One Woman’s Journey
If you are faced with an untimely pregnancy, may the words you are about to read lead you in the right direction. If you have had an abortion, may you find comfort in the knowledge that others have traveled the same road. If you have never experienced abortion, may this story provide insights into compassionately and effectively helping those who have taken this journey. . .
Some women did not understand what they were doing when they had their abortions, but there is no excuse for what I did. I was raised by parents who taught me right from wrong. I attended church, went around with kids from good homes, and was always considered an "okay" kid by adults. On the outside I appeared quiet and shy, but deep inside I yearned to be a part of the "in" crowd -- the popular ones who did the "fun" things. In order to gain acceptance, I compromised my values and began allowing others to dictate my actions, searching for something I never quite found. It was all so gradual . . . so easy to rationalize.
Then I met a man who seemed the answer to all my prayers. People were drawn to Tim's (as I shall call him) dynamic personality and accepted me because of my association with him. We dated for two and a half years.
I believed virginity was the most precious possession a woman could give her bridegroom, and I remained a virgin until I was almost twenty-two. But I wanted Tim to love me. When I finally consented, he reminded me afterward we were only casually dating. We soon parted ways.
Six months later, I started my junior year at a New York college, just beginning to accept myself for who I was and determined to straighten out my life. Then Tim unexpectedly invited me to his apartment for dinner. I really never thought anything would happen. I suppose every young woman in that situation feels the same way.
Later, when I contacted my doctor to get the results of my pregnancy test, I had mixed emotions. I can still hear my joyous reply, "A mother! I'm going to be a mother!" I nearly floated across campus to the dormitory, full of excitement.
While telling my closest friend, though, the awful reality of being single and pregnant crushed me. Overwhelmed by the burden of my secret, she called my parents that evening and told them I needed to talk.
When Mom phoned, I knew why. As I explained, she listened and loved me. I planned to go home for the weekend so we could talk further.
I walked through the front door and saw their disappointment. Dad asked if Tim was willing to marry me. Tim couldn't have cared less. Besides, I didn't want to enter marriage with a baby on the way.
We discussed my options: have the child and raise him myself, place him for adoption, or get an abortion. We all knew abortion was wrong, so that was out. I also felt I couldn't carry a baby nine months and then give him away. I thought I could manage caring for my child and deluded myself into thinking everything was okay.
When I returned to school, the grapevine had spread its juicy news. Tim publicly denied he was the father, recruiting friends to lie for him and say they had had sexual relations with me.
Many were curious, though no one mentioned my "little problem" unless I brought it up first. Some thought I was "faking it" to force Tim into marrying me. For a while I even convinced myself I wasn't really pregnant.
Then Mom said I would have to drop out of school when the baby arrived. I hadn't thought of how it would affect my future. All my dreams and plans gone? No, never! I panicked and began to consider abortion.
Not once did I envision a little boy holding my hand, learning to walk, and looking up, saying, "I love you, Mommy." It never occurred to me I was merely a vessel privileged to shelter a growing human being preparing to take his place in the world. I never considered anyone but myself.
By January, my fourth month, I had to make a decision. Until then, carrying a baby was an abstract fact, but now I could feel him move and knew he was alive. Friends began avoiding me, talking behind my back and observing me from a distance.
Shamelessly I moved through campus, proud of the life inside me and scared of the future. I asked my friends, professors, and even God for advice. How I wish I had taken my dusty old Bible off the shelf and read what God had to say, but I didn't. Perhaps because I already knew.
I wanted the baby, but I also wanted to finish my education, live my life, and not be burdened with a child.
I made an appointment for an abortion; but as the day drew closer, I had serious doubts. In desperation I visited the college chaplain. He said my body and mind belonged to me as a gift from God and what I did with them was my own business. Offering to assist me in any way he could, he wished me God's blessing.
I left his office and met the baby's father. In silence we drove to the hospital. Tim registered me and paid the bill. I asked Tim once more if he was sure he wanted me to go through with it.
Tim thought it was best for all concerned, and as he left said, "I wish I could believe it was mine."
Placed in a ward with twenty-three other women, I had to wait without food or water the routine twenty-four hours before surgery. My roommates included one woman recovering from a hysterectomy, who would never be able to bear the children she wanted. I can still see her sorrowful eyes as I told her why I was there.
Someone called my name and led me to a room at the end of the hall. The door closed. Until that moment, abortion was just an awful word I read about in newspapers, something that happened to other people. Confronted with the reality of willfully aborting my unborn child, I screamed, "No! Stop! I want to keep my baby!"
The doctor calmed me and explained that he could not proceed unless I consented; they would not force me. Approaching my twenty-fourth week of pregnancy -- the legal time limit for abortions in New York in 1971 -- I had to decide. Next week would be too late. I gave my consent.
My abdomen was disinfected and anesthetized. The doctor inserted a long needle below my navel directly into the womb. About half a pint of amniotic fluid was removed and replaced with saline, a strong salt solution. My baby would struggle, convulse, and die within an hour. Within seventy-two hours I would expel him by vaginal delivery.
Hours passed. One woman was discharged, but returned around midnight in bad shape. Bearing twins, she had aborted only one, and the doctor didn't realize she had another.
My own pains came, more intense in delivering a dead child than a living one, because the mother does all the work. I had no privacy except a curtain pulled around my bed. Silently and suddenly, it was over.
Mustering my strength, I called a nurse. A gentle, quiet woman assisted me, surprised that I hadn't cried out in agony. Examining the baby she said, "Oh, look, it was a little boy." I propped myself up and without thinking looked down at the perfectly formed little person ¾ a boy.
In shock and horror, I stared at his tiny fingers and toes. This frail body smacked the reality of what I had done. Totally dependent on me for life . . . I had killed my child.
They weighed him; eleven ounces. If an aborted baby had reached one pound, a death certificate was issued and burial followed. I watched as the nurse carried my son to the disposal at the end of the ward. Whoosh and he was gone.
My son. I called out to God in anguish, but He couldn't comfort me because I didn't know Him. I turned my face to my pillow and silently mourned.
That evening my parents visited me.
"Hi, Pammie," Dad said with tears in his eyes. These two also grieved, having lost their first grandchild -- a part of them, too. What love it took for them to visit me.
I returned to college, picking up the pieces of my broken life. Relationships were strained and people shied away, leaving me totally alone. I never realized how many people would be affected by my abortion.
Soon I became bitter and resentful. Everywhere I went, I noticed pregnant women and new mothers. Posters declared the horror of abortion and condemned me. News articles proclaimed women's rights and gave me a false sense of self-righteousness.
How could people know if abortion was right or wrong unless they had been through it? Did anyone really understand the torment of sacrificing a baby? Who did people think they were to take sides on this issue?
I just gave up my first child, because the father asked me to, and I thought it would prove my love for Tim. My parents expected me to quit school and care for a baby. If they wanted it, why didn't they offer to support it? God should have stopped the pregnancy in the first place. The more I reasoned, the more I convinced myself I was right.
God could have brushed me aside, but instead He began working in my life, placing the pieces in proper order even before I asked for help. I didn't consciously search for Him. God sought me.
One month after my abortion, God brought a wonderful caring man into my life. Leigh knew all about me and loved me anyway. We were married a year and a half later.
But I was still in love with Tim and vowed never to have children by any other man. I dominated my relationship with Leigh, hating everyone, especially myself. It wasn't much of a marriage, but still Leigh stood by me in love and understanding.
Then came the nightmares. For many years I dreamed of babies pickled in jars or floating down drains. Discussing abortion sickened me, yet I was obsessed with the subject. Whenever someone would say, "I just don't understand how anyone could kill their own baby," I grieved inside.
In January 1976, I heard the Gospel clearly presented. I knew about Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, but I had never really understood that in sending Jesus to die on the cross, God had provided a way for me to be forgiven. That evening in 1976 I understood and accepted, by faith, Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I came to the cross filthy from my sins and knelt before a clean and perfect Savior. I left washed in Christ's blood, spotless and forgiven.
The nightmares ceased. I began to see the world and myself from God's perspective. Pleasure now came from doing His will and serving Him.
As self-pity gave way to self-evaluation, guilt and shame resurfaced. I talked with my Lord about this, admitting my sin and laying the burden at His feet. God's Word told me I was forgiven and finally I believed it.
The road back has been long and hard. It takes time to erase years of hatred, bitterness and self-pity. I sought my parents' forgiveness and forgave all those who had "helped" me to abort my baby. I asked Leigh to forgive me for not being the wife God intended. Finally I forgave myself, accepting my abortion as a part of my past.
Today Leigh and I have a strong marriage. God has blessed us with four wonderful children. The overwhelming freedom and peace that comes in accepting God's forgiveness enables me to tell my story. God has changed my mourning into joy and has granted me the tremendous privilege of comforting others by telling of Jesus' love and forgiveness.
People ask if I still hurt. Yes, sometimes. God's forgiveness doesn't remove our memories. I find comfort in the hope that one day in heaven I will meet my other son and hold him in my arms. How thankful I am that there are no tears in Glory.
For information on other post-abortion resources such as Bible studies and books, please see links in category “Links to Other Post-Abortion Resources.”
Copyright 1982, 1990-2017 P J Koerbel. Adapted from an article published anonymously May 1982 in Moody Monthly titled, “Freedom to Kill: The Anatomy of a Murder.”
Cover art by Kathleen Luisa and Sarah Madden
Artwork Copyright 1991-2017 and Text Copyright 1982-2017
P J Koerbel · All rights reserved · Reproduction prohibited