fact is that this is how human beings normally begin ¾ in the wombs of their mothers! Nothing we do or say will alter that fact.
God also speaks to the subject of human life living in the womb. Psalm 139:13-16 states, "For Thou didst form my inward parts: Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are Thy works; and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."
Given the natural course of events, once conception occurs and pregnancy begins, a human being will emerge from the womb. Therefore, what the abortion did was to kill the baby that was growing in our womb. Whether or not we realized what we were doing, the fact is the action of abortion killed the baby.
And in the killing of our own babies, we have begun a tidal wave. The once tiny ripples have gained force and momentum as they toss us to and fro. Others have become unavoidably caught in the whirling vortex surrounding our abortions. Husbands, parents, siblings, friends ¾ struggling to free themselves from the guilt and hurt and pain of the knowledge that a small, precious life is gone. Irretrievably gone.
How did this happen?
Perhaps we had a lack of the facts regarding our unborn babies. Perhaps we had a lack of faith in facing an unknown future. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. At the time others may have encouraged us saying, "It's okay." They may have been trying to help us to do the best thing for us. As for me, although I was informed about the development of unborn babies, I had never actually seen a developing baby. At the back of my mind I kept thinking, "It can't be true that this is a baby ¾ elsewise, how could abortion be legal?" Terms like "fetal tissue" and "product of conception" eased my conscience and enforced my decision.
The other side of this coin is that the legality of abortion since 1973 has created a carelessness and promiscuity in America's young women. Approximately eighty per cent of abortions are performed on unmarried women. Linda writes, "Yes, it [the abortion] was legal. Not only would I never have consented to an illegal abortion, I doubt I would have ever taken the chance of having sex had I not known in the back of my mind there was a way out." Abortion has become, to many women, an alternate form of birth control.
Most of our abortions were a direct result of selfishness. We live in an "I" oriented society ¾ so much so that we aren't consciously aware of the fact because it is a constant pattern of living ¾ my rights, I want, for me, and so forth are the standards by which the majority live. Is it any wonder we got caught up in the pleasure of sex, which in turn led to the inconvenience of pregnancy, which then caused us to choose self over another and have an abortion?
Why wasn't I told the truth?
Once we understand and admit that a baby died when we submitted to an abortion, the angry question rips from us, "Why wasn't I told it was a baby I was aborting?"
There are several reasons why you weren't fully informed. Remember that the abortion industry is a multi-million dollar business. Like all businesses, it wants to make a profit. How many women do you think would actually go through with an abortion if they understood a baby lived in their wombs?
On the other hand, some people honestly believe they are helping to protect our right to privacy by refusing to fully inform women considering abortion of the physical and emotional risks. To these people, "rights" outweigh the life and well-being of women and their unborn children.
Then there are those people who sincerely wanted to help you. Although their efforts are misguided, their primary goal was to help you to do what was best for you. They themselves may not have understood what an abortion is and does.
Finally we must look at ourselves. Is it possible someone did try to tell you the truth? I clearly remember one social worker at the clinic I visited for prenatal care telling me, "Pam, if you have an abortion, you will regret it the rest of your life." Her words return very clearly to me now. Back then I scarcely heard them. Sometimes we don't listen to the facts. We practice selective listening which causes us to hear only what we want to hear. Possibly we heard what eased our conscience rather than the truth that was intermingled with the "easy" words.
Why did I choose abortion?
Although each woman's specific reasons for choosing abortion are unique and personal, most fall into one of several broad categories. Perhaps you were separated or divorced and involved in an affair. Perhaps you were single, having casual sex. You wanted no one to know. Stephanie writes, "I couldn't make a better decision because my eyes were focused on me and not on God. I had already gotten pregnant, and Satan had a good hold of me. I only wish there had been someone there to help me make a different decision." Possibly you were made to feel guilty for your desire to remain pregnant. As one woman relates, "First I felt excited and determined not to have an abortion. After talking with [my friend] and the psychologist, I felt like that was selfish on my part. I felt like if I were to keep my baby I would be a [malicious] manipulator trying to get the father into a corner. I felt guilty for wanting to let my baby live." It wasn't that you didn't want your untimely baby, but you were led to believe giving birth would be unfair to you both. Possibly your physical health suggested abortion. In rare instances, pregnancy may have resulted from rape or incest. Fear related to the responsibilities of child rearing may have overwhelmed you. Amanda concludes, "I was young, scared, alone and not financially secure. I felt unable to 'deal' with a baby. I also did not want to cause my family any pain." You may have wanted the baby, but the pregnancy got in the way. You just couldn't see past the nine months to the birth of a baby. You wanted and needed someone to take you by the hand and say, "It will all work out." Selfishness may have been your only motive. Maybe you were married and felt one more child was one too many. Often the legality of abortion helped us make up our minds. "If it's legal, it must be okay." Our reasons are varied and yet a similar thread weaves them all together. We were involved in a situation where a pregnancy was untimely, a nuisance in our lives ¾ either financially, emotionally, physiologically, or socially. The simple fact is, we wanted to be free ¾ unencumbered with a child ¾ to resume our lives.
And so we aborted our babies, often times not realizing what we had actually done until the act was accomplished and it was too late to turn back. We couldn't know then we'd feel this way now. If we had, we probably wouldn't have aborted. Situation ethics dictated our actions. Then it seemed okay. Now it seems so wrong (Proverbs 14:12-13). And so an hour, a month, a year, or many years later we begin to ask ourselves, "What have I done?"
What have I done?
"Oh, dear God, what have I done?" The ramifications of this question go farther than the act of killing an unborn child. Our entire being is affected. One reason women were created is to nurture new lives. It is the very essence of our being. Over the past few years outspoken women have tried to convince us motherhood is not something to be desired. These women depict pregnancy and motherhood as a curse placed on us by the nature of our physiology. Our logic said "true," but now that we have put logic before our hearts, our hearts cry out in pain and brokenness.
Do you know the story of King Solomon and the arguing mothers? Two women lived in the same house. Each gave birth to a baby within days of the other. One child died and the other lived. Both women claimed the living child and came before King Solomon for a decision. In God's wisdom, King Solomon decreed the living child should be divided with a sword and one half given to each woman. "Then the woman whose child was the living one spoke to the king, for she was deeply stirred over her son, and said, 'Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!' But the other said, 'He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him!' Then the king answered and said, 'Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him. She is his mother'" (1 Kings 3:16-27). How did King Solomon know who the mother of the living child was? The true mother was willing to let her son live with the other woman rather than see him die. Her natural instinct was to protect the life of her child at any cost.
What have we done? We've allowed a callous mindset to overrule our natural instincts. We've permitted logic to rule our hearts. We've allowed our minds to listen and accept lies because we were so desperate to cover up our indiscretion, or to get on with our interrupted lives, or to have things back the way they were prior to our pregnancies.
We have permitted our own flesh and blood to be torn violently from our wombs. It doesn't matter what we were told; the truth became startlingly evident as we viewed the aftermath of our decision. One woman remembers, "When I first saw the completely formed baby in a book a few weeks after my abortion, I think I came as close to having a mental breakdown as I ever have in my life."
Why did God allow this to happen?
As we search for answers, we think of God, admitting, perhaps for the first time, His existence. But we need someone to blame and so we cry out, "Why did God allow this to happen? Surely He could have stopped the pregnancy." We need to realize that most actions bring natural consequences without supernatural intervention by God. Sexual intercourse brings the possibility of a new baby being conceived. A woman once commented to me, "If you go out in the rain without an umbrella, you are going to get wet." So it is with sexual intercourse. And even with an "umbrella" we sometimes get "wet." What we need to realize is that God would not put a baby into our wombs for us to kill, for He says in Deuteronomy 30:19, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
God is omniscient ¾ all-knowing. He knew before you were born that you would one day abort your baby. He didn't want that to happen, but He knew it would. God could have kept you from becoming pregnant, but that is not how He chooses to work. God planned the world so that events follow one another naturally according to the choices we make. The natural consequences of our actions occurred. We had sex. We became pregnant. We did not choose life for our babies. We chose abortion.
I once met a clinical psychologist who teaches her clients to say, "I am a woman who was not strong enough to say 'no' to abortion." I believe she offers this as a less painful option to admitting one has chosen to have an abortion. However, each of us has it within ourselves to say "no" in such situations. We may not want to say "no." It may be extremely difficult. Yet we do have a free will that can choose to say "yes" or "no." The simple truth is that I chose to abort my unborn baby. I chose. I made the decision. Oh, to be certain, I had plenty of "help." But I was the one who said "yes." Misguided, confused, selfish ¾ but the decision in the vast majority of cases was ours. Achnes Smith offers sound advice: "I would just like to stress the point that it is extremely important that women who have aborted face up to the fact that they played an active role in the destruction of their baby. We can't put all the blame on doctors, nurses or family and friends. The decision was ultimately ours, no matter how coerced we might have been. Without acknowledging our [role] in the abortion act, there can never be true reconciliation." And so we must learn to acknowledge and to say, "I chose to abort my unborn baby. I was wrong. Now, what can I do to live with this irreversible decision?”
Why am I just now beginning to hurt?
There are several ways our mind uses to permit us to live with our wrong actions when we do not choose to face up to what we have done. Denial is knowing you did something wrong, but refusing to admit it. You may express denial by saying "I didn't do it" or "I didn't do anything wrong." Suppression is knowing you did something wrong but refusing to consciously think about it. Repression is being unaware of negative feelings. Rationalization is convincing yourself you had no choice. Finally we come to projection: this method of coping with wrong actions involves "passing the buck" by thinking, "It was someone else's fault." Additionally, there are those people who honestly do not believe they acted wrongly when they had an abortion. My sister tells of attending a party. She was one of ten women present. The topic of abortion arose and, to her horror, my sister discovered she was the only women present who had not had an abortion. "Pam," she told me, "they were discussing their abortions as if they had gone to have a wart removed." Some people have no absolute values in their lives, no definite pattern of right and wrong. To these people, abortion is truly acceptable. That still does not make it right.
Most of us have used one or more of the coping mechanisms just mentioned at one time or another. Which have you used? Did they help? Possibly for a time, but now all the bad feelings have resurfaced or surfaced for the first time and the pain and guilt and grief just won't go away.
Here we are. We who live to regret our abortions. What are we to do? How do we go about putting our lives back together? How do we pick up the broken pieces and mend them so a complete woman emerges once more. Broken but mended ¾ with a strong glue that will not come undone. You want that, don't you? That is what this book is all about. There are answers. I found them. Others have found them. You, too, can find them and make them work for you.
If you have come to the point in your life where you are able to admit you killed an unborn human being when you had your abortion ¾ if you can say, "I killed my unborn baby. I was wrong." ¾ then you have taken the first step in resolving your post-abortion trauma. Keep walking ¾ you'll make it!
Before I read this chapter, I had a question about . . .
In this chapter I have learned . . .
To resolve my post-abortion trauma, I will . . .
I need to talk to God about . . .
A verse from the Bible which helped me in this chapter is . . .
After reading this chapter, I have hope because . . .
See, for example, Dr. Landrum Shettles and David Rorvik, Rites of Life (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1983).
Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director for Policy Development, Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, as quoted in The Washington Times, "Letters to the Editor, " February 10, 1989.
"In law, a wrongful act, injury, or damage (not involving a breach of contract), for which a civil action can be brought." Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, college edition (The World Publishing Company, New York, 1966), p. 1538.