A decision that is supposed to empower you shouldn’t leave you with a lifetime of pain and regret. Abortion is not empowering. It does not enhance your life.
I know, because I had an abortion.
Within the mainstream feminist movement and in the abortion industry, abortion is impressed upon women as a problem solver with no after effects. Women in crisis pregnancies are often offered no education or counseling on choices beyond abortion. Even more troubling, attempts to “destigmatize” abortion often imply that women are wrong for feeling regret, remorse, or grief after our abortion. Organizations like 1 in 3 and Shout Your Abortion tell women that abortion is normal and there’s no basis for the regret or grief we feel.
One movement sweeping across college campuses claims abortion is positive for women. This year, 10 college campuses in five states hosted URGE, or Unite for Reproductive Gender Equity, for an #AbortionPositive Tour. At the University of North Texas, “art” presented to students included slogans like, “I got 99 problems, but pregnancy ain’t one!”
Since when is "a life for a life" an empowering, “positive” worldview? Yet this subversion of right and wrong is enough to change some minds, even against our own human instincts.
As women, our brains are wired to nurture the new life in our body. I fell in love the second I became pregnant. As hormones change during pregnancy, the body is preparing for motherhood physically, mentally, and emotionally. When a woman starts considering abortion, she then has to deny what the body is naturally doing. This is when denial begins. Denial of the child’s life, that he or she truly is an innocent and dependent human being.
This denial continues after an abortion is completed. Denial of grief because she doesn’t want to admit to herself there was actually a life lost. Post-abortive women will bury those thoughts with whatever they can. Data on post-abortive women demonstrate that substance abuse, depression, suicide, and a host of other problems often follow an abortion.
Due in part to well-funded marketing campaigns such as #AbortionPositive, it is common for post-abortive women to be silenced when heavy emotions arise or to have their pain covered with platitudes. I recall the nurses reassuring me with phrases like, “It’s only a 10-minute procedure,” and, “This will not affect your ability to have children later.” I remember telling myself: “Now I can be successful,” “Now I can finish college,” “Now I won’t have the burden of another life to look after.”
I fought my emotions with these platitudes for a long time. I would immediately stop myself from crying anytime memories of that day would creep in, telling myself it’s not something to cry over; I’m better off. But I couldn’t cover it up for long. My fuse was short and I was quick to anger and that anger went to rage. I remember having a couple of panic attacks one weekend because I couldn’t find any friends to go out to the Dallas nightlife and drink with me. I couldn’t handle being alone; it left room for me to think, to feel, to remember.
When I first sought counseling, it was not as helpful as it could have been, because we never once dove into my abortion being the cause of my anxiety, anger, or depression. Yet Post Abortion Stress Syndrome, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a common problem among post-abortive women. I had vivid flashbacks, memories of the day of my abortion replayed for years, at any given moment. Still to this day, six years later, I can tell you the color of the wallpaper in the clinic, the color of the chairs, even the color of the nurse’s scrubs.
Last year, I had the gift of receiving loving, compassionate post-abortive healing. Post-abortive healing was probably the hardest 12 weeks I’ve had to endure in my 27 years. But, compared to a lifetime of suppressed grief and heartache, I would go through it many, many more times. I learned that feeling intense pain post-abortion is normal, feeling regret is normal. And that there is hope past that regret; there is love on the other side of that pain.
To the people who want to deny the pain and trauma of abortion for women, I ask: Why is it acceptable for women to grieve a miscarriage, but not an abortion? Wouldn’t the primal grief of losing a child be all the more devastating if the woman played a role in her loss? The facts certainly seem to suggest that many women feel unbearable grief after their abortion. If it truly had no effect psychologically, why does the suicide rate increase for women after they’ve had an abortion?
Even after going through post-abortive recovery more than a year ago, I still fight the demons of guilt and regret daily. Yet finding post-abortion recovery changed me for the better — giving me peace and the chance to feel pure joy again.
To post-abortive women, I say this: Don’t feel pressured to see your abortion as positive. There are people out there to listen to your story. There are people out there to hear about your grief. Let them in and let them help.
Ally Bowlin is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is national programs coordinator for Students for Life of America. She is a member of Women Speak for Themselves.
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