Struggling After Abortion
By Sydna Massť, President and Founder, Ramah International
If you are one of the millions of women who have made the choice to have an abortion, you know that the memories associated with this experience can be difficult and even painful. Months and years may go by without any remembrance of the abortion experience. Then, one day, you find yourself wondering what your life would have been like had your child lived. Triggers like seeing children that are the same age your child might have been, or the anniversary date of the abortion/birth date of the child may leave you feeling anxious, scared, and fearful.
For most women, the abortion is a closely held secret. Rarely do we talk about this pain with family or friends. Many feel fearful that they will judge us if they know we made an abortion choice. There is good news - God can heal abortion pain and bring new joy to your heart.
How do you know you need post-abortion healing?
Perhaps you are thinking, "Okay, so I had an abortion. But that is in the past. Do I really need to be healed?" Some women seemingly never need to work through any kind of healing process. But for many of us, the memory of abortion lies like a hidden infection within, weakening and impairing us in ways we may have never realized were related. Is that true for you? See if you recognize yourself in some of the following questions:
If so, it is likely you are experiencing pain related to your abortion, many times referred to as "post-abortion trauma."
- Do you feel reluctant to talk about the subject of abortion, or do you feel guilt, anger, or sorrow when discussing your own abortion?
- Do you tend to think of your life in terms of "before" and "after" the abortion?
- Do you have lingering feelings of resentment or anger toward people involved in your abortion, such as the baby's father, friends, or your parents?
- Have you found yourself either avoiding relationships or becoming overly dependent in them since the abortion? Are you overly protective of any children you have now?
- Have you begun or increased use of drugs or alcohol since the abortion, or do you have an eating disorder?
- Have you felt a vague sort of emptiness, a deep sense of loss, or had prolonged periods of depression?
- Do you sometimes have nightmares, flashbacks, or hallucinations relating to the abortion?
You are not alone
As a woman who made the choice to abort my first child in 1981, I understand the feelings many women experience. The research arm of Planned Parenthood the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the world's largest abortion provider, states that, "at current rates, 43% of all women will experience abortion at least once by the time they are 45 years of age." If abortion is such a common experience, why do post-abortive women rarely speak about their abortions?
After my abortion, I found myself fighting hard to forget the experience. I avoided babies and children while involving myself in the abortion-rights campaign. This was short-lived because hearing the word "abortion" made me cringe. In an attempt to convince myself that aborting my child was my only choice, I found myself turning to drugs and alcohol to numb my emotions. It was difficult to sleep without being high because I had haunting nightmares of crying children. On the day my child would have been born, I cried all night. I thought I was going crazy because I didn't have a good reason for my tears. My head could not acknowledge my loss, but my heart did.
It didn't take long for me to become angry. My anger was directed primarily at my old boyfriend. I blamed him for the abortion because he said he would leave me and tell everyone it wasn't his child. Why would I want to bring a "blob of tissue" into the world whose father would reject him? I felt my college career was more important than maternity. How could I break my parents' hearts? I never realized that I was robbing them of their first grandchild. My anger helped offset the pain I was feeling.
For eleven years I was able to control these emotions. After my sons were born, I recognized that my pre-born child was not a "blob of tissue" as the abortion staff had told me. Facing the love that I had for my living children left me with unresolved emotions about my lost child. I never realized that my mother's heart would be unable to forget the child I had aborted.
Joy Comes in the Mourning
Eleven years passed before my calm reserve evaporated and my heart finally broke apart. Suddenly I found myself crying at the drop of a hat remembering the abortion. My anger now shifted towards myself. Why didn't I stand up for the life of my child? In realizing my role in the abortion, I was overwhelmed with guilt. Day and night my heart ached as I finally allowed myself to mourn my lost child.
I finally discovered a post-abortion Bible study and found peace in understanding that other women shared my emotions. My pain wasn't unique but typical. What a relief to know I wasn't going crazy! I began to learn how much the Lord loved me. He died on the cross for all my sins - including the abortion! He wanted to heal my heart and bring me closer to Him.
Week by week I dealt with each emotion - denial, anger, fear, grief, shame, guilt and sorrow. I named my child, Jesse, so he was no longer an unknown entity in my heart. At the end of the Bible study, I joined my fellow post-abortive sisters in a memorial service commemorating his brief life.
During the service, the pastor spoke about Jesus raising his friend, Lazarus, from the dead (John 11). When Jesus spoke to him, Lazarus came out of his tomb wrapped in burial clothes. Jesus asked his friends to release Lazarus from his grave clothes. The pastor compared us to the resurrected Lazarus. We are alive but tightly bound by the grave clothes of our aborted children.
The pastor's illustration described me exactly. When he prayed with me, a new joy overwhelmed me. I was released from the bondage of my sin and free to experience life in a renewed way. Jesse was safe in the arms of Jesus, and I wanted to work to make sure his death was not in vain.
Through the years, God has put me in touch with many women considering abortion. Today, many children are alive now, and hundreds of post-abortive women have come to a place of peace with Jesus because of Jesse's short life. There is no greater joy in the world than holding a child God has used you to save. What peace I have found in helping other women who face with the same choice in a crisis pregnancy! Without our healed voices attesting to the spiritual, emotional and psychological pain of the abortion choice, abortion will remain a legal choice.
The Hope of Healing
To find complete peace from your abortion experience, you need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His love is available to everyone - even someone who has chosen abortion. If you have never asked Jesus Christ into your heart, you can do so right now.
The path of salvation is shown in John 3:16 and Romans 10:9. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Do you want an intimate relationship with Jesus? These scriptures are your blueprints for salvation. Open your heart and believe in Jesus and ask Him to help you heal. If you are a Christian and still struggle with memories of your abortion, pray and ask the Lord to help you deal with this pain.
After you have prayed, seek out fellowship with those who minister to post-abortive individuals. Visit this center. I know that they care about you and won't judge you. They can provide confidential care to those of you who are struggling. Take a step of faith today and seek the help that God has for you.
Resources for dealing with your past abortion.
Her Choice to Heal - Book & Recovery Guide, by Sydna Massť
Post Abortion Syndrome Healing and Recovery