How To Survive Your Abortion

A Guide to Rebuilding Your Life

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You are hurting

Somewhere deep down inside your being you are aching, or perhaps your abortion has left you emotionally distraught. Whatever pain you are experiencing, you are not alone. Millions of women are suffering as you are. This post abortion pain is referred to as Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS), and it is treatable, there is hope.

PAS shows up in a number of ways:

"Among the most common symptoms experienced by women who seek counseling [for post-abortion trauma] are: low self-esteem, anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, extreme mood swings, a need to compensate for the loss of their child, drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity, frigidity, numbness of feelings, hatred of self or of men, withdrawal, inability to sustain intimate relationships, unexpected emotional outbursts, suicide attempts [especially on the date her baby was due to be born]. Physical symptoms include nervous itching or hives, headaches, backaches, stomach or abdominal disorders.

"The crisis point occurs most often between 2-5 years after the abortion. For some women, the crisis may come within months of the abortion -- for others repression may last 20-30 years or more ..."

Terry Selby, ACSW
Clinical Director
Counseling Associates of Bemidjii, Inc.

Don't Allow Anyone To Trivialize or Dismiss Your Grief

Your grief is a healthy sign that you are facing realities rather than burying them where they fester. Tears are cathartic. The first step to being healed of emotional wounds is to admit that the wounds exist and to acknowledge the cause of those wounds.

You have a right to grieve. You have lost a child. Many women are surprised to find themselves grieving an aborted child because the abortion was — more or less — a voluntary act. But this added dimension of guilt actually intensifies the grief. Society tells aborted women that they have no right to grieve, after all you were the one who made the decision, a "choice" that is perfectly legal. This frequently leads women to feel foolish or selfish about their grief. Yet your grief is normal. When pregnancy occurs, all the hormonal changes designed to change a woman into a mother begin. The body machinery gears up to produce a child; the maternal mindset begins to establish. Any thwarting of this natural process (such as abortion) upsets the body ecology and scars the psyche of the would- be mother. To FAIL to experience a sense of loss, of emptiness, of grief is ABNORMAL.

Don't Be Too Hard On Yourself

One doctor has stated that ambivalence in early pregnancy is so universal as to be a symptom of pregnancy. You were called upon to make an important life decision at a time when your decision-making abilities were hampered by the hormonal changes going on in your body.

Perhaps others around you were pressuring you to abort, or you felt you needed to keep the pregnancy a secret from parents, your church, school officials, or your boyfriend or husband and abortion was the only way to hide the fact you were sexually active. Perhaps you just felt that the baby would not fit into your "plans" and abortion was a "quick fix" offered by well-meaning friends or advisors.

The "counselors" at the family planning or abortion facility probably didn't give you adequate or accurate information about your baby's development, abortion methods and risks — both physical and emotional so that you could make an informed and intelligent decision. Abortion providers are known to twist facts and words to keep women from choosing to let their babies live and thus lose their profits off your abortion. They told you your baby was "a clump of cells" or referred to her as "the product of conception". They never showed you the ultrasound of her jumping and doing somer saults inside your womb. They never offered you any other "choice", one that would have felt right to you.

Forgive Yourself and Others

It is natural to feel angry and resentful toward yourself and others who had a part in your abortion decision. Many women even feel outraged the moment anyone even mentions the words abortion, pro-life, unbom child, etc. But you cannot heal emotionally while allowing these destructive feelings to exist.

Realize that these others participating in your decision to abort may be just as unsuspecting as yourself. Maybe they didn't know the facts and the emotional trauma you will face when they recommended or forced you to abort. Maybe they did know, but selfishly gave you bad advice. Either way, you must forgive them: your boyfriend or husband, friends, clergy, parents, school counselors, and the abortion clinic personnel. You must also forgive yourself. This will only be possible through divine intervention.

Look to God For Forgiveness and Healing

Many women say they feel unworthy of God's forgiveness, instead they feel God is judging them. But Jesus came into this world to die a sacrificial death for everyone, no matter how bad the sin is. In God's eyes, sin is sin, none is worse than another. And Christ died for each one of us, "for all have sinned".(Romans 3:23) Abortion is sin, and must be confessed to God. But fear not because "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". (John 1:9) God is not angry. He is hurting with you. He loves you and feels your pain. He knows what it feels like to give His Son over to death. You are the reason that Jesus gave His life, that He suffered and died. Jesus demonstrates in a parable how He, like a shepherd, will leave the ninety-nine to seek out the one that is lost. He is waiting for you with outstretched arms. God is able to forgive a multitude of sin. Don't let our enemy, Satan, deceive you in thinking that you don't deserve God's love or forgiveness. God is love. God created you to love you and make you His child. That's His desire.

Pray to your merciful Father in Heaven this prayer or a prayer similar:

Dear Father in Heaven, I come to You now, confessing my sins. Lord, seeking my own way and living by my own rules has resulted in death and torment for my child and myself. Forgive me. I thank You that You were willing for Your Son to die to redeem me. I accept His great sacrifice in my behalf Father, I lay at Your feet all my feelings of guilt, grief remorse and regret. Cleanse me and heal me by the blood of Your dear Son. To day is the first day of my new life, a life I commit to You. Teach me to live according to Your will. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Find a friend, organization or church that will further help you recover and grow spiritually closer to your Savior. Look under "Abortion Alternatives" in the Yellow Pages or on the back of this pamphlet for pro-life groups and post-abortion counselors who will love you and guide you through your journey of healing.

"... if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The Grieving Process

  1. Relief
    You may have experienced a sense of relief following your abortion. For awhile you felt your problems were over.
  2. Denial & Rationalization
    "It was something I had to do." "It was just a blob of tissue." "It was legal, so it's okay." These are commonly heard statements. Denial of truth robs you of the opportunity to be healed through grieving.
  3. Realization & Shock
    The understanding of what abortion really is follows and can be overwhelming. You may realize that you killed your baby. With this knowledge, you may slip back into the denial stage telling yourself that it was something you had to do; or you then move into the most painful part of the grieving process.
  4. Anger & Depression
    The full force of the abortion has hit. You feel angry, betrayed, grief stricken, or depressed. Thoughts of suicide may nudge you. Life seems almost hopeless at times. Unexplainable rage, guilt, remorse, or self-hatred overwhelm you. You may suffer from insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks. Maybe you drink, take drugs, or indulge in casual sex hoping to fill the emptiness inside and stop the hurting. You think about your baby now and wish you could undo your abortion. All these feelings are normal. Now is the time to seek God and counsel from an understanding minister, counselor or friend.
  5. Acceptance & Surrender
    For your healing to be complete you must seek and accept forgiveness for yourself. With God's help forgive others. Daily you need to surrender your anger, bitterness and self-hatred to Christ. Hanging on to them will destroy you.
You will always remember the child you never knew here on earth. The memory is not wiped away with the healing — only the tears.

Legal, Medical and Emotional Help
Is Available To You

Bethesda—The House of Mercy After Abortion Helpline
7800 Brookside Rd.
Independence, OH 44131
440-524-9432 or 1-800-482-4100
Rachel's Vineyard Ministries
P.O. Box 195
Bridgeport, PA 19405-0195
Life Dynamics, Inc.
P.O. Box 2226
Denton, TX 76202

Published by:
Ashtabula County Friends For Life
PO Box 242
Geneva, OH 44041
(440) 466-7246

Portions of this pamphlet were taken from the writings of Patty McKinney, Jill Lessard, Terry Selby and Karen Sullivan Ables featured in a pamphlet entitled "How To Survive Your Abortion" by "The Precious Feet People". 1-800-858-3040.

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Posted 3 Nov 2003. Fix type 2 Dec 2004.

Copyright 2003 by Ashtabula County Friends for Life.
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