The following was printed as a guest column in the Feb. 2014 issue of the Dakota Catholic Action.
In August 2012, it seemed on the outside that I was starting a new chapter in my life. I had recently moved to Bismarck, was about to start graduate school, and was engaged to a great guy. Despite all of the good things I had going for me, the truth on the inside was that I was also very depressed. Not just a little sad, but majorly depressed. In fact, I hated myself. I would cry constantly and I felt like I could never catch my breath. I was always sick to my stomach and I felt an immense amount of guilt—all feelings that had been growing since my abortion.
The story of my abortion began in December of 2011. My boyfriend proposed to me on Christmas day, and one week after our engagement I found out I was pregnant. I immediately told my family, and everyone agreed that abortion was the best choice. I had no money, no steady job, and though I was engaged, my fiancé and I were not married. I had always believed abortion was a choice—a right of every woman—so I agreed. Shortly after, I made an appointment for an abortion without even telling my fiancé about the pregnancy.
When I arrived at the abortion clinic, I felt like I was on autopilot. Feeling numb, I just went along with what everyone said was best. I said the words the clinic staff wanted to hear and let them guide me into making this “choice.” When I was confronted with the news that I was well into my second trimester, I was overcome by the feeling that something was very wrong. I wanted to yell, “STOP!” But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I felt trapped. I felt like I had no choice. I didn’t protest and went through with the rest of the procedure.
Initially, I felt relieved after the abortion was over. But in a very short time, regret set in and took over my entire being. My family did not acknowledge the fact that the abortion had happened. To them, it was over and in the past—a non-issue. I still did not tell my fiancé.
I decided to start over again in Bismarck. But the pain followed. My fiancé was with me, but he didn’t understand why I was struggling. Things did not improve, and my sister became very worried that I would hurt myself. After finding out that there was a clinic in Bismarck that offered abortion recovery support, my sister encouraged me to be in touch with FirstChoice Clinic
to get help.
Soon after, I sent an email to FirstChoice Clinic and by the end of that day, I found myself pouring my heart out to a nurse named Wendy. After telling her everything, I felt like a weight was lifted off my chest. Wendy didn’t judge me or look at me with disgust. She just listened in exactly the way that I had needed someone to listen all along. She armed me with tons of resources: books, videos, websites and contact information for a post-abortive retreat program called Rachel’s Vineyard
I felt that I needed to finally share my experience with my fiancé, so I wrote him a letter and told him everything. We tried to work things out but the damage had been done. We eventually broke off our engagement and ended our relationship.
Ten months after I first walked through the doors at FirstChoice Clinic and met Wendy, the road has not been easy and I am still struggling with the choice I made. My story is not easy to tell, but I want other women to look at me and see that abortion is not a “quick fix” to the challenges they might be facing in discovering an unintended pregnancy. My abortion did not make me feel liberated or empowered. In fact, it made me feel quite the opposite. I know now that the life I carried is just that: a human life. A life that should be respected, protected, and cherished.
All that being said, I am no longer hopeless. Wendy has given me confidence that healing can happen after an abortion, and because of her encouragement, I patiently continue to be open to the possibility that this healing can come to me as well.
This testimony was written by a client at FirstChoice Clinic West in Bismarck, a pregnancy resource center that reaches clients with life-affirming messages during unplanned pregnancies. The clinic also offers compassion and non-judgmental support for those who have experienced abortion.