Case Study: Carolyn “Allen”
I was 24 years old, and had recently had sex for the first time-outside of marriage. I had grown up in a Christian home and was already ashamed and ambivalent about my sexual relationship. Then I got pregnant right off the bat.
I had a pregnancy test at my ob./gyn. and she told me she didn’t think I was pregnant. She thought I might have a tumor, because my uterus was enlarged. I “prayed” for cancer. But I turned out to be pregnant; I found out the next day.
I was panic stricken. I couldn’t believe I was pregnant. I immediately blurted out, “I have to have an abortion.” I had never even thought about it before, but that was the first thing that came to mind. I told my boyfriend I was pregnant, but we didn’t discuss what to do. I left him just assuming I would have the baby.
I told no one else. I had asked my doctor for sleeping pills until I could have the abortion four days later; I don’t think they worked. I didn’t want to think; I just wanted to get it over with.
I wondered if my baby knew what I was planning. I talked to my baby and apologized. But mainly I just wanted it to be over. I thought I could cover my sin, erase the past few months, break off my relationship with the father, and start over-just as though none of it had ever happened.
My abortion was a cowardly, selfish decision. I saw it as my whole life being “over” if I stayed pregnant. I didn’t even consider any other options. I chose myself over the baby.
I had a D&C abortion at a women’s hospital in Washington, D.C., under general anesthesia. I was scared and upset, and when they came to put an IV in my arm I told them I didn’t want to be put to sleep until I had seen my doctor. They told me it was just vitamins, but then put the anesthesia in anyway. So I don’t know to this day whether my own doctor (a woman) did the abortion, or one of the men who was standing there as I went to sleep. I just remember feeling the stuff in my arm, calling out “No!” and then I was out. I don’t mean this to say I was going to change my mind about the abortion. I wasn’t.
When I woke up in recovery, I asked if they would just tell me if it was a boy or a girl. A nurse harshly responded, “It’s just tissue. There’s no way to tell.”
I took a cab to the hospital and took one home. I wanted to do it all by myself, so no one would know. I felt so alone.
I felt a huge, gaping hole, an emptiness, right away. I also felt terrible guilt. I turned away from God completely, because I could not face Him with my abortion. I felt I had passed the point of no return-just gone too far. That was an unforgivable sin. And I had gone into it knowing that. It was sort of like I sold my soul.
I immediately began a pretense. I went back to work (“I was just a little under the weather last week,” etc.) I tried hard not to think about it.
I did have to tell the baby’s father. He was very hurt and upset, but he said he understood and he still wanted to marry me. I had planned to break it off, but now I thought that no one else would ever want me, and I had hurt him so much. So I married him.
My wedding was three days after my baby’s due date. I pasted a smile on my face and pretended to be a happy bride, but I was thinking about my baby.
I began to drink a lot to be able to get to sleep, to not think. My relationship with my husband went downhill immediately. I now understand the rage and hurt he must have felt over my aborting his child without even telling him first. But I was just so wrapped up in my own hurts I didn’t think about that then. We never talked about it.
He was abusive, and I accepted it. I would hear in my mind, “So what’s your problem? At least he didn’t kill you. You killed your baby!”
I wanted to die, but I was afraid of hell. I even felt guilty about not committing suicide: “You didn’t have any problem killing your baby. Why get cold feet now? You deserve to die! You’re not only a murderer, you’re a coward!” I wanted to be in a coma. I guess I thought I could wake up in 50 years or so and be able to deal with it then.
Six years later, we were divorced. I had been stuffing my feelings down or anesthetizing them with alcohol so long, and wearing a mask and pretending for so long, that I felt numb. I remember getting out of the car to go into a grocery store one day and thinking, “I’m even just pretending to go to the store. I don’t even exist.” I felt like a zombie.
The abortion changed me in every way. I went from being an outgoing person who loved friends to being a hermit, not wanting to be close to anyone. I thought they would hate me if they really knew me. I became a heavy drinker-probably bordered on becoming an alcoholic. I ran from God and hated myself. I accepted abuse and felt humiliated over that, and all the while I had this gnawing emptiness. For 12 years I was in a state of non-growth-just existing.
I became a Christian while I was separated, shortly before my divorce. At that time, I asked God to forgive me for my abortion, but I still felt so numb. I didn’t cry about my baby or anything. I felt hard-hearted and unable to really confess. I wondered if I was really sorry, or just regretted what had happened to me.
I told a pastor about my abortion, but just in a list of things wrong. He didn’t mention it again and neither did I. Then I saw a Christian counselor who tried to convince me that I was abused as a child (I wasn’t) and we didn’t deal with the abortion at all.
Three and a half years ago, I went through a support group that used Women in Ramah, a Bible study by Linda Cochran. I was finally able to face my abortion. I found God’s promise to “take away my heart of stone and give me a living heart of flesh.” I asked Him to do that for me and He did.
I finally was able to get over myself and think about my baby, come to love my baby, and then grieve for my baby. And I was really able to understand God’s forgiveness-that all my self-punishment and misery could not atone for my abortion, that there was nothing I could do to pay for it, that Jesus died on the cross for my abortion and all my other sins, and paid for my sins in full. God not only forgave all my sins, He brought me peace and joy. Real joy!
My baby’s name is Callie Anna. Anna is the name God gave me, and it means grace. Now, when the “accuser” attacks, even my baby’s name reminds me of God’s grace and forgiveness. Doing the Bible study was the best thing I ever did for myself and I thank God for it.
Now that I have found healing and forgiveness, I am once more developing friends, and am able to serve God however He chooses to use me. I know God works everything for good, and I have seen Him use me to help others now. After working through my abortion, and seeing how very much God values each one of His creation, I am less critical of others, and tend to see all people as precious in God’s sight.
Originally published in The Post-Abortion Review 7(4) Oct. – Dec. 1999. Copyright 1999 Elliot Institute.