If you are one of the millions of women who have made the choice to have an abortion, you know that the memories associated with this experience can be difficult and even painful. Months and years may go by without any remembrance of the abortion experience. Then, one day, you find yourself wondering what your life would have been like had your child lived. Triggers like seeing children that are the same age your child might have been, or the anniversary date of the abortion/birth date of the child, may leave you feeling anxious, scared, and fearful. For most women, the abortion is a closely held secret. Rarely do we talk about this pain with family or friends. Many feel fearful that they will judge us if they know we made an abortion choice. There is good news - God can heal abortion pain and bring new joy to your heart.
How do you know you need post-abortion healing?
Perhaps you are thinking, “Okay, so I had an abortion. But that is in the past. Do I really need to be healed?” Some women seemingly never need to work through any kind of healing process. But for many of us, the memory of abortion lies like a hidden infection within, weakening and impairing us in ways we may have never realized were related. Is that true for you? See if you recognize yourself in some of the following questions:
Do you feel reluctant to talk about the subject of abortion, or do you feel guilt, anger, or sorrow when discussing your own abortion?
Do you tend to think of your life in terms of “before” and “after” the abortion?
Do you have lingering feelings of resentment or anger toward people involved in your abortion, such as the baby’s father, friends, or your parents?
Have you found yourself either avoiding relationships or becoming overly dependent in them since the abortion? Are you overly protective of any children you have now?
Have you begun or increased use of drugs or alcohol since the abortion, or do you have an eating disorder?
Have you felt a vague sort of emptiness, a deep sense of loss, or had prolonged periods of depression?
Do you sometimes have nightmares, flashbacks, or hallucinations relating to the abortion?
If so, it is likely you are experiencing pain related to your abortion, many times referred to as “post-abortion trauma.”
You are not alone
As a woman who made the choice to abort my first child in 1981, I understand the feeling many women experience. The research arm of Planned Parenthood the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the world’s largest abortion provider, states that, “at current rates. 43% of all women will experience at least once by the time they are 45 years of age.” If abortion is such a common experience, why do post-abortive women rarely speak about their abortions?
After my abortion I found myself fighting hard to forget the experience. I avoided babies and children while involving my self in the abortion-rights campaign. This was short-lived because hearing the word “abortion” made me cringe. In the attempt to convince myself that aborting my child was my only choice, I found myself turning to drugs and alcohol to numb my emotions. It was difficult to sleep without being high because I had haunting nightmares of crying children. On the day my child would have been born, I cried all night. I thought I was going crazy because I didn’t have a good reason for my tears. My head could not acknowledge my loss but my heart did.
It didn’t take long for me to become angry. My anger was directed primarily at my old boyfriend. I blamed him for the abortion because he said he would leave me and tell everyone it wasn’t his child. Why would I want to bring a “blob of tissue” into the world whose father would reject him? I felt my college career was more important than maternity. How could I break my parent’s hearts? I never realized that I was robbing them of their first grandchild. My anger helped offset the pain I was feeling.
For eleven years I was able to control these emotions. After my sons were born I recognized that my pre-born child was not a “blob of tissue” as the abortion staff had told me. Facing the love that I had for my living children left me with unresolved emotions about my lost child. I never realize that my mother’s heart would be unable to forget the child I had aborted.
Joy Comes in the Mourning
Eleven years passed before my calm reserve evaporated and my heart finally broke apart. Suddenly I found myself crying at the drop of a hat remembering the abortion. My anger now shifted towards myself. Why didn’t I stand up for the life of my child? In realizing my role in the abortion, I was overwhelmed with guilt.
If you are a woman suffering from guilt caused by abortion, there is hope and help. The Bible study support group, Forgiven and Set Free provides a safe place to share fears, anger, pain and shame as you work through the heartache of your abortion.