Park East Hospital, NYC, July 1970. Abortion had just been legalized in New York on July 1st. I find myself there six months before my 16th birthday.
In my 60s I look at a photograph of myself at five years old and I think: in only ten brief years, this innocent, pretty, and bright little girl will lose her innocence, and that confident spark so evident in this image. She will experience the eternal wounding of abortion; she will terminate a human life before she even begins to know her own life.
Much of my experience still remains a complete blank. I only recently had the courage to research Park East Hospital, where I had my abortion. (I read in archived news articles of the hospital’s closing in the mid-70s due to violations of health regulations, and I feel a mixture of relief and revulsion.) Tears and deep sadness well up, as I view an image of what was the gateway to dark experiences, which I have blocked out for decades.
I had a saline abortion. I have absolutely no memory of the actual “delivery”, except hearing the nurses say something about “a boy”. They were quite kind to me during this phase of my experience. After being in the hospital for coming up to a week, I asked why had I not yet been discharged? “You have an infection; we’re waiting for your temperature to go down.”
I was so vulnerable—a child. I lay in the hospital bed listening to the seemingly constant sound of sirens and read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
The decision leading up to ending my 16-week pregnancy remains a jumble in my heart and mind. His father (my child's paternal grandfather) held the reins with all the social and economic capitol to drive the decision, even in the face of my devastated parents telling me that they would gladly raise “our” baby.
No one counseled me, NO ONE! I remain astounded that I was never given an opportunity to understand that I was carrying an innocent LIFE.
There was no counseling offered at the hospital either. I have absolutely no memory of even being prepared for what lay ahead. I certainly didn’t even remotely understand that I would burn a helpless child and deliver a dead baby. What I do remember is standing in a long hallway, wearing a hospital gown, in a long line of other young girls waiting for … what? I didn’t even know.
After the abortion, my “boyfriend” picked me up and eventually brought me home. No one ever talked about it with me, ever. I completely shut down for a year. The entire experience was blocked out of my mind but not my heart. It would be many years before a slow awakening unfolded.
I was once a bright, confident girl. Drugs and alcohol held no interest for me. “I’m naturally high,” was my response when offered drugs in high school. After the abortion, my inner landscape had forever changed. In my view, I was trashed and preserving my spark didn’t matter anymore; I used drugs regularly from that point until my final years of college.
I was also a perfect target for abusive relationships. I lived under the heavy weight of verbal abuse for many decades, before finally finding my voice with the help of counseling and intimate prayer under Holy Spirit’s guidance.
I’m whole now, through the peace and mercy of Jesus Christ. I’m in a stable marriage and have three beautiful children and three grandsons. I am inspired to transform my dark experience into something life-giving. I am writing a play, an artistic performance showcasing post-abortive women’s voices. I believe that post-abortive stories hold a power to bring light into the darkness of our present culture.
Love never fails. Life is sacred; there is forgiveness. This is why I can be silent no more!