A woman in a troubled relationship sought the help of an advice columnist recently, asking whether she should tell her boyfriend about an abortion she had almost 20 years ago.
Syndicated columnist Amy Dickinson responded to the woman’s letter this week, telling her that her boyfriend does not need to know about the abortion.
“I don’t think there is a right answer concerning disclosing this choice that you made when you were 15,” Dickinson wrote. “But I do know this: If you trusted him enough to make a life with him, you would probably have told him a long time ago.”
The woman said she has been in a relationship with her boyfriend for eight years, but he “gets involved with” other women online.
Now, because her boyfriend wants children and she does not, the woman said she wonders if she should tell him about the abortion she had when she was 16 years old – almost 20 years ago.
She wrote: “He just assumes that all women want to have babies. I really want to tell him of my past, but I’m 35 now. Does my choice when I was a teenager really matter? If it does and he judges me, does HE matter?”
Dickinson pointed out how unhealthy the woman’s relationship is and encouraged her to seek counseling.
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She responded: “… if you have kept this knowledge so close for the entirety of your relationship with him, why tell him now? I suspect that down deep, this is a test of sorts. You tell him about the abortion, he judges and rejects you and your relationship ends (in your mind) because of his reaction, and in his mind because of your long-ago choice.”
Dickinson also noted that there must be a “deeper reason” why her abortion is troubling her now.
The woman’s story is not unfamiliar. Many other women who have had abortions described similar feelings and situations. Initially, their abortions brought them relief; but years or even decades later, many women have said they began feeling deep pain and regret over the loss of their unborn child. And through counseling and therapy, many of them connected other troubles in their lives, from relationship problems to depression to substance abuse, to their unborn child’s abortion death.
Women who are struggling because of a past abortion should seek counseling, as the columnist suggested. Programs like Rachel’s Vineyard, Surrendering the Secret and individualized counseling at pregnancy centers also are available to women who need help.