Human Interest

After her abortion, Kari’s future pregnancy joy was overshadowed by ‘deep darkness’

husband, wife, divorce, forced abortion, abortion, coerced abortions

In her 2021 book, Kari Farley wrote about her post-abortion trauma. She calls her abortion “the biggest regret of my life.”

Farley became pregnant at 19 while she was living with her boyfriend. When she discovered she was pregnant, Farley felt “nervous but a bit hopeful,” thinking he would support her. Instead, he told her to have an abortion.

Farley knew almost nothing about abortion and she had no idea how to arrange one. But her boyfriend did. A few days after she told him she was pregnant, he put a piece of paper with a phone number into her hands. At his urging, she called an abortion facility and made an appointment.

She explained, “I did not want to make this choice; I did not want to keep the appointment. I felt trapped. My fingers had dialed, my mouth had spoken, yet my heart and mind were not in alignment with this decision.”

No help from the abortion “counselor”

At the abortion facility, Farley felt what she described as a “spiritual coldness.” As she cried during her very brief “counseling” session, the “counselor” said to her, “You know you have other options, right?”

She responded, “I don’t know of another option.”

This was the perfect opportunity for the abortion “counselor” to tell Farley about alternatives to abortion and assistance for pregnant women in need. The worker could have referred Farley to a pregnancy resource center, which would have offered her true options and supported her in keeping her baby.

Instead, the counselor told Farley, “They will call you back when they are ready for you,” and handed her a consent form. 

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Farley said, “It was the second time someone had put a piece of paper in my hand and guided my path, and I let them.” She said she was given no information about her baby’s development or the risks associated with abortion. 

Guilt, sorrow, and shame

Farley was put to sleep for the abortion. In the recovery room, another woman asked if this was her first abortion. The woman told her she’d had seven abortions and “it gets easier.”

Farley’s boyfriend was cheating on Farley with his ex-fiancée, and he left Farley for her soon after the abortion. 

Farley describes life in the aftermath of the abortion:

I tried to bury my guilt and my sorrow and shame. I cried almost every night. I hardly ate. I secretly had physical and verbal self-punishment rituals. Along with these, I grieved silently and alone for the child I had lost. I was stuck in such a whirlwind of emotions. I experienced anger and sadness like I had never known, and I did not know what to do with it.

Farley began taking pregnancy tests frequently, even though she wasn’t sexually active and couldn’t possibly be pregnant. Each time the test was negative, she felt intense despair and did things to punish herself.

Her ex-boyfriend eventually started seeing her again, this time cheating on his ex-fiancée. Farley became pregnant again with his baby and chose life without his support or involvement.

Abortion’s impact on future pregnancies

Farley was glad to be pregnant. She had a 12-week ultrasound and initially, seeing her baby made her happy. But when she looked at the ultrasound printouts later, she said:

[T]he joy was overshadowed by deep darkness. Staring at those photos, I realized the truth about my first baby…[M]y baby died, and his death was at my hands… I hated myself for it…

The sorrow, guilt, and shame that I already had instantly deepened tenfold, and an unbearable pain settled in my heart and remained for years.

Farley loved her daughter very much. But she felt she didn’t deserve her. Being a mom brought her great joy, she said, “yet overwhelming darkness shadowed my life.” Farley married and had two more daughters. Each birth, she says, was “bittersweet” and “full of pain for the child I never held and the thoughts of what he or she would have been like.”

Living with emotional trauma

Farley and her husband were active in church, but she told no one in the congregation about her abortion and she continued to struggle emotionally. She said she experienced numbness, isolation, depression, unexpected outbursts, hate, the desire for revenge, emotional detachment, the urge to run, and uneasiness every time she heard the word “abortion.” 

She remembers becoming upset when the topic of abortion came up in conversation or on social media. Every year, on the anniversary of her abortion, October 15, she suffered.

“Over time, I became emotionally detached and had trouble communicating what I was feeling,” she said. “…I became somewhat emotionally distant from God, myself, my husband, my children, and my friends and family.”

READ: Can’t Stay Silent: Jenn, Ashley, and Sylvia know abortion trauma is real… but so is healing

Marriage and having more children didn’t alleviate her emotional trauma. It was, she said, “a pain I did not want to talk about, a pain I felt I deserved… My sadness led me to a dark place of not caring if I lived or died.” 

No matter how hard Farley tried to suppress her trauma, it continued to resurface. She suffered silently for over 25 years.

Realizing the need to grieve and find healing

When Farley lost her mother in 2016, she grieved deeply. But this grief didn’t have to be hidden or suppressed. She was able to grieve openly and take part in a memorial service honoring her mother.

She realized she needed to grieve for her aborted child as well. Because she’d chosen abortion, she felt she had no right to grieve. Now she understood that she needed to grieve in order to heal. Farley went through an abortion recovery Bible study and finally allowed herself to work through the stages of grief.  

With the guidance of her Bible study, she named her child and had a memorial service for him. Finally, she found emotional peace, though she will always regret her abortion.

“I wish someone would have told me the mental toll that this decision would have on me,” she said. “Abortion should never be offered over to a vulnerable woman as a choice like something you pick off a menu.”

Source: Kari Farley Wholly His: Surrendering the Heartbreak of Abortion (2021) 18, 20, 22, 24, 27, 68, 74, 54

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