By Donna Rodgers
I am fiercely prolife after walking a rocky road to motherhood. With four grown children including twins in the middle I know mothering’s agonies and ecstasies. Before I became a mother, I (unwittingly) lived at the crossroads of Oblivion and the Culture of Death. Tragically, I refused to learn my address.
The culture of death continues to encourage women to choose when to have a baby by proposing motherhood on demand.
Rites of Passage
I was a student at Smith College in 1973 when Roe v. Wade passed. Young feminists parroted each other, saying choice is better than lack of choice. Trips to Planned Parenthood in Springfield were a rite of passage in my dorm. Once, a friend and I spent an entire day on the bus, talking about sexual freedom and birth control. Friends whispered about taking “abortion vacations” when birth control or failure to plan resulted in an inconvenient pregnancy. Did we believe that our right to choose would somehow prevent a later emotional reckoning? If you’re reading these words whether I’m ‘preaching to the choir’ or reaching a woman considering abortion please keeping reading about why I am fiercely prolife today.
Women and Men Regret Abortion
They do! Some researchers write that post abortion syndrome (PAS) doesn’t exist. In my experience, PAS can take over the life of a woman experiencing the terrible burden of “what if?” Her partner may also regret the abortion. The decision to abort may wreak havoc on a couple’s relationship. Post abortion infertility, a particularly troubling condition for several friends, may tear couples apart. There are so many reasons not to assert one’s choice if we are FOR LIFE.
In 1979, I was engaged to be married. I learned that I was pregnant and told my fiancé. I was raised in a family of five children and never believed I would ever abort a child (even if I was a Smith graduate living in this time). My fiancé, divorced with two children, said: “If you have this baby, I will leave.” He said our bond was too new to take on the rigors of a baby. He warned that our financial situation was precarious. He reminded me of the need to support his two existing children.
The next day, I asked my secretary for an abortion referral. She said, “I will certainly refer you to someone, but please listen to me. I was pregnant once and I aborted my child. I wish I hadn’t done that. Think about it!” I didn’t listen to her, but I have had many years to think about it. “Choice” is so easy in today’s world. Taking deliberate pains to think about what choice entails is critically important to each mother and her unborn.
An Easy Choice?
Today, I understand that the future spouse’s words should have immediately decided the situation in favor of my child. Any partner, for any reason, unwilling to do what is best for his wife and child is a partner to set free!
In the moment, I considered how my parents, friends and employer would view me as a single mother. My parents, especially my father, weren’t prepared to take us in. I didn’t tell my friends or seek counsel. Instead, I went to a former boyfriend for help. Because my fiancé said he couldn’t get time off work, another man took me to the abortion appointment.
Naturally, the man was not an impartial bystander. He was shocked that I would go through this for anyone, but wanted to show his devotion to me. He cried when I couldn’t.
We experienced the violence and trauma of abortion offered by Cook County Hospital in 1979. No pre-counseling or ultrasound was offered. About a dozen women waited their turn with the doctor. Dilation was painfully achieved by inserting a series of rods into my anaesthetized cervix. The doctor said, “The cervix has no nerve endings” as I screamed. He then used a scalpel to complete the procedure. I passed copious amounts of “tissue” afterwards. The doctor said, “This is normal.” It did not feel normal.
Post Abortion Wedding
On my wedding day about a month later, I still suffered the after-effects of choice. My entire family begged me not to marry this person but, as Lady Diana said years later, “Our faces were already on the tea towels.” I contemplated divorce before the wedding occurred. My first cousin pressed $140 into my hands that morning and whispered “Run.” I did not take her advice.
Guilt and pain can keep people together. The act of sacrificing my first child to a brutal husband seemed like a perverse kind of glue. The marriage was troubled from the start, but I didn’t want to admit the terrible choice I’d made. My calls home dwindled and I almost never visited my parents.
I got pregnant a second time, and this choice was easier than the first. My husband’s two children still needed new clothes, modeling lessons and new cars. We told friends I was going to the hospital to remove a cyst.
The Centers for Disease Control says that multiple abortions are quite common: about 45 percent of women have at least two abortions.
My third pregnancy occurred at about seven years into the doomed relationship. The love of my life someone I loved and lost in college returned and announced he was getting a divorce. I realized almost instantly after our reunion that we’d conceived a child. I went to the hospital in a daze to abort the child and didn’t tell the loved one about the pregnancy at all. Six months later, I sent him away to deal with my guilt and shame alone.
He regretted the decision made in his stead when he learned about it. He asked, “Why couldn’t you have just had the baby? Was that so hard?”
Desensitization of the Heart
In my progressive experience, I deliberated less each time as I asserted the right to choose. I didn’t think about the child or what I was denying any of us. Instead, I thought about my job and things I believed I could control.
I became a mother for the first time after our eighth anniversary. In classic post abortion syndrome fashion, pain and regret of previous choices caused me to desire pregnancy almost immediately. I hoped the birth of our daughter would somehow create a marital relationship as two mismatched people became a family.
While I was still in the hospital, I worried if my child didn’t arrive for feedings on schedule. I worried that, somehow, she might die. At home, I worried that she might become a SIDS victim if she did not sleep close to me.
Our baby was healthy, beautiful and bright, and I beamed when she learned to read before her third birthday.
Our twins arrived, and life was extremely busy: my husband refused to work outside of the home after they were born. I worried about their ability to thrive and feared they, too, would die. My youngest son was born just two years later.
I made a decision to grow a business from home. Years flew as I helped children with homework and earned a living. Soon, they applied to college and became successful adults. Friends congratulated me on “great motherhood,” but post abortion syndrome reared its incredibly ugly head. A long overdue divorce occurred.
Post Abortion Syndrome
The culture of death wants women and families to believe that abortion allows us to take control of our reproductive destiny. Abortion did not provide me with control. Rather, abortion provided regret and unanswerable questions about the children I lost. The “what if” of regret is a very heavy burden to bear. I don’t recommend it.
Ask for Help!
Living as an independent woman in today’s society may make asking for help seem like the wrong thing to do. It’s the right thing to do! Massachusetts Citizens For Life can help you to identify resources whether you’re pregnant or post abortive. Don’t go it alone. We’re here to help each other. After you’ve received help, “pass it on” as a volunteer and/or by making a donation.
Donna Rodgers in a writer, consultant, mother and MCFL member. Her interests include fitness, birds and healthy cooking. She writes from Seekonk, MA.