Emily’s Story

How many abortions have you had? One

 

What were your circumstances at the time of your abortion?
I had moved out of my boyfriend’s apartment in order to save what was left of a very toxic relationship. We disagreed on lifestyle choices and it wasn’t a good situation. I wanted to travel and he didn’t. He wanted to smoke cannabis and do cocaine leisurely and I didn’t. I found out I was pregnant a week after moving out. It was devastating. I had finally put the distance we needed between us. I wasn’t breaking up with him; he just needed to see how hard it was for me to forgive his ways before. It took a lot for me to take him back. He was supposed to be quitting drugs to save the relationship and it wasn’t working for either of us. It should have been for him. I was the only one who wanted him to stop. His friends didn’t see the damage he was doing to himself and me.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?
I was supposed to be 9 weeks but when I was in the counselling session before surgery they said it looked closer to 11. When we first found out I was probably 3 or 4 weeks. I just didn’t want to go through with an abortion. I kept putting it off hoping my boyfriend would make the decision. Hoping I would wake up one morning and it would be a bad dream. In the end we made a list of pros and cons. It didn’t change how I felt. It was horrible. I remember telling him I didn’t want to kill my baby. I remember not wanting to tell my mum. I remember thinking why had I not left sooner.

 

What type of abortion was performed?
I had a vacuum abortion.

 

Did anyone pressure you or coerce you to choose abortion?
When my boyfriend and I found out, I was so upset. His first words were that ‘we don’t have to keep it’. Looking back I think he didn’t want me to be upset but I was so angry at his comment. I couldn’t believe he would say that. We were at his apartment and in the bathroom. Cigarette butts where still fresh in the sink from a party. It took us to get pregnant for him to see the problem with that. I was numb with the shock of it. I would go to work and cry in the bathroom, cry on my break. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I wanted my boyfriend to say the drugs were gone and we can do this. I needed him. I remember a counsellor told me to do what I believed in. I didn’t believe that abortion was right. I didn’t believe in our relationship and I didn’t trust myself to be a single parent. I didn’t want to resent my baby for the things I wanted to do.

 

How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?
Prior to the abortion, my boyfriend did all the organising. I was so mad I just wanted him to deal with it. I wanted him to see what he was doing and change his mind. I didn’t want it to be like the drugs, and for him to want it for me. The more he organized the more I thought ‘wow! he doesn’t want this’. I wasn’t thinking about me at all. Maybe he wanted me to be the strong one and say we should keep our baby, I don’t know. I remembered seeing images from posters and had never thought I would do that to my baby yet I assumed they were all so big and we were so early on in the pregnancy. Time seemed to go so fast. I booked a ticket to go away for a few weeks and get my head together. I figured it was only a few weeks and maybe he would realise what he wanted in that time, and I would have had my trip. But the more he kept quiet the more time went by and I was scared if I went away and came back that he’ d leave me on my own.

 

I thought abortion was the right thing to do in our circumstances. Now I know what a fetus looks like at 11 weeks. It’s haunting.

 

Do you think you were adequately informed at the time, of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?
Not by anyone who had been through it, not by anyone in counselling. All everyone kept saying was do what you believe in and I was so confused. I needed support. My boyfriend had said at one point that his parents would not mind so much. I just wanted him to want it.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?
I remember wearing a plain black t shirt. I remember the floor was really cold and I was the only one there without girlie clothes. My boyfriend packed my bag. It had an old man’s robe and men’s slippers. I felt so cheap. I remember crying the entire way up to each floor and waiting room. I didn’t belong there. My boyfriend said we could turn back but when it had gone that far I just wanted to get it over with. I remember mostly the gas being put on my face and a nurse asking me if I liked vodka. That it would smell a bit like vodka. I hate vodka.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?
I went into autopilot. I just tried to be strong but I was devastated. I just focused on getting away for my trip.

 

How has your abortion affected you?
I can say without doubt it has been the most painful experience of my life. When I came home from my trip my boyfriend broke up with me. He and his friends wouldn’t talk to me and I think he told them it was something I wanted and it wasn’t. He kept saying if I talked about it he would never speak to me again. I was a mess. I even went to visit his parents. I was worried he would do something to himself. Yet they say he was really happy and that I had to move on. It made no sense. They shut me out and sent me a four page long email on what a horrible person I was. They told me that they knew of women who had been in ‘similar situations and had handled it better – even worse, women that were unwilling.’ That was such a betrayal from my boyfriend. I think he hated himself so much that he had to play a victim. They told me anyone who ever met me, hated me and that pity was something they affiliated to someone they had some sort of affection towards and that they couldn’t say – they pitied me. He moved on pretty fast. Met someone new and made me out to be a crazy ex. He made out that my trip was more important. He went back to his ways and I was left to deal with it. He had said ‘if you have a bad day, I’ll know why. Let’s not talk about it’. I couldn’t breathe for wanting to scream about it. I wanted to be sure we would make it together as a couple before bringing a baby into such a toxic situation.

 

How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?
I haven’t been able to get close to another guy in about 6 years. I seem so confident and can hide it so well but I was hurting so much. If someone had held me I’d have fallen apart. I was adamant that my ex should deal with it and didn’t want any other guy to. I felt we owed it to our baby to learn from it and not leave it so horribly.

 

My family saw a massive change in me. My relationships in the family were always strained but the anger I felt was on another level. Every thing I ever resented came up in huge fights. I was angry at secrets and angry at trying to help people and getting nothing back. When I told my mum she was really cold about it. It wasn’t long after that I became really sick. I started to bleed heaviliy. I couldn’t go anywhere. Daily I lost so much blood. I felt a lump in my abdomen and I was so traumatised I was convinced it was my baby. It was a tumor and a very large one. I had it removed after a long time of medication but everything took its toll. I was put into a false menopause in order to stop the bleeding and it didn’t work. I turned to anti depressants after that. I was living in fear of not being able to have children at 25 years old. I lost faith in the people I thought cared about me. No one could see the loss. I was just some crazy girl who was ‘depressed’ or not over it or needed to move on.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?
I’ve tried everything. It hurts accepting that I am the one who has to take responsibility. I’ve felt incredibly alone. That’s been the hardest thing to swallow. That I failed at that relationship. That I couldn t get anyone to understand how hurt I was. I was always aware of counselling but it was too long winded. I was hurting so badly I needed more. When I came across abortion recovery groups on the internet I was desperate. It was my last chance. When given the opportunity to acknowledge my baby’s short life it helped a great deal. To be able to cry and even wail at how hurt and angry I was meant so much to me. No one judged me or laughed at me. Now when I have a bad day I look to a stronger force than me. I don’t know what kept me going throughout it all but I believe there are some really good people out there.

 

Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?
It’s not the same for every woman but in my experience you’d be kidding yourself if you think it will fix anything. You’re going against a natural process. There is a natural grief that will be with you but when you can’t talk about it, it becomes something else. Depression, nightmares, panic attacks, stress, headaches. When you see children you will notice a reaction in yourself. Everyone’s situation is different but I didn’t make the right choice for me and paid a very high price. I don t know how to get close to anyone now and I still get scared that I won’t have children.

 

If your reason is a quick fix – DON’T DO IT. Pregnancy is the most natural thing in the world – believe in yourself.

Louise’s Story

Name:  Louise

 

My circumstances at the time of the abortion.

It was a hasty decision. I think like many other women I went into ‘panic mode’ and believed the lie if I get rid of this ‘uncomfortable problem’ then all my problems would be solved. My head was all over the place, due to pregnancy hormones and the aftermath of an extremely violent relationship.

 

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

My family urged me to go ahead with it and the father started becoming increasingly violent. The fact that the child’s father was a psychopath and I was already a single parent to a young child heavily influenced my decision. I felt, I had no choice, how wrong was I.  Statistics show that domestic violence often leads to abortion.

 

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

The physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of my abortion were overwhelming. My world fell apart, that night and next morning and weeks ahead when I fully realised what I had done. Extreme loneliness, sadness and shock at the loss of my much wanted child. I was convinced I would never experience ‘joy’ again. My body ached to nurture and sustain life. It was devastating, heartbreaking. Nights were filled with restlessness and scary, vivid nightmares. I was truly traumatised. This is an extract from my diary at the time. ‘I’m a mess, trying to go into town’ have to wear shades to hide my teary eyes. Scared, frightened and grieving badly. The pregnancy hormones are still in a post abortive woman’s body. I was left in a very fragile, emotional state. I desperately needed human support which thankfully I had. I could understand a woman might consider suicide in this desperate state of mind.

 

How has your abortion affected you?

It was not the right decision for me. I believe most women feel pressurised and coerced by family and society into getting an abortion. Their hormones are raging. They are fooled into thinking abortion is a viable choice. A ‘quick fix’ that would let them return to normal life. They are ignorant of the devastating emotional and psychological consequences of an abortion and in ‘no fit state’ to make such a serious ‘life altering’ decision. I don’t believe it is ever ‘the right decision’ to take a life. It is barbaric.

 

The thing is, I knew even when I was pregnant abortion was not the right decision for me yet I naïvely went through with it. Why, I will never know. I have to live with this. I remember clutching my stomach one evening so glad my baby was still with me. It was like my baby was taken from me in an extremely sinister way.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?

It is still very raw for me so I have a lot of healing left to do but I can honestly say I experience ‘joy’ and ‘peace every day. This is because I have a strong faith in God. One good thing that has come out of this is my faith has been strengthened. Shortly after, I experienced an intense healing in a ‘Rachel’s vineyard’ retreat. My family and friends have been very supportive.

 

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

I would like to say. If you are a woman thinking of having an abortion. Please don’t give in, don’t listen to the lies, you can keep your baby. I believe abortion is ‘ an assault on woman’. It tears the very fabric of our souls. It ruins lives. With abortion one heart is stopped and another is broken.

Eimear’s Story

Eimear, Dublin.

 

How many abortions have you had? One

 

My circumstances at the time of the abortion.
I was going through a very difficult time and was trying to find happiness in my life. I had only come out of a long term relationship and the breakup left me feeling very unloved. I had low self esteem and was vulnerable after breaking up with someone who I thought had loved me and was going to for the rest of our lives. Time passed and I began to go out socialising with some old friends who I became distant from during my relationship. I ended up falling pregnant for one of them, I was devastated.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?
Eleven and a half weeks.

 

What type of abortion was performed?
I have no idea. I only remember a woman giving me a tablet/s to take and then a while later I was lying in the theater on a trolley and the abortionist asking me to count down. The details of that day are very difficult for me to think or even talk about.

 

Did anyone bring pressure to bear on you or coerce you to choose abortion?
No. I feel that if my doctor had not mentioned that he could give me a contact number in England to have an abortion, I may not have made that call.

 

How much information were you given on the abortion procedure at the time and by whom?
I remember very little information regarding the procedure given to me that day. I went to a clinic first where I had to meet some kind of counselor who questioned me about the abortion. I remember I didn’t like the questions and the information I was being told. It nearly drove me insane having to listen to her and faintly recall telling her to leave me alone and trying to leave but she stopped me. I just wanted to get out of there.

 

Then I went to the hospital and sat in a room where a lady took money from me. She gave me some tablets and told me to take them. I was brought to another room and asked to take my clothes off and put some type of garment on for the operating theater.

 

Do you think you were adequately informed at the time, of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?
I slightly recall being told something in the clinic and afterward in the hospital but cannot remember exactly what it was. I do remember my doctor in Ireland telling me that I would need some counseling when I returned from England. That doctor hasn’t a clue about the way it has affected me in my life. My life had been a nightmare after having the abortion.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?
I remember being brought to the theater on a trolley bed and wheeled into the room. There were very large bright lights over me. The abortionist came in. I remember someone said my name, this is Eimear. He said hello to me and asked whoever was behind me if everything was ready. I couldn’t see him properly. I wanted to so I tried lifting my head to see and he was putting on latex gloves. I became very frightened of what was about to happen. He said, Eimear you are going to be okay just rest and start counting backwards from some number.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?
When the abortion procedure was complete, I was left on a trolley in recovery as I remember lifting my eyes to see another woman on a trolley beside me with a blanket over her. It was so quiet in the room, but then I could hear the noise of a machine nearby and I couldn’t bear to hear the sound of it, I began to cry as I realized what the machine was. I closed my eyes hoping to fall back into a deep sleep. I did.

 

I woke up in a ward; I was hysterical screaming with the pain, the emptiness I felt and the instant reality that what I had done was all wrong. It made me feel worse, not better. The first thing that came into my mind was that I wanted my baby back. I remember lying there wishing I had never gone through with it. I felt so guilty, so brokenhearted. It was awful; I will never forget how a nurse came over to me and asked me to be quiet that I was upsetting other patients. The pain was unbearable. She handed me a couple of painkillers. I felt like I was going to die. I was so distraught at what I had done.

 

To make it worse, Whitney Houston’s song was playing in the ward “The Greatest Love of All”. As I heard the following words, I felt I was being tortured for what I had done, I was in so much pain and couldn’t get out of the bed. I screamed and roared at the nurse to turn off the radio. It was heartbreaking to hear these words:

 

“I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
 Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me”

 

I, to this day, find it so unbearable to hear that song as it brings me right back to that awful day when I killed my baby.

 

I walked out of the hospital feeling numb, empty, and cold and feeling like my life would never be the same again. I had to think of something quick as no one could ever find out this secret. I knew what I had done but no one else could find out. I was terrified and that terror led me to bury the truth of what had happened and live as if someone else had, had this abortion, not me, not Eimear! That is what I convinced myself of for years. I was in total and utter denial and then the symptoms of post abortion trauma followed. On the outside things looked great but on the inside Eimear was dying.

 

How has/have your abortion affected you?
I was terrified of the dark and unable to sleep. I had awful nightmares, one repeatedly of holding my baby and then my baby slipping through my hands and falling into an open space far away. I used to wake up in sweats, crying and pining for my baby. I would get hysterical when I heard a hoover on as it reminded me of the sound of the machine in the operating theater. If I heard a baby cry or to see a new born baby anywhere used to devastate me. I became so paranoid and lived in fear of almost everything and everyone. I was suicidal; I just wanted my life to end. My confidence and self esteem was nonexistent. I could not and would not look at myself in the mirror because I hated myself and what I had done. I tried to deny my abortion ever happened, for years I hid the hurt.

 

How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?
I told no one close to me about the abortion as I feared what they would say. I was so paranoid around people fearing that they could see right through me and see that I had, had an abortion. It was awful to think like this all the time. My life had become one big mess. Any relationship I had with my family or friends became distant as I feared that if they ever found out what I had done, they would resent me for it and never forgive me.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?
I went to confession, that was my first step, it was so difficult but after I went, I felt some relief. One day I read about Rachel’s Vineyard which is a retreat weekend set up for women who are post abortive. It took me a while to build up the courage to phone the lady about attending one of the weekends. I eventually did. I came through the weekend with a new hope in my heart for my life. I met other post abortive women and men who I could relate to and who I bonded with. I am so glad that I went to the Rachel Vineyards Retreat. It changed my life for the better.

 

Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?
Please seriously consider the consequences of abortion, taking into account the life of your unborn child, your emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual health, your peace and happiness. Abortion is not a solution, it is a problem. You may see your pregnancy as a problem, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I believed that if I had the abortion it would make everything okay, the truth is, it did not, and I felt ten times worse after having my abortion. My life fell apart and I was left suicidal.

 

The minute I woke after the abortion, I was hysterical because instantly I knew I had done wrong and I could not take it back. My baby was torn out of my womb by the abortionist and I had to live with my decision for the rest of my life. It’s too late when the abortion is over. You cannot undo the damage. I would advice a woman to opt for an adoption if you cannot live and care for your baby and give him/her the opportunity of living a healthy full filling life in the care of loving parents hoping to adopt a child. I regret my abortion wholeheartedly and now I wish I had of had my baby and gave him/her up for adoption. I guess I was too much of a coward to do that. In my selfishness I killed my own baby to make my life easier and guilt free. I was feeling guilty before the abortion, I felt far guiltier afterward. Please seriously consider giving your baby up for adoption before ever considering taking the life of your own baby.

Catherine’s Story

Name:  Catherine 

 

How many abortions have you had? One

 

 My circumstances at the time of the abortion.

I was almost 37 when I had an abortion and it broke my heart.   After having had some dark phases in my earlier life, including bouts of depression and an eating disorder, I was ‘in a good place’, when I fell pregnant.  I felt healthy and well-balanced, physically and emotionally.  I was already a single mother of a 15-year old and had been in a committed relationship with a decent man for the previous two years.  I believed I had a reasonable degree of self-awareness and spiritual awareness, prayed and went to Mass and enjoyed visiting religious sites such as Lough Derg, Clonfert and Knock. I was educated to Master’s level, had a secure permanent job in the public sector, a reasonable income, a savings account and my own home.  My circumstances could not have been more different to when I first got pregnant as a 21-year old student, with a man I’d know only 3 months.  There was no reason for me not to welcome this pregnancy and have faith in the future.

 

So why did I choose abortion? 

I will never be able to fully rationalise that decision, but old fears of abandonment, of disapproval and of struggle after my last pregnancy resurfaced with devastating consequences. In hindsight, another significant factor was that I was frighteningly and incomprehensibly ignorant of the reality of abortion and its aftermath. Of course, I rationalised, if I am struggling to cope, or if I am once again abandoned as a single mother, it will not be in the child’s best interest.  The timing isn’t right.  The father isn’t financially secure enough.  The logistics of us moving in together would be too difficult. The childcare burden would be on me. People would be disappointed in me that I let this happen.  I was setting a poor example for my daughter by having another child outside of marriage. I would be trapped in the responsibility of parenthood for another 20 years. But I always wavered. Up to the last second before the procedure, there was always a voice to tell me that this was not the right decision; that this was not in accordance with spiritual law. Unfortunately, I ignored this voice, and proved to myself once again the old adage that it is not possible to break a spiritual law. You can only break yourself against it. And I was left broken and shattered.

 

What type of abortion was performed?

I was eight and a half weeks pregnant when I had a surgical abortion. I had completed the pregnancy test the previous Tuesday evening and by the following Monday I had travelled to Manchester to abort.  I had been feeling very tired, low in energy and unwell the few weeks prior to doing the pregnancy test but attributed this to the fact that I was just back from a two-week holiday abroad. We had been careful to contracept and it was not terribly unusual for my menstrual cycle to be irregular.  I blamed the long flight, the food and drink consumed on holiday, the hectic schedule of activity for this uncharacteristic unwellness I was feeling. By the time I finally did the home pregnancy test, I was at the stage where I was going straight to bed at 5pm after finishing work and had spent the previous weekend lying in bed, though lack of energy.  My mood was low and I became very distressed when I saw the result.  I immediately thought of abortion, as a solution to my problem.  I phoned my partner and he came over (with flowers).  We had a huge argument, as he was unwilling to accept the reasons why I sought to abort, resulting in him leaving my home quite abruptly the following morning.  This confirmed my fear of him walking out and I began to google abortion.  That day I made an appointment with a clinic in Manchester.  My partner and I reconciled that same day but I remained adamant that abortion was an option, despite his best efforts to convince me otherwise.  But still I wavered and cried intermittently for a week.  I made a list of the pros and cons of having the procedure, but crucially never discussed it with anyone but my partner, whose advice I disregarded, as I perceived him to have a ‘vested interest’.

 

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

I could never claim that anyone pressured me into abortion. Quite the opposite. When I discovered I was pregnant, I told only my partner.  My partner was very much against the idea, having had two previous abortions with two other women. Although I empathised with his desire to have the child, I reasoned that the decision was not his, as the ‘burden’ of responsibility (as I saw it) would always be mine. It was too easy for a man to walk away, as the father of my first child had done.  There was no trust.  My experience of having been abandoned as a single mother spoke louder than any words my partner could ever speak.

 

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

In hindsight, the most inexplicable aspect of my experience was my ignorance of the devastating emotional and psychological consequences of abortion. A friend had once confided that she’d had an abortion, but spoke of it in much the same way as having had a tooth extracted, an unpleasant, yet necessary procedure. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but life hadn’t been easy and I had toughened up.  I told the baby in my womb that I was sorry I had to do this, but that it was for the best.  I told my partner the same.  I was wholly unprepared and tragically oblivious to the devastation and desolation that was to follow.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

Arriving at the clinic over an hour early, I struggled to fight back the tears as I provided my details. I was asked to wait so that the nurse could speak to be about the possibility of a medical abortion, which they claimed was significantly cheaper than the surgical procedure.  Sitting in the nurse’s office I cried as she described the procedures. I finally settled on the surgical procedure. I just wanted it over and done with. I waited again to see another nurse about a scan. I cried as she did the scan and took my bloods.  I hated being in that clinic, desperately wanted to run out of there, begged for some kind of sign that what I was doing was right, wished that someone would rescue me.  Finally, I was lying on the table. The doctor asked if I was sure this was what I wanted.  Although in tears, I nodded. Ten minutes later it was all over, and I saw them take away the blue slop bucket.

 

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

No words can ever explain the desolation and despair I felt in those moments following the abortion. The horror of what I had done was revealed to me, I realised what I had lost and I hated myself and the world.  How could I have been so blind, ignorant, selfish? How could I have been fooled into thinking that abortion was ever a viable choice? A quick fix that would let me return to normal life?  Back in the hotel room I wailed for my lost baby. I texted my partner to let him know the procedure was complete.

 

How has/have your abortion affected you?

The following days were the darkest I have ever lived.  There was no hope, no consolation.  In desperation, I confided in a friend, who contacted me by coincidence (or as I now believe through the intercession of a Higher Power). She was aware of a healing retreat for post-abortion women.

 

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

I was not spared the natural grieving process and shed many a tear in the last ten months since the procedure, including during the writing of this testimony.  I have felt a terrible emptiness and sense of loss in my life, and my relationship with my partner has suffered as we struggle to believe in one another again.  I have a renewed respect for the miracle of life and for spiritual laws that govern us. I have a greater appreciation of my daughter and other loved ones and what really is important in life.  Certainly, my self-esteem has taken a hit. I feel more vulnerable, less confident and trust myself less, but that may not be a bad thing.  If anything, this was a terrible lesson in humility for me.  I was not the good, spiritual person I thought I was, nor the intelligent, educated girl that could make balanced decisions.  But the good news is that Christ still loves me and I am still a Child of the Light and not of the darkness.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?

I googled desperately and discovered Rachels Vineyard..  The Friday following the abortion, I attended this retreat and experienced a very powerful healing and this preserved my sanity.  I believe that this was primarily through the release of damaging emotions such as guilt, anger and grief, the renewal of my faith and also through the love, faith and support of the facilitators, other participants and their testimonies. I was too raw to attend the entire retreat so left halfway through but that was enough to initiate my healing.  I returned to complete the retreat two months later and had an even more powerful healing.  I will be eternally grateful for having been led to this retreat as without it I cannot imagine how I would ever have recovered from the trauma of post-abortion.

Audrey’s Story

How many abortions have you had? One

 

What were your circumstances at the time of the abortion?
I was dating my boyfriend from the age of 14 and we became secretly sexually active when I reached the age of 16. I had been sexually abused as a very young girl and I associated sex with love. So when he said to me if I really loved him I would sleep with him I felt this all must be true. I became pregnant at the age of 18. I was in my final year at secondary school and had aspirations to go to University. I told my boyfriend that I thought I might be pregnant but we both tried to ignore this and at times I would find myself hitting my stomach to try and have a miscarriage. I kept my pregnancy hidden until I was 6 months pregnant and then my parents found out. They thought that our minister could give them good advice about what they should do with their teenage daughter who was pregnant. Unfortunately I was not shown compassion and understanding but condemnation and the threat of shame and disgrace. I lived in a small rural community and I would be known as the ‘Scarlet woman’ who had brought disgrace into my family circle and my ‘church community’.

 

I carried my baby to full term and thankfully my parents were able to persuade the minister not to bring me out into public disgrace.

 

I gave birth to my son on the 3rd December 1984 in a maternity ward with strangers. I had no one with me to support me. I never got to see my son Stephen, as I had been persuaded to give him up for adoption. 29 years ago girls didn’t have babies and go to university. I had a week off school and returned to school the following Monday and carried on as if nothing had ever happened. I shut off that part of my heart and it was never talked about.

 

I headed off to university the following year and settled into uni life. I was still seeing my boyfriend (of 7 years) and slept with him one more time. Unfortunately I got pregnant again. I knew that if I told anyone this time they would force me to marry my boyfriend and I knew that we were not a good combination. He had been quite controlling and I suffered greatly from self-esteem issues especially after having had a baby who I gave up for adoption and also having been abused sexually as a young girl. So this time I chose to have an abortion. “Sure it was only a blob of tissues and no one would ever know. I could keep it hidden away, deal with it and that would be it.”

 

Do you think you were adequately informed at the time, of the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion?
The doctor at uni confirmed my pregnancy and suggested some clinics I could contact in England to help me get an abortion. I contacted the clinic and got a date then arranged flights for my sister and friend to accompany me. I did tell my parents and they left the decision to me as I was now 21 and could make these decisions for myself.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?
I headed to London and went to the clinic for my check up. I had left it until the very last available opportunity and the doctor who did the check up said that a week later and I wouldn’t have been able to have the abortion. It was arranged that I would return the next day and check in to the hospital, have my abortion and I could be back home the day after. Everything would be over in one weekend. My sister, my friend and I tried to pass the time that evening by going to the cinema and pretending that everything was normal. My sister did keep asking me was I sure that I was doing the right thing but I had shut my mind and heart off to all emotions and was determined in my head that this was the right thing to do. Sure what could I offer a child? My boyfriend had been two timing me a number of times by this stage so what environment was that to bring a child in to. Even if we did get married and have this child sure we’d only end up divorced and that would be a greater ‘sin’ than what I was doing to this blob of cells.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?
I headed to the clinic the next day and headed down to theatre to have my abortion. When I came round after the procedure I knew that I had a great sadness in my heart. I sobbed uncontrollably and they pulled a curtain around my bed so that I wouldn’t upset the others on the ward. I was so sad within my spirit and when my sister and friend came to visit me later that evening I just sobbed again. My sister cried with me.


I had to shut off my emotions if I was ever going to cope. Once again it was another topic not to be talked about. I shut off all feelings and tried to go on with my life. I had broken off the relationship with my boyfriend just before I had gone to London to have the abortion. I didn’t tell him I was pregnant so he never had a choice in my decision.

 

How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?
I came back home and carried on with my university studies and then trained to become a teacher. I didn’t have a relationship with anyone until I reached 30. I felt that no one would want me as I was ‘soiled goods’. I met a man who had a chequered past like myself and got married. During these next years I tried to deal with the abuse I had received as a child but I was still not prepared to address the hurt caused by my choice to have an abortion.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?
In 2006, after having gone through divorce and was now in a new relationship I went along to a meeting in my new church and a lady there was speaking about her abortion. I tried to shut out what she was saying, that the blob of cells I had chosen to get rid of, was really my baby. I knew the truth deep in my heart but I had denied it for so long. It was not a blob of cells but this was my child. The pain in my heart resurfaced and I knew I wanted to find the healing and forgiveness she was speaking about. God could bring healing to the hurt in my heart. I could find help and be released from all the guilt that I had carried around for so long.

 

I spoke to her after the meeting and she told me of a retreat where I could go and find healing. I asked her to put me in contact with the lady who was running the course and it was arranged that I would attend the weekend retreat with my soon to be husband. He was so supportive and was able to see and hear the hurt that I had experienced and see me receive healing and be able to support me on that weekend. I started on my journey to healing and hope for my future. I was able to talk about my children, to grieve them and celebrate and recognise their lives.

 

Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?
Earlier this year I also attended the course ‘Surrendering the Secret’ which helped me to deal with the hidden grief, shame and hurt which I had buried deep within. I can now speak about my children and celebrate their lives. I regret my abortion but I praise God I have found healing from the past and from my wrong decision but it no longer defines me or keeps me bound up in guilt and shame.

Jean’s Story

How many abortions have you had? One.

 

My circumstances at the time of the abortion.

I travelled to the UK for an abortion in 1980, when I was just 18 years old. My boyfriend (who later became my husband) travelled with me.My reason for opting for abortion was principally fear.. fear of telling my grandmother who raised me, fear of letting everyone down, feeling like a failure,feeling ashamed. I just wanted to turn the clock back and not to be pregnant, to put everything back the way it was before. My boyfriend was much older than me,but he didn’t object to my decision or offer any alternatives. I was in school at the time, doing a secretarial course, having done my Leaving Cert the year before.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?

I was quite far advanced in the pregnancy by the time I travelled, probably about twenty two weeks, because I had to wait until the school year ended. Wimbledon Tennis Tournament was on TV while we were in the UK, every time I see it now it reminds me of that time.I can remember the first time I felt the baby move, it was like little butterfly wings fluttering in my tummy.

 

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

We did not consult with anyone else or look for counselling/advice from anyone. At that time of course, the internet was not available and information was very limited. We travelled to Birmingham to visit relatives and from there to London for two days. When we arrived, we looked up the telephone book to find a clinic, having no appointment arranged beforehand.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

I didn’t realise I had a bump until that day in the clinic,when I lay on the couch and I looked down, I could see it quite clearly. The doctor was quite impatient with me, I remember that much.The clinic was like any other I suppose. I don’t remember much about the procedure,except waking up in excruciating pain and a nurse offering to get me something for the pain and smiling, very kindly. I remember feeling empty and alone.

 

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

We returned to Birmingham the following day and I had to pretend like nothing happened. My breasts were engorged and leaking milk… something I had no idea would happen, I was bleeding and in pain, physically and emotionally. We returned to Ireland and soon after, I became quite depressed, I attempted suicide, ended up in hospital, had my stomach pumped and survived.

 

How has/have your abortion affected you?

I eventually pulled myself together, got married about two years later and went on to have children, but the pain of the loss of my first child was always there. I buried it for years, just pushed it to the back of my mind and pretended it never happened, but every now and then it would resurface and the pain was just as raw as the very first day, like a wound that has a scab on it, but never heals. It took years for me to come to terms with it, the grief and the guilt were just gut-wrenching, like a physical pain. I still mourn the loss of that child, 32 years on. Nothing could have prepared me for that life-long grief, it’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, but it’s like a part of you is missing, like there is a gaping hole in my heart that nothing can ever fill. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

 

I have beautiful children whom I love with all my heart, I have a good job and a nice home and on the surface, everything is well. Inside of me though, the loss will always be there. I don’t lie awake every night agonising over it, but it is there nonetheless and it is a regret I have to live with. I would change it if I could, but I cannot.

 

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

My marriage ended and I’m a single parent now. I find it hard to forgive my husband for not insisting that we have the child, because I was only 18 and he was much much older.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?

I have found comfort and solace at the Rachel’s Vineyard retreats, where I learned to forgive and accept myself and acknowledge and name the baby I lost. I would recommend a retreat to anyone who is struggling with grief.

 

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

I would not recommend abortion as an option to anyone, because of the life-long pain I have had to endure. There has to be a better way. The very act is inhumane. I think abortion is about making money for the providers, not about helping women. It certainly didn’t help me.

Kate’s Story

How many abortions have you had? One

 

My circumstances at the time of the abortion.

I was in my early thirties, living in my parents’ house. I was single. I had lived away from home when I left school but dabbled with soft drugs, which led to a breakdown and started me on a career of psychiatric illness and so that is why I was living at home at such a stage in my life. I had drifted in and out of several different jobs, usually short-lived. During a bout of illness, when I was very vulnerable, I met up with a group of three men who were asylum-seekers. I was used by them. After a few weeks, when my mental health had returned to normal, I discovered that I was pregnant. I did not know which one of the men was the father of the baby.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?

Eight Weeks.

 

What type of abortion was performed?

The type of abortion was suction.

 

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

I didn’t tell my parents about the pregnancy. I was tempted to but persuaded by a relative not to tell them. Some friends tried to talk me out of having an abortion but some encouraged me to have it. My closest friend at the time encouraged me to have an abortion. A relative also encouraged me and offered to come with me. The same relative pointed out that with my illness I would not be able to look after the baby. My counsellor at the time, who was very influential in my life, encouraged me to have an abortion. He said it wouldn’t have any harmful effect on me. I asked him about the possibility of having the baby adopted and he discouraged me from that. I did go to Cura on two occasions but I still went ahead with the abortion.

 

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

The only information on the abortion procedure that I was given came from the leaflet that was sent by the abortion clinic.

 

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

No, I don’t think I was adequately informed at the time of all the consequences of abortion. Which probably contributed to my burying my emotions afterwards. I’d had years of experience of dealing with depression and I tried to shoulder this in the same way. It’s only now, many years later, that I have begun to think about the reality of abortion, what it really is and how it’s carried out.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

There was nothing exceptional about the abortion procedure. I lay on the table. They gave me anaesthetic. They asked me my name and got me to start counting. When I woke up I was back in a ward and it was all over. I just remember that my tummy felt different, as if there was an emptiness there.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?
Immediately after the abortion I felt numbness and some sadness. The relative who came with me tried to ‘cheer me up’ and we went out for a pre-arranged meal. I certainly didn’t feel like celebrating. It also resulted in me having to act as if everything was ok. Within a few days I felt relief and tried to put the whole thing behind me. I had started a new job which took my mind off it.

 

How has/have your abortion affected you?

It’s difficult to describe how my abortion affected me in the short-term. I buried it. It’s not that I didn’t tell people, I did tell close friends and they were sympathetic. I certainly buried feelings of guilt. I was (and still am) affected by the presence of babies and young children. But I would try to shrug it off. I guess my depressive illness affected how I reacted to the abortion. I tried to be strong. One thing that may be a consequence of the abortion is that I did take an overdose about a year after it. I don’t know if any one thing led to that, there were many factors.

 

How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?
I’ve been through many difficult years and certainly my relationships with others have been affected. My relationship with the relative who accompanied me is not very good, and much worse than it was before the abortion. I have been very angry towards that relative. I have felt a lot of shame and isolation as all my siblings knew about the abortion but never really talked about it.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?

An abortion recovery weekend, which I did three years ago, helped begin a healing process which is on-going. I returned to the practice of my Catholic faith about seven years ago. That has led to some bitter-sweet moments. In the last two years I have benefited from a lot of prayer and this is good. I still keep a lid on my emotions around the abortion most of the time but, every now and then, I allow them to surface. I think that’s the best way for me, to let recovery happen gently. That entails really understanding the abortion industry for the awful stain on society that it is and to do that I have had to contemplate the physical act of abortion itself. I am still learning to do that.

 

Based upon your experience, what would you want to tell a woman considering abortion today?
If I met a woman considering abortion today, I think I would try to help her to look beyond the cold terminology in which abortion is couched and the cold words used when a pregnancy is a crisis pregnancy.

 

Language can be employed so cleverly to change people’s attitudes. I would try to do two things – firstly point out that abortion is cruel and invasive to her and secondly that she is pregnant with a real baby, not just a bunch of cells that she can grow to love more than she may believe possible.

Megan’s Story

How many abortions have you had? One

 

What were your circumstances at the time of the abortion?

I had just come to work in Dublin to, feeling very lonely, needy and sad. I found it difficult to socialise. A friend brought me to a party and I met a guy, seemed nice and asked to see me again. We started seeing each other, it was my first sexual relationship, and I became pregnant after 7 months. I was 20.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?

Eight weeks.

 

What type of abortion was performed?

My abortion was performed I was told by suction under general anaesthetic.

 

Did anyone pressure or coerce you to choose abortion?

I was born in rural Ireland of the 50’s, this was early 70’s. I come from a middle class background and my first thoughts were for my family, a very catholic family, how would they deal with this news? My belief was they would be so full of anger and disappointment, they might disown me. I was in my employment for a year with excellent prospects and so I felt that my employers would not support me, I would be alone. Looking back now I realise that I did not even think of talking with friends, I was so full of shame and pride. My lasting memory of that time was ‘How do I get shut of this problem’, I never gave any thought that the ‘problem’ was a living being, growing inside me. My boyfriend arranged for me to see a Doctor who ‘referred’ Irish girls to a clinic in the UK, and so I made the arrangements. I didn’t feel coerced by anyone to have an abortion; I put that pressure on myself. My boyfriend supported me in that decision, I never heard him say to go on with the pregnancy.

 

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

We travelled on the ferry to the UK and the following morning I had an appointment with two doctors in the Clinic. They did ask me about keeping my baby, but all I could think of was ‘getting rid of the problem’, then everything would be ok. I gave my reasons why I wanted an abortion, they ticked some boxes on their literature, and I was told to attend a residential home the following morning. I was given some information about the procedure that I would be put under anaesthetic, and the rest period staying over-night, but all I wanted to hear was that they would complete the procedure.

 

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

I don’t recall receiving any advices about possible dangers of the procedure, and certainly no psychological counselling of any sort was offered or given. This part of my ‘trip’ is very hazy, I believe now that there was only one part of me there, I was very much in the moment of what I needed to do and did not think of, or was advised of, any future issues that might arise. I was advised to go to the Family Planning Clinic in Dublin for post operative check up.

 

What do you recall of the abortion procedure itself?

The following morning I travelled to the Clinic alone, when I gave the address to the taxi driver, he knew where to go, told me his daughter had been there a few months earlier and it was the best decision for her. On arrival, I was met by a nurse who brought me to a small ward and she told me I would be ‘done’ mid morning. It was a small ward of four and I got chatting to another girl there from Northern Ireland. When I was wheeled to the theatre by a nurse, we waited outside and I recall the sound of something like a vacuum, that sounds still can haunt me and remains with me to this day.

 

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

I woke up feeling groggy, felt my tummy and then heard a girl in a bed near to me screaming. She was in a lot of pain. I understand she gave the clinic incorrect details of how long she was pregnant and was having complications. My boyfriend said he would visit, but never did.

 

How has your abortion affected you?

At the outset I had a sense of ‘well that’s done & dusted’ and a lot of my energy went into protecting my secret for a long time. A day never passed but I thought of my baby, anniversaries of the abortion, birthdays on the due date of birth, these haunted me for years and I remained in silence. I did tell my husband early into the relationship about the abortion. Keeping the secret affected me for a long time, and I was also experiencing issues in my marriage which I convinced myself was my fault. I started to drink heavily, and secretly. When I engaged in a Recovery Programme, the abortion came up and so many emotions – guilt, shame, sadness. I worked with a counsellor and one day I found an advertisement for a Healing your Abortion Weekend.

 

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

The father of my child and I stayed together for about four years afterwards, I was very unhappy in the relationship, as it became quite controlling and emotionally abusive. I didn’t have the courage to leave the relationship, fear that he would tell others of what had happened. Those were very unhappy years.


My abortion is and remains a secret to my family, I have spoken to a close and trusted friend only in recent years and she has been so very supportive.

 

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

Firstly for me the acceptance of what I had done, accepting the reasons why I had the abortion. I attended the Healing Weekend referred to and what I experienced on that weekend was the coming together of broken souls who could share their pain, shame, guilt and extreme sadness. For me it was opening a locked box within me that had been closed for 36 years, and everyone understood. Deep friendships were formed and it was the start of a healing journey for me.

 

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

I understand and believe we all have personal choices in our lives. If I were to speak to a woman considering abortion, I would share my experience, the deep pain and at times despair having the abortion and the subsequent years. I would share this experience in the hope that she might learn that this act, for me, has never been forgotten and the subsequent issues that arose in my life, I thought having the abortion was the end of the pain, it was only the beginning.

RK’s Story

RK

Country: The Netherlands

 

How many abortions have you had? Two

 

My circumstances at the time of the abortion.

I was 43 years old when I became pregnant.  Michael and I had been in a relationship for over 2 years and we were very happy together, although it had been a very challenging period for us because I had suffered 3 miscarriages. So, when I found out I was pregnant again, we could not believe the good news. I looked forward to finally becoming a mother. Everything was going well until I did the pre-natal test at 12 weeks and found out that my baby had Downs Syndrome. We were devastated. We decided quite immediately that we should terminate the pregnancy.

 

How many weeks pregnant were you?

12 weeks.

 

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

I cried all the way to the doctor’s clinic. She asked me if I wanted to speak to a Counsellor first. I said “ No”, I just wanted it to be over as soon as possible. I was too numb to think about anything. Everything happened so quickly after that. The abortion took place 4 days later and I remember very little of it. I just wanted my life to go back to “normal”.  My best friend had asked me “Are you sure you want to do this?” but I didn’t pay any attention. I was in too much pain and too upset to consider any other options.

 

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

No one spoke to me about the psychological and emotional effect the abortion might have on me.

 

What was your immediate reaction after the abortion and how did you feel?
Immediately after the operation, I felt relief and went back to work quite immediately. I wanted to get back to my normal routine, get busy and put it all behind me. But it didn’t happened that way. One day, I was sitting at home working on an assignment, and then all of a sudden I was overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and immense sorrow. How could I have abandoned my baby just because he was not “perfect”? I missed feeling him in my body; I cried myself to sleep many nights. The pain and grief was almost unbearable.

 

How has/have your abortion affected you?
One day, I was sitting at home working on an assignment, and then all of a sudden I was overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and immense sorrow. How could I have abandoned my baby just because he was not “perfect”? I missed feeling him in my body; I cried myself to sleep many nights. The pain and grief was almost unbearable. For a while I couldn’t really function.

 

How has your abortion affected others in your life and your relationships with others?
The support from my partner has also been crucial in my recovery. Eventually, we decided to get married.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?

It was by God’s grace that I came across Rachel’s Vineyard through an online forum. It saved my life. The retreat gave me a chance to ask for God’s forgiveness and healing. It strengthened my faith and this is the only thing that has kept me going – God’s grace and my faith that He is able and willing to forgive.

 

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

I cannot undo the mistake I’ve made, but I pray that others in a similar situation will receive the help and wisdom they need.  Don’t make a drastic decision out of fear or shame.

 

Seek help, talk to someone you can trust – a family member or someone from Church. And pray – for God to give you guidance. Remember, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Trish’s Story

How many abortions have you had? One

 

What were your circumstances at the time of the abortion?

Almost 30 years ago I found myself pregnant and scared. I couldn’t confide in family or friends. I was raised a Catholic and my mother always told us not to come home pregnant and bring shame to the family. What other people thought was more important; image was everything.

 

I was living in Dublin and knew in my heart and soul that my family would never forgive me for bringing this disgrace upon them so I chose what I thought was the easiest way out. I had an abortion. I thought I could live with this terrible secret. How wrong I was.

 

Did anyone pressure you or coerce you to choose abortion?

My now husband of 28 years was the father, but he had no say in the decision I made. Alone, I made all the necessary arrangements and travelled to England with my partner. It was so lonely and I was so scared. I had no idea what was ahead of me or what devastating effect the decision would have on my future.

 

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

I buried the whole episode in the depth of my sub-conscious. My husband and I did not speak of the matter for nearly 30 years. It was not until we both attended an abortion recovery programme that we discussed the abortion for the first time since that day in England.

 

How has your abortion affected you?

Every now and then the abortion would surface from the depth of my sub-conscious to haunt me. No one knows the shame and guilt I felt – especially during the Abortion Referendum.  Nowhere was safe. Everywhere I went people were talking about it.

 

We eventually got married and some time later I gave birth to a beautiful son. He was perfect and I loved him more than life itself. He was my whole life.

 

Unfortunately that didn’t last very long – he was taken from me in a freak accident and I was left alone to punish myself yet again. I believed that God was chastising me for the bad decision I made years earlier.

 

I fell into a deep depression and from that time onwards I believed that I deserved every bad thing that happened to me in my life.

 

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

My relationship with my mother began to deteriorate because deep down I blamed her for my decision years earlier. If only she had been the type of mother whom I could depend on and turn to.

 

What’s surprising is that our marriage survived. From that day forward we never ever spoke of what had taken place. It was not until my husband and I attended an abortion recovery weekend together that I realised the extent that the abortion of our child had affected him too. I never knew the guilt and shame he felt all these years until he gave his version of the story.

 

What has helped you come to terms with your abortion?

A couple of months ago I attended a Mission and got talking to a wonderful Priest. I told him about my abortion and he encouraged me to attend an abortion recovery retreat.

 

Recently I spent a weekend with my husband at a weekend retreat, and for the first time in almost 30 years I can feel peace and hope in my life. Everyone there was in some way a victim of circumstance. The weekend is also for the family members and friends of those who have suffered abortions.

 

The room was consumed with so much pain and suffering only a person who had an abortion would understand. I was so overwhelmed when I arrived on the Friday that I almost fainted. My heart was so heavy with guilt: I couldn’t stop crying.

 

I spoke about my terrible secret after all these years and no one judged me or made me feel tainted. I believe I was blessed the day I began my abortion recovery. The whole experience of the weekend has changed my life ad made my relationship with my husband even stronger.

 

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

Abortion had a devastating effect on my life. It caused me to become depressed, contributed to the deterioration of my relationship with my mother and put a strain on my marriage. Please re-consider what you think will be an easy way out. It will affect you for the rest of your life.

 

Another reason for writing this personal experience is to try and help others who have had abortions and think there is no one out there who understands. Help is available. There are others who feel the distress that you feel. Abortion recovery offers hope, inner peace and above all, healing.

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