any women wonder if their feelings are unique. The life of a post-abortion woman is one of the loneliest on earth. In spite of the evidence, you may find it difficult to believe that anyone else could have actually done what you did. You can't believe anyone else feels as you do. Most of all, you can't believe anyone could understand, love or forgive you, a baby killer. It is vital to know that you are not alone in your feelings concerning your abortion. Read the quotes from letters I have received. You will see that others do feel as you do, some worse, some not as bad. But the truth is that most women have some negative feelings following an abortion.
If abortion is recognized as legal, why do I feel like such a criminal? (From a questionnaire)
I was unable to cope with what I had done in any way except to deny that I had any other alternative. I repeated the "comfort" of other people to myself, "It was for the best." Once I came to the realization that I had killed my own unborn baby (a child that was as human and unique as myself or anyone else), I went through a time of deep guilt and depression. (Anonymous)
My immediate response was relief ¾ but that soon passed away and all that I have ever felt since is guilt. I knew that abortion is killing and I would give anything to have the child now. (Anonymous)
I always thought I was the only woman who didn't want to abort her baby but did anyway. It is comforting to know I'm not a freak. (Hollie)
Why do I think it futile (when I think of the 4,000 plus women who put themselves through the Procedure every day) to ever see an end to this. I am one of so many and my decision has profoundly changed my life, so why do I feel so uncomforted when I tell my good friends about it and they just shrug their shoulders and say, "Yeah, I know lots of girls that did it and they're still nice people." (Anonymous)
The feeling I had after the abortion was like a cancer eating away at me every day. At the time of the abortion I didn't tell any family members because I was so afraid it would hurt them, and I just didn't want to be a disappointment to them. But the more I didn't talk about it the more it ate away at me, like I was hiding something and didn't want to. (Anonymous)
For me it was wrong because killing my babies was against all that I believed in and knew, instinctively and intellectually. I also believe that God's Holy Spirit was working to bring me to repentance, which is why I suffered extreme guilt. I wish I had thought about how I would feel afterward, before I did it. (Regina)
Most women can at least say they acted in ignorance of God's law, but I knew better. Yet I still did it. Now I wrestle with the fact that my pride is what has harmed me, and even still, I am mortified by my deed ¾ yet have to ask myself if it is because I failed or because I wounded the heart of God and transgressed his laws. (Kate)
The baby is a human life, and the suffering and guilt I've experienced are not the result of an acceptable action. (Judy Bates)
[I feel] anger that abortion is happening in our nation and world. Anger over the deception and apathy of most people. Not blaming them, however, I was once deceived as they are. Grief and sadness over the above. For myself, I feel regret or deep remorse that I can't change what I did to my child. (Anonymous)
I don't discuss it, but I always read about it. As if subconsciously I know I don't deserve to have one day's peace for being so deceived by Satan! (Anonymous)
As a result of my abortion I spent the next nine years trying to understand and cope with all the mixed up feelings of guilt and shame. . . . My marriage was all but over [but] to the world outside I was strong and could cope with everything life threw at me. (Christine)
The doctor that did my pregnancy test had a lot to do with my decision without him realizing. When he came back in with a positive on the test, he asked me in a real disgusted tone, "Well, what are you going to do now!" I felt so cheap and dirty. I didn't want anyone else to know how cheap and dirty I was. (Anonymous)
The main feeling is that I am alone. Nobody knows about it, in fact, I lied to friends and family as to why I kept getting sick. (A nineteen year old)
I chose to abort my baby in January of 1980. I was seventeen years old. The tremendous guilt and sense of loss that I have felt since then have, at times, been insurmountable. I tried, for nearly five years, to justify my decision to abort. "I was too young," "I was going to college in the fall," "Where would I be now if I had a baby," etc. I came up with all the really good excuses ¾ but none of them eased the turmoil that was inside me. (Judy Schmid)
I was very upset and depressed. And I suppose shocked at the horror of what I had just done. The [staff at clinic] treated it like a daily occurrence, which it was for them. But that procedure, which took maybe fifteen minutes, has affected my life ever since. (Anonymous)
If only I would have been informed of my other options, he or she would be here with be right now. I was young, yes, and with a baby comes much responsibility, and that even means giving up a lot. But I wanted to. That was my child they took from me. They treated "him" as if he were nothing, as if he was trash. But he wasn't, he was my baby, he was alive, he was breathing, he felt pain, he was innocent! If only I could tell him how sorry I am. For others it is part of the forgotten past, but for me, he is still here with me today, not alive, but in my heart. I may never get to hold him, rock him, sing him to sleep, wipe his tears, chase away his fear, but I love him as much today as yesterday. (Anonymous)
Why does no one regret the death of my child but me?
There are people in my life who know about my abortion and yet show no regret, no sympathy, no feelings whatsoever. It hurts when someone you love very much reacts this way. But it happens. I have learned to accept it and go on.
Sometimes it only seems as if you alone regret your abortion. There are people who would regret the death of your child if they knew about it. Be assured many people regret the death of your child, but you may not know them or that they hurt with you and for you.
It touches my heart to know that God regrets my child's death. Psalm 56:8 tells us when we cry, God puts our tears in a bottle. What a lovely picture of someone remembering our hurts!
Does the medical profession recognize my pain?
Investigations have begun into the post-abortion problems women face. America is slowly waking up to the fact that abortion does not set a woman free. Instead, abortion accentuates existing problems while at the same time creates new ones. Former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, has recommended new post-abortion studies be conducted. However, as of this writing, groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have refused to recognize the seriousness of abortion's aftermath on women.
What are possible physical side effects from an abortion?
Physical complications resulting from an abortion vary from woman to woman. Complications include incomplete expulsion of the placenta or baby, perforated uterus, chronic and acute infections, excessive bleeding requiring blood transfusions, shock, intense pain, damage to other organs, miscarriages, irregular pap smears, breast cancer, sterility, and death.
What is post abortion syndrome?
Post-abortion syndrome (PAS) is one term used to describe various reactions which may occur following an abortion. The following reactions may occur anywhere from a few hours to many years after an abortion: feelings of helplessness or isolation; frequent or uncontrollable crying; sadness, grief, or remorse; guilt; anxiety; shame and fear of others finding out; distrust and feelings of betrayal; bitterness, anger, or resentment; broken relationships; denial; nightmares; flashbacks; sexual problems; the inability to tolerate the sound of a vacuum cleaner or dentist’s drill because it sounds like the suction machine; alcohol and/or drug abuse in order to forget; preoccupation with becoming pregnant again or fear of future pregnancies; avoidance of situations and people which bring children, pregnancy, or the abortion to mind; depression or mental breakdown; fear of punishment from God; difficulty forgiving others; thoughts of suicide. That's some list! Not all women experience all reactions. And not all women have severe reactions.
Why aren't the complications following an abortion better documented?
Better documentation requires that post-abortion women complain about their complications. Dr. David Reardon sets out six reasons women keep silent:
1. Many women have tried to tell others, but find themselves ignored or turned away as "exceptions."
2. Most women sign consent forms prior to an abortion, which imply a woman has no recourse if complications occur.
3. Abortion is usually a family or personal secret. Secrecy and shame compels victims to remain silent about their complications.
4. With regard to long term complications, women can't be absolutely sure their problems relate to the original abortion.
5. Many women view complications resulting from an abortion as punishment they "deserve" because they had an abortion. Thus they keep silent about both their sin and its complications.
6. Statistics are kept and controlled by the abortionists. "In other words, the party which suffers least, and indeed has the most to gain, also has complete control of the information."
Why do some women not hurt?
I sometimes receive letters such as the following: "All women I know who have had abortions DO NOT regret it. One [woman] has had two [abortions], another five. They brag about it. I feel such pity for them because after my one [abortion] I can see that [these women’s] hearts are hard, cold, and unfeeling."
In her book, Helping Women Recover from Abortion, Nancy Michels states, ". . . many women won't allow themselves to grieve over their aborted child. In order for them to agree to the abortion, they have convinced themselves that they aren't aborting a child, only a potential life. Therefore, there is nothing to grieve about. In addition, their doctor and other people who may know about the abortion, will very likely have told them that abortion is merely a medical procedure to correct a mistake. So any symptoms of grief that arise must be ignored by the woman if she is to continue believing she did the right thing by choosing abortion."
However, I receive many letters from women who have had several abortions and finally feel anguish over their actions. Wendy writes, "I remember feeling so free after the first, I hadn't felt that good in a long time. I used these feelings to confirm and justify my actions. With the second I felt relief." She writes for several more pages relating that her abortions were done out of fear and that she suffered a nervous breakdown and that she became dependent on drugs. Although she managed to escape hurt for several years, her suffering, once begun, was intense.
Many women camouflage their hurt. They may do this by speaking flippantly of their abortions in an attempt to negate the horror they feel inside. They may remain silent, but inside they’re crying. You'd be surprised to discover that women you know ¾ possibly your best friend, sister, or mother ¾ have had abortions and are hurting. Until recently abortion's aftermath has been ignored or dismissed as a response "religious" women would be expected to have. There are two reasons for this. First, pro-abortionists don't want women to know an abortion produces emotional trauma. Second, we post-abortion women have largely kept silent about our feelings because of guilt and shame.
On the other hand, some women have never hurt from their abortions. These are the women who have aborted, not out of necessity, but from purely selfish desires. They already had enough children, the baby was the wrong sex, their career could not be put on hold, their body would be "ugly" for nine months, and so forth. These women are so busy looking at themselves that they fail to notice a child died. They may never recognize what they have done. If they do, they may handle it better than most because these people are task-oriented rather than people-oriented.
Nancy Michels sums the answer up well: "Women who are less likely to be affected by PAS [post-abortion syndrome] are those who rely heavily on rationalizing their actions. That is, they rely more on their thinking than on their feelings. Denial is part of their personality. . . . As long as they can maintain their system of rationalization, they will not likely be affected."
Do religious beliefs influence a woman's reaction to her abortion?
For years pro-abortion advocates have tried to blame religious beliefs for the guilt women feel following an abortion. Naturally, a religious woman would feel guilty once she realized she had killed her unborn baby. However, Dr. Vincent Rue states, "A growing body of evidence supports the contention that abortion has a painful aftermath, regardless of the woman's religious beliefs, or how positive she may have felt beforehand about her decision to abort." Dr. Anne Speckhard, in her book, The Psycho-social Aspects of Stress Following Abortion, found that 72 percent of the women questioned reported no identifiable religious beliefs at the time of their abortion.
Then, too, many women have become Christians subsequent to their abortions. At the time of the abortion, these women had no qualms about what they did. Now, faced with their newly found faith in God, these women realize for the first time that their abortion killed their own unborn baby.
I have found that while religious beliefs do not necessarily play a role in determining wehter or not a an abortion, a woman's abortion deeply affects her religious beliefs.
What questions do other women want answered?
As part of my research for this book, I sent letters to one hundred women requesting them to list specific questions for which they sought answers following their abortions. Two hundred sixty-six questions were submitted by women responding to this survey. The primary focus of the questions was on self (234), with a few (32) concerning help for others. More women asked about forgiveness (53 questions) than any other topic. Of these questions, 19 forcused on forgiveness of self, 18 asked asked about forgiving others; and 16 concerned God's forgiveness of post-abortion women. The remaining questions break down as follows:
· Whether complete healing is possible - 42
· Pertaining to the aborted baby - 30
· Advisability of telling others - 26
· Aspects of grieving - 17
· Sexual problems - 16
· Having more children - 15
· How to tell others - 10
· Effect of abortion on child rearing - 10
· Helping others to avoid abortion - 10
· Why abortion chosen - 8
· Self-worth - 7
· Why lied to about abortion - 6
· Uncategorized questions - 16
In selecting specific questions for use in this book, the challenge became which to include from the hundreds of questions I've received, both from the survey I conducted and from unsolicited letters and calls. The questions are as varied and unique as the women who have asked them. Some were specific to the point of requiring a personal letter in response.
Because the questions are interrelated, grouping by broad topics has not been done. Rather, I ordered the questions according to logical mental progression, that is, how you might think through things, from first questions concerning why you consented to an abortion to how you can help others once you have dealt with your own abortion. In answering the questions, I speak to you from my heart rather than from a textbook.
Does anyone else feel like you do? You bet they do! Some may have more or fewer symptoms than you, but hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of women hurt because they aborted their unborn children. Lest you read this chapter and find yourself in despair, please know that the majority of the women quoted have resolved their abortions and are now living full and happy lives.
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 . . .
David C. Reardon, Aborted Women Silent No More (Crossway Books, Westchester, Illinois, 1988), pp. 108-109.
Nancy Michels, Helping Women Recover from Abortion (Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, 1988), p. 49.
Dr. Vincent Rue, "Post-abortion Syndrome: Sham or Emerging Crisis?", National Right to Life News, January 15, 1987.
Dr. Anne Speckhard, summary sheet of The Psycho-Social Aspects of Stress Following Abortion, prepared by the Christian Action Council, Falls Church, Virginia, n.d.