Mainstream media and abortion advocates often cite research studies suggesting that women feel relief rather than regret one, two, or even five years after their abortions. This research is then used to suggest that the majority of post-abortive women will never feel regret or emotional pain over the loss of their children. One woman’s story, however, shows that processing an abortion experience may not happen for decades, and that the subsequent healing process can be very gradual.
Mary D. spoke to Live Action News over the phone about her abortion at age 19. “I was in nurse’s training, and had a boyfriend that I was crazy about,” she said. “This was 1974, and Planned Parenthood was already out and about telling women that it’s not a baby early on in pregnancy.” When she found out that she was pregnant, her boyfriend told her he was “so not ready” for a child. She felt conflicted, but he quickly made an appointment for her at the local abortion facility.
There was “a roomful of women of all ages, the waiting room was packed,” she explained. “My boyfriend automatically paid when we walked in. I thought, ‘I’ll just go back to talk,’ but no one talked to me about anything, and the next thing I knew I was laying on the table. I said ‘wait!’ and was told, ‘We don’t have time, lots of people are waiting.'”
Mary underwent a painful aspiration abortion. “I was screaming, and someone put their hand over my mouth and told me to ‘shut up,’ and that ‘you’re scaring other people,'” she recalled. “‘You have to act better than this.'” Afterwards, she was put in a different room full of women sitting in a row of chairs. “They put a pad on me, and sent me home with no instructions,” she said. “That was it.”
An aspiration abortion is a first trimester surgical abortion procedure. The abortionist gives the mother an ultrasound first, and then forcibly dilates her cervix. He then uses a powerful suction vacuum to remove the preborn child from the womb, and then scrapes the mother’s uterus with a curette to make sure nothing was missed.
Mary told Live Action News that the relationship with her boyfriend didn’t last long after the abortion. She never told her parents about it, either. “I was a Christian, and if my parents had known, the abortion never would have happened,” she said.
Three years later, Mary got married. She told her husband beforehand that she had previously undergone an abortion, but after that one time, she never spoke about it again. She felt “shame and embarrassment, feeling that I committed the worst possible sin that a woman could commit. I had a difficult time feeling that I was worth anything.”
And then, a little over 20 years after the abortion, one day a friend was visiting with her in her kitchen, and Mary’s secret finally came out. The friend looked at Mary, and prayed with her right then and there for healing. Mary calls that day the first chip in chipping away years of pain. The second chip came later on, when she shared that she had had an abortion during a time of prayer at a women’s retreat at her church. She learned that the pastor and his wife had also had an abortion, and she was told her baby was in heaven with Jesus. That couple then referred her to the third chip in her healing process, a mother of six children and a worship leader. Sitting in that woman’s kitchen, unsure why she’d been told to visit her, Mary learned that before the woman had married her husband she had had five abortions herself.
More time passed, and Mary came into contact with Debbie, a post-abortive woman herself, who founded a pregnancy care center together with her husband. Mary told Debbie that she wanted to help at the center, and she began volunteering as a counselor to abortion-minded women and girls. Wanting to do more, she told Debbie that she wanted to work with post-abortive women as well. Debbie responded that she was welcome to help, after she had gone on a healing retreat herself. While Mary felt that she was healed, Debbie told her, “OK, that’s great. But everyone who helps on the retreat team has to go through themselves first.”
That Surrendering the Secret retreat happened in August of 2019, nearly 25 years after Mary and her friend prayed in her kitchen. Mary learned that healing from abortion often happens in layers, and found that many of them came off during the retreat. She told her story, and listened to those of other women, and learned “during the naming service that it was actually a child, my child.” She was also particularly impacted by the opportunity to “write down people you want to forgive” related to the abortion, like those in the abortion facility who treated her so callously.
Now, Mary is still on the journey. For years, her husband felt that the abortion was an unspoken wedge between them, but now they are able to talk freely about it. She continues to help at the pregnancy care center, and is now working with post-abortive women as well. Asked what she would say to a woman considering abortion, she responded, “Abortion is definitely not the answer. You have to tell somebody. The worst possible thing is to make a decision all alone, without knowledge of your options.”
What would she say to a woman with an abortion in her past? “When your eyes are turned back to the Lord, that’s when healing comes.”
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