“Charlotte” suffered an abortion when she had an unexpected pregnancy two years ago, and still remembers the trauma and sadness she felt.
When I found out that I was pregnant at a tender age of 21, studying in Australia with no family around me, I did not get the same fears that many other unmarried young women faced. Although I had admittedly made a mistake of engaging in sexual intercourse with a man I was not married to, I was thrilled to find out I was pregnant.
Due to medical complications I had to live with, I had thought for several years that I was infertile. For me, the feeling of guilt was drowned out by a pure joy that I too could be a mother, that I too could have a baby grow inside my womb. Unfortunately, my boyfriend of five years did not accept the reality of my pregnancy. He was adamant that I should abort our child.The next two months were a living nightmare. I kept my pregnancy a secret, telling no one about it, apart from a few close friends and a cousin who had been in a similar situation. She convinced me that an abortion was the only thing to do without hurting the relationship with my own parents. She urged me to give the baby a name, to go for confession, and to seek forgiveness from my baby for what I was going to do. On hindsight, it was not a good idea. How could hurting my relationship with my child be the best way to salvage my parents’ relationship with their child? How does it make sense to plan an apology in advance while I’m planning to do harm? For nights I contemplated my cousin’s advice, and the demand of my boyfriend. I badly wanted to protect the little one in me, but it seemed like I had so much to lose. The possibilities swung back and forth in my head: to abort or to save.
Eventually, I caved. When we returned to Australia, my boyfriend demanded that I had an abortion, and drove me to the abortion clinic. Knowing that I would not have gone on my own, he was determined to personally walk me into the clinic. We walked past a group of pro-life activists outside the clinic. I dropped my head in shame as we walked briskly pass their gruesome images of aborted babies and signboards against abortion, swiftly into the clinic.
Ten minutes into our waiting time, my boyfriend excused himself for a smoke outside. But the moment he walked out, he never came back in. When I called to ask where he was, he insisted on waiting in the car because he was too embarrassed to walk pass the activists again. Feeling the sense of development, I started crying hysterically. The nurses took me in to a room to speak with a psychologist, who – ironically enough – reminded me that it was not too late to turn back. At those words, the urge to walk out the door was strong, but again, I gave in. Even though my boyfriend had disappointed me, I did not want to disappoint him.
A small cup of water and few pills were all I needed to take. This would be a path of no return – the pills would cause contractions and kill the foetus. The period of isolation felt like forever; I tried to conjure up a good enough reason for what I was about to do, but the only thing I could think about was the pure joy I felt to discover I was with child. Still, I swallowed the pills. My crying stopped, and I felt something inside me die: it wasn’t the baby, but my soul. I clutched my stomach and closed my eyes, mumbling “I’m sorry” repeatedly. The strong abdomen cramps began, and I was wheeled in to the operating room, where a nurse injected me with anaesthetics.
When I opened my eyes again to discover that the procedure was over, I lost all hope for the future. I could not see myself getting married or having a family anymore. I cried myself to bed every night for the next four months, feeling guilty and disappointed with myself for not being able to protect my child. Although I never lost faith in God or gave up on life, I felt that I didn’t deserve God’s forgiveness. My boyfriend scolded me constantly whenever I cried, that I should “just get over it”. I began to have a sense of hatred for the very person I aborted my baby for. I became a cold person, with no emotional attachment to anything or for anyone. Life became meaningless.
One night 10 months after the abortion, as I was walking home, I met a neighbour from my estate, who gave me what I believe was a word from God. Even though we had known each other for a mere few minutes, it felt as if he had known me a much longer time. He told me I should forgive my boyfriend and myself for what happened, that without forgiveness, I would remain miserable. God had forgiven me, he said, and it was up to me now to forgive myself and others. I never met the neighbour again, but our conversation stuck in my head, and I found forgiveness and healing.
The abortion experience is something I choose to remember. The sadness remains, and it’s not something which can be put out like fire. Like every other bad experience in our lives, I know I needed to grow from it and continue with life. Yes, I did something against God’s will, but I am reminded that God writes on crooked lines. God’s forgiveness is big enough to cover any sin, as long as we repent and turn back to him with all our hearts. This was the miraculous and generous forgiveness I felt when I decided to walk once again with the Lord instead of apart from him as I had so often done.
If you’ve suffered an abortion and are struggling to overcome the grief and regret, the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is for you. For anyone struggling with the emotional and spiritual pain of abortion, this retreat will help one find healing in their life, and courage to carry on. The three-day two-night retreat is designed especially to help you experience the mercy and compassion of God, giving you the opportunity to release repressed feelings of anger, shame, guilt, and grief in a safe environment.