I had an abortion when I was sixteen years old because I was looking for freedom. I thought if I had an abortion, everything would go back to normal and be like it was.
The day of the abortion was horrible. No one spoke to me. No one explained what would be happening or what to expect, either then or at my doctor’s appointment before hand. No one told me any of the risks or consequences and not one person in the medical profession tried to talk me out of it. I remember lying in the operating room being terrified and then waking up in the recovery room. Immediately after the abortion I felt relieved that it was over but the abortion procedure did not go as well as expected and I had a lot of physical healing to do. I suffered permanent cervical damage.
I went to confession very shortly after my abortion and thought that was that. Unfortunately, about a month or so after that I heard the same priest preach on the horrors of abortion, screaming and shouting, and though factual and truthful, it was not loving, nor did it address the mercy and love of God. I was deceived into believing that though God had forgiven me, no one else in the Church, especially the priests, would ever accept me should my abortion be found out.
As time went on, I experienced great regret and deep sorrow. I thought of my child every single day. I knew he was missing from my life. I never felt that I was a good mother to my later children. I worried that if people in the church found out I would be shunned, that no one would ever be able to accept what I had done or accept me once they knew. I truly believed that I could never be involved in any sort of parish ministry again if my secret got out.
Nineteen years later, my parish priest recognized my need for healing and forgiveness, even when I didn’t know myself at that point that I needed it. Though God clearly showed me that I was to tell him my deepest, darkest secret, I was afraid to. I thought for sure that he would tell me I would have to stop all involvement in the parish immediately. But through the grace of God, I did tell him and discovered I was wrong! That was not the message he had for me! He told me of the love of God and introduced me to my son. Through his encouragement and support, and that of my husband and a dear friend, I finally experienced the mercy and love of God at a Rachel’s Vineyard healing weekend.
Prior to my own healing experience, I couldn’t even speak the word abortion. I am now able to talk about my experience and to strongly encourage anyone contemplating abortion to please reconsider and not to do it. I can say with certainty, they will not find the freedom they are searching for, but rather bondage. I am writing this because I know God is calling me to reach out to other women who are suffering and encourage them to seek the healing that He so greatly desires for them and to tell you that the Church is a safe place to find healing. You will not be shunned, dismissed or asked to leave. I have not yet experienced any negative reactions when I have shared my story. The priests in our diocese want to help every woman who is suffering to seek healing. I know this to be true because I have had the the opportunity to speak to almost all of the priests our diocese and share my story. There was no condemnation from them, just a genuine, heartfelt desire to help women who are suffering to rediscover their motherhood and the love that God has for them.
If you have had an abortion, please seek healing. There are many resources available. Ask your priest, or contact me at Rachel’sVineyard (250-267-5081; firstname.lastname@example.org). I know you are scared – I was too, but remember, “There is hope for your future, says the Lord.” Jer 1:17