Today, I think I am on the downhill side of my cold, so as long as I am considering it as "on it's way out", I am good to go. Just goes to show the power of the mindset-I also am burning an apple cider scented candle, because it is autumn now, even if the Philadelphia weather refuses to reflect it. I for one, am ready for fall- it's my favorite season. As seasons of life go, I think I am in the fall of my own life now, and I am happy to be here, even with all the "falling" going on in my own body. My mind is still operative(mostly), and my heart and spirit, though weathered, are strong.
In the order of things that happened on my spiritual journey, I cannot leave out one thing, that while not consciously spiritual, shaped much of what came after.
Here is the copy of a speech I gave at a board of directors meeting. It was a group of hospital administrators from the Main Line area of Philadelphia. They open one meeting a year to the public, and the prolife group that invited me to speak had been there before, and were known to this board of directors. I actually only got to give a portion of this speech-as minutes before we began, we were informed that we only had about three minutes each to speak. (I prepared for a ten minute talk). So I had to mentally skim and slash and decide on the spot how to trim it into something cohesive. Well, it wasn't cohesive or anything else, but I did manage to convey my point, however clumsily.
I will let you read this-it is somewhat graphic, in the sense that I tell you about a few of the more grisly aspects, but I don't think it is any more or less that what needs to be told. It tells my story and also some facts about abortion and PAS, or post-abortive syndrome. Not a made up thing, as detractors would like to claim. In my next post, I will tell you a little about what twists and turns that resulted from this, and how The Lord led me thorough.
I am here today to tell you the truth about a topic that not too many are willing to hear about or discuss--at least not in a way that removes the candy coating. But there are many mothers, fathers and especially tiny boys and girls that depend upon us doing just that.
Before we dive in, allow me to provide a little background about myself. I am a wife, the mother of seven living children and the grandmother of one. This alone tells you what I do with most of my time!
I am a trained musician, and also work part time at a residence for homeless women.
The reason I am here speaking with you today is because of something I did when I was eighteen years old, now a full 30 years ago-that took the life of my first child and shaped the years from then until now.
I was in the second semester of my freshman year at Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, having graduated high school with honors and awards; I had quite the bright future. I hoped to someday play in one of the country’s major orchestras, and I was getting a good start.
It was a rough time, though. My father passed away that February, and just a few weeks after that, I found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend of about two years promptly resigned his post, seeing in the situation the ruination of HIS plans and career, so not knowing where to get any support; I went to a Planned Parenthood clinic.
I came out with an appointment for an abortion. I was feeling pretty scared and alone. I don’t know what I said for myself at that point, but I do know I wasn’t ever offered any other alternatives. I was there, pregnant, scared….sooo, I must want an abortion, right? There wasn’t any discussion about my mental or emotional state, or if I was in the sort of state of mind to make such a life changing decision….Oh, yes...there was another topic of discussion. I was asked how I was going to pay for this? Having no resources of my own, out came some forms to sign and presto!-problem solved. I guess the state of Pennsylvania picked up the tab, though, at the time, I didn’t know that.
At that point, frankly, I felt numb. I was not a stupid girl, but this had reduced me to such a fearful state, that, with no information to the contrary, I just kept on with “the plan” I had set in motion. I did hope that afterwards, perhaps I would at least be returned to my previous life and that my mind would begin functioning well again.
When the scheduled day arrived, May 3rd, 1980, I was literally in a fog. I wasn’t at all prepared for what was about to happen. Oddly, there wasn’t anyone around in the waiting room. No friendly nurse or worker to ask questions of--or get a little reassurance. I just was called, given some Valium, put up on a table facing away from the door. When the doctor arrived (I never did see his face, so I was going on blind faith he actually WAS a doctor), the procedure began. It was a suction abortion, which was standard for seven weeks gestation. My son or daughter was about the size of a blueberry at this point, heart beating, just beginning to form arms and legs. I didn’t know any of that. The contents of my uterus were forcefully vacuumed out. There was a lot of blood. I did see that, it ended up in a jar near the foot of the table. The sensations were, while not exactly physically painful, very disturbing and difficult to endure. To this day those exact sensations still leap into my memory unbidden. I went back to my apartment. Though I was still losing quite a bit of blood, to keep up appearances, I went home the next day on the train and went to church. Many people commented on how white I was.
I was very fortunate to physically recover well. The rest of the recovery was not going to be easy. It came over the course of many years, and in stages of revelation. I never knew what was behind all the breakdown in my life. I did not finish college, I entered in to two failed marriages and a number of other harmful relationships. One of my marriages lasted thirteen years. And even though that time was fraught with abuse, by the year 1999, I had seven children.
What I found out about abortion came through them. When I heard the sounds of their feet as they ran about the house, that very solid sound illustrated for me that the one I had aborted would have been running right there with them, his or her feet thumping along in rhythm. The smell of their freshly washed hair, or wiping the peanut butter from their faces, told me the truth of what I had done. There was a very real void. It woke me up to reality, and I am grateful to God, who preserved my life and still blessed me with the ability to have my children, despite everything. Incidentally, my children are all reasonably healthy, but there are some disabilities and disorders among them. I would not ever be able to imagine life without each one of them and would not wish them dead because of the extra help they may require in life. I have worked with people that are severely compromised, and even the most profoundly disabled person brings their own special spark into the world, and those of us privileged to know them would not wish that they never had a chance to live.
Several years ago, I turned on the TV to see the March for Life in Washington DC. I saw women holding signs that said “I regret my abortion”. This struck a chord in me. It was such a bluntly true message, and so brave. Up until this point I had not talked about my abortion to very many people. I found out that they were part of a group called Silent No More Awareness, to which I now belong, that gathers women who have had abortions to tell their stories, and do what I am doing here now—bring the truths of abortion and it’s effects on women out into the light. There are about 1000 testimonies that can be found on silentnomoreawareness.org. My story is not unique.
Fortunately, there are organizations, the preeminent one being Rachael’s Vineyard, to assist in the healing of post abortive women.
After all my many struggles in life, I have found out that post abortive women share many of the same ones. Here are some of them: Emotional deadening; increased tendency toward anger or rage; fear of others learning about the abortion, or a sense of fear for unknown reasons; loneliness or isolation; less self confidence; sexual dysfunction; insomnia or nightmares; difficulty gaining or maintaining relationships; suicidal feelings; increased or beginning use of drugs or alcohol; eating disorders; and attempted suicide. My opinion is that many of these symptoms can fall into a category of PTSD, and I can tell you I have and still do experience many of these.
One last point with which I would like to leave you . The key to understanding the truth about abortion is not to close our eyes to reality. The reality is simply this—no woman who has ever gotten pregnant in the history of the world has given birth to anything except a human baby. Don’t become entangled in the diversionary debate over whether or not we are talking about the killing of a human boy or girl. We are. The single biggest tactic used to advance abortion is this-Keep it out of sight. There is no person in this room who, after witnessing an abortion, would come out in favor of it. Face the truths that more than 40 million human beings have been killed by abortion in this world so far—more than have died in all the wars and the holocaust combined. And thus far, many of us have silently watched.
It is so much easier to convince a mother to kill her child who is yet unseen by saying the words, “tissue” or “part of her body”. While it is true she is the steward of her body and what is happening inside her, how many of the same women would “choose” to kill him or her once they are born and can be seen, felt, experienced?
All of us in this room are blessed with at least fairly good health of mind and body. We are entrusted with the lives and health of those in need, in this case, pregnant women and their yet unborn sons and daughters. Let’s not continue to operate in half truths and shadowy, slippery language about abortion. Finding out the truth and acting on it is all of our responsibility, for which one day, we will all be held accountable.