Last year Voice For Life ran a series of information and support evenings for ‘anyone whose life has been touched by abortion’.
In the space of a handful of meetings, more than 100 people from the Wellington region had come forward.
These meetings have been the catalyst for the development of ‘Beyond Abortion’, a major programme of post-abortion healing and support. One attendee, Penny, said though the experience was frightening, she now considers it an ‘almost inevitable’ first step.
‘What amazed me was how many others were there and how silent the room was. I was completely paranoid about anyone finding out that I had had an abortion so it makes no sense that I would go to an AA-style meeting about abortion. But I did. It was a relief not to have to stand up and say my name or why I was there, and I was amazed at how many men were there also.
‘At the meeting I heard some information about the effects of post-abortion trauma and recognised some of the symptoms in my own life. However, it was only when a woman who had been through counselling herself spoke, that a few things began to fall into place in my mind. The comment that a woman in crisis makes an abortion decision rather than a pregnancy choice is certainly true. It was for me. I didn’t want to be pregnant and I didn’t want to abort a baby. At that time, it certainly didn’t feel like I was choosing between a couple of equal options.
‘I still don’t know why I went to that meeting, but it was the start of something for me. The comment that went right through me came right at the end. As the meeting was winding up, we were all invited to take some information and to make contact with any of the team, either then or at any other time. I was just about to do a runner when the woman presenting said that by simply walking through the door, each of us had acknowledged the life and the loss of someone to whom we are special. I cried all the way home.’
Some of those who attended the “Beyond Abortion” meetings have subsequently made enquiries or undertaken counselling. A few have shared something of their own experience and the feelings they have towards the idea of attending post-abortion counselling. What follows is one such experience, which is shared with permission.
‘My experience of abortion is so long ago, it barely registers anymore, but the effects of it have been with me all my life.
‘I’ve had numerous counselling sessions for all sorts of other issues as well as careers advice, skills training, leadership and management training to help me sort out what my true calling in life is. Certainly it has all helped and I have managed a fairly credible career, but there remains a part of me that just doesn’t believe I really am who I say I am.
‘I’ve told very few people about this experience partly because I don’t want to become one of those people who ‘believes’ in abortion and because I can’t face having my friends and family, even after all this time, looking at me and knowing.
‘It’s like having an invisible neon sign over my head. I can spot an abortion experience in other people a mile off and I am terrified that they will recognise it in me. It staggers me that even my closest friends haven’t picked it up yet and part of me knows it is only a matter of time before they do.
‘I once heard someone describe alcoholism like a circling shark and I’d describe carrying the knowledge of abortion in the same way. It really is like a shark that circles around then goes away again. You know it will be back, each time a bit closer and because I am trailing blood, it always knows where to find me.
‘My hope is that this time the counselling will work and I will finally get beyond it.
‘I know that for me, this particular shark is always going to be looking for me and even if I stopped trailing blood, I know that sooner or later it would find me. What I hope for now, is that when it does, it will no longer be hungry and will just swim away.’