In her early twenties and just out of college Jill Marquis thought marriage seemed like the thing to do. But after a couple of years, she found herself feeling dejected. After beginning an affair, she soon discovered she was pregnant.
“I wanted to get a divorce,” she says, “And in my twisted way of thinking, I could not be pregnant and get divorced. I was operating on fear and panic. […] I thought, I can’t go on with my life. I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t tell my mother. I didn’t tell my sisters who I’m very close to. I knew I needed to live life my way.”
Marquis called the first abortion clinic in the phone book and went in for an appointment. There was no counseling. There wasn’t any talk about what her reason for getting an abortion was. The clinic simply told her how much the abortion would cost and when they could fit her in. She went back a few days later and had the abortion.
Marquis recalls the experience:
They don’t tell you that you have the option of anesthesia. It was extremely painful and no one prepares you for that. There was nothing kind or compassionate about it. It was an assembly line procedure. And it was extremely painful physically and in an emotional and spiritual sense. I didn’t feel like anyone cared that I had tears streaming down my face. It was in and out. And I have really come to recognize that this is big business.
Marquis went on with her life, catching a flight to New York City the very next day for work. Her marriage ended and she eventually married the man she had an affair with. The pain over her decision to have an abortion did not truly surface until she became pregnant with her next child.
“Nobody told me,” she explains, “that it might come back to you when you have the ultrasound of the children you want to have. There I was looking at this ultrasound of the baby growing inside me and [I was] screaming in my mind that that was a baby you aborted. A baby that you killed. I stuffed it down for a very long time and tried to silence that voice. Looking back on that decision it was the most selfish thing I ever did in my life because it was all about me wanting to live life on my terms.
Marquis says another thing no one ever told her was that having that abortion would make her keep her future children at arm’s length. Afraid that God would retaliate for her abortion by harming one of her other children, Marquis didn’t allow herself to engage with her children. It wasn’t until she came to grips with her abortion that she was able to become a true presence in her children’s lives and completely bond with them.
But there was one more thing that no one told Marquis at the abortion clinic, and that was how broken she was going to be. That she would spend years and years trying to fill a void with everything from people to experiences to alcohol because there was an aching need inside of her that she just didn’t know how to fix. Marquis explains that the clinic won’t tell women any of this, quite simply because that isn’t their purpose. Their purpose is to get a woman’s money and to get her in and out.
It wasn’t until her two children were in middle and high school, that Marquis finally sought help for her post-abortive feelings of remorse and guilt. She knew that she was never going to get better until she came to terms with her decision to abort.
Through a series of events, Marquis was introduced to Surrendering the Secret, a post-abortive study and support group. Marquis decided that she wanted to bring this ministry to her church and she approached her pastor about it. Along with a counselor and another post-abortive woman, Marquis was able to experience the study and began to realize that most of her adult issues came back to her abortion and to the frame of mind that many things in life are disposable. What should be sacred is not sacred, from relationships and marriage to our own children. She credits Surrendering the Secret with saving her because it completely changed the trajectory of her life.
“I truly believe that so many decisions I made were a result of that abortion,” she explains, “I did a lot of putting a front on that life is good, everything is great. My kids are good. My husband is good. My marriage is good. But I did a lot of social drinking. I would use it to numb something in me for a long time. When we found our church, the more I learned about Christ the more I learned about having an ongoing relationship with Him and the more I realized what the hole in my life was and that I couldn’t fill it with people or wine. I became involved with a woman’s ministry and God place before me the opportunity to run a woman’s ministry and I knew I couldn’t lead women if I was not in a place where I was on my way to being whole.”
When she heard that Knock TV wanted to produce a show focused on Surrendering the Secret and post-abortive women, Marquis thought it was a great idea, until her friend Pat asked her to facilitate.
“I was like, ‘oh no’,” she says, “And Pat said, ‘It would mean you’re gonna be sprung and you’ve got to be okay with that.’ In my head, my answer was yes, but I had to talk to Dan [her husband] and the kids about it. So I talked to my family and my husband and kids were phenomenal. My daughter, 16 at the time said, ‘Mom, you have to. How can you not?’.”
The experience of having her secrets shared on television was “beautiful and ugly and glorious all at the same time.” But she and the other women who participated felt that their stories were important to share for others as well as for their own restoration.
Marquis hopes that any woman considering abortion will realize that it isn’t a problem solver, but that it’s actually going to “bring about devastation that you had no idea could exist”. She also wants women to know the facts. According to numerous studies, abortion can cause mental health problems among women who have abortions. A 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that women who have had abortions have a 61% increased risk of mood disorders as well as a 261% increased risk of alcohol misuse and a 313% increased risk of drug misuse. In addition, they show a 61% increased risk of social phobia, and a 59% increased risk of suicidal thoughts.
As for post-abortive women who are suffering, Marquis wants them to know that there is healing and grace.
“If there’s a feeling that you have no idea about, that hurt that you can’t quite put your finger on, God will bring you through it and I want that for you,” she says, “I have seen it in my own life. You do not have to walk around broken. God wants all of those pieces of your life and He wants to put them back together so that you can be healed and whole.”
After all that she’s been through, today Marquis continues to help other women heal from abortion, which she views as a symptom of a much larger problem in our society. She believes that when people decided sex was disposable and took it out of the realm of being an intimate act between a husband and wife that we made our children disposable as well. She says,
We took a sacred act and made it cheap, and then everything else became cheap too. [Abortion] is sold to us that it’s our right as women. That it’s our body to do with what we want. That it’s a fetus. And that’s a lie from the pit of hell. This is a child from the moment of conception. We are made to bare children, and we all know that on some level and we deny that. With abortion we deny who we are. We are more than that, but fundamentally that is what we are designed to do. And when we intentionally take that life away, it damages us.
Marquis and other post-abortive women share their story and find healing through Surrender the Secret, available to watch on KnockTV.