Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pro-Life and Post-Abortive: Women Impacted by Abortion Tell Their Story

This week marks the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, as well as the annual March for Life. Too often, when discussing abortion, we are quick to forget the perspective of those most affected by the procedure: the women who have them and live with that decision for the rest of their lives. This post is the first of several in our series of interviews addressing abortion, with a focus on women who have had abortions and now oppose it.

Jewels Green is a regretful post-abortive mother and former abortion clinic worker who now supports the right-to-life from conception to natural death. You can see more of her writing and other work at her Web site and also follow her on Twitter.

Can you discuss the circumstances of your pregnancy and why you chose to end it?

I was a 17-year-old drug-using high school dropout when I found out I was pregnant. Everyone told me I should have an abortion — but I didn't want to! I'd already planned on keeping my baby. I stopped using drugs, made a prenatal appointment, and was basically trying to turn my life around to prepare for a child. Intense, unrelenting pressure from everyone, but especially from my boyfriend, led to my eventual abortion. I immediately regretted it. The guilt and loss and sadness were overwhelming. I hated myself for not being strong enough to save my baby and I tried to kill myself a few weeks after my abortion. Thankfully, I survived, but spent a month in an adolescent psychiatric unit recovering. 

In spite of all I went through, I remained pro-choice. It's almost as if I built a shield to prevent myself from closer examination of what I'd done, what I'd let happen to me. Within weeks of being discharged from the hospital, I was marching in Washington, D.C. in support of abortion rights and then began volunteering as an escort at an abortion center. I was hired full-time at the clinic less than a year after my own abortion and subsequent suicide attempt. In hindsight, I think I worked at the abortion clinic for so many years because I was surrounding myself with people who thought abortion was acceptable in the hope that someday, I would believe that, too. 

What changed your mind about abortion and inspired you to speak out against it publicly?

Four years ago, I'd learned of a surrogate mother (a friend of a friend) who was offered payment of her contract in full (tens of thousands of dollars!) to abort because genetic testing showed the baby she was carrying would be born with Down syndrome. And she DID. I was flabbergasted. It was a true A-HA moment. This was wrong. Children were now commodities to be bought, sold, discarded at will... for quality control? This was wrong. Abortion was wrong, on a fundamental level. I could no longer call myself pro-choice. 

Once I began self-identifying as pro-life, I felt compelled to do something to help further the cause of LIFE. I started to help with fundraising for a local pregnancy resource center, and I wrote about my experiences. At first, I wrote just for me, like I had to get it out of me to fully process what I went through and how I'd come to so profoundly change my worldview. At the suggestion of a friend, my story was published online on the 22nd anniversary of my original due date. Sharing my personal experiences as a suicide attempt survivor, post-abortive mother, and former abortion clinic worker has been transformative for me, and people tell me I've helped them to "put a face on" women who have abortions. I've been told that it helps humanize the abortion clinic workers, and as a reminder that conversion is real and everyone is reachable.

How important is it for men, whether they are fathers or not, to support pregnant women and their babies?

Men are instrumental in creating an environment that is welcoming, protective, and supportive of pregnant mothers and children. We need to work together to encourage and nurture a culture that accepts and respects all life.

What would you say to a woman who has had an abortion but still does not regret it?

The past does not dictate anyone's future. I would invite her to question her affirmation of the right to abort and learn more about fetal development and pregnancy support options for mothers and birthmothers. I would explain that abortion is never the answer. Only by engaging in non-judgmental, fact-based dialogue can we hope to inspire a change of heart that results in a lifelong shift in worldview and action. 

What can the pro-life community do to reach out more to the post-abortive community, as well as to those who have worked for the abortion industry? Have you ever felt judged by fellow pro-life activists, or is that merely an unfortunate stereotype? 

I find that the pro-life community is already welcoming to grieving parents whose children died in abortions. There are many healing opportunities, both religious and secular, available for those who seek them. In my experience, many who work in the abortion industry have also had abortions, so there are many wounded in need of comfort and healing. I'm grateful to report that any small bit of condemnation from a few of my fellow pro-lifers has been rare and short-lived. We all share the same sacred goal of protecting life, and that simple truth usually wins out over any suspicion or prejudice.

Editor's Note: This interview was conducted via email and was edited only for grammar and punctuation, not content.

Many thanks to Jewels for telling us her story. She has a comprehensive list of post-abortion healing links on her site. In addition, you can find more information on pro-life outreach to abortion clinic workers at And Then There Were None.

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