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Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion
 

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Do You Regret Your Abortion or Your Lost Fatherhood? By filling in the form below you can add your expression of regret to our list. All information remains confidential and is presented anonymously


 
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Living with the Consequences
Elizabeth
British Columbia, Canada

My name is Elizabeth Sutcliffe, and I deeply regret the abortion I had in 2001.  I was in my late 20’s, starting my career in Counseling with a new consulting company and engaged to the love of my life, a man I was set to marry in seven months.  My future was set out in front of me and I had an amazing man at my side to share it with.  We decided to move in together before the wedding and things were beautiful.  Then it all fell apart. 

I remember the emotions of realizing my period was late, the drive to the walk-in clinic, and the doctor coming through the door to tell me I was pregnant.  Fear set in and made its home.  I feared what would happen to my career, what people would think, and especially how disappointed my parents would be.  I couldn’t be eight months pregnant on my wedding day, that was not in the plan.  Sure, I wanted to have children, but this was the worst possible time.  My fiancé was caring and supportive, he told me what every man has been trained to say: “I will support your decision, whatever it is.”  We never talked about it any further.  I didn’t even know what he was thinking or what he would like to see happen.  The choice was left to me.  Those words would resonate and be the wedge between us for the rest of our relationship.  He thought he was being supportive, but it made me feel abandoned and that the choice was solely mine to make.  Little did I know that this break down in communication would eventually lead to our separation 12 years later. 

I felt ashamed and I couldn’t talk to anyone, it was a huge secret!  I didn’t know what to do, so I searched out a “woman’s clinic."  I was thinking about abortion, but would have been open to hearing about other options and support.  I thought a woman’s clinic should be able to help me decide.  I phoned the number and made an appointment.  I went to the appointment on my own, I didn’t want anyone to know.  I walked through the office door expecting to find a clean and welcoming waiting room.  I remember thinking that I was in the wrong place… the walls were stark dirty white, the chairs were dirty, the carpet was frayed, and there were two other women sitting waiting and avoiding eye contact.  Anxiously, I sat in the cold waiting room for my name to be called.  I then realized that this “woman’s clinic” was actually an abortion clinic.  “Elizabeth,” the lady called out.  I walked through the door that would forever change my life.  I was on a treadmill towards the biggest mistake of my life with no one to push the pause button and provide me with the time and information I needed.  As I read the waiver, I hesitated.  The friendly faced lady put her arm around my shoulder and said, “You’re doing the right thing.”  I signed my name to undergo a medical abortion.  I was still early into my pregnancy, approximately seven weeks.  I was given a dose of methotrexate, a chemo therapy drug that stops cell growth.  Twelve hours later I was to follow up at home with misoprostol tablets.

The misoprostol caused my uterus to contract and evacuate the baby from my uterus.  This caused cramping and intense pain for hours.  The Tylenol 3 with Codeine didn’t work at relieving the pain.  The pain was so intense… a nine out of ten on the pain scale.  I tossed and turned in my bed for most of the night.  I had no sleep but still had to go to work the next day, as though nothing was happening.  I stood before a classroom of professionals trying to do my job, while my body was preparing to abort my baby.  I felt something coming out, a release of blood.  I excused myself and hurried to the washroom.  That’s where it happened.  I was alone in a corporate bathroom when my baby was aborted.  I sat on the toilet and felt it coming out.  I heard the large splash, which was my baby hitting the water.  I was compelled to look, which made me feel guilty and disgusting.  There were blood and clots… I could see something that looked like a sac with liquid.  I was scared that I might see my baby’s tiny hands or feet or even its face, so I had to stop looking.  I reached to the handle at the back of the cold stall, pushed it down, and turned my head as I flushed my baby down the toilet.  I had never felt more wretched and alone in my whole life.  I washed my hands.  I was numb and exhausted.  I looked in the mirror to check my face and makeup.  I couldn’t let anyone at work know what I had been through or what I was feeling. I returned to the classroom and continued on as if nothing had happened.

It was sickeningly easy to choose abortion; living with the consequences of that choice was a different matter altogether. I was no longer pregnant and was relieved.  The abortion was a huge secret that only my husband and one other friend knew.  I didn’t talk about it and we didn’t talk about it.  I felt like I couldn’t talk about it, and that I should just get over the feelings of regret and depression.  I was sure it would go away soon.  Weeks turned into months of regret.  Months turned into years.  It is the elephant in the room to this day.  I felt I had been abandoned by him, and I couldn’t communicate that to him.  I was afraid to bring up the abortion and how I was feeling. I didn’t even know if he ever thought about it after that day. I still don’t know.

The regret only got worse, especially when I became pregnant with our children and could feel them moving in my tummy. I cried because I was happy to be pregnant and soon to be a mother, but sad and guilt stricken because of my choice to abort my first child. I felt robbed of the joy I should have been experiencing.  I felt hopeless.  I had a sense of being doomed. I would never be able to make up for what I had done. I struggled with the topic of abortion because I was afraid that someone would see it on my face, the shame, regret, guilt, and pain. I avoided friends with babies and would turn the channel during diaper commercials.  Even to this day, I avoid going into walk-in clinics. January and February are still hard months because they are the anniversary months of the abortion.

I believed the lie that an abortion is an eraser. Healing began when I shared my secret with another woman. She validated me and shared her secret with me. She had also suffered after her two abortions. Her self-disclosure was like a light bulb that revealed the truth - I wasn’t alone and wasn’t crazy for feeling depressed, guilty, ashamed, and alone.  She identified with my feelings and validated my pain. It was such a relief to reveal my secret. It gave me the courage to retell my abortion story.

My healing continued with the help of a spiritual advisor as well as one on one counseling.  I attended a special service to remember the loss of my aborted child, which helped me to bring closure to the death of my baby girl.

People may wonder or ask how I know it was a girl.  It is a feeling I have that I cannot describe.  A mother just knows things in her heart without having to hear or see. I named my daughter Grace.

I used to believe the lie that abortion is an eraser. I am not proud of my actions but hope that sharing my story will shed light on the consequences of abortion. I break my silence to give other women the courage to tell their stories and to find healing. That is why I am Silent no More.

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