I’ll never forget the date. Saturday, March 20, 2004, is a day that forever changed my life. It is a day that will affect me for the rest of my life. I was a 24-year-old stay-at-home mother to a 3 ½ year old boy and a 1 ½ year old girl. Within days of learning that I was pregnant in February, I went to Planned Parenthood to get a dose of the morning after pill. I just knew in my heart that I was pregnant and that I could not go through with an abortion. I thought taking the morning after pill would be a “cheap, easy” fix. I was told I could come right down to the clinic and would not have to wait in the waiting room. I could pay my $20 and go home. I was terrified of the pills. I didn’t know if they would kill me or cause massive bleeding or what, so I wrote on a piece of paper what I took in case something fatal happened to me.
The pills didn’t work. I was still pregnant. I was going to be “punished” for the circumstances surrounding this pregnancy. I was going to have to do the horrible deed of having an abortion. I did NOT want to have an abortion at all. I was pressured, manipulated, and mislead by the father of the baby into submitting to an unwanted abortion. I felt so much negativity and pressure. I felt it was the only way to save my family from shame and embarrassment. I didn’t realize that by “saving” everyone else, I was destroying my soul by committing a heinous deed.
After taking the pregnancy test, I remember walking to my bedroom, falling to the ground and sobbing in despair. I remember praying to God to save my marriage and my family. I couldn’t believe what I had done. Guilt and sadness overcame me.
I called the abortion clinic a bunch of times before I actually made the appointment. I asked them a lot of questions. I was very scared. I was hoping that they would suggest another way, besides abortion, but they never did. They were the only people I knew of to talk to.
The baby’s father was cold and rude to me throughout the pregnancy. He made a big deal about having to take a vacation day from work to take me to the clinic. During one of our conversations he said that I would ruin everyone’s lives if I had the baby. I would lose him as a “friend” if I had the baby. He said that it was no way to bring a “kid” into the world.
Every night I savored the short amount of time I would have with my unborn child. I took prenatal vitamins and iron pills. I ate healthy, just like I did when I was pregnant with my other children. I lay in bed and rubbed my belly—enjoying and treasuring each moment I had with this baby growing inside of me. Each night I said a prayer and apologized for what I was going to do.
Hillcrest was scary from the start. They made me get out of my car at the front of the building because there was a group of loud protestors out back. A woman escorted me into the building. They took my money—cash or charge only—and had me fill out some paperwork.
I was terrified of the building being blown up by the protestors and of complications from the procedure. I had a 1:00 appointment, but I didn’t leave the building until after 4:00 because the clinic was very busy. In my mind I figured there would only be a handful of us sinners participating in this horrible act. I was shockingly wrong. There were close to 50 people in the upstairs waiting room. We were shuffled around like cattle with cold, efficient “processing.” The counselor at the clinic met with me before the procedure. She asked if I wanted to see any pictures of the developing fetus, if I had any questions, and what kind of protection and precautions I was going to use to prevent future pregnancies.
I was called back downstairs to the final waiting room in a group of about five o'clock. We made small talk after sitting together in silence for awhile. We gave our reasons for why we were there. One girl said that her boyfriend didn’t want the baby and she couldn’t afford it. This was her second or third abortion. Another girl was married. She said she and her husband had a small baby at home and they weren’t ready for another one. Another very young girl was there and said her boyfriend wouldn’t come with her to the clinic because he was busy working on his car.
They took each girl to the operating room. One-by-one a nurse led each girl to her doom. I watched each leave and heard the strange drone of the vacuum and the unfamiliar sound of the procedural tools. I watched the girls who had just been operated on walk right past the open door to go to the recovery room. They could hardly walk. Each girl that passed looked like she had been beaten up and was in terrible pain. The doctor that did my procedure has failed the Ob/Gyn board certification FOUR times.
For a brief period immediately following my abortion, I remember thinking, “I’m glad the option of abortion was available to me.” I was in shock. I was bitter. I was in denial. The reality of killing my own child had not yet hit me. I chose abortion so that my life would not have to “change.” But in reality, the abortion itself forced changes I never would have chosen.
I was told that at 8 weeks, a baby is just a “blob of tissue" in the mother’s womb. This is a total lie. While doing my own research after the abortion, I learned that the heart begins beating at 18-21 days. By six weeks, the central nervous system is in place. The baby can feel stimuli. At eight weeks, the unborn child swims and moves gracefully inside the protective amniotic sac. Every organ is present. The stomach produces digestive juices and the liver makes blood cells. The kidneys are beginning to function and taste buds are forming. Brain waves can be measured.
It was shocking for me to learn later that unborn children undergoing abortion suffer an extremely painful death. I had a suction abortion so my tiny unborn child was torn limb from limb by a high-powered vacuum nearly 30 times as strong as a home vacuum and was either placed in the garbage, incinerated, or disposed of in an industrial-strength garbage disposal. Prior to my abortion, I would have never believed that vacuuming my house would be so difficult, but the sounds and the strength of the suction plague me. Once while vacuuming my house, I got the vacuum hose stuck to my shirt. I panicked trying to remove it. No one tells you of these side effects at the abortion clinic. They tell you that you will feel relief and be fine.
I suffered from “survival guilt.” While my abortion “freed” me from one trauma, it produced in me an unrelenting guilt for choosing my own comfort over the life of my child. The abortion also caused an interruption in the bonding process with my two live children. I treated them differently after the abortion. At first, I was very protective and over-attentive. In time, however, I played with them less, smiled less, and yelled more. I was more impatient. Small errors they made, like spilling a drink, would really anger me. I had no idea where this change in my behavior was coming from. I knew that it was not normal or healthy, but I felt that I had no control over it. I didn’t know what to do. I now know that this is one of the MANY side effects of abortion called Post-Abortion Syndrome.
It is still hard. Every soccer game, gymnastics recital, lost tooth, or other milestone reminds me of what should’ve been.
I know I would’ve been open to another option if ANYONE, besides the father of the baby, had known, and been POSITIVE, about the pregnancy. I had no support like that. He pounded in my head that abortion was the best and only “solution.”
I came to Morningstar because I was suffering from severe depression. I felt like my life was spinning out of control and falling apart. Grief penetrated and darkened every corner of my life and became integrated in my personality. It touched every aspect of my life. I had no idea what or who I was anymore. I suffered from anxiety/panic attacks. I was psychologically numb. I contemplated suicide. I was non-functioning. I had no motivation to get out of bed to face the day. I could no longer perform simple tasks such as cooking meals for my family.
I lost over 50 pounds in an effort to “change myself” from he woman who had the abortion. It was a form of control in my life that was out of control. I ran 20+ miles per week and watched what I ate like a hawk, but I was in control. Shopping was a major addiction and coping mechanism. I enjoyed buying things and feeling a temporary “high.” I charged over $15,000 to my credit cards.
I was aware of Morningstar. I had seen their ad in the telephone book. I had driven by their building in Harrisburg a few times, in passing, but had never been inside or taken the time to research them. I had NO IDEA about the EXTENT of their services. I knew that they offered free pregnancy tests. I thought it was some kind of scary clinic that ONLY served low-income women. I did not know that they offered post-abortion counseling until I was referred by my pastor. I did not know that they did ultrasounds. I think that if I had SEEN my baby moving about inside of me there is NO WAY that I would’ve gone through with the abortion. Visual confirmation can be a powerful thing. This is one of the many important services that Morningstar provides—free of charge!
Post-Abortion counseling is a VERY important ministry that Morningstar is providing. Post-Abortion counseling helps men and women see how they can honor the memory of their aborted child with positive thoughts. Post-Abortion healing does not mean learning how to forget one’s past or one’s child. Instead, completing the grief process after an abortion means learning how to understand one’s past, including one’s good and bad choices, and how to remember one’s child in positive ways that renew hope rather than feed despair.
Before coming to Morningstar, I was spiritually dead. I felt so empty inside. I was raised in a good Christian home and attended church regularly my entire life, but I felt separated from the church and from God because of the abortion.
Going through Post-Abortion counseling at Morningstar was a life-changing, incredible experience. They genuinely care. It is a very safe place to share my feelings and work through them. The counseling helps me understand what I was going through and that I was not abnormal or alone for feeling the way I did. I began to understand that no sin is greater than God’s capacity to forgive!
Since starting post-abortion counseling at Morningstar in December 2005, I am enjoying my children and my family more. I am enjoying life more. Relationships are mending. I feel organized again. I am shopping less and okay with it. I feel like my life has some direction and purpose again.
Because of my experience with this grief, I feel motivated to help alleviate the suffering of others. I feel that God has called me to make something positive out of my tragedy. I feel newfound insight and compassion. I want to help families damaged by abortion. I know God means for me to use my life, at this time, to help the world hear the cry of the unborn, saying, “Let me live!”
As pro-life Christians, we must always remember that our ultimate authority in defending the sanctity of life comes from God himself. Just one person can make a difference. Praise God. He is so good!