I was changed forever when I urged my girlfriend to have an abortion in 1973…just 2 months after the Roe vs. Wade decision. The most important and painful lesson I learned was that abortion is a permanent decision. It cannot go away and it cannot be forgotten. I came to realize that men could experience post-abortion stress. Because I would not talk about the emotional pain I was feeling, I delayed my own recovery. My secret was too dark to share.
Guilt — I suffered from a profound sense of guilt for a variety of reasons. I experienced guilt for being insensitive to my girlfriend. In the time before and after her abortion, I never tried to understand her feelings. Only years later did I come to appreciate the details of the emotional pain she endured through the most traumatic event of her life. I had to deal with violating my personal sense of right and wrong. I considered myself a believing Christian at the time, yet I refused to listen to the discerning voice inside. I suffered guilt for the responsibility I shared for the lingering health effects in my girlfriend…who later became my wife.
Avoidance behavior — For nearly twenty years, I insisted on keeping the abortion a secret and I refused to talk about it. I avoided anything that reminded me of pregnancy or children. For years, the presence of small children would literally make me angry and I never knew why.
Depression — Mysteriously, I lost my self-esteem. In the back of my mind, I battled thoughts like, “if you only knew what I did…” This caused me to lose my vision and motivation for the things I was attempting to do with my life. As a result, I dropped out of college for two years. Ironically, one of the compelling reasons I urged the abortion was because I did not want to quit school.
Anxiety — My wife suffered severe complications during two pregnancies after we were married. It was hard enough to realize that her unhealthy pregnancies were likely physical consequences of the abortion. A mental battle compounded the harshness of this reality by tempting us to think this was a “judgment” we were reaping because of what we had sown.
Freedom and recovery — By God’s grace, my wife went full term with both babies and we are blessed to have two healthy, beautiful daughters. I sobbed when I truly realized there was another child who would have been as precious to me as my two daughters are. Twenty years after the abortion, when we recognized we could no longer keep the secret, the healing began. Gradually, my calloused emotions softened. I cried the day we finally told our daughters about the abortion. We all cried.
My wife and I learned the hard way that abortion was not a solution at all. It was a bad choice that had powerful, lasting consequences. Our recovery has been a process and a journey. We thank the Lord for bringing emotional and spiritual healing to both of us. God, through His grace, has redeemed our lives. Today, our two adult daughters are both serving God.