As a little girl, I often dreamed of a life full of adventure and that along this journey, I would marry Mr. Right and have a family. I never dreamed that my journey would include an abortion.
My dream life took its first tragic turn when I was 13 years old. My wonderful father passed away very suddenly. Teenage years are hard enough to get through, but now I was a daddy’s girl without her daddy. His death left a huge hole in my heart that I didn’t know how to fill. Rather than find comfort in my faith, I looked to the things and people of this world to fill the void. As years went by, I especially tried to find happiness through relationships. At first, I thought that my high school boyfriend would be Mr. Right and I exchanged my virginity for his affection. It was a bad deal. So I moved on to college without Mr. Right and without my virginity.
The summer before my sophomore year of college, I met another candidate for Mr. Right. Again I made the exchange of myself for affection, and again it was a bad deal. This time I would be going back to school without Mr. Right but with a pregnancy. When I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified. Over and over in my mind I kept thinking, this isn’t supposed to happen to me. I didn’t know what to do.
One week before I was to pack up and go back to school, I told the father of the baby that I was pregnant. He asked me what I was going to do about it. I knew by his response that he saw this as MY problem- not his. He did offer to pay for half of the abortion, so I returned to school that fall with $150.00 in cash and a big decision to make. A week after I moved back to school, I decided maybe the college health center could help me. I went to the front desk and asked for a pregnancy test. The nurse at the desk asked me if I had already taken a home pregnancy test and informed me that if it was positive then it would be a waste of time for them to give me another one. I asked if I could talk to someone. Another nurse came out into the waiting room to speak with me. When I realized that they weren’t even going to let me past the front desk, I knew they could offer me no help. I asked the nurse about abortion, and she said I could just find a clinic in the yellow pages. I walked out of the college health center feeling utterly alone. The one person I should have turned to was my mother, but I just couldn’t overcome my fear of facing her with this hurtful news.
So when I got back to my dorm room, I picked up the yellow pages and called the abortion clinic. The abortion experience was like a cattle drive. The other women and I were herded together from room to room. The only thing I remember about the abortion counselor was that she asked me if I would like a prescription for the birth control pill. She gave me a starter pack of pills and an antibiotic to take after the procedure. We were then ushered into separate rooms where we waited for the doctor. It was a cold and humiliating experience. The worst part was the “recovery room.” All the women were put together into a large dark room where we were placed on cold vinyl beds to wait for the Valium to wear off. I’ll never forget the sickening feeling of lying in that room, listening to the moaning of other women and just wanting to escape as quickly as possible.
In the days that followed I felt relief. I had wanted the pregnancy to be untrue and now I thought it was over. For years after, I worked hard to forget that day and pretend it never happened. I finished college and along the way I did meet Mr. Right. We were having a wonderful time together and talking about marriage. It seemed like my dream life was right on track. I had finished my degree, had a great job and a wonderful fiance. So I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy.
Finally, I decided that maybe, just maybe, it was because I missed God. I secretly began to pray. Since I was hiding my sin in the darkness – that is where God answered my prayer – in the darkness of a movie theater. My fiance and I were at the movies seeing the “Gr6een Mile.” In that film, Tom Hanks plays the role of a death row prison guard who must oversee the execution of an innocent man. Even though Hanks’ character knows the gentle inmate is innocent, he participates in the execution; but it haunts him for the rest of his life. At the end of the film, the prison guard wonders what it will be like at the end of his own life when he meets God. He utters the line, “What will I say when God asks me why, why did you kill my miracle?”
Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. Because I knew that someday God would ask me that same question. Why, did I kill His miracle and I would have to answer that it was because I was afraid of making room in my life for that child. I went home from the movies, locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed until I couldn’t breathe. I realized that the abortion had not just been about my life, but it was about the life of a child that I couldn’t bring myself to face. All the pain I thought I had avoided came crashing down on me in that moment. I realized that I had sacrificed the life of another human being just to maintain my status quo. It was more than I could bear.
Fortunately, God gave me the grace to return to the Catholic Church. I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I went to the sacrament of reconciliation and finally felt the fear drain away. Through the mercy of Christ, I was forgiven and free. Then I found even further healing through an organization called Rachel’s Vineyard. I would urge any woman who has had an abortion to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. It was a chance for me to spend an entire weekend on the many emotional wounds I had left unattended for so many years. When I left that retreat, I felt like a new person.
I now have five beautiful children and a loving, gifted husband. But I know that there is someone missing from my life who cannot be replaced.
What I would like everyone to know is that abortion clinics are like human pawn shops. I walked into there and exchanged my own child in return for the life I thought I wanted. But I walked out with a debt of grief and sorrow that I could not repay.
From Priests for Life
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