A Stanford University college student seemed to be wrestling with her emotions as she shared her abortion story with the local newspaper this month.
While the anonymous college student emphasized that she did not make the decision to have an abortion lightly, in an op-ed for The Stanford Daily, she said she believed that it was the “smart decision” for her.
Raised Catholic, the young woman said she and her friends in high school carved out the inner pages of a book and stashed money in there. They jokingly referred to it as an “emergency abortion fund.” That money never was used for an abortion. Instead, she said she used it to buy Christmas presents and a computer.
In college, however, she discovered that she was pregnant, and it was no joking matter. She wrote of the experience:
My life changed in a bathroom stall. I knew before looking at it what the pregnancy test would say. I knew what it would say, and I knew what I would have to do after.
… I made the smart decision immediately upon seeing those two lines. I called Planned Parenthood and set up the soonest appointment possible. I was lucky enough to have a friend who came over within minutes, who drove and sat with me through everything.
I had my abortion on a Tuesday morning. I had known I was pregnant for five days, and I thought about that baby every minute during each one of those. I remember the doctor leaving the room after the procedure and coming back ages, or moments, later to say the line, “Well, you’re definitely no longer pregnant!” He probably thought that was a smart thing to say. Those words were greeted in my drug-addled brain with a mixture of relief and overwhelming sadness. The smart half of me felt relief. I do not know what to call the half of me that was and continues to be plagued by sadness.
I decided to write about my story originally because I thought I was unique. But when it came time to purge the phrases I wanted to express from myself, I realized the reality was the exact opposite. Every woman who has had an abortion comes with a different story, many from more desperate and infinitely less supportive situations than mine; many go alone, and to them I say: You are the bravest women I may never have the pleasure to know. But every woman who has an abortion and comes to the conclusion of her own volition knows that this is the smart decision. It might not feel like the right one, or the moral one, or even the one you want to make, but it is the smart one. It might be that no one ever tells you that you or your decision is smart. But you are, and it was.
The young woman is right that her abortion experience was not unique. She, like many other women who have had abortions, say their abortion left them hurting and haunted by thoughts of their unborn child.
“Above all, know that the decision is not made lightly. It is something that will stay with me like a gentle bruise on my brain — sensitive, but a reminder that all things heal in time,” she wrote.
The young woman seems to be avoiding what she knows to be true and instead rationalizing and justifying her abortion as “smart.” Many women in her circumstances have found healing by coming face to face with the truth that aborting their unborn babies was wrong, and then learning to let go of the burden of guilt and forgive themselves.
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Jewels Green, a pro-life speaker who once worked at an abortion clinic, explained how she began to heal after her abortion:
My personal history is extreme: high school dropout, coerced abortion as a teenager, self-injury, attempted suicide to escape the consuming guilt after killing my first baby, years spent working in an abortion clinic (trying to convince myself that killing children is acceptable), and finally accepting the truth and becoming pro-life and continuing along the long road to recovery.
… My healing can never end—for as long as I am alive I will regret not giving birth to my first child, for as long as I am alive my abortion will hurt—but it is how it hurts and how it affects my actions today that matters. Do I regret my abortion? Yes. Do I miss my baby? Yes. Do I still weep daily about it? No. When I feel the pain, longing, and loss creep into my consciousness I acknowledge it, feel it, own it, then let it go.
Resources are available to women seeking healing after an abortion. Rachel’s Vineyard offers counseling at about 150 locations across the United States and other countries. Some women also may find healing through sharing their stories and reading about others at the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.