My name is Debbie. I came here today to speak to you about my personal abortion experience. I had an abortion almost 37 years ago and I understand first hand the pain post abortive women experience. I speak out to put a real face to abortion.
I had my abortion when I was 18 and in my first quarter of college. I had a steady boyfriend of three years, we were very much in love and we planned to be married in a few years. It was 1971 and abortion had recently become legal in Washington state. I went into the clinic for a pregnancy test and came out with an appointment for an abortion the following week.
I had the abortion because I was scared and still living at home. I wanted to stay in school and accomplish the plans I had made for myself. I didn’t want to disappoint or embarrass my parents. I felt very ashamed that I could have let something like this happen to me. I thought by having the abortion I could erase what happened and go on with my schooling, career and marriage plans with no consequences for my choice. After all it was never presented to me as a baby, only a blob of cells.
What happened to me that next week was something I buried deep inside me for the next 33 years. The night before the abortion I was given a pill to take. They told me it would help make the procedure easier. I now know that it was a pill to start the abortion process. The next day I was driven by my dad to the clinic and dropped off. I sat alone in silence in the waiting room. I didn’t want anyone there to remember seeing me. In the procedure room I could see jars with tissue with little pieces of tiny body parts in it and a big suction type machine. I started crying and told them I wanted to stop. I was held down by the nurse and told that it would soon be over. I was terrified as the Dr. put his hands and instruments inside me. Tears rolled down my face, as he scraped my baby from me and sucked it out into that jar I had seen. I felt like I had looked into the face of evil. As I lay there helpless, I felt like I had just experienced the worst form of sexual assault I could possibly imagine, with the private parts of my body grossly violated. I went out the back door where I found my dad waiting in the car. We drove back home in silence and we never spoke about it again. I realized that day I would forever have to be silent and to cry alone over my abortion. I told my boyfriend never to speak of it again and we didn’t for the next three decades of married life.
I lived the next 33 years in a haze. It seemed like I became two women in order to emotionally survive, one that everyone knew, which was one of marriage, children and career and the one only I knew, which was living in fear of my dark secret being exposed and feeling worthless no matter what I accomplished in life. I kept busy filing up my day doing activities to justify my life, to accomplish enough to merit my existence. I feared that my friends would judge me if they found out.
The important things I want you to know is that choosing abortion comes with a real price. The true cost is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain that you experience when you are responsible for taking the life of your own child. I had trouble conceiving and a miscarriage. I had chronic depression, suicidal thoughts and anorexia. I was afraid of getting close to people and at the same time afraid of losing people I loved. I alienated myself from God, which led me down the path of more sin.
My healing experience began when I came into the church. I asked Jesus in his infinite mercy, to forgive me for what I had done. The priest told me about Project Rachel and both my husband and I attended a healing weekend retreat. The abortion guilt no longer haunts me but the imprint of the sin is still there as a reminder for me to do whatever I can to speak out about the tragedy and pain of abortion, to work to make it not only illegal but to make it unthinkable as a solution to an unplanned pregnancy. The most unnatural thing for a woman to do is to kill her own baby by abortion. We must also reach out to women who are hurting from an abortion and let them know they don’t have to suffer in silence. This is why I choose to be SILENT NO MORE.