Years ago, I had an abortion. By writing this I hope to reach anyone who may be suffering as I was, and to share with them my experience and healing.
I grew up in a Catholic home. Despite my refusal to accept many teachings of the church, I did believe in the sanctity of all human life. When I got pregnant during my first year in college, I felt my only choice was adoption. Although this was a most painful experience, it didn’t compare to the horror I went through a year later when I aborted my second child. Deep inside, I knew I was living immorally, the one who “accidentally” got pregnant. I wasn’t pressured by anyone. I just could not bear the thought of giving up another child and I was convinced I wouldn’t be a fit parent. What kind of parent was so irresponsible anyway?
By this time I had completely lost my faith. Living a way that contradicted what I knew in my heart to be true, made faith impossible. I proceeded to have the abortion, and so violated one of my most basic instincts. No one could tell me it wasn’t a child. I had been pregnant and given birth to my son a year earlier. I knew this was no “collection of cells.” I told no one and buried it deep inside.
Years went by. I rarely thought about the abortion, but I drank heavily and became increasingly depressed and withdrawn. Looking at children was painful, looking in the mirror almost impossible. Somehow, by the grace of God and the prayers and guidance of many, I became sober and found my way back to the church. I confessed for the first time in many years. I told the priest I was sure I’d broken all the commandments except for killing someone. Then he asked me if I had ever had an abortion. I wasn’t lying, it simply had not occurred to me. I received absolution that day, but the real consequences of my abortion began to surface.
I thought about it every day. I felt dirty, evil. I was a liar, a hypocrite, and a murderer. I despaired of ever truly being forgiven. No matter how many times it came up in confession, I could not forgive myself. I went to vigils and walks to end abortion but only felt more alienated, terrified that someone would “find out.” In desperation I finally contacted the Sisters of Life, and through their ministry, the real work of my healing began.
I learned that this quiet, secret pain was not just another result of “Catholic guilt,” (as a friend had suggested once) but a real consequence of having made the decision to abort my child. I also met a woman who was healed of her abortion and began to believe that with God’s grace and mercy, I too might one day be healed.
Jesus continues to work with me (often despite myself). One of the greatest obstacles to healing is the belief that if I don’t suffer for my sin, it will mean that the abortion wasn’t “that bad.” I am slowly being changed. I pray to my son, who I believe, as Blessed John Paul II said, is now “living in the Lord.” I can stand on prayer chains with compassion instead of anger.
Two years have passed since I first visited the Sisters of Life. Through the ministry and work with other women like myself, God has brought me from a place of despair to one of joy and hope.
I pray that anyone suffering will take the next step toward healing.