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Nearly half of women will have had an abortion by the time they’re 45. One in four already have. If you’re one of them, you probably thought, or were told, that it was the best solution to your problem. That afterwards you could get on with your life – get back on track. Unfortunately, that’s not the experience of many post-abortive women. Whether it was immediately following their procedure, when they were babysitting their niece a few months later, or when they heard some random bad news years down the road, a flood of emotions came rushing in and caught them off guard. They weren’t even sure what they were feeling. Was it a relief? A sense of loss? Guilt? Anger? Worthlessness?
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If this describes you, you may have tried to push such feelings to the back of your mind, only to have them resurface again and again. Being plagued by depression, shame, bouts of crying, anxiety, or regret is very common for women who have had an abortion – especially those who have also experienced negative childhood events or trauma. Some even turn to drugs and alcohol, consider suicide, avoid intimate relationships, or engage in unhealthy relationships – like Toni (read her story below).
Adverse feelings can be compounded if fear and urgency were the driving factors of the abortion decision rather than objective information. Did you know….
Studies also show that women who experienced childhood trauma are more likely to have subsequent unplanned pregnancies and abortions. “When you’ve had trauma early on, an unplanned pregnancy can mimic that trauma in your brain by triggering those memories and emotions of being caught off guard,” says Amber McCutcheon, founder and executive director of HOPE, which serves survivors of sexual trauma. “Where you had no control over your previous trauma, an abortion can make you feel like you have control over the unplanned pregnancy because you can take care of the problem. You may feel that it is better for this child to never experience anything you went through.”
Unfortunately, says Amber, women often don’t understand that their traumatic past is still bullying their present. They make the decision to abort out of a place of brokenness because they have never healed. But, she stresses, that can change. “Many things brought you to this point – to your decisions – and none of those things have to define you.”
If abortion has been your little secret – if you feel locked in silence – it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Processing what you went through and the emotions you’re having is an important part of the abortion recovery process. Can it be difficult to walk through the pain and grief to find healing? Yes. But what you’ll gain is renewed hope and joy; what you’ll lose is the nagging heartache that has filled your life and touched so many around you.
At Family Life Center, we offer one-on-one abortion recovery over the course of 6 weeks. Someone who has had an abortion herself will walk along side you through the healing process, supporting you all along the way. If you’re ready to break the cycle of guilt, shame, and regret, call us today at 217-342-5433 or 618-783-5433.
“When I found out I was pregnant, both my boyfriend and best friend told me I couldn’t keep the baby. I was about to graduate, and I knew my parents wouldn’t expect this of me. I was in this really vulnerable place. So we went to the abortion clinic. I was scared. I don’t know why, but during my ultrasound, I asked to see the monitor. When the nurse turned it around, I saw a little circle bobbing. At that point, I was so uneducated. I didn’t realize that at 3 weeks the baby has a heartbeat. When she said, ‘See, it’s just the size of a pea. It’s nothing;’ the words gave me comfort. I thought, ‘Okay, it’s not a baby’.
Then the nurse gave me the RU486 pills and told me it was the best way for my stage of pregnancy because the abortion could be done in the privacy of my own home. After we left, I remember laying in the back seat of the car crying quietly while my friend and boyfriend carried on a conversation like nothing had happened. It was all so traumatizing. My boyfriend wound up leaving me, we had just aborted our baby, and I was going through this all by myself. I had made a decision out of fear, and now I had to live with that. There was no going back.
I didn’t tell anyone what had happened. I sort of spiraled out of control after that, not connecting the pieces. He was the first person I had ever been with, and I just thought, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter now.’ So, I had a lot of meaningless relationships. I don’t even know how many breakups I went through. I desperately wanted someone who was going to be committed to me, but I didn’t even know how to do relationships.”
Thankfully, Toni’s story didn’t end there. Years later, she found healing through an abortion recovery program at a local pregnancy resource center like Family Life Center. She learned how to forgive herself and how to develop strong, meaningful relationships. She is now married with four children and no longer lives in a place of numbness and regret but has a life of joy and purpose. You can, too.
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225 E. South 1st St.Shelbyville, IL 62565
We do not offer, recommend or refer for abortions or abortifacients, but are committed to offering accurate education about abortion procedures and risks.