Alabama rocked the news cycle with its near-total abortion ban signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week, and to hear the mainstream media tell it, the law is human trafficking in disguise; it echoes communist-era Albania; and miscarriages will land women behind bars.
What none of these stories mention is the life-crippling abortion regret that thousands of women may be spared. As a woman who has experienced abortion, I’d like to share some insights about the impact that “choice” has had on me and millions of other women.
Abortion hurt me, and I am not alone.
According to afterabortion.org, women who aborted their pregnancies were 31% more likely to suffer health complications, visit doctors 80% more often than women who did not abort, and sought mental health care 180% more often.
The proliferation of after-abortion recovery programs, both faith-based and secular, speaks to the fact that women are suffering unanticipated after-effects of abortion for years, or even decades.
I had three abortions, and I’m not alone in this either. Statistics have shown that 45% of women who have an abortion will have had one or more prior abortions. Ten years ago, a woman named Irene Vilar wrote a book about her 15 abortions, and even some abortion supporters found themselves speechless.
Raised in middle-class America, I had everything going for me. A home in the suburbs, a love for art and drama, and parents who tried to provide everything for me.
I went to public school in the late 1980s. In health class, we were taught about “safe sex.” One birthday, my aunt gave me the book “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” a feminist manifesto that pushed the concept of sexual liberation. Reading it, I felt empowered and educated.
When I got pregnant at 15, my parents thought abortion was my only choice and forced me to terminate the life of my innocent child. Depression overtook my life, and I turned to drugs, alcohol, and a series of unhealthy relationships.
I got pregnant again at 18. This time, it was my decision to have the abortion because I thought it was the only solution. I had my final abortion at 22, just six months after the birth of my first (living) child.
I was forced to decide between the “security” of keeping my infant’s father involved in our lives, or the prospect of having this second baby on my own. I would be a single mother of two babies. I chose abortion, but the man I sacrificed my child for would be out of my life within a few short years.
I wish my story was unique, but it’s not.
On the Silent No More website, there are thousands of stories just like mine. Women who have chosen abortion talk of unhealthy relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, multiple abortions, and mental health issues.
Some of us become workaholics, while some of us find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it’s hard to bond with children born after abortion, or the opposite is true: Women who have had abortions can become helicopter mothers, afraid to let their children out of their sight.
Abortion changes each and every one of us.
I saw a photo recently of a woman holding a sign that read, “My abortion was fabulous.” Her abortion changed her, too.
Many Silent No More women talk about becoming involved in the pro-choice movement as a way to validate their own choices. Eventually, though, each one of us has had to face the truth that our choice was fatal to our own children.
The latest effort of abortion supporters to normalize this lethal procedure is the #YouKnowMe campaign that asks women to come out of the shadows and declare that they have had an abortion.
This is what the women of Silent No More have been doing since 2002, with much less support from the mainstream media.
The truth is that everyone probably knows at least one woman who has lost a child to abortion, and many of us were broken by the experience. Abortion was not the solution we thought it would be.
New laws in Alabama and Georgia, with Missouri on deck, will save babies’ lives, but they also will spare women the pain that I and my Silent No More sisters have endured.
But it would be a mistake to applaud these laws and walk away. Women facing unexpected pregnancies will still feel the panic that comes with a positive pregnancy test, and we cannot abandon them. Abortion advocates say women will go back to trying to self-abort, and that would be a tragedy.
Those of us who are pro-life and who have fought for or supported these abortion restrictions have to be willing to step up. We have to support pregnancy resource centers with our donations, our time, and our expertise. We have to make sure we are part of #YouKnowMe and #ShoutYourAbortion and tell our stories publicly whenever we have the chance.
We have to be willing to listen to the fears of a woman or a girl who thinks a pregnancy will derail her life and help persuade her that she is strong enough for whatever is coming.
A pro-abortion study often cited by the mainstream media talks about the dire consequences faced by women who want abortion, but are turned away. But buried deep in a New York Times Magazine story about the study is one very interesting statistic: Just 5% of those who are turned away suffer consequences; the other 95% “adjust.”
It’s our job now to help make that adjustment as easy as possible for women in states where abortion is no longer so readily available. It’s up to us to help mothers understand that an unexpected pregnancy is a blessing, not a curse.