I had three abortions, and there are days when I think it may have been four.
When I was 18, a senior in high school, I met a charming yet pushy, popular, and handsome boy who I quickly learned was aggressive, as well as verbally and physically abusive. I was smart, an honor student, and strong willed. I had overcome a lot of adversity and was going to college. I broke up with him often, knowing I deserved better, and vowed never to go back to him again—only to be charmed and coerced right back into spending time with him and right back into the same cycle, over and over again. He had a car and money, and I didn’t. We went out for meals a lot. He took me on vacation and places I’d never been and got me out of the house when I had nothing else to do. But, ultimately, he didn’t treat me well and wasn’t a person I could trust and talk to. He wanted sex very early on and would get very angry and even abusive if he didn’t get it. He experimented with drugs and at one point was pretty heavily addicted. He also sold drugs and tried to hide it from me multiple times. The ironic thing was that no one in our community really knew who he was behind closed doors. He was admired and loved by so many. He was a basketball star and could sweet talk his way through almost anything.
When I became pregnant with his child the first time, I felt disappointed in myself. I knew I could not fail at being successful and end up with someone like him. He didn’t necessarily want the abortion. He expressed a negative opinion about it, but I didn’t respect his opinion or trust that he would be someone I could count on. He came with me to the clinic and paid for it. I don’t remember protesters outside this time, but I do remember the waiting room being full. My boyfriend said, “Look at all these people laughing and smiling like it’s a joke.” I hadn’t noticed the non-chalantness of the others until he said that. I was in my own world.
I remember the procedure being painful, and he took care of me when we got home. We took a warm bath, and I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I was regretful, and I promised myself it would never happen again. But yet again, I became pregnant two other times. He had a hold on me, and I did love him. When I’d leave him, he would always come back, pleading with me and promising to go to counseling and end the drug selling. I was so embarrassed to be in such a rollercoaster relationship when I had a bachelor’s in psychology and was offering counseling and guidance to adolescents and their families. “My family expected so much more from me,” I thought. They believed in me, counted on me. I didn’t want to let them or myself down. Child out of wedlock? I’d promised myself that wouldn’t be me. I didn’t grasp this at the time, but there was no let down bigger than having an abortion?
I don’t even remember if I told him about the second pregnancy. I drove to and from the clinic alone and I remember disliking the protestors. As bad as my ex was, ironically enough, he wanted nothing to do with my third abortion. He wanted me to keep the baby. But when I refused, he wouldn’t pay for it or come with me. Looking back, I was afraid of the kind of life we, our children and I, would have had with him. I believe that had he assured me that we could do this together, made me feel safe and supported, I may have kept at least our second and third children. Still, I can’t justify that I made the decisions all on my own. I felt alone and somehow, selfishly, made those terrible horrific choices despite being a Catholic my whole life and going to church every Sunday. I put what I’d done away and went on with my life somewhat normally. I confessed my mortal sins and was told by the priest it was unforgivable and that I couldn’t receive communion. So, for years, I went to church and did not receive the Eucharist. That was hard for me. I confessed repeatedly. I wanted and needed God’s mercy.
When I finally moved to Florida to get away from my ex, I confessed again and felt God’s mercy for the first time. I learned God’s mercy was bigger than my sins. After a couple of retreats and growing closer in my relationship with Jesus, I began healing. I no longer carried the heavy burden. I was now pro-life and mostly put it behind me, but there was still a piece of me that didn’t realize the enormity of the destruction I’d caused.
Then I saw the movie Unplanned. The visual on the ultrasound screen, seeing the pieces of baby and blood clots being picked up off the floor, and learning the brutal truth about the abortion industry disgusted me and forever changed my wishy-washy, mediocre pro-life stance. I now believe under NO circumstances should abortion ever be an option.
God called me to speak about injustice when I was 14 and throughout my whole adult life, but I wasn’t fully allowing Him to work in my life always. I have literally taken the not-so-pretty, scenic route, to what has always been my calling—standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I can no longer be silent and do nothing. I will continue to discern how, when, to whom, and where I will speak. But one thing I know for sure is that I will speak. Hearts can and will change, as mine has.