Many in the media regularly advance positive abortion stories and the studies that support them. But women who regret their abortions exist too – and their stories should be told.
In January, the media promoted a study that, they claimed, showed women don’t regret abortion. At the same time, they overlooked the study’s flaws as well as organizations that exist to help women who mourn their abortions, such as the Silent No More Awareness Campaign which represents nearly 20,000 members. With personal stories, the Christian group challenges pro-abortion legislation, such as the “Women’s Health Protection Act of 2019” heard by a House subcommittee on February 12.
At the hearing, Silent No More co-founder Georgette Forney shared her testimony. She highlighted how, last month, women with her group publicly regretted their abortions, including 31 who spoke out for the first time. They spoke at the March for Life, where I interviewed five of them. The Washington, D.C. event marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. As they took turns at a podium, each woman held a sign reading, “I regret my abortion.”
They were there for a purpose: to witness to the pain abortion inflicts on women by sharing their own stories of regret.
Sometimes it takes years for women to confront the reality of their abortions, Andrea Hines, from Charlotte, N.C., said.
“It’s a gradual change,” she urged. “At first, people don’t -- they want to justify what they did. And then you come to grips at some point, God shows you the reality of what you did.”
Hines was responding to a study recently published in Social Science & Medicine that said that by five years after an abortion, only “6% expressed primarily negative emotions.” While the media lauded the findings as proof women don’t regret abortion, they overlooked concerns, including the study’s timeline.
While Hines stressed that suffering from abortion is a “lifelong thing,” she also pointed to programs like Rachel’s Vineyard that counsel women after abortion. The group has aided more than 300,000 women and is just one of 40 programs that Silent No More partners with.
Hines had her abortion as a 21-year-old college student.
“My parents found out I was pregnant and they forced me to have the abortion,” she recalled. “It devastated me, the shame, I was going to bury it and never tell anyone.”
She asked God to forgive her every day and considered her life over.
“I thought I was just a dead soul walking and just waiting to end -- for my life to end, naturally, of course,” she added.
Her perspective changed when, at 43-years-old, she traveled to Jamaica on a mission trip.
“I found Jesus in the poor, and His heart told me, ‘I am real and I forgive you,’” she said. She went to confession, she said, and converted to Catholicism.
“I didn’t think I would ever be forgiven,” she said. “I am. And, I was told, my baby forgives me too.”
Hines said she is a March for Life veteran, and remembered hearing the story of David defeating the giant Goliath with a stone, the night before the 2002 march.
“God put in my heart that He needs us to be the stones to end abortion,” Hines said. “I agonized so much about that because I wanted [my abortion testimony] to be kept secret.”
Today, she wants women to realize that, with abortion “You can’t take it back, you can’t change the past, and there’s a child in your life that, it will remains with you forever, that you miss and mourn.”
Also from Charlotte, Katherine Hearn had an abortion as a college senior in 1976.
“We didn’t have ultrasound, we didn’t have pregnancy tests at home, and an unplanned pregnancy is just something nobody ever really counts on,” she said. “I hadn’t really ever heard a whole lot about abortion, the truth about abortion.”
While she was raised in a Christian home, she was surrounded by other women getting abortions in college, she said. When she found out about her pregnancy, she was in shock and relied on her boyfriend to pay for the abortion.
“He sent me the money,” she recalled. “I was so afraid I would lose the money, I hid it in my bed in the dorm.”
Besides her boyfriend, she only told her roommate because she needed to borrow her car.
“I had my abortion, and I decided that day that I would never go back to an abortion clinic,” Hearn said. That’s because, even though clinic workers had convinced her it “really wasn’t a baby,” she still “felt something really died inside” of her.
“Not just my child, but spiritually, in every other way,” she urged. She refused to return to the abortion clinic even after she became sick. She also refused to talk to anyone.
“I never, never would have told anybody about that abortion,” she said of her feelings at the time. “It’s like you put it in the back of the closet, nobody’s gonna ever know about it.”
Even after getting married years later and encountering problems starting a family, including a miscarriage, she wouldn’t speak oft it.
“We were able to finally have two children,” she said. “Even then, though, I still didn’t tell anybody. It would be 25 years before I ever had just the opportunity.”
That opportunity came in the form of a friendship. One day, a close friend from church asked her to drop off lunch at her office. That’s when Hearn found out that her friend worked at the local pregnancy center.
“It was through that that God began to change my heart,” she said. And, she added, God ironically “took me right back to the place I never said I’d go and that’s abortion clinics -- to be a sidewalk counselor.”
When responding to the study on abortion regret, Hearn suggested, “I think probably it’s the trauma, it’s the tragedy, it’s the pain of abortion, because like I said, it was 25 years for me.”
“When you start saying, ‘I regret my abortion,’ what you’re really saying is the reality of what happened is I took the life of my child,” she concluded. “That’s a heavy load for a mother.”
Mary Kominsky from New Jersey said that, oftentimes, women are “so traumatized by what happens [with] an abortion that your coping skills automatically just turn on and you have to believe the lie that abortion is good for women.”
“The pro-choice side is afraid of women like us that do say we regret our abortions,” she added.
Kominsky became pregnant at 17-years-old in 1972, one year before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was only legal in certain states. But, she said, you had to be 18-years-old.
For guidance, she went to a Planned Parenthood clinic where they told her she was pregnant with “a clump of cells and tissue.” She later ended up at a clinic operated by Bernard Nathanson, who co-founded the abortion organization NARAL before eventually becoming pro-life.
“I knew during the procedure that this was going to be a severe trauma in my life, something that it would take -- I would have to push down and forget about,” she said.
After abortion, she said, “you turn to drugs, maybe other relationships, just trying to mask the pain.” It wasn’t until 25 years later, after she gave birth, that she sought help from Rachel’s Vineyard.
An army veteran from Atlanta, Jody Duffy said that she became pregnant from a date rape while in the military.
“I didn’t really didn’t know what to do because I was a young lieutenant, starting my career,” she said. “So I went and had an abortion and I buried it for a long, long time and it took about another 19 years before I realized that a lot of the things that were going on in my life,” such as “the emotions, the anger,” were “attributed to the abortion.”
Since then, she has become involved with post-abortion healing, especially for veterans and military.
“A study came out in 2013 that showed that the unintended pregnancy rate in the military is 50 percent higher than the general public,” she said, appearing to refer to a study published by Obstetrics & Gynecology. She said that the majority of those likely ended in abortion.
Regarding the study on abortion regret, she said that women usually feel relief immediately. But that can change, she said, with time.
Women “bury it, and then there’s, somewhere along the line there’s something that triggers,” she said, such as a divorce or even something on TV.
“Then eventually they do start saying, ‘Wait a minute. This really did affect me,’” she said.
Bethany Williams from the Washington, D.C. area offered another take.
“I think any woman that you would talk to, if you got them in a room by themselves, one on one, I think you would get any honest woman to admit the fact that they regret their abortion,” she said. “Now they may bury it well. Because we all do that, we know how to bury our pain.”
Williams, who has attended the march for the past three years, said she came with the abortion-recovery Bible study at her church.
“I regretted [my abortion] as soon as I did it, but I was able to block it out, because it seemed to make my life easier,” she remembered. “It seemed like I could still look like the good pastor’s daughter.”
But inside, she said, she was hurting.
“I thought I would take the secret to my grave,” she said. Today, however, she attends the March for Life, helps with the pro-life campaign 40 Days for Life, and even stands outside abortion clinics with her “I regret my abortion” sign.
Williams had her abortion in 1988 when she became pregnant after the first time she had sex.
“I was scared -- I’m a pastor’s daughter from Brooklyn, New York, and I was in graduate school at a Christian graduate school and I just was nervous and didn’t think my family would understand,” she remembered. “I was fear-ridden and I let the fear overpower the message of God’s love.”
“My boyfriend begged me not to and I wish I had listened to him,” she added. “I went through with the abortion and that was the only child I would ever have.”
She found healing after participating in an abortion-recovery Bible study called “Beauty from Ashes.”
“It helped me get rid of the shame, it helped me get rid of the embarrassment, the guilt, all of those things that cause you not to want to talk about abortion,” she said. Today, she attends First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Maryland and helps other women with their healing.
“I just want to say that Jesus loves us and He wants us to help the world realize that abortion is not the answer,” she concluded. “It’s not the answer to freedom, it’s not answer to independence, it’s not the answer to women’s rights, it is not the answer.”