Broken Families

Mississippi,  United States
  My name is Anne,  and I would like to share my testimony about abortion from a different perspective, namely from the viewpoint of those children who are not aborted in a family where most of them got aborted.

Perhaps I should preface it by saying that all this happened in Zurich, Switzerland, a place not known for poverty or other grave hardships.

My father at the outset of his professional life as a psychiatrist was assigned to evaluate abortion cases for medical causes.  He told me once that he was in those days very unwillingly signing in on abortions. The women who came to him were very often upset upon his refusal as a medical doctor.  But after holding their newborn babies in their arms, according to his account, they were more than glad that somebody had said NO to their initial wishes.  What he didn't tell me in that conversation, was, that although he had prevented for many pregnant women these abortions from happening, he didn't realize that it must have opened or at least loosened the flood-gates of his own moral life.  

My mother had experienced the Second World War in Greece and at a young age had witnessed the atrocities of the Germans against the civil population.  She once told me that she saw two little boys playing football with a severed dead man's head, as they had only heard about but had never had the fortune to own a ball.  She escaped to Switzerland during the war, where her mother lived and would, after the war, meet my father.  My father was the son of a famous and distinguished protestant theologian but, as a youngster, he suffered under the overly pious and restrictive religious home life.  

The two of them got married in the late forties when all of Europe was in an ecstatic celebratory mood for years to come after the defeat of the Nazis and their hold over the continent.  My father would have a splendid career in front of him and my mother, glamorous as she was, was for sure no child of sorrow and sadness.

Before my sister arrived, my mother got pregnant for the first time.  My mother, who was sensual and beautiful and center-stage at every one of their numerous parties, decided for her first abortion.  She didn't go to a doctor - she was proud in alluding to me that this was the way many a woman had done it for centuries before - she ingested something but never told me what it was and the next day the embryo got flushed down the toilet.  Her own mother, my grandmother, after having had my mother, also had numerous abortions.  It is rumored she had seven.

My parents’ marriage didn't last long.  They divorced but, after more than a year, they met again and my mother got pregnant.  This time they kept the child and remarried.  My sister arrived and two years later I was born, although it was only transparent later in life who my biological father was.  After I was born my mother became pregnant three more times, but every time the baby would be aborted.  I remember very well to this day- I guess it must have been her last abortion.   I was playing silently in the living room when my mother told my aunt about it.  But as I was very young - I must have been about five years old - I only understood that a baby was coming, and I became thrilled at the thought about it and started jumping up and down in the living-room, humming "a baby is coming, a little brother is coming, a little sister is coming.”  All of a sudden my mother came over to where I was doing my little joy-dance and told me that I must have misunderstood, there was no baby coming.  Somehow in my young years I realized that something terrible must have happened, and I became more than sad.  I sensed the utter darkness and hopelessness in that moment, and I felt paralyzed at the core of my being.  Something unfathomable had happened, something too big to swallow.  A reality had opened up which we simply all had to live with. (Perhaps I should mention that we hardly ever went to church.  I probably exaggerate if I say that we went in my childhood altogether five times as a family to church).

My sister would turn out to be very unruly and wild.  Early in her life she was licentious and at 14 (we are speaking here of the late sixties) would have her first abortion, had her second at 17 and her third at 35.  She slept over her lifetime with 600-700 men and women, took many and sundry drugs, and was from an early age on mad at our parents, which she displayed by plundering from their income and assets for the rest of their lives.  Two years ago she checked into an intensive psychiatric care-unit and is since then in constant therapy.  I'm not allowed to talk with her about her past.

My father, overwhelmed with the course his life had taken, would in his mid-life fall into a severe depression, out of which he emerged as a strong believer in the healing power of Christ, which, nevertheless, would not hinder him from having girlfriends and another abortion by one of his lady-friends.  He would later in life become Catholic and write, among other things, books about the benefits of chastity.

I myself turned my attention at 18 to the spiritual teachings of the East as a means of escaping the family-situation, as my father and sister before me had done, each in her and his own way.  I desperately wanted to have another chance in life and the belief in reincarnation had a soothing ring to it.  It felt to me that I hadn't had so far a fair chance.  I became a spiritual seeker and married somebody who was a teacher of Eastern meditation.  Together, we had two children.

I was by now in my mid-thirties and started to realize that my two children didn't have any cousins besides the two other children of my husband's younger sister.  By and by I came to recognize that all of the other babies which should have been born in my husband's family had been aborted; His grandmother had had 2-3 abortions, his mother had 2-3 abortions, his sister had 2-3 abortions.

At that time I had only a partial knowledge about the status in my own family.  I only knew about my sister’s one abortion and the seven of my grandmother. It was only a little more than a decade ago on the basis of my annulment for our entrance into the Catholic Church - by that time I was divorced and had married for the second time, out of which came two more children  - that my mother told me about all her and my sister’s abortions.

It was also at that time that I finally understood that, in my own family, 14 abortions had occurred between my grandmother, mother, and sister, and 6-9 abortions between my former husband's closest relatives.  I finally understood why there would be never any happy family gatherings with our "extended family,” as that "extended family" didn't exist.  But, more than that, even in the case of my sister, father, and mother, we didn't all come together on a regular basis as other families do and did; it was only late in life that I saw why.  It was too painful for them to celebrate my own family-life, and it reminded them to much of what could have been and was not.  Therefore neither my husband, our children, or I were allowed to have the fruits of a merry extended family-life.

My mother was for the last several years before her death bedridden in a luxurious nursing home: Still the little diva that she was, she gambled over a $ 1,000,000 away, still fighting to prove - even if it was only to the staff in the nursing home as she had estranged everybody else in her life - to everybody around her that she was special and chosen by God to outshine and tower over everybody else.  But in the deep silence of the night, according to her own account, she would every night lay out all her aborted babies on her pillow and silently weep and pray and wish they would be back in her tummy.
I could rest my case here, as all these abortions speak volumes for themselves but there is one last thing that I would like to mention:

It is not only by showing the graphics of the aborted babies that we hopefully can turn the tide and make people aware of the cruelty perpetrated to these unborn little souls but also by showing what it does to humans in general, to future "broken mothers, broken fathers, broken siblings".
When I read in the records of the Saints or in the Gospel the Words of Jesus, I'm always struck by how tenderly life is treated, how cautiously, how caringly, how preciously and how peacefully. For me a good part of my life consisted in trying to get away from something subconsciously terrible, dark, and ominous, from something that didn't let me rest or have peace within myself but urged me on to be constantly on the search for something other out there that other people seem to have naturally. How many times did I have nightmares where a brute of a man tried to chase after me and stab me with a big butcher's knife?  How many times did my parents with little and not so little flippant remarks kill all the tenderness in my heart by portraying me as the merciless, hard-headed, and cruel?  The one who didn't love children, when I was the only one who never had an abortion and still has all of her 4 children, and when it was so patently obvious, as I know nowadays, that the guilt they had taken on was too big for them to deal with it alone?

The atmosphere in our home, when I was young, was for sure many times dynamic, exciting, and had the smell of a licentious freedom and of a prideful power that dares to defy anybody, as my father was a celebrated person standing, sometimes in the limelight of the public eye.  But of the still whisper that comes with the cultivation of a full and tender heart there was no trace.  The finer qualities of the Heart and Spirit that make life truly worthwhile living were missing, everything was of a desperate tenure of overpowering with grandeur what was dark and sad inside.

I'm not mad at anybody, I only would wish that people could see that abortion does not only hurt the little ones who get aborted but that it hurts also us in a very real, serious, and lasting way.  I would wish that people could see that with abortion in our lives we lose a kind of innate God-given blessedness, a life full of innocence and tenderness, a life in the image and likeness of God.

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