Adele’s Story

Adele, Down

 

How many abortions have you had? Two

 

What were your circumstances at the time of the abortions?

My first abortion was when I was 25 and had just returned from a 9 months travelling experience across Asia.  I had broken up with a long term boyfriend before I left and I left him behind in London.  On my return to Ireland through London we met up for a weekend and one thing led to another and we slept together once.  When I got back to Ireland a few weeks later I discovered I was pregnant, although I wasn’t on the pill I was still very shocked and couldn’t cope with the truth.  I had no job, money or stability and felt as I wasn’t with the father anymore I couldn’t possibly have the baby on my own.

 

My second abortion was when I was 30 – I had been working as an expat in Istanbul in Turkey in the fashion industry, I had just recently been made redundant from it at the time.  I had been in a relationship with my Turkish boyfriend for 2 years, I was very much in love with him (in fact I idolised him).

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?

I was 7 or 8 weeks I think on both occasions.

 

What type of abortions were performed?

I’m not sure, on the first one I had general anaesthetic in a Marie Stopes clinic, on the second one in Istanbul I was given some kind of weird anaesthetic through a black mask that covered my nose and mouth in a horrible dirty hospital while sitting up on a chair with stirrups –, with my boyfriend by my side, it was extremely disturbing and I was crying.  I remember the room was very dark and dingy, I felt dirty.

 

Did anyone pressure you or coerce you to choose abortion?

On the first occasion no it was my choice, my ex-boyfriend was very supportive and my two friends who knew thought it was probably the best idea.

 

On the second occasion – Yes my boyfriend pressurised me emotionally greatly ( he was very selfish looking  back) and to this day I am very angry that I allowed myself to be subjected to it.  Also a close female older friend recommended I go ahead with it.  No –one supported my view to have my baby.  The doctor also advised me it was the ‘best choice for all’ (All he was considering was my Turkish boyfriend’s “honour”).

 

How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?

Not very much information was given to me except the basic medical info of what would happen following it physically.  NO-ONE, NOT ONE PERSON, warned me of the horrific emotional and spiritual pain I would suffer as a result.

 

Do you think you were adequately informed at the time, of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?

NO – I was lied to by the abortion industry on both occasions that this was going to ‘fix my problem’.  Little did I know it was going to give me later much,  much bigger problems later on in my life.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

On the first occasion I don’t recall anything after getting up onto the theatre table in a gown, it was a very bright room with a lot of people, they kept the screen turned away from me, today that makes me feel very, very sad.  I realised they were looking at a scan of my baby.

 

On the second occasion it was a propert hospital down a side street,  in a very dirty dark room, I remember my hysterical crying.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?

The first time I remember waking up very giddy and feeling hysterically happy that it was ‘over’ and jumping up to give my ex-boyfriend the thumbs up from the window of my room which overlooked the carpark.  He was outside in his car.  This quickly faded to depression and numbness.

 

On the second occasion I remember feeling immediate extreme anger and sense of loss. I woke up screaming at my boyfriend in anger and actually jumped up off the trolley and attacked him in the most rage I have ever felt in my life. I also remember feeling extreme sadness at what had just happened and the finality of it.

 

How have your abortions affected you?

The first time I became very withdrawn almost overnight and felt numb and depressed.  I went from being extremely outgoing and confident to being very quiet.  I spent most weekends lying on the sofa getting stoned on marijuana.  I didn’t connect my feelings to the abortion.

 

On the second occasion immediately I was extremely angry and tried to cope by drinking a lot of alcohol and taking a lot of drugs and going out.  Every weekend I drank to point of collapsing and argued with my boyfriend, got into fights and thrown out of clubs.  It wasn’t good.  Slowly I also lost my self esteem.  I was very lost in the world.

 

I started to have a lot of casual sex – I had a deep desire to get pregnant again to replace what I lost.  I was very promiscuous and on a self-destructive path, my self-esteem suffered greatly.

 

How have your abortions affected others in your life and your relationships with others?

It has affected all my relationships as I carry extreme anger which I take out on others on a day to day basis, I over react to situations and ‘explode’.  Low self-esteem has made it impossible for me to have a relationship since the second abortion.  I keep people at distance from me, I don’t seem to be able to trust or ’let them in’.  I am still single.

 

Immediately after my second abortion, my relationship with the father broke up.  I began to hate him for doing this to me and our child.  I engaged in a lot of dangerous casual sex encounters both in Istanbul and abroad as I ran away to travel again.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortions?

To be honest nothing helped me (I tried all drugs, alcohol, travelling, relationships, career, music and studying) until God reached down in to the pit of despair I was in and saved me three years ago.  I was 33 years old.  I had run away from Istanbul to New York to work… again, avoiding the issues and the pain I was feeling.  I had finished a relationship before leaving for America and within days of being there, I discovered I was pregnant. The relationship was over and I did not want to restore it.  I profoundly believe that this promiscuous relationship I had just had was an attempt and deep desire to replace my aborted children.  God  had been speaking truth into my life, slowly, for a few years but I was running from Him and the truth.

 

This third pregnancy crisis was my catalyst for crying out to Him to rescue me in my brokenness and weakness from the destructive path I was on.

 

I am so thankful that my baby survived abortion and I have been very blessed by her as she has brought me much joy.

 

I’m only half way an after abortion course but being able to confront my past in a safe environment has led me to know that my healing has begun and that I can be set free from all guilt, shame and the nightmare prison that is post abortive trauma.

 

Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?

That the world LIES to you that it’s a solution to a ‘problem.’ ( A precious life is not a problem in my opinion now)

 

You are lied to –  ‘it’s not a child but a ‘few cells’.

 

You are lied to that you will be ‘fine afterwards’ – I wasn’t and most I know aren’t.  I was wracked with guilt and anger that nearly destroyed me and sent me down a path of self-destruction, wrecking every relationship I had.

 

The JOY my beautiful daughter brings me, makes me realise LIFE IS SO PRECIOUS and it makes me sick to think if I had of listened to my close friends and aborted her she wouldn’t be here today, blessing me with joy.  Yes children are hard work, but the Lord made a way for me and met my every need, materially and spiritually and He still does to this day!!

Lesley’s Story

Lesley, Antrim

How many abortions have you had? One.

 

What were your circumstances at the time of the abortion?

I was 13 when I was raped by an 18 year old man.  It wasn’t a violent rape but I didn’t really know what was happening as I was naïve.  I didn’t tell anyone about my experience because I was brought up in a Christian home and attended a Presbyterian church.  I felt people would judge me and somehow it would seem like my fault.

 

Several weeks passed and I was feeling sick, every morning, vomiting at home and in school.  My parents were concerned and took me to the GP and after to the hospital for tests, some of which included x-rays.  They found nothing.  Another two months passed and my mother asked me one evening if there was any chance that I could be pregnant.  Of course I said no but I soon put two and two together and realised that it was possible – the penny had dropped.  I confided in a friend who worked Saturdays in a chemist shop and she arranged a test – it was positive.  I was devastated.  A few days later I told my mother and it was like she was at the end of her tether.  She was already upset and preoccupied due to my grandfather’s ill health. Phone calls were immediately made and counsel was being sought from here, there and everywhere.

 

The local newspaper had an advertisement in the personal column and this directed my parents to a Marie Stopes counsellor who swiftly made and an appointment and before I knew it I was on a boat to Liverpool.

 

We docked at 7.00 a.m. and as it was November time I was cold and hungry because I couldn’t have breakfast – my operation was before lunch.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?

Between 12 and 15 weeks.

 

What type of abortion was performed?

When I’d had my pre-operation medication, a nurse asked me “do you know what they’ll do with your baby?”.  “No, not exactly” I replied.  “Well”, she said “They will put an instrument up inside you, cut the baby into pieces and suck it out with a machine like a vacuum cleaner, into a bag”.

 

Did anyone pressure you or coerce you to choose abortion?

Yes, my parents, who had sought counsel from at least two clergymen, a close friend and my GP.

 

How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?

I was given no information at all – not even a leaflet or book.  I had to return by plane the next day and go straight back to school the day after that.

 

Do you think you were adequately informed at the time of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?

Not at all, I was informed of nothing, not even by the psychiatrists and psychologists that I saw over the next 37 years. When I asked them “what happened to my baby?” nobody was able to give me that information.

 

I pointed out to psychiatrists and psychologists ALL the time that I thought my rape and abortion at 13 was the crux of my problems.  I don’t recall them ever commenting on that, nor do I recall any of them saying anything about how I was feeling as a result of the rape and subsequent abortion.  It was as if they didn’t know how to deal with it.

 

I was a physical, emotional and psychological wreck and was in a deep spiritual battle.  I felt suicidal at times and grieved so much for my son.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

Just that terrible conversation with the nurse and afterwards with the other women in the ward who told me not to worry – some of them were on their second and third abortions.  It was quick and painless as far as I remember and the medical staff mentioned something about a risk of infection that could be dangerous but I wasn’t informed how to reduce the risk.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?

I was sad, not guilty, very lonely and burdened that I couldn’t talk about it to anyone – not even my mother or friends.  I felt terrible because we were not well off and the abortion and travelling costs had cost my parents a small fortune.  I felt it was all my fault.  My parents said they would not press charges against the man who had raped me because they didn’t want my name “dragged through the courts”.

 

How has your abortion affected you?

My abortion affected my school work.  I found school reports and in that 3rd year my results just went sharply downhill.  I felt like a failure.  I couldn’t really get into a steady relationship with boys as I couldn’t trust them.  I used to cry if a boy wanted to get intimate.

 

The long term effects were terrible. For years I couldn’t cope with grief of any kind, friends and family died and the grief just kept mounting up.  Eventually I saw psychologists about the grief and unhealthy relationships I had with men.  I started drinking alcohol and this anaesthetised the hurt and pain.  I just wanted to know what had happened to my baby, where was his body, did it end up in a bin?

 

I cried a lot in private and when my first marriage broke down and I was in new accommodation, after a drinking binge, I felt suicidal and went in search of the gas oven – forgetting it was in fact electric.

 

How has abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?

My abortion affected my relationship with my parents in that I was distant with them. I despised the clergy who advised that abortion was the right thing to do.  I resented the man who raped me.  I felt isolated from my friends and, although I had plenty, I felt lonely in the crowd.

 

What has helped you to come to terms with your abortion?

The ONLY one thing that has helped me is going through post abortion trauma counselling with the Surrendering the Secret programme. I feel free now to praise God for the physician that He really is in the healing that has come to me throughout the sessions.  I feel free to speak out about my abortion, with confidence and authority.  Only after 37 years of searching for help, wanting to be healed so I know in my heart that I have truly received it.

 

God has brought me back to the very church I went to as a child and my life has been restored.

 

Based on your experience, what would you tell a woman considering abortion today?

Please reconsider, please think beyond the “quick fix”.  Please think about yourself and how you may be traumatised after the abortion.

 

I want to highlight that abortion did not help me.  I wanted to keep my child.  I was a young rape victim and my parents thought that abortion would “solve” this problem. A rape victim can recover from the trauma of rape, but I can never undo my abortion.

 

Please consider my torture for 37 years and how that impacted on my life with drug and alcohol abuse, destructive relationships with men, loneliness, isolation, suicidal thoughts and a reputation for being neurotic.

 

One last thing I’d like to share with you.  My daughter was born 25 years exactly to the day and hour that my son Michael was aborted.  I had a miscarriage about 7 years ago and now have a son who is 5 years old.  None of my children living are a replacement for my aborted son Michael.  My living children understand they have a brother Michael and a sister Lily who are in heaven and that one day we will all be reunited.

Sinéad’s Story

How many abortions have you had? One

 

What were your circumstances at the time of your abortion?

At 27 years old I was a single parent of one beautiful little girl. The circumstances surrounding my pregnancy with her and the relationship with her father had been fraught with pain and struggle. Two years on I felt that I had just started to get a handle on the whole parenting experience, we were in a new home and realising some stability.

 

My daughter was settled in her nursery and had regular activities and classes. I slept in the day whilst she was at school and was able to fulfil all the “full-time” parental duties lost to other single mums. I was able to do the school runs, after school clubs, home dinners and bathing and bedtime routines before heading back into work during the nights.

 

In 2008 my daughter and I moved into our first house with a garden and a lot of decorating work to be done. In the period of decorating I became quite close to a male friend who had assisted in our move. Consequently, we struck up a casual and physical relationship.

 

I fell pregnant in August 2009.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?

At the time of discovering my second pregnancy I was 4 weeks pregnant.  Although I wasn’t “late”, I had suspicion based on bodily feelings, fluttering and sensitivities.

 

As soon as I confirmed the pregnancy I went into auto pilot. Giving no thought to the possibility of having another child – although I felt connected to the life inside and pained to let it pass. My only instinct was rationalism and logic. I looked at the struggle that I bore in giving my daughter the best I could, and believed that to have another child would deprive her of life of material and parental quality.

 

I made a tearful appointment at my GP’s and was referred to the local Marie Stopes Clinic the following week.  In my head I had the notion that this was permissible up to 8 weeks, before the foetus formed fingers and limbs and became “real”.

 

Upon my first assessment at Marie Stopes, I was advised that the pregnancy was too early to be detected and sent away to return the following week.

 

The date of the termination was 18th October 2009, and I was 6 weeks pregnant.

 

What type of abortion was performed?

The procedure was a non- invasive “medical abortion”. A pill was prescribed in the presence of the nurse whilst another young girl lay writhing vocally on a lounge bed in the centre of the clinical day room.

 

I was given a second blister pack (of abortion medication) and advised to take the second dose at home 12 hours later.  With that it was suggested that I sit for a while before calling a cab to take me home.

 

It was all over.

 

Did anyone pressure or coerce you to choose abortion?

No one pressured me to choose the act of abortion. Sadly, no one dissuaded me either.. Or had the chance to.

 

I know that I am a focused and driven woman and mother. I am head strong and authoritive and determined in my mind once made up.

 

The decision to abort was made on my own, with one factor in mind: Quality of life for my daughter. Although I felt tears as I went to the doctors and a wistful imagining of a family, in the few days before the event I did not allow myself to consider or feel any sort of emotion or thought about the child within.  In retrospect the days leading up to my abortion were mechanical, purely autopilot.

 

How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?

Being so removed from reality at the time of the pregnancy, I cannot recall much of the days preceding the abortion. Adding to this the fact that I was so conscious of my mental time limit, it all seemed to pass so quickly.

 

I do recall looking through my first pregnancy guide manuals in order to research information on the development of the baby and when he actually became “real” in my body.

 

The information and contact that was given by the clinic was brief. The pre-abortive counselling interview was taken over the telephone and involved a 5 minute call by the roadside. This enquired on my reasons for choosing abortion and whether I had spoken to a GP for referral.

 

On the day of the procedure, both the ‘undetectable day’ and the following appointment I was given health and possible side effect warnings from the clinical staff. The advice was not dissimilar to basic aid advice given to young pre-pubescent girls regarding their coming changes: “Avoid operating heavy machinery, rest for a few days, take pain relief and non intravenous sanitary protection.”

 

Do you think you were adequately informed at the time of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?

Definitely not.

 

Although I can appreciate my time frame panic and my own mental conviction that I was “doing the right thing”, I wish I had sought or been forced to consider the emotional consequences of abortion.

 

Physically and psychologically, I gave no thought to the personal impact this may have on me.  So socially acceptable is the process of abortion in today’s society that I even recall a dinner table debate from my teen days where I had defended the woman’s right of choice and openly expressed that I would have no issue with the process in my life.

 

Whether the effect of abortion impacts on a woman more after becoming a mother, or whether the effect on the soul is as harrowing in all cases is debateable, and can only be decided by each individual.  Today, we do not seem to acknowledge spirituality or religious thoughts as a just cause for our actions or refrains. To admit guilt based on these mind sets is almost to admit an oddity in character.

 

In my case however, I have found that in searching for peace since the abortion, in speaking to my priest and in counselling sessions, I have heard and seen techniques which I’m sure would have caused me to examine my spiritual senses before undertaking such a massive decision.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

On arrival at the clinic for the second appointment I was scanned to ensure that the baby was in the womb.  Following the scan I was then shown to a waiting room with one other lady. The usually talkative part of me was sleeping that day, not finding appropriate words for any sort of conversation opener.

 

I recall looking at a large wall poster outlining the services of the “honourable pioneer” Marie Stopes in bringing the rights of women’s choice to the public. I recall the poster talking of her first marriage struggles at the hands of a masochistic man who forced her into sex as a marital duty. I vaguely recall wondering about Marie Stopes the woman, and how in Victorian England she had avoided the impact of religion and faith. I wondered whether the bitter marriage she experienced had caused a part of her to suffer and consequently use abortion as retribution against her husband.

 

As I waited in the room, I recall thinking that it looked much like a health spa reception with the frosted glass walls and flowers. I noted the girls around me. Some of them were older and I wondered why they were there – surely older women would relish a chance at pregnancy? I wondered whether their babies had been diagnosed with some condition causing them to choose abortion as a “solution”. I recall wondering if they were insulted by the young faces in the room and whether they felt any anger or bitterness towards them.

 

I recall a young mouthy girl on the phone, being very vocal to her friend at the other end about there being “loads’a people in this place”. She was so brash; I wondered if she was putting up a defensive front. I wondered what they were all thinking of me, and whether they were analysing me in the same fashion.

 

As mentioned earlier: In the clinical room. I recall seeing a girl on a day bed writhing about and moaning loudly, heaving into a bucket or bowl. As the nurse advised me of possible side effects to the tablet – cramps, nausea, bleeding, I did enquire what stage or abortion procedure had that girl undergone and should I expect to be like her. I was advised that she had gone through a surgical process and so was being kept in for monitoring.  I wondered if she should be kept separately from women such as me, not on full display to cause alarm to the new “abortees”.  Then recall being frustrated with the whole situation – the  girl and the faffing, flapping nurse, just wanting them to give me the pill so I could get out of there promptly.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?

Immediately after the process came apprehension, more frustration, fear, caution and determination.  The nurse wanted me to take water which I didn’t want, rest which I didn’t need, a cab which I couldn’t afford.

 

I had been advised to bring a chaperone, but had chosen to do it alone, to just get on with it.  I wanted to get to my car and get home. I was expecting a massive change to occur within 10 minutes of taking the pill, maybe something similar to the dramatic agony of the girl on the day or growing a third head like a scene from the movie “Alien”. As the nurse showed me down stairs and enquired as to who I was with. I advised that I was alone.  She was reluctant to let me leave, which annoyed me all the more.   When I assured her I would be fine and would not be driving (despite having parked my car right outside) and would be on a bus, she became even more flappy, running off to get me the number of a local taxi.  I took the number and told her that I would call from outside the main door from my mobile.

 

As soon as I stepped outside, I made my way to my vehicle, put it into gear and drove off .

 

Driving through Brixton Road I remember talking to myself, my stomach, my car, the traffic lights and the ambulance that whizzed by me to another patient somewhere in London.  I willed my body to hold off its punishment for me until I was safe in the confines of my home. I willed my car to carry me back without incident as the old Megane had a tendency to be temperamental in its mechanics. I willed each traffic light to go green and allow me to pass, believing that I had a time schedule before I crumpled: and a I bade hello to the ambulance vehicle making jest at the fact that they may need to about turn and come for me shortly  –  if the side effects I had been warned of were to come about.

 

I arrived home without incident. My daughter was staying with her grandmother for the night, a precaution taken to remove her from the view of any suffering which I expected to go through.

 

Once in my house, I waited…

 

How has your abortion affected you?

For me, the physical side effects were no more that a heavy menstrual cycle.  Or ironically, the post birth bleeds of a mother.

 

The abortion took place on a Friday morning. By the afternoon and having no pain, I decided I wanted to be with my daughter and drove over to my mum’s to stay the weekend.  On the Sunday I attended my church for usual morning Mass and broke.  The gospel focused on the celebration of sanctity of life.  The month of October honours Our Lady (Mary) and as my Priest declared prayers for the children and souls lost to abortion, the full realisation of what I had just done hit me like a train.

 

Standing near the confessional booth with my pram (my usual spot in the overly crowded church), I wept quietly as the priest spoke. On feeling a tug at my hand I looked down and saw a little girl who had wandered out of her mother’s pew position, she stood below me looking up at the crazy lady weeping in the aisle. I felt that she was intimating “the children don’t hate you, it’s ok”. With that my I felt awareness of sin and shame with despair.

 

I met my Priest on the way out of Mass and requested time from him for the following day.  On the Monday I met him in the priest house and divulged the events of weekend. In the months following I was unable to take Communion at church, feeling such a wretched thing that although I had been absolved on the instruction of my Priest, I was in no way worthy of religious interaction.

 

I sought counsel from independent advisors and other religious leaders of sects of the Christian faith. Hoping that someone would grant me some relief from the massive grief I felt.

 

I built massive moral tasks to fulfil, intending that if I could do so then it would repay my sinful debt. For months I undervalued and hated myself, refraining from Catholic privileges in the belief that I was not worthy of any forgiveness or love.

 

I ricocheted into a semi-abusive relationship, with a controlling male who seemed to take strength in belittling and insulting me. I allowed it to continue as the presence of someone who wanted me was like a testimony to my conscience that I wasn’t the worst person in the world.  In addition, the fact that I had given myself physically to this male as the first person following the abortion…. I felt that I owed it to someone, maybe God, to MAKE the relationship work into a “correct marital situation”.

 

Constantly I would walk about with tears in my eyes and would weep randomly.  Searching through internet articles of post abortive retreats and wondering why there were none in the UK.

 

I bought book on book, wrote diaries and letters of my feelings and on listening to the radio believed that I could hear messages in songs. Messages from my aborted son (I believe) and my living daughter. These messages were of comfort and forgiveness; to this day I believe I have felt the presence of my child pulling me through such a dark and despairing time.

 

How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?

Since the event I find that I cherish my daughter in a more honorary way. I feel a need to prove my parenting to her by providing her with everything I can.

 

At the time of my abortion two of my close friends were pregnant with their second children. There is no bitterness or malice towards them or their children, although I find pangs of emotion and pain hit me when I see how my daughter interacts with the new babies. She is so desperate for another sibling; I do believe that my sacrificial action to give her more materially was the wrong decision. She would have loved a brother more than anything.

 

Personal relationships are currently a difficult issue. Frigidity and guilt surround any idea of physical intimacy. Consequently I worry if I will ever be able to meet that ‘right and special’ person, settle down and create a family. Celibacy is such a foreign concept to modern day relationships.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?

In searching for some solace I have been involved in a year long counselling programme looking at all the emotions, feelings and relationships surrounding myself then and now. This was a help and bought into the fore some other issues of considerations which I may need to tackle in my life. However, the lack of guidance given by a counsellor, the concept of helping me to explore and find my own resolutions sometimes left me feeling lost and further misunderstood.   On my most rational level I could reason that the decision to abort was solely mine, there was no blame or anger to tackle. My turmoil resulted from a feeling of religious guilt which was just not addressed in its fullness by one who could not share my Catholic persuasion.

 

As the counsellor could not give me guidance, direction or absolution I felt lost. I think that the loss I was experiencing required a sense of leadership to bring me back into the fold, to take my hand and draw me there. This is not something I could do with distant guide and a well meaning poke in the right direction.

 

I continued to seek this guide by speaking to Pastors and Preachers. A year on from my abortion I met a Friar a vigil mass for the victims of abortion.  He directed me to an Irish spiritual retreat, which was to be the biggest turning point in my road to healing.

 

At Rachel’s Vineyard, after a tearful weekend of reflection, discussion and love, I finally found a sense of guidance. Every nerve within me was touched as I felt taken. With my Irish roots I felt as though I had been drawn home in so many ways: spiritually, physically and literally.

 

There I finally learnt and accepted that we can make mistakes… even the best of us.

 

And we can still be loved and welcomed back home.

 

Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?

In our natural make up we are designed to bear and care for our children from the very moment of their existence; yet abortion goes against this in the most perverse sense. Not only might we feel the failure element in our lack of protection, but we also have to accept that the failure was of own making and at our hands.

 

The Lady Macbeth syndrome: an awareness of guilt that you cannot wash away or blame elsewhere is one that causes great emotional torment.

 

I believe that even for the non-religious, the modern, the hardened and most women’s lib of us: the dawning realisation that one has the un-retractable death of a life at its most vulnerable on their hands, affects the very fabric soul of a woman and tears holes in that fabric.

Bernadette’s Story

Name: Bernadette
County: Cork

How many abortions have you had? One

 

1. My circumstances at the time of the abortion.

I came from a traditional uncomplicated, pious Catholic culture in the west of Ireland. In my late teens I emigrated to England, hoping to experience a world less restrictive, of more opportunity, more exciting. In the permissive social life of London, seeking love in the wrong places, in naiveté I became pregnant, the early stages of which involved severe sickness necessitating emergency hospitalisation.

 

I took what appeared to me at that time to be the only choice I had. This decision made in haste, triggered years of suffering, self-loathing, fear of family finding out my secret, fear of social exposure, self torture, and fear of God.

 

The main motivation for my abortion was fear. I could not tell my family that I was pregnant. I could not bring shame on them. I had the false expectation that I could turn back the clock on my life, and everything would be just fine again. I was so naive. I had no idea what abortion was really about, and the doctor who introduced the idea to me did not enlighten me as to the humanity of my unborn child. The word baby was never mentioned, just some products of conception.

 

We are being brainwashed today into thinking that there is nothing there, (in the womb) that it is a blob, a bunch of cells. Each one of us began as an embryo.


The most powerful witnesses for the humanity of the unborn are not scientists, but mothers who mourn. We women are not crying over products of conception. We are crying over the deaths of our children.

 

2. How many weeks pregnant were you?
I was around ten weeks pregnant.

 

3. What type of abortion was performed?
To this day I do not know what type of abortion was performed. All I know is that I can still see the face of the anesthetist peering into my face before he injected me. He said that I would be just fine and that I would wake up and it would be all over.

 

4. Did anyone bring pressure to bear on you or coerce you to choose abortion?

The decision to abort my baby was made in fear of condemnation by my family, in self pity that such a frightening outcome had happened to me, a mere teenager, a trusted doctor, assuring me that the procedure would be simple, effective, with no after effects, a quick and easy escape from my debilitating sickness and emotional problems.

 

5. How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?
I was not given any information about the abortion procedure. I received no counselling, only assurance that I would be just fine afterwards. In my anxious state I did not ask any questions.

 

6. Do you think you were adequately informed at the time, of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?
I was not given any information about abortion or its consequences. I am angry that a trusted Doctor told me that it was a simple procedure. There is nothing there just some cells, and that I would be fine afterwards.

 

7. What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?
I just remember waking up screaming. Three nurses holding me down in the bed. Perhaps deep down in my subconscious I was already aware of the enormity of what I had done.

 

8. What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?
I felt relief. Feelings of relief are common immediately after abortion. You are free from the burden of an unplanned pregnancy, free from anxiety, free from the pressures related to the decision. Free! It’s all over. You think that life can get back to normal…… that is, as long as you can believe you did nothing wrong.

 

I built a wall of denial around myself. Denial is a wall of protection that I put up in order to cope with the reality of my decision. It is not a difficult wall to erect. I began to build the wall when I made that decision, and added many bricks over the years. Society also provide’s bricks for that wall. Two of the bricks, misinformation and the omission of information which can lead a woman to believe the decision to abort is, physically a safe one.

 

9. How has/have your abortion affected you?
The lies have affected me the most. One of the lies is that you move on unaffected. Abortion changed my whole life. I wasn’t told that abortion would lead to unbelievable self-hatred. I wasn’t told that every time I heard a baby cry it was like a knife turning in my heart. I wasn’t told that on the birthdays of my living children, I would remember the one I would never bake a birthday cake for. Abortion is supposed to be a quick fix for an unwanted pregnancy, but there is no quick fix for regret. There was no quick fix for the guilt, the anger, the shame, the grief, the pain of loss. I suffered deep depression on the anniversaries of the abortion. I had nightmares, flashbacks to the abortion, suicidal thoughts, and low self esteem. I have listened to many women’s stories of what led them to “choose” abortion. For some, it appeared to be the very best option. For others, it seemed like the only choice. For all it was the most traumatic event in their lives.

 

There is a common thread which runs through many testimonies of women who have suffered psychological trauma or physical injury: a sense of anger and betrayal when they discover that they were never told about the dangers of induced abortion.

 

10. How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?
I had a great fear that someone would find out my terrible secret. I felt like I had a big A on my forehead. I eventually met my future husband and shared with him about my abortion. He encouraged me to move on, but he did not understand the pain in my heart.

 

When my children were born I was so afraid that something bad would happen to them because of what I had done. I felt that I did not deserve to have them. I thought that God would punish me by harming my children.

 

I would spend many years attempting to bury the past before realizing that I was experiencing many of the well documented symptoms of Post Abortion Trauma. Neither could I have predicted that a day would come when I would be hearing these same symptoms being shared by many other women who have travelled down the same dark road.

 

11. What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?
The first step in my journey towards healing occurred when I decided to share my story with a friend. One night I risked our relationship by trusting her with my painful secret. To my amazement she uttered no word of condemnation and as I searched her face for signs of unspoken shock and horror I could see only a face filled with compassion, and a tiny ray of hope was born in my heart. I had begun to dismantle the secret. The isolation was ending. She said ‘Don’t waste your pain’ Let God use it for good. God can make miracles out of our mistakes.

 

12. Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?
Millions of women and men around the world silently carry the grief of a secret abortion in their hearts. They are silenced by shame.

 

Abortion is repeatedly sold as a “safe and simple” solution. Routinely, no information is given about alternatives, fetal development or procedure risks. Before a woman can be truly free to make her own choice, she must make a decision based on factual information about all the aspects of abortion.


Individuals have a right to be informed about the inherent dangers of induced abortion. They should be aware that the psychological problems as a result of abortion and post-abortion trauma are a reality. At present, women are told nothing about the detrimental effects of abortion.

 

Many women tell me that after the abortion they are told to move on, and that their feelings are hormonal and will pass, or that the guilt and remorse they feel is because of social or religious conditioning.


Today I facilitate Rachel’s Vineyard retreats. Rachel’s Vineyard was founded in the U.S. by Dr. Theresa Burke, Ph.D. The retreat is an intensive process for emotional and spiritual healing. The abortion wound is a complicated and traumatic experience of grief and loss and the healing journey must enable the individual to safely journey to the heart of this pain and reconcile with God, self, and the aborted child and others. Women, men, grandparents, and siblings can participate in this retreat.

 

I have facilitated sixty five retreats since I began here in Ireland in 2003, and have witnessed the healing which takes place on these special weekends. I have facilitated Rachel’s Vineyard retreats in England, Scotland, Wales, Malta, Lebanon, and have been to the Faroe Islands to prepare for a retreat there in the near future. I have been invited to facilitate a retreat in Korea next October.

 

My hope today is that by sharing my story, it will help someone who is suffering in silence, to know that there is hope and there is healing, and also to raise awareness about the damage that abortion does to women, men and families. Abortion ends the life of an unborn child and deeply damages the mother.

Lynn’s Story

My Story

 

Lynn Coles, Down

How many abortions have you had?  One

 

What were your circumstances at the time of the abortion?

I was born and brought up in Belfast. I am sixth of eight siblings. My parents were not religious in any way but we were sent to Sunday School. I went to a Grammar School and I moved to England in 1978 for work after my GCSEs. I started dating my boyfriend a year later in 1979 when I was still 17. The relationship was my first sexual relationship. We had been going out for about 14 months when I discovered I was pregnant. It was a shock as I had been on the Pill.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?

I had missed two periods and reckoned I was about 10 weeks pregnant based on my dates.

 

What type of abortion was performed?

I never knew what type of abortion was performed. I don’t recall having anything explained to me. It is only when I went through abortion recovery counselling and I started to research what type of abortion procedure is used for the first trimester, that I realised I would have had a ‘vacuum aspiration’ abortion.

 

Did anyone pressure or coerce you to choose abortion?

My boyfriend was out of the country and uncontactable when I discovered I was pregnant. The Doctor I saw was tied in with my employment and he immediately mentioned abortion as soon as he gave me the test results. By the time I left the Doctor’s Office and walked back to my Department, my immediate Supervisor had been told. To me, abortion was just a word and I never really knew what it entailed. I knew of others who had had abortions and they seemed fine. I was given a week to try and contact my boyfriend but already booked in for the abortion the following week. Contacting my boyfriend was a near on impossible task in 1980 with no email, mobiles or Facebook. I had to resort to sending a telegram. I felt I had no other choice but to follow through on the abortion. I was being encouraged by those much more mature than me, those in authority over me and health professionals that it was the best thing to do.

 

I was ashamed to be pregnant and wished that I had told one of my sisters or a friend back home in Belfast. I think their advice would have been the complete opposite to that I was being given in England. Abortion seemed very acceptable in England.

 

How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?

None that I recall. I saw one Doctor for the pregnancy test. I saw a further two Doctors before I was booked in for the abortion. I had been advised to say that I was suicidal to secure the signatures of the two Doctors. My employer would then pay for the abortion and health professionals employed by them would carry out the abortion. I was told by everyone that the baby was not a baby and was ‘just a blob of cells’. I was encouraged to put it out of my mind and think about my career…and that “I would have plenty of time to have children in the future.”

 

Do you think you were adequately informed at the time, of the physical, emotional, psychological  and spiritual consequences of abortion?

Absolutely, categorically …No. If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone through with it and would have saved myself years of heartbreak. I chose abortion but little did I know that my ‘choice’ would prove to be a poor choice.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

It was performed on 21st September 1980. I was put in to a ward with women giving birth and visitors coming to and fro with baby gifts, pink and blue balloons and flowers. Even then I recall thinking that this was not right. I was the only girl in that ward who was a) Not married and b) Not having a baby. I am sure the women who had their babies or were giving birth, knew why I was there but no-one spoke to me. I felt alone and isolated.

 

The next day I was taken down for the abortion. I was given a full anaesthetic. Later, I woke up in the bed and was immediately sick from the effects of the anaesthetic. I suddenly remembered that I had woken up during the procedure and felt a tugging sensation in my stomach. I had a vivid recollection of verbalising that I was in pain and recalled crying. This disturbed me so much that I called for a Nurse. I asked the Nurse if I had woken up during the procedure and explained what I recalled. She told me to not be so ‘stupid’ and ‘of course you didn’t’. Everyone in the room heard her patronising tone and I immediately felt shamed. Because of this, I decided there and then, that I would not ask anymore questions about the abortion ever again. I would put it out of my mind as never having happened. That day, the walls went up and my voice was silenced.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?

Sadness…what have I done? Physical pain from the abortion procedure and emotionally confused particularly in relation to the memory of waking up during the procedure. After the incident with the Nurse, anger was the emotion that closely followed. That anger never left me until I went through the healing process many years later. It affected all parts of my life. A feeling of powerlessness also ensued. I berated myself for getting myself in to the situation in the first place. Relief was a small part of what I felt and if anything, I was only relieved that the procedure was over.

 

How has your abortion affected you?

I was led to expect that my life would go on as normal. It was nothing to be concerned about, just a simple procedure and ‘the baby wasn’t a baby anyhow’. Unbelievably, and I even thought this at the time, I returned to work the very next day after I left the hospital. No counselling and no support.

 

Anger played a big part in the aftermath of my abortion. I was angry at myself for getting pregnant, angry at my boyfriend for not being there to my protect me from abortion and the abuse of authority of my employers, angry at my employers for coercing me in to the abortion with the threat of not only losing my job and my income but also my home if I did not abort.

 

How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?

It affected my relationship with my boyfriend. He had no part to play in the abortion obviously and by the time he had received my communication telling him I was pregnant, I had already had the abortion. We had discussed marriage already and when he returned a few weeks later, we got engaged and married 6 months later. We should never have married. I felt that the abortion had changed me forever and felt completely different about my husband than I did prior to the abortion. I felt though, that I had had an abortion and forged this unhealthy bond now with the father of the baby I aborted – best I marry him. I am sure my husband then probably felt guilty in some way about what had happened and if you asked him today, he would probably agree that we should not have married.

 

The only conversation my husband and I ever had about the abortion was one in which he said that ‘at least we know we can have children.’ I never shared with him how it made me feel and was unable to articulate how awful I felt. Everyone around me was saying what a great thing abortion was for women but no-one was saying that they felt like I did. I thought it must just be me then.

 

The abortion affected how I trusted people. I kept people at arm’s length. I became paranoid about taking the Pill whilst married to my husband, even though there would now be no problem with me getting pregnant. We divorced after 6 years of marriage and no further pregnancies.

 

Over the following 10 years, I worked in a professional environment. I found that I would react to the subject of abortion when it came up on a TV programme or conversations with peers. Whilst still holding a view that it was ‘a woman’s right to choose’, I would react angrily when people would espouse that abortion was a good thing. I never disclosed to anyone that I would constantly think about the baby I aborted from the day of the abortion – Christmas and anniversary dates being frequent triggers for memories. I would look at the children of friends, who would be around the same age as my aborted child, and ponder on what my child would look like, would he/she be walking/talking/going to school etc.,  Every milestone in life brought memories.

 

I subsequently met and married my second husband and we have been happily married for 21 years. I miscarried our first child, a daughter whom we named Lily. I fell pregnant straightaway with our second daughter, Holly. It was during the pregnancy with Holly and reading the ante natal books on baby development etc., that the full force of what I had done ten year’s previously, fully hit me.

 

I read about the first trimester and how the heartbeat can start as early as 6 weeks. The baby is fully formed (although still to mature) at 12 weeks. The reality sunk in that I had been told lies and had believed every one of them. I felt physically sick. I had not told my second husband about my previous abortion. I felt that I had to do this as at my first ante natal appointment, they asked me outright if I had had any previous abortions and recorded that fact on my notes which I brought home with me. My husband was very understanding and compassionate. He and I though were totally in the dark about the turmoil which was about to encroach upon our life. All your history is in your future. You just don’t know what the future holds when you make the decision to abort. Telling your husband about a past abortion is tough.

 

All through the pregnancy with Holly, I had mixed emotions.  Very happy to be carrying Holly but also grieving the child I had aborted.  It affected my professional life also.  I was a serving Police Officer when I fell pregnant with Holly.  As a result  of my experiencing poor handling of maternity rights and procedures, I became a Federation Representative for female Constables (approx 650) in my area.  This was in addition to my normal operational duties and hours.  I dealt with many sexual discrimination, harassment and equal opportunities grievances on a regular basis.  I now know that it was my abortion experience which was the driving force but I couldn’t see it at the time.  My thinking was:  why can’t a woman have a child and her career?  I didn’t want to see other women pushed into the same decision I had 10 years previously.

 

I found that when I gave birth to Holly, that our happiness was tinged with sadness and I couldn’t bond with her fully.  I looked at her and wondered what my aborted child would have looked like as well as the daughter we miscarried.

 

To all intents and purposes, people would have assumed I had ‘post natal depression’ following the birth of Holly.  I knew, deep down, it was the abortion that was the crux of the problem but never shared that with my Doctor.  The following four years were difficult and my poor husband, bless him, will testify to what it is like to live with a post abortive woman.  We were on the verge of divorce when God drew me to Him.  I had changed my ‘religion’ early on in life to ‘agnostic’ on official paperwork but for over the year of 1993, I felt that God was speaking the truth in to my life, slowly but surely.  I came to a personal faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and my husband followed suit, one month later.

 

At that time, I knew instantly that all my sin was forgiven by what Jesus had done for me on the Cross and that included the sin of abortion.  God does not have a sliding scale of sin with abortion being number one and gossiping as number 10.  Sin is sin and only one person was without sin – Jesus.  So, my burden of shame and guilt of my abortion was lifted and through God leading me to another Godly woman called Margaret, I received help and counselling to think and pray through how my abortion had affected me.  I named my aborted child Stephen and gave him his rightful place in our family as the eldest.  I became involved in helping other women who were struggling after their abortion experience.

 

Fast forward a few more years to 1997 and I was pregnant with our third daughter, Bryony.  God has done amazing things in my life and brought immense healing – physically, emotionally and more importantly, spiritually.  Our daughter Bryony was born perfectly healthy and weighed in at 9lbs 11oz.

 

Both Holly and Bryony know they have lost a brother to abortion.  Explaining this to them, in age-appropriate language, was difficult for me and for them.  The abortion provider doesn’t give you instructions on how to do that nor are they anywhere to be found when that time comes.  (NB:  I would strongly advise that no woman should tell their children about a past abortion without first going through an abortion recovery programme and exploring her reasons for wanting to disclose this information with an abortion recovery specialist.)

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?

Until I met Jesus, nothing helped.  Nothing.  I tried alcohol to numb the pain and when that didn’t work, I tried food.  I felt suicidal a lot of the time which is ironic when I think back to being coached to say I was suicidal to obtain the abortion in the first place.  I wasn’t suicidal about being pregnant but I was most definitely suicidal after the abortion.

 

Christ has set me free from the pain and burden of abortion.  He has forgiven me and in turn I was able to forgive all those involved in the abortion decision and process including my abortion providers.  The pent up, unresolved grief was the reason for the anger – along with unforgiveness.   Withholding forgiveness is often the cause of depression in many people.  It was such a relief to lay it all down as I was sick and tired of carrying it.  A key verse from the Bible, which God used to speak to me at this time, was:

 

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 Matthew 11:28

 

I read a lot of books over the years on recovery after abortion and met with other women who had gone through the same experience.  I attend regular training and keep up to date with research on the subject.  I realised that God loved me even when I didn’t know Him and had rejected Him.  He gives us free will to choose.  There is nothing I can do to earn His love and nothing I can do which will make Him love me any more or any less.  It is an unconditional gift – we just have to accept it.  Every woman’s healing journey is different and God is still revealing things to me even now.

 

I have been involved in abortion recovery now for over 15 years, on a voluntary basis.  I have used various programmes and now lead a course called ‘Surrendering the Secret’ www.surrenderingthesecret.com.  It is an 8 week ‘closed Group’ and is completely confidential.  You can go to the website and explore more for yourself.

 

Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?

I have met Muslim women who have had abortions and been deeply affected and at the other end of the spectrum, I have met atheists who react the same way.  Their symptoms displayed and what they share is a communal one.  It is not a ‘religious’ thing to feel regret after abortion – it is a ‘human’ thing and a ‘woman’ thing.  We were not designed to take the life of our children.  It doesn’t matter what reason we decide to abort and it doesn’t matter what stage of pregnancy either.  It is the abortion itself that deeply damages us and the ripple effects of abortion, cross the race, creed & social divides.

 

If you are pregnant and considering abortion, take the time to think things through.  You are pregnant and so your body is changing already, you will no doubt be on an emotional roller coaster and your situation maybe difficult, causing you to consider abortion.  Try to think objectively and not be driven by your emotions.  There is always a way through even the most difficult of circumstances.  I was told abortion would solve my problems, but it only gave me new ones.

 

There is help available for you.  You are not alone.  You can talk to others who have walked in your shoes and please don’t overlook the miracle of adoption.

If you are struggling after an abortion experience, I want you to know that you are not alone.  There is hope and healing.  Take courage, a deep breath and make contact with Women Hurt so you can access some help and start your road to recovery.

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