Following a teenage abortion, Peter and Tricia DeMaio were determined to never have another abortion again. That all changed when Tricia faced intense pressure from her parents.
High school sweethearts, Peter and Tricia were just 17 years old and had been dating for a year when Tricia discovered she was pregnant. When Tricia told Peter, he responded in the way in which his friends advised him in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. He told Tricia he’d “take care of it.”
Peter told Live Action News, “I took Tricia to Planned Parenthood in Atlantic City. We were both uninformed when it came to pregnancy and abortion. All we knew was that Tricia would walk into the clinic pregnant and come out not pregnant. We were ignorant of the details.”
For Tricia, the procedure felt as if she was in a time warp; everything seemed surreal. Afterward, when she walked into the room where Peter was waiting for her, it was as if she came back to reality.
“Looking back, I think the second Peter and I walked out the door, our relationship was tainted,” Tricia said. “Our childhood innocence had been ripped away even though we didn’t fully comprehend the gravity of what we had just done.”
The couple continued to date and eventually went away to different but nearby colleges, allowing them to get together frequently. Peter felt himself clinging tightly to Tricia, believing sex was the bond that held them together.
But they weren’t loving each other in the right way, even though they both believed they were soulmates.
Peter said, “We were in a co-dependent relationship that was unhealthy. We were too consumed by each other, almost obsessive about what the other person was doing. Our relationship wasn’t well-rounded at this point. We harbored this dark secret that nobody knew about.”
While Tricia concentrated on her studies, Peter was abusing drugs and alcohol, putting his partying above his college work.
“Tricia seemed to keep it together, but I went off the rails,” Peter said. “It was the fallout, I’m sure, from the abortion.”
A second abortion
In their junior year of college, Tricia again became pregnant. The couple had made a promise to never abort their child again. This time, they’d tell their parents about the pregnancy, starting with Tricia’s parents.
“Tricia’s parents were very traditional,” explained Peter. “She was their oldest daughter who was studying nursing and close to graduation. They strongly advised Tricia to have an abortion and indicated they’d take her to do so. If she did not, they made it clear she would be on her own.”
Tricia believed her parents were worried about her future, concerned she would be hindered by caring for a baby while completing her studies.
“They were like, this is so wrong, you can’t have this happen,” Tricia said. “Because I was ignorant of the facts surrounding abortion, I still believed it was just a basic medical procedure.”
Tricia’s parents drove her to the abortion facility — and once again, she underwent an induced abortion.
Tricia said, “I walked in, got it done and then drove back to school. I never talked about it after that. My parents never knew about the first abortion.”
Ten years later, Tricia and Peter, now in their mid-20s, were living together but unmarried. Peter’s older brother and mother were diagnosed with cancer and while his mother eventually recovered, his brother’s illness turned terminal.
“My brother wanted to know when Tricia and I were getting married,” he said. “I still was grappling with Tricia’s decision to abort our second child without my approval. I felt angry, bitter, and resentful toward her but pushed those feelings down. I loved her yet hated her for what she’d done.”
The couple decided to host an impromptu wedding ceremony so his brother could witness their vows. When his brother died, Peter was devastated.
“My brother’s death was the bottom for me,” he said. “I was so empty inside and realized that money and success wasn’t the panacea for life’s challenges. I asked God to forgive me for all I had done, take over my life and fix my broken heart.”
Shortly thereafter, Peter went on a retreat where the topics of sexuality and morality were discussed. He went to confession and poured out his anguish to the same priest who once heard Mother Teresa’s confessions.
“Afterward, when I went home, I shared the message of God’s love and mercy with Tricia,” he said. “As we learned to cling to God and surrender our will to Him, our marriage started to improve, and we both started to heal.” Today, one of Peter’s favorite prayers is the Surrender Novena, a prayer dedicated to asking Jesus to take over.
They became pregnant and their child was born, fittingly, on Peter’s late brother’s birthday. While the couple suffered two miscarriages, they are now parents to seven born children.
“We love being parents and are so fortunate that we have such loving and good children,” said Tricia. “We told them about the abortions and our young daughter thoughtfully decided to name her two siblings in honor of their lives.”
While attending the March for Life, The Sisters of Life asked Peter to consider speaking about his experience and since then, has spoken in several schools to children about abortion.
“It’s so important to educate teens on the perils of abortion,” Tricia said. “We were not informed, and it costs us dearly. Every day, we experience God’s healing as He opens new doors for us to share His love and to stand for life.”