Abortion hurts women. I know. For decades I lived with the physical and emotional consequences of the procedure and so did my family. The thing about post-abortion trauma is that most people don’t even know it exists. I didn’t. When I decided to volunteer at a local pregnancy resource center and was exposed to some of the training materials, I discovered that many of my “issues”, many of the challenges I struggled to overcome in life, were a direct result of the spiritual, physical, and emotional trauma of my abortions.
Women who have abortions are much more likely to have trouble bonding emotionally with any future children because they believe they are not good mothers and because of a fear of losing the child as a punishment for the abortion(s). At the same time, because of the fear of losing them, they can be overly protective. Women who have abortions sometimes have a need to become pregnant again to “replace” the aborted child. They are
- 59 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts
- 61 percent more likely to have mood disorders
- 61 percent more likely to have social anxiety disorders
- 261 percent more likely to have alcohol abuse
- 280 percent more likely to have any substance use disorder
Women who have abortions many times have more abortions. For some women, the trauma of being a witness and accessory to their own child’s death causes subconscious behaviors that others may not understand and that even the woman herself does not understand. Once of those behaviors is repeating the experience. People who have experienced severe trauma are often compelled to recreate the experience in a misguided, subconscious attempt to process what has happened to them; to “get it right”; to become desensitized. This is what happened to me.
My Story, Part 2
I had survived my chaotic teen years and an eight year long abusive marriage that blessed me with two beautiful little girls. I didn’t want them to continue to be exposed to the trauma of violence in the home and I wanted more for myself.
In 1990 I left and shortly after that, met the man who would become my earthly savior and the love of my life, Darin. I became pregnant while we were dating. As soon as I figured it out (this time with the help of early pregnancy home tests), it was like something coldly mechanical took over, like someone else was doing my thinking for me – but it was my own depraved mind. My only mission was to end the pregnancy as quickly as possible and I knew exactly how to do it. I could not, I rationalized, risk jeopardizing my budding relationship with Darin, who was obviously the most kind and generous and thoughtful man I had ever met. I didn’t want to lose him and I thought that an unwanted pregnancy might push him away.
I couldn’t get to the abortion clinic fast enough. I tried to make an appointment as soon as I saw the results of the home pregnancy test but the clinic told me I was not far enough along yet. Just typing those words and processing the fact that the clinic needed the baby to be larger in order to more successfully kill it makes me feel ill.
The abortion clinic is usually located in the most economically impoverished area of town and this one was no different – strategically set up to cater to young college women. The day of my abortion, the lobby of the clinic was full of potential mothers in their late teens and early twenties. What secrets did they carry? What were they running from? But here I was, a mother of two in my late twenties. I felt a cold and hard resolve to get my problem taken care of.
Unlike my first abortions, which are black holes in my past, this time I remembered the way it felt. I remember the vacuum cleaner like noise. I remember the bright lights. I remember the pain and yes, I remember the relief. Relief is the one positive emotion researchers have noted that occurs shortly after abortion. But that relief is only temporary.
I lay in the recovery room with no conscious regrets, no feelings, only a cool resolve to carry on with my “normal” life.
Sadly, the pain and emotion injury I had inflicted on myself and the death I had wrought for my precious child through that third abortion was not enough. In a few months, perhaps because it mimicked what had happened to me when I was just a child of 16, once again I found myself at the abortion clinic ending yet another tiny life and etching my despair even deeper into my soul.
If you had asked me how I felt about those abortions, I would have told you that I was glad to have been able to take care of my situation. I felt it solved a problem and in my intellect, I believed it wasn’t such a big deal. Unfortunately, the act only fortified the rocky walls around the mother’s heart beating in my chest; the walls were silent and invisible and impervious to everyone, even the love of my life, Darin.
One cannot witness violent death without it marring the psyche. How much worse is it when the mother kills her own child? And the abortion doctor is happy to help.
Three years after I met Darin, I encountered the love of Jesus in a way that changed me forever. I had felt drawn to him my whole life and he was courting me all along. When I was finally willing to lay it all down one night at home in the dark, before bed, when I violently prayed for him to be my wisdom, he finally saw fit to invade and conquer my heart, waking me up the following morning as a completely new creature. It wasn’t long after that Darin and I were married.
Jesus’ love forced me to recognize the extent of the wrong I had done by participating in abortion. I was able to see, for the first time, the utter value of a human life, based on the magnitude of the sacrifice that Jesus made for that life, and the intricate care with which God created it.
Unfortunately, I responded to this greater knowledge by burying the secret of my sins even deeper.
To be continued. Read the next part (3).
Image courtesy of Frances Gunn