You’ve probably said it yourself. A picture is worth a thousand words. It can tell a story, evoke emotion and leave behind a lasting impression. A recent photo documentary called, Abortion, After the Decision, portrays the experiences of five women following an abortion. Looking at the portraits and hearing their words, my heart broke for these women and their lost babies.
After reading a statistic that 40-percent of women will have an abortion in their lifetime, photographer, Allison Joyce, felt compelled to produce a powerful series of photos to tell the story of abortion. (You can follow these links to watch the video and view the slide show.) Each woman shares a deeply personal account of her abortion experience. Despite the fact that the women state they don’t regret their decisions, their stories reveal a truth their words deny—pain, distress and grief.
The first woman is 45-year-old Lisa, who had two abortions in her thirties. When she found out she was pregnant, her partner’s immediate response was “You can’t have it.” Lisa asked him why and he simply said, “You have to get an abortion.” He forced her to go to a pharmacy and buy a pregnancy test and made her take it in front of him. Lisa says, “I couldn’t get past the hate. He said, ‘No matter what, I will never love you and I’ll never love this baby.’” It’s a tragedy how Lisa was victimized in her relationship, then further fell victim to the lie that abortion was the only answer. There’s an unmistakable sorrow in her voice as she reveals, “It was terrible and I hated myself for it. I hated how quickly I made the decision.”
Aiyana was 20 years old when she had her abortion. She calls herself “always pro-choice,” yet confesses that she struggled internally, portraying the decision as “a battle within myself.” There’s a tattoo on her right arm that prophetically reads, “Too young to die.” I wonder if she got the tattoo after the abortion. Aiyana describes her abortion as, “Really scary. I cried a lot.” Afterward, she says her relationship with her boyfriend suffered. “I felt like I needed a lot of emotional support and he didn’t really provide that. So, that was a contributing factor to us breaking up.” Most relationships don’t survive abortion. Communication breaks down and intimacy suffers as both the man and woman try to cope with the aftermath of abortion.
At the age of 24, Lisa was in the midst of leaving her husband when she became pregnant. She reveals the distress she was under, having no money, no family and no friends. Feeling all alone, Lisa said she didn’t have to struggle with the decision not to have a baby. She calls herself “fortunate in a really sad way.” A frequent reason women choose abortion is because they feel they have no support system. We must never underestimate how emotional support and practical assistance can influence women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Jennifer was just 17 years old and a senior in high school when she became pregnant. She says she was against abortion but felt confused. Her father was incarcerated and her mother had told her that if she got pregnant she’d be kicked out of the house. Jennifer felt the odds were stacked against her and that she had no choice but to have an abortion. After the procedure, she said, “As soon as I woke up, I was crying, crying, crying.” It was an act of desperation that she tries to justify by saying it was a “one-time, made-a-mistake, it-will-ruin-your-life thing.” Eventually, her wall of denial will come tumbling down and pro-lifers will be the ones to help pick up the shattered pieces of Jennifer’s life.
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Leigh and her boyfriend were in college when she discovered she was pregnant. As they discussed what to do, he was very upfront about his intentions. If they had the baby, he wanted to get married. But, he said that if it didn’t work out and they broke up, he would fight for full custody of the child and make sure that she never saw them again. Leigh revealed her true thoughts about the abortion saying, “I don’t regret it, but I couldn’t stomach doing it again. Five years later, I still think about it every day. It changes you.“ What a painful testimony of the life-long consequences abortion leaves behind.
As pro-lifers, we must take a somber and honest look at the reasons women have abortions. Sadly, these women show evidence of coercion and manipulation, victimization, extreme sadness and feeling alone. Their circumstances felt so overwhelming; abortion seemed to be the only answer. But what we see in their eyes and hear in their words isn’t a sense of relief, it’s anguish. Abortion doesn’t solve problems; it only adds more grief for the women to bear. And sadly, these five women are just the tip of the iceberg.
LifeNews.com Note: Bradley Mattes is the executive director of Life Issues Institute, a national pro-life educational group.