In a 2007 book, “Giving Sorrow Words: Women’s Stories of Grief after Abortion,” a woman named Jane shared her story of being manipulated into an abortion. When she found out she was pregnant, Jane wanted to keep her baby. Her boyfriend Andrew pressured her to abort and bombarded her with a litany of reasons why abortion was her only choice. She explained:
Andrew started to put more and more pressure on me to have a termination. I would wreck his life completely; he would hate me forever; I would be wrecking the child’s life by bringing it into the world; the child wouldn’t have a good life; this would be my fault; it would be extremely selfish to have this child; how could I do that without taking into account the effects it would have on him, on his family and on my family; it would devastate everyone, he said.
Andrew threatened to take the baby away from Jane after the child was born. He would seek custody, he said. He would “take this child from me one way or another,” Jane said. Andrew threatened to never let her see her child and the thought of losing her child to Andrew troubled her deeply.
She explained that he continued to pressure her:
I have a choice available to me, so I should take this choice, and not bring another unwanted (by him) child into this world; there is enough suffering as there is without adding to it; I should be responsible, not selfish, and terminate the child. It would be the best decision for everyone.
Andrew stayed with Jane around the clock, even taking time off from work in order to keep constant pressure on her. She began to fear him and his anger as he grew more and more threatening. His constant tirades broke down her resolve. She began to feel “powerless” and “brainwashed.”
Still resisting him, however, Jane sought advice from two different counselors. Neither of them helped her stand up to her boyfriend or provided here with any practical support. She explained:
I went to see two counselors – both were pathetic. As a counselor myself, I can honestly say the counseling I received was crap. I asked what happens to women who have a termination when they don’t want one. One of the counselors said: ‘Some women get a little bit depressed afterwards.’ A little bit depressed! This was the biggest lie I have ever been told. The counselors did not give me any help; they were abominable.
Jane now wishes she’d reached out to other people in her life like her mother or a close friend. Every day she asks herself why she didn’t. “I needed some people to stand by me, so I could tell Andrew that I was having this baby,” she said. “It is my baby, part of me, and it isn’t right to kill it. I knew that.”
Abusive men frequently isolate their partners and eventually, Jane gave in. Right after she had the abortion, Andrew abandoned her. “Andrew promised me he would be supportive,” she said. “I haven’t heard from him since….”
After the abortion, Jane’s brother told her his wife was pregnant. Jane’s nephew was born two days after what would have been Jane’s due date. “My nephew will be a constant reminder to me, all my life, of what I gave up,” she said. “And my brother and his wife don’t have any understanding of that, but just think I’m not a very good auntie and I’m not, because it’s all just too painful.”
Abortion had a terrible effect on Jane’s life, as it does on the lives of countless women who suffer from increased risks of depression, alcohol use, drug use, suicide, and inability to bond with their other children. It an also affect their careers. Jane noted, “I ended up resigning from my job and pulling out of the postgraduate study I was doing. Now I’m thinking about getting out of my profession altogether because there are too many reminders of what I’ve done.”
Jane deeply regrets her abortion and wishes someone had told her how emotionally devastated she would be, but the abortion industry downplays the trauma women suffer from abortion. “I regret my decision with every bit of me,” she said. “I regret every day. If someone had told me that I might experience this much pain, there is no way I would have done it. I didn’t realize how deeply attached I already was to my baby – until it was too late, and it was in the rubbish bin… The abortion has blown my life apart, blown my entire self/psyche/soul/belief in myself apart. It has devastated me….”
Editor’s Note: If you are suffering from abortion trauma and regret, post-abortion support is available through organizations including Rachel’s Vineyard, Silent No More, The Elliot Institute, and Forgiven and Set Free.
Source: Melinda Tankard Reist Giving Sorrow Words: Women’s Stories of Grief after Abortion (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2007) 47 – 49
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