Editor's note: The following account includes graphic description of an abortion experience. If you or someone you know is facing unexpected pregnancy, contact Option Line for assistance. For abortion recovery assistance resources click HERE. Heartbeat International manages Option Line and Pregnancy Help News.
On November 29, 2021, I sat down with an incredible human at a local bookstore. Stephanie is a 32-year-old, strong, beautiful woman inside and out, who shared with me how she has been grappling with being a post-abortive woman.
She came prepared with everything: handwritten letters, textbook, and huge binder all in tow and ready to share her life with me, in order to help someone else out there who has a similar story.
Her story is intensely beautiful as she spoke to me about her journey through pain, loss, and healing.
Stephanie’s story started when she was 19 and found herself unexpectedly pregnant. A scared 19-year-old girl was forced, by her own mother, to choose between being homeless or having an abortion. There was no one to support her, no other options presented to her. In addition, the biological father and Stephanie had recently broken up. It was all on her shoulders to navigate major life choices amidst severe ultimatums.
I asked Stephanie, how she was treated by the facility when seeking out her abortion: “Do you feel like in your experience with this, like they were honest with you about what you were doing?”
“I don’t feel like they even really told me anything. They were more so… they didn’t really say anything at all. Like they didn’t talk about ‘the after,’ or therapy, or how to feel during, before - nothing. They told me nothing. They were like, ‘Do you want it (an abortion) or not? Sign the papers, yes or no.’”
This “women’s facility” rushed her through the process of deciding on an abortion, showed no kindness or warmth toward a young single girl of just 19. They did not give her any other options, any before, during, or after care instructions, or information on what to expect. They scheduled her for the appointment and that was it.
The seven days before the scheduled abortion, Stephanie found herself isolated and alone, no love or support from anyone in her family. Stephanie described how she continued to get pressure from her mother to “do the right thing, keep up a good appearance.” All the while, Stephanie contemplated committing suicide, or throwing herself down the stairs to end it all and make the problem go away. She was painfully conflicted: she didn’t want an abortion, but she didn’t want to be homeless with a newborn baby either.
Then the day of her abortion came. Her story progresses and becomes even more intense from there as she explains the process of getting her abortion.
Stephanie described how she was taken back immediately at the facility. She was given three pills and a cup of water. Then they came in later and gave her a shot. She was then unable to walk so they wheeled her into the room and placed her on the table.
She described how the doctor was incredibly rough as he put the speculum in and then gathered his tools. She described a lot of yanking, cranking noises and vacuum noise. My heart broke even further as she described how ruthless and rough the doctor was on her body. She described a male doctor who did not speak a word to her the entire time, did not bother to explain to her why she needed the shot or what the three pills would do. He didn't explain the process as he entered her body to kill the child. He yanked on her body as Stephanie cried on the table.
Afterward Stephanie was rolled into an outpatient room, sitting in her diaper and wheelchair with eight other women, all sobbing and still bleeding from the life just taken from them in such a brutal and heartless fashion.
“I was just used to bad things happening to me. I wasn’t even actually crying until I was up on the table, and it was actually happening. Afterwards, they wheeled me out in a wheelchair and rolled me into basically a room in the U-shape, and there were other girls in like comfortable seats, and they (the staff) were like, ‘Okay just sit here and relax.’
“I was filled with regret and sadness. But it was too late. I don’t know why we had to sit for so long but, it’s the out-patient room, and everybody in there was crying-there were eight of us.”
No one checked in on them or spoke to them. No one asked if they were okay or how they were feeling. No medical professionals instructed them on aftercare, nor did anyone explain what to look for if a doctor visit or ER visit was needed.
After a while, they rolled Stephanie out of the outpatient room, got her quickly in the car and continued to not speak to her.
Stephanie elaborated on this experience:
“It’s like in and out, no feelings. I don’t care if you’re sad. I don’t care how you feel about it, just okay-bye.”
After the abortion, her mother dropped her off at her grandmother’s house because her mother didn’t want to miss the church service that night. Stephanie passed out three separate times. Since no one told her what to be concerned for, or what warning signs to look for to seek medical attention, she assumed everything that was happening to her body was normal. No one checked on her at home either. She didn’t speak and wasn’t able to process what just happened to her body and to her child.
Stephanie had wanted to keep her baby. But she didn’t know she had other options for support, other pregnancy help resources to help her follow her heart for life.
I asked Stephanie if she could say anything to any woman finding herself in a similar situation as she did at 19, what she would say.
Without hesitation, Stephanie said:
“Do your research and trust your gut instinct. And you don’t have to do what everybody’s telling you to. Do what you wanna do, and pay attention to your gut instinct.”
Just as after the night passes, the sun always rises with a new day, Stephanie’s story did not end here. She was able to get help from the Pregnancy Decision Health Center (PDHC), an Ohio-based pregnancy help organization that offers abortion healing programs. She told me about the Living in Color post-abortion program.
The program’s six goals as seen from the client’s perspective are:
•To grieve our abortion losses
•To restore faith and trust in ourselves
•To bring health to broken relationships with God and others
•To identify and control our triggers
•To say “hello” and “goodbye” to our children
•To find peace, closure and new purpose
Stephanie’s journey did not end with her taking home the baby she truly wanted. She does not love her baby any less than any other mother. That child was wanted by her, but she was shown no love, support, or empathy through her entire experience, and no one bothered to help her find a way to do what she wanted to do for her and her child.
Stephanie is where she is today – healed - because of pregnancy help and post-abortion recovery.
It’s so crucial to note how, in order to heal, Stephanie had to get to know and then say goodbye to her child. The abortion narrative in the media, that the baby is a blob of tissue and has no feelings, is not just untrue, it in fact proves to be a detrimental falsehood to our women. Once her baby was killed, Stephanie first thought her problems were over. She had no idea the trauma and loss and emptiness inside her heart would follow her for years to come. Women are being lied to and misled to believe abortion is easy, low risk and a quick fix. It isn’t any of those things.
Tweet This: The abortion narrative- that the baby is a blob of tissue, is not just untrue, it is a falsehood that is detrimental to our women.
One of the most beautiful moments of my time speaking with Stephanie was when she looked me right in the eyes and said with a calm solemnity, “I am one-hundred percent healed now. I’ve dealt with it.”
Mind you, she’s now 32, and it took time to complete the healing process from the abortion forced on her at 19 years old.
So many other women out there can relate to Stephanie on some level – facing unplanned pregnancy, thinking there are no options. There are always options. There is always a choice and resources to tap into. The journey of healing for the post-abortive woman is not for the faint of heart. But healing and hope are possible, and Stephanie is living proof of that. If you are hurting from abortion, your story is not over, and it is only goodbye to your precious child for now.