In 2007, the New York Times stated that scientific evidence “strongly shows that abortion does not increase the risk of depression, drug abuse or any other psychological problem.” This confident assertion–already dubious when it was made–is being overwhelmed by reams of evidence suggesting the contrary: that abortion leaves a discernible wake of sorrow, suffering, and devastation.
Along with the disturbing statistics, however, is the compelling testimony of real women who have aborted their children and of what happened to their lives as a result. Though abortion does often provide a short-term solution to real problems pregnant women face, thus granting some immediate relief, the myth that women come out of abortion psychologically unscathed now seems unsustainable.
Jewels Green was a former abortion clinic worker who had an abortion in 1989, after nine and a half weeks gestation. After aborting, Green continued her job but started seeing her “lost child in every jar of aborted baby parts.” She started having nightmares “so gruesome and terrifying” that she requested an appointment with the clinic director and ended up quitting her job. Her sorrow is expressed in a language only a mother could understand: “Happy Nobirthday, Unbaby. I miss you every day. Love & tears, Mom.”
The founder of the pro-life group And Then There Were None is a woman named Abby Johnson, who had two abortions. One day in the car, her daughter asked out of the blue whether someday she would be able to see her siblings in Heaven. According to Johnson, “I asked her what she meant… honestly, hoping that she was not talking about my own two abortions. She said that she knew I had two abortions and she wanted to know if she would ever get to meet those babies because she said, ‘In my heart, I miss them.'”
When I had my abortions, Johnson said, “I never thought about how it would affect others. I didn’t think about my future children. I never thought about how I would have to explain my selfishness to them.”
Lori Nerad’s testimony is even more harrowing. The former national president of Women Exploited by Abortion, Nerad describes going into labor two weeks after her abortion. There in the bathroom, she says, “with my husband beside me, I delivered a part of my baby the doctor had missed. It was the head of my baby.”
Nerad says she still wakes up in the middle of the night, thinking she hears a baby crying. “And I still have nightmares in which I am forced to watch my baby being ripped apart in front of me. I simply miss my baby. I constantly wake up wanting to nurse my child, wanting to hold my child. And that’s something the doctor never told me I would experience,” she said.
Katrina Fernandez makes no bones about the reality of what she did. “I killed two of my children,” she said, “robbed my parents of grand-children, and murdered my son’s siblings.” She says that she would have given anything for someone to simply tell her: “You don’t have to do this.”
The abortions also took a toll on Fernandez’s life and mental health, a factor often overlooked in debate regarding abortion. According to Fernandez, her abortions “directly caused a medical condition known as incompetent cervix which resulted in the premature birth of another son who died after a week-long struggle in the NICU in 2001. The suffering I’ve endured and caused others is immeasurable and the guilt almost drove me suicidal. I am a coward in every way,” she said.
And yet now, convinced that silence fails women who need encouragement to carry their babies to term, Fernandez declares: “I refuse to be a coward anymore.”
Thomas D. Williams can be followed on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome