What Pro-Lifers Can Learn From “My Abortion”

In the November 18 issue of New York Magazine, the cover story is “My Abortion,” and in it 26 women share their experiences. It’s incredible that a mainstream news source like this would address the issue so openly. Although it begins with commentary from the author, Meaghan Winter, the majority of this article is dedicated to the words of the women themselves, each of whom wrote a short paragraph describing her abortion.

Their stories are raw, expressing every emotion from regret to relief. Sometimes the voice is impersonal, as if the woman is trying to remove herself from her own memory. Some of the stories are graphic, discussing the reasoning, procedure, and reactions in detail. All of them share the same pain and underlying plea for acceptance.

I’m certain that this piece is sparking many reactions and conversations, but I want to focus on one small detail: the women’s reactions to the pro-lifers they saw or spoke to outside of the facility or in their communities. As pro-lifers, our goal is to protect the lives of unborn children, yes, but we must never forget the mother in the process. These women are vulnerable, frightened, and seeking help. Their babies will die gruesome, painful deaths, but these mothers will live the rest of their lives with the memories of their abortions.

While most of the women don’t mention encounters with other people, the little said is striking. I have taken excerpts from some of their stories so you may read for yourself (all emphasis is mine):

Although I always thought it was a woman’s right to choose, I honestly thought if I got pregnant I’d find a way to make it work. All that changed. My boyfriend terrorized me…. When I went to the clinic, there were protesters with awful, very graphic signs. I felt their judgment….With the slew of sh***y things that have happened to me, I wonder, am I paying the price for what I did? I believe in a God who wouldn’t punish that way. But when you don’t want the gift you’re given, will the universe offer up that gift again?  -Lauren, 34, Colorado

Outside, nuns prayed; protesters threw themselves on their knees with holy water. “Wonderful” is a weird word to use, but inside the clinic was wonderful. There was a sensation of finally being able to breathe…. My husband’s family stopped talking to us. It taught us who our friends are. There’s an intersection of stigma—mental illness and abortion. -Rachel, 30, West Virginia

My in-laws have been helping us out financially, so we have no choice but to involve them in our decisions. They gave us $500 cash to bring to the clinic. I felt very forced. I felt like I was required to have an abortion to provide for my current family. Money help is a manipulation. I’m crazy in love with my daughters—imagine if I did that to them? It’s almost too much to open the door of guilt and shame because it’ll all overcome me. In the waiting room, there was a dead silence that’s hard to describe. Everyone was holding in her emotions to a heartbreaking degree. Truly pro-life people should go light on the judgment, because shame motivates abortions. -Heather, 32, Tennessee

Afterwards, I felt this mix of regret, relief, gratitude, and I had a new sense of control and determination about my future, like, I’m going to do this and this and this. I tracked the whole pregnancy online, living in fantasies about how big my belly would be. The only people who would listen to me say I had any emotions were people who wanted me to fall down on my knees and ask for forgiveness. I saw a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, but she gave me an icky feeling. There’s no room to talk about being unsure. -Mayah, 23, Oregon. 

The picketers met us at the car with disgusting pictures. I was quite emotional, but I was so scared that if I showed any emotions, they wouldn’t let me do it. I told them I already had a baby. The doctor acted like it was assembly-line work. I told Steve I miscarried. We dated another year. The secret was devastating. -Red, 30, Pennsylvania

These women are from different backgrounds, places, and situations. Every one of them had a deeply personal reason for seeking out an abortion, and each felt, to some extent, pressured into making her choice. They never say abortion was the easy answer, and few of them go so far as to say that it was the right answer, either. All of them express a certain amount of sadness and regret, even if they don’t acknowledge it directly.

Pro-lifers need to ponder these stories carefully. No matter how well meaning our actions are, sometimes they do more harm than good. When a mother chooses to have an abortion, she already feels trapped. Post-abortive women need healing and help and our response needs to be one of love and understanding, not condemnation. There’s a difference between accepting the action of abortion and accepting someone who has had one.

If you or someone you know has had an abortion and is need of healing, please do not be afraid to seek it out! There are many organizations that offer free, confidential counseling and materials to post-abortive mothers. Most pregnancy resource centers offer these services, as do the organizations listed below:

Abortion Changes You                                  www.abortionchangesyou.com

Abortion Recovery International              www.abortionrecoveryinternational.org

After Abortion                                                    www.afterabortion.org

Deeper Still                                                          www.godeeperstill.org

Project Rachel                                                     www.hopeafterabortion.com

Rachel’s Vineyard                                              www.rachelsvineyard.org

Silent No More Awareness                            www.silentnomoreawareness.org

Surrendering the Secret                                  www.surrenderingthesecret.com

The Sisters of Life

 

Erin Karlovich

Erin Karlovich

Erin Karlovich graduated from Hillsdale College with a B.A. in English in 2012. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she works as the assistant director for North Carolina Right to Life, an affiliate of National Right to Life. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and starting crochet projects. All opinions expressed are her own.

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11 thoughts on “What Pro-Lifers Can Learn From “My Abortion””

  1. My heart dropped to the lowest point with compassion for these hurting women. Thank you so much for posting this. “Post-abortive women need healing and help and our response needs to be one of love and understanding, not condemnation. There’s a difference between accepting the action of abortion and accepting someone who has had one” is so right.

      1. Its amazing, but considering we are apex predators, its not surprising. What we lack in teeth and claws we make up with numbers and intelligence. So few animals prey on us that we end up preying on each other. Essentially we create symbols(ideology) to facilitate our cannibalization of each other.

  2. I completely agree that we pro-lifers must be incredibly careful how we
    conduct ourselves and treat the people with whom we come into contact.
    However, in fairness, I wonder how many of the people who recount
    encounters with “judgmental” pro-lifers or “disgusting graphics” are
    actually describing facets of experiences which are not entirely real.
    Under emotional stress, it is very easy to end up attributing to other
    people, especially people whom we know do not agree with us or affirm
    our choices, affects, intentions, or a judgmental demeanor that, in
    fact, exist only in our own heads. I have done a decent amount of
    volunteering with pro-life groups, and though I often hear comments that
    criticize the supposed behavior of pro-lifers, I can honestly say that,
    in 4 years, I have NEVER seen anyone act in a way that was threatening,
    judgmental, boorish, or insensitive. This has led me to wonder if much
    of the conduct and attitudes attributed to pro-lifers are actually the
    products of contorted perceptions of reality in the minds of people who
    are not pro-life due perhaps to the emotional trauma they are
    experiencing, some personal need to mis-percive the character of their
    supposed opponents, or some other powerful psychological factor. Of
    course, this in no way excuses the duty of pro-lifers to be mindful of
    the way they might be perceived, if anything, it only increases that
    duty, but I wonder what other people think about this theory. Has
    anyone encountered significant occurrences of poor conduct or
    judgmentalism from pro-lifers?

  3. I completely agree that we pro-lifers must be incredibly careful how we
    conduct ourselves and treat the people with whom we come into contact.
    However, in fairness, I wonder how many of the people who recount
    encounters with “judgmental” pro-lifers or “disgusting graphics” are
    actually describing facets of experiences which are not entirely real.
    Under emotional stress, it is very easy to end up attributing to other
    people, especially people whom we know do not agree with us or affirm
    our choices, affects, intentions, or a judgmental demeanor that, in
    fact, exist only in our own heads. I have done a decent amount of
    volunteering with pro-life groups, and though I often hear comments that
    criticize the supposed behavior of pro-lifers, I can honestly say that,
    in 4 years, I have NEVER seen anyone act in a way that was threatening,
    judgmental, boorish, or insensitive. This has led me to wonder if much
    of the conduct and attitudes attributed to pro-lifers are actually the
    products of contorted perceptions of reality in the minds of people who
    are not pro-life due perhaps to the emotional trauma they are
    experiencing, some personal need to mispercive the character of their
    supposed opponents, or some other powerful psychological factor. Of
    course, this in now way excuses the duty of pro-lifers to be mindful of
    the way they might be perceived, if anything, it only increases that
    duty, but I wonder what other people think about this theory. Has
    anyone encountered significant occurrences of poor conduct or
    judgmentalism from pro-lifers?

  4. Pingback: Abortion Dialogue Takeaways | Respect Life Santa Barbara

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