Ally Bowlin, SFLA’s National Programs Coordinator
A decision that is supposed to empower you, shouldn’t leave you with a lifetime of pain and regret. A choice that is meant to “enhance your quality of life” shouldn’t leave you with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts. Abortion is not empowering. It does not enhance your life. I know, because I had an abortion.
Within the current, mainstream feminist movement of the abortion industry, women are left to feel like abortion is the ultimate problem solver with no after-effects, and are given no education or counseling on other choices beyond abortion. Even more troubling, the attempt to “destigmatize” the abortion movement is basically telling women that we are wrong for feeling regret, feeling remorse, or feeling grief after our abortion. Organizations like 1 in 3 and Shout Your Abortion are trying to tell women that abortion is normal and there’s no basis for the regret or grief we feel.
There’s a fad sweeping across college campuses as well, and it is devastating. I found out one went on just down the road from me at The University of North Texas. During the month of April, ten college campuses in five states hosted “URGE” (Unite for Reproductive Gender Equity) for an #AbortionPositive Tour. At UNT, an art show was held to demonstrate what being “abortion positive” means. Essentially, they were force-feeding students the lie that abortion is women’s health care with slogans like “I got 99 problems, but pregnancy ain’t one!”
“I think not seeing abortion as something negative and seeing abortion as something positive and as a right that we have access to,” is how an URGE Chairman describes the strategy. This subversion of right and wrong – of life and death – is what is brainwashing the feminist movement. THIS is not empowering! Since when is ‘a life for a life’ an empowering worldview?
As women, our brains are wired to nurture. “Mothering” is inherent to us. (I fell in love the second I found out I was pregnant.) As hormones change during pregnancy, the body is preparing for motherhood physically, mentally, and emotionally (ask me about the early emotional signs… I’ll tell you funny stories about crying watching commercials). When a woman starts considering abortion or becomes abortion-determined, she then has to defy what the body is naturally doing. This is when denial begins. Denial of the child’s life, that he or she truly is an innocent and dependent human being. This denial continues after an abortion is completed. Denial of grief because she doesn’t want to admit to herself there was actually a life lost. She will bury those thoughts with whatever she can. Data on post-abortive women demonstrate that substance abuse, depression, suicide, and a host of other problems often follow an abortion.
An abortion has been shown to short-circuit these changes in the body as quickly as they started. Especially when a woman feels manipulated and coerced into her decision. That short-circuited feeling sends most abortive women into a tailspin of regret, that they don’t even realize is happening. These are all too common in post-abortive women, but we are silenced when these emotions arise and are told there’s no need to feel regret, and this sickens and angers me to my core.
Let me be the perfect example of what the pain and regret of abortion can cause. Abortion-syndrome, abortion PTSD, it’s real a thing.
“My body, my choice”. “It was the best decision at the time”. I even recall the nurses reassuring me with phrases like “it’s only a 10 minute procedure”, “this will not affect your ability to have children later.” “Now I can be successful.” “Now I can finish college.” “Now I won’t have the burden of another life to look after”. I remember these thoughts creeping in as my boyfriend and I drove away from the abortion clinic that October morning in 2011.
A few months later because the grief was too much to handle, I started attending counseling. This was not post-abortive care (which I sought many years later). This counselor took me way back to my childhood, examined my relationship with my parents- which was never terrible. I had an attitude problem growing up (probably still do), but what teenage girl doesn’t? Looking back on that treatment now, I realize she wanted to contribute my pre and post abortive behavior on my “rebellious spirit” and me wanting to deviate from my parent’s rules. When in reality, I was hurting, I was grieving, and I was using anything I could to suppress all of it. But we never once dove into my abortion being the cause of my anxiety, anger, or depression.
VIVID flashbacks of that day replayed for years, at any given moment. Even still to this day, six years later, I can tell you the color of the hideous wallpaper in the clinic, the color of the chairs, even the color of the nurse’s scrubs. And I would immediately stop myself from crying anytime memories of that day would creep in, telling myself it’s not something to cry over, I’m better off. Those were the lies that I kept hearing. My fuse was short and I was quick to anger and that anger went so quick to rage. I actually remember having a couple panic attacks one weekend because I couldn’t find any friends to go out to the Dallas nightlife and drink with me. I couldn’t handle being alone, it left room for me to think, to feel, to remember.
I stayed quiet for so long because of the stigma of abortive women being called “murderers”. Do you have any idea what that does to someone already struggling and suppressing grief? It makes it impossible to seek healing and counseling. It makes us want to stay silent even more. Post-abortive healing was probably the hardest 12 weeks I’ve had to endure in my short 27 years. But, compared to a lifetime of grief and heartache, I would go through it many many more times.
The post-abortive woman needs just as much love and compassion as the woman that chose life.
Why is it acceptable to grieve a miscarriage but women are told to numb the feelings of depression and grief after an abortion? If abortion has no effect psychologically, why does the suicide rate increase for women after they’ve had an abortion?
Stop saying that abortion will solve your problems. Stop telling women that our successes, our degree, our paychecks are worth a life lost. Let’s get real, ladies.
Dig deep, and listen to your heart, not the media. Feeling the pain is NORMAL, feeling regret is NORMAL. And there is hope past that regret. There is love on the other side of that pain. Even after going through post-abortive recovery over a year ago, I still fight the demons of guilt and regret DAILY. I eat, breath, live it daily, working in the pro-life atmosphere, I’m faced with it every day. I guess you could say I’m #livingmybestlife now. Finding that peace through recovery changed me. It changed me for the better, it gave me peace, it gave me pure joy.
There are people out there to listen to your story. There are people out there to hear about your grief, let them in.