- Posted February 15, 2013 by
Fort Collins, Colorado
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Have you had an abortion?
I regret killing my child
I grew up in a conservative, Christian home in the suburbs of Chicago. I was drawn away from my faith in high school, and spent most of my years from 16-20 thinking that the drunk and slutty lifestyle would be as exciting as it seemed in the movies. It is very easy to believe that sex is really the only thing guys want. And being drunk or high frees you to do things that you would not do sober. After graduating, because of my drinking, my parents said they wouldn’t pay for me to go to college out of state. So I left for Colorado on my own –
In September 1974, I moved out into the dorm at CSU as a freshman, and I met a bunch of new girlfriends the first night. We partied a lot. Anne (not her real name) and I quickly became best friends. She was hilarious! Shortly after Christmas break, she found out she was pregnant from a one-night stand over the break. This was January 1975, only two years after Roe v Wade. We really didn’t know ANYTHING about abortion, except that it was available. She was from a big Catholic family, she felt she couldn’t tell her parents, and she couldn’t afford the abortion. She asked me for a loan. My only hesitation was that I couldn’t afford it either. But I gave it to her - thinking I was helping my friend.
Abortion is sobering, life-changing, heart-breaking experience. We never talked about it afterward. She left CSU and we lost touch.
I continued in my destructive choices... and four years later, I was scheduled for an abortion on a Friday… May 19. But I couldn’t go through with it, because that day was my 22nd birthday. Over that weekend, I desperately hoped that the father would show up and tell me that he wanted me, and the baby. It didn’t happen. I went in on Monday for the initial appointment, and aborted my first child on Tuesday, May 23, 1978.
I know how uncomfortable this subject can be for those women, and men, who also have an abortion in their past. I know why the invitation to post on this website says “… rarely do we read stories of women who have chosen to terminate a pregnancy”. There are literally millions of us who have had one or more abortions - over 50 million abortions in the past 40 years in the United States. But it is a procedure like no other.
For five years after my abortion - when an otherwise normal conversation sometimes unexpectedly turned to social issues, just hearing that word would make my heart pound. I didn’t really know why.
I just hoped no one ever noticed. And I cried quietly in bed at night.
Eventually, the phrase “train of thought” became a vivid image to me as I pictured my thoughts stored in the train yard of my head. Each car full of information and personal memories, connecting with any related trains that pass by.
For me, and many women, one car always remained parked, locked, in the back. The ABORTION. My thoughts passed it often, but I could never open it. My fear? That the quiet stream of sadness that always leaked out, might suddenly become a flood that would overwhelm me.
When I went home to Chicago that first Christmas after the abortion, my sister was now pregnant and the gifts were all baby things. I couldn’t stand to be around her, but I couldn’t fight with her because I didn’t know what to say. I chose to have the abortion - how could I be heartbroken? My pregnancy was almost surreal now, as of course, no one mentioned it.
But I knew. Weeks later, I was finally able to confide to my mom “I would have had my baby there at Christmas.” The door to my pain opened a tiny bit, and I closed it again.
Months later, I started a new job as a dishwasher, in a daycare center. Being around all those little kids that first morning was incredibly difficult. But then after lunch – as I was standing over the sink, I heard two co-workers behind me discussing where one of them should go to have an abortion. My heart was racing instantly. Then I heard the name Dr. Voss mentioned, the one who did my abortion. His name triggered the first time that “words” actually came into my head instead of numbing fear. The words? “He’s a jerk! Tell her – don’t go to him, he’s a jerk!”
I don’t even know these girls, and already tears were starting. And then the words were: It’s not just the doctor – Tell her don’t do it! TURN AROUND and TELL HER: Don’t do it!
But then I couldn’t stop the tears, so I didn’t turn around… and I never said a word.
Without me seeking Him, God still blessed me with more children, even after what I had done. And after the first two were born, He gently was calling me back to Him and I was finally ready to listen. If you know the song,
Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling…
Come home, come home
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling;
Calling, "O sinner, come home!"
That was me.
At my mom’s suggestion, I started attending church. And there, I was loved by some very dear ladies. Several months later, I sat alone on my porch in 1983 and gave my very broken life back to the Lord, and committed to walk with Him again.
Two months after that, I lost my mom to breast cancer. I was 27 - she was only 56. I was born on her birthday.
She had been the only one who ever knew, just that tiny bit, that I regretted my abortion. As I grieved for my mom, I realized I was also beginning to grieve for my baby, but now I had no one who knew.
God was faithful, and provided a time and place for my tears, and for healing to begin. Again, in a simple conversation with a Christian friend about her special-needs son, she made a comment on abortion. There in her kitchen, as she was still talking and my heart was pounding, all I kept thinking was “Just tell her”. So I blurted out “Sherilynn, I’ve had an abortion.”
And she just walked over and held me while the flood poured out.
There were no protestors, sidewalk counselors or rescuers at the doctor’s office in 1978. Neither my church from my childhood, nor the new church I attended, EVER spoke on abortion. No one ever told me what I did was wrong, yet I knew it was.
What I didn’t know was exactly what I had done, because of course I wasn’t told. I am thankful for a PBS Frontline documentary, Abortion Clinic, that aired back in 1983. (For the 20th anniversary, it is available online now)
PBS showed me the graphic truth, which included an abortionist picking through the “material” spread out on a paper towel.
I could see. He was picking out the tiny pieces of a baby. It was not an extraction of tissue, like a blood clot or a tumor. It was the destruction of a human life, created by God, in His image. I killed my own child.
It was devastating. But I needed to know.
The truth set me free. The truth that I am guilty of shedding the innocent blood of my own child, and that God hates what I did, but He loves ME.
Every woman needs a safe place to tell her story. They need to tell their story to grieve, forgive, be forgiven and heal a broken heart. This is the blessing of post-abortion ministry:
• to be able to share with other women who have done the same thing, and finally see that I am NOT alone in this
• to be able grieve openly for a baby you didn’t know you loved,
• to be able to lay this burden down, at the cross, and understand that Jesus died willingly for MY sin and He LOVES me still.
Although I am willing to, I generally don’t share the circumstances that led to my abortion, because I know there is a tendency for the listener to “judge” the circumstances that aborting mothers face. Whether her situation was tragic, scandalous, stressful or selfish shouldn’t matter to us. . . She was sold a lie.
A tiny, utterly helpless, innocent child dies in every “successful” abortion. The goal of abortion is the death of her baby, not a terminated pregnancy. When a baby miraculously survives, it is a failed abortion. There are no circumstances that justify the intentional killing of an innocent child.
There are no circumstances that justify a mother paying a doctor kill her newborn or her two-year-old.
I know now what “a woman’s right to choose” and “reproductive rights” really means: Call evil good, and good evil; substitute darkness for light, and light for darkness. This is the real war on women – twisting the beautiful, natural, miraculous privilege of pregnancy and childbirth into a burden so dreadful it is worth any risk to avoid.
My abortion was done in the basement of the doctor’s office. Everything else was done upstairs, until the actual procedure. I know now, they wouldn’t have wanted anyone to hear – not the suction machine, or the crying. It was excruciating and I begged him to stop. It was humiliating and I felt trapped. It was like a rape. The only words I remember Dr. Voss said to me… “Quit crying” and “Don’t be such a baby”. I hemorrhaged, and took way too long to recover on the table. I could hear the suction machine turn on in the room next door. I could hear them talking, and knew I was taking up space. They were waiting to use the room. I was taking up staff time, so they brought my aunt downstairs to watch me. The first thing she said was “You look terrible”.
My “choice” was to kill my child – in a brutal and sickening surgery. It violated both my body, and the instinct protect my child. It left me empty, hopeless, and alone. Alone with my shame, guilt and unbearable sorrow. Why do women need this??? Why are women cheering for it?
Any one of us can reach a point of such darkness that we think about doing something desperate, like suicide or abortion. If you are unable to correct your thoughts at that moment, your last bit of hope is that someone will stop you. That someone will love you.
When I’m asked “Would anything have changed MY decision to abort?” For me, there are at least two thing for certain: The first would have been if the father had said “Don’t”. If he had loved me enough to say “I can’t let you do this”.
The second – I honestly never would have considered abortion if it had been illegal.
The truth is – the law WILL stop most women from seeking abortions. And until that protection is restored to women and their babies, those of us with a voice need to speak on behalf of those who can’t possibly defend themselves; to rescue those being led away to slaughter, and to reach out with compassion and grace to the men and women who are hurting from abortion. You may be the one who needs to hold someone while they weep.
Last year, I was interviewed by a CSU student for his class. In one of my answers, I shared that I’ve had an abortion. After the interview, he said that he had never met anyone who has actually had an abortion. My response was “No, you probably know women who have, they just don’t talk about.” There are millions of us.
Each time I speak publicly, I am greeted afterwards by another new woman with a hug and a whisper “I am one of you” or “You were basically telling my story”.
Most recently, a young woman took me aside to quietly share the following comments:
· I was thinking as you spoke, you’re right - If a man, any man, had said something to me, I wouldn’t have done it.
· My doctor was a jerk too.
· You know, I started dying inside when I gave up my virginity. Nobody talks about that.
· So do your kids know? (I get that question often. The answer is yes.)
Last September, I tried to locate “Anne”, my friend from my freshman year. I thought what fun would be to see her again. I googled her name, and found her obituary. She died of breast cancer four years ago. Abortion is a risk factor for breast cancer. I was the friend who helped pay for her abortion. This is what millions of men are doing for their wives and girlfriends.
It has been 34 years since my abortion. It still hurts. There are times when all of my grown-up kids are at my house - and I am struck by the loss of their sibling, wondering how that child would have added to the fun and love they have for each other.
Again, abortion is sobering, life-changing, heart-breaking experience.
Abortion is never a compassionate solution.