Having an abortion after an unplanned pregnancy is never an easy choice. But all too often, it seems like the only choice.
Carly* has willingly given us permission to share her story so that others can realize there is hope in the midst of a difficult situation. All client experiences with Advice & Aid Pregnancy Centers are kept with the highest confidence. Her abortion story is difficult to read, and reflects the hurt and lifelong damage that an abortion can cause.
*Her name has been removed but her story is true.
I recently passed the 30th anniversary of my abortion. It’s strange to think that had circumstances been different I’d have a 30-year-old child celebrating their birthday somewhere around now. It’s harder to believe that I’m old enough for that to be a fact or that my story would be relevant to you.
Pregnant & Feeling There Were No Options
I was 18 years old and in a relationship that I thought would never end. I really had no doubts until I moved in with my boyfriend. Sure the sex was good, but everything else was less than ideal. So when I came up pregnant, I’m not sure what I expected. He was anything but supportive. Abortion wasn’t my first choice. In fact I thought he would consider making the relationship more permanent. Instead he took me to his parent’s house where they all insisted that abortion was the best option. In hindsight, I’d ask, “best for who?”
Abortion was easily accessible in 1987. The abortion clinic that everyone is familiar with was the obvious choice as they kind of cornered the market. The law stated I needed a consultation appointment before the actual abortion. So I went. The individual that did the consultation confirmed my pregnancy with a pregnancy test and then calculated the estimated gestation. They told me 12 weeks – which was the last week that the abortion could legally be done in that center. Strangely, I had to sign a waiver that agreed with what they told me, as if I would know anything.
The consultant then took me to a room with a desk and vaguely described the abortion procedure, asking me about my preferences for pain relief and recovery, making sure I knew to bring someone with me to drive me home. Then, as if checking off a list, they asked me rather half heartedly if I really wanted to have the abortion. I swallowed hard and said, “No,” because the truth was, I didn’t really want it. I just didn’t feel like I had a choice. In fact everyone around me thought the abortion was the only choice and the more I talked to others the less I trusted myself. To this day I can still remember what happened next. The consultant tore off the corner of one of the forms that I had signed and wrote a phone number on it. She kind of shoved it towards me on the desk and stated in a flatly, sarcastic tone, “Well, these people might help you, but I doubt it.” I still remember how the hope drained from my heart as she rolled her eyes at me.
A Horrific Experience
I never called the number. I showed up for the appointment, and took the abortion lying down, without pain reliever. I made my baby’s father be in the room with me because this was his choice too. I was not prepared for the suction machine to sound like a shop vac or for the absolute torment of the dilators opening my cervix. By the time the suction actually got to the suction curettage, I was sure the worst was past, but it wasn’t. The inside of the uterus isn’t designed to be vacuumed. It hurt more than I care to remember and I definitely took pain reliever in the recovery area (a space similar to the school nurses office). There was no tolerance for expressing how much pain anyone was in. The empathy on this side of the abortion experience was even less than on the other side. No one really cared that my insides had been ripped out and my heart was breaking. After all, wasn’t that MY choice?
Looking Back on Years of Hurt & Regret
All these years later, I have lots of insight around why I decided not to fight for my child’s life and my own piece of mind. I wasn’t a victim in the purest sense of the word. But at that time, I didn’t realize how my own childhood sexual abuse played into my lack of ability to defend my child or myself. I can also see how the dysfunction of my family of origin left me alone and afraid to bring a child into the world. I don’t blame those circumstances, but I understand today how they played into being lured into what was sold as an easy solution.
Today, I don’t believe in any easy solutions. It was a false promise that traded one set of difficult circumstances and another set of equally difficult circumstances.
Abortion didn’t remove my troubles, it simply changed them.
After the abortion, my boyfriend dropped me off at a friend’s apartment and never spoke to me again. I was alone and had to find my way through life with a different kind of burden. Several years ago, I met a friend who had placed a child for adoption about the same time I had the abortion. She was connecting with her adult daughter and it occurred to me that she had pictures and connection. All was left with was regret.
It took me years to work through the regret. I learned how to connect with myself through counseling and reconnect with God through an abortion recovery Bible study. No one can go back and make a different decision; we can only make the best of the decisions we’ve been given. I can’t say that my life would be better had I not walked the journey of abortion, because it’s only speculation. Every path is hard. The life given is rarely regretful.
Abortion is never the only choice, even when it appears to be the simplest in the moment.
Carly eventually found healing and hope. But the years of regret and pain were difficult before she was able to begin to heal.
If you, like Carly, have gone through an abortion and are feeling the pain and regret, know that we are here for you. We have a wonderful Abortion Recovery program that offers hope for past regrets.
And if you are considering an abortion, it’s important that you understand all of the aspects involved. We know this is difficult. But we can offer options, help, hope and a friendship that will stay beside you for as long as you need us!