By Janet Morana
and Kevin Burke, LSW
During a recent radio interview on the subject of post abortion trauma a listener asked if it was possible to have an abortion and not experience any negative side-effects or regrets about the decision. Julia Fawkes Stuart conveniently penned a piece that can help us address this important question.
Stuart, while being a great admirer of Sen. Wendy Davis of Texas, has a bone to pick with Davis’ public admission of a previous abortion due to fetal disability:
Wendy Davis’ pregnancy termination stories fall solidly on the side of the “good” abortion: she wanted a baby, she was excited for a baby, and then … medical disaster struck. Completely outside her control and maternal desires, Davis’ pregnancies were compromised, and she was the smart, responsible woman who made the hard, painful choice as much for her fetus (more!) as for herself.
Stuart contends that such abortion stories serve to highlight the acceptable hard cases…and stigmatize the majority of abortions that women have simply because they do not want the baby:
Most women end a pregnancy not because it is medically necessary or because their fetus is unwell — that’s only about seven percent of terminations, according to Guttmacher [PDF] — and not because they’ve been raped or are victims of incest (that’s only about one percent of abortions) — but because they don’t want to have a baby.
Julia goes on to makes some public confessions of her own about two past abortions:
…I’ve had two abortions. Unlike Wendy Davis, mine had nothing to do with medical necessity, nor were they harrowing decisions. I just don’t want kids. Not when I had those abortions, and not now. Not ever.
Stuart has no regret for her abortion decisions:
They were not difficult decisions. I’m not ashamed about them and I suffer no guilt or second thoughts… one of the few decisions I’ve made in my life that I was 100 percent certain about…
Let’s return to the question posed at the beginning of this post. Can a woman or man have an abortion and emerge free of regret, or emotional and physical complications?
Julia Stuart would seem to support the conclusion that yes, this is possible. But let’s take a closer look.
To be fair, without a more extensive and objective review of Stuarts life, we must speculate here based on previous post-abortion themes. But Stuart offers a clue on why abortion has been experienced thus far as such a positive and freeing decision for her:
I just don’t want kids. Not when I had those abortions, and not now. Not ever.
Why no kids? What led her to proclaim this with such force and finality…not ever! It’s as if Stuart has placed a 100% emotional contraceptive barrier between her life and her motherhood.
The Body Don’t Lie
Is this rooted in some negative childhood/family experience? Did that initial abortion further entrench the negative emotions and life experiences already present that led her to fear and reject her motherhood? Perhaps it is based on some perverted environmentalism that requires protecting the planet by ending the life of children in your womb.
Regardless, when she was pregnant for the 5 and six week periods prior to her abortions…Julia Fawkes Stuart was in fact a mother…and remains the mother of two children. Stuart’s ideology and strongly held pro choice values deny this reality.
Stuart writes that any restriction on abortion “is ultimately about undermining her autonomy over her body.” We can play games with language to rationalize reality. But the female body is not bound by personal pro-abortion ideology and during her pregnancies Stuart underwent complex changes to protect and nurture the growing son or daughter in her womb. [Abruptly ending this process is an unnatural and traumatic shock to a woman’s body with potentially negative impact on her future health and well-being.]
A House Built Upon a Foundation of Sand
It is quite possible, based again on extensive experience from the hundreds of testimonies of those that have experienced abortion loss, that the symptoms of complicated grief from her abortions may be hidden deeply behind a tendency toward drug or alcohol abuse, depression/anxiety or other symptoms such as relational instability and dysfunction.
Women and men have shared in their testimonies that long periods of their lives were (seemingly) symptom free with no conscious awareness of any negative after-effects from their abortion procedures…in fact they felt only relief. Some would have identified as “pro-choice” on the abortion question. At some point an event in their life, a loss of a loved one, a medical crisis, or some other moment of spiritual clarity and grace shook them to the core. They found that beneath the detached self assurance…was a gaping wound from their participation in the death of their child/children. This pain led them to reach out for reconciliation and healing.
Getting to the Soul of the Matter
Let’s assume that that Stuart has no conscious awareness of any regret and no apparent post-abortion symptoms…and continues to feel relief that she is not shackled to two teenagers.
There is another aspect to the human person that has been neglected thus far in our discussion…the spiritual perspective. Here we do not need to speculate, and can speak with great clarity. Stuart is not only cut off from her mother’s heart and the natural love for the child that lived briefly in her womb, she is also suffering a potentially fatal disconnect from her soul.
God, as all the great religious traditions acknowledge, is Eternal Spirit and the source of all life. The Christian faith above all religions manifests the great dignity of the human person that lies in God sharing His Eternal nature in the incarnation of Christ in the blessed womb of his mother Mary and in the soul of every human person.
This is a great mystery. Yet those who have attended abortion healing programs like Rachel’s Vineyard can attest to the overwhelming experience of clarity when participants encounter in a very personal way the consoling truth that the child they lost to abortion…is not lost, but living in the Lord. God shares his eternal nature even with the smallest of human beings in the womb. This is a source of great hope and consolation for it offers the opportunity for a spiritual relationship with their unborn child and when their lives end the hope of embracing their beloved child in eternity.
Abortion is An Unnatural Event – Consequences are Natural
Let’s conclude by addressing once again the question… is it possible to experience an abortion and have no symptoms, no negative side-effects, and no regrets?
The answer: For a human person with a heart and soul…participating in the death of one’s unborn child, at any stage of development from conception to natural death attacks the natural, emotional and spiritual foundation of our identity as women/men, parents and co creators with the Eternal God. To remain seemingly symptom/regret free after abortion necessitates an internal division in the emotions, body/mind and spirit. Such a division over time requires a great repression of the very natural feelings of grief and loss and conflicted emotions that follow the procedure (regardless of one’s position on abortion.) This internal disconnection normally leads to symptoms such as drug/alcohol abuse, depression/anxiety, relationship and sexual dysfunction/instability etc.
Without reconciliation and recovery from this loss, as with Julia Fawkes Stuart it can also lead to a self-chosen sterilization of not only one’s motherhood/fatherhood, but of the soul itself.
Stuart closes her article with a Pro Abortion Declaration of Independence from those that would challenge a women’s right to abortion:
Needing a reason why a woman had an abortion is ultimately about undermining her autonomy, and taking their power away. And I won’t be a part of that. I’m not ashamed of my abortions or the reasons I had them.
Stuart may remain hunkered down in her pro choice bunker. But maybe…maybe this was the first step in her reaching out and telling her story. Perhaps she will read this blog, and at first respond with either mocking dismissal or perhaps great anger. But in time it may plant the seeds in her that will take fruit at a time in the future, when she is stripped of her self-assured declarations of personal autonomy and ideology. We can hope and pray that she might one day turn to her Creator and humbly admit that she violated something fundamental to her humanity and womanhood – that she is deeply wounded – and the blessed awareness that she is need of reconciliation and healing.