“I got something to say
I killed a baby today
And it doesn’t matter much to me
As long as it’s dead”
As I’ve discussed earlier in my “(Un)Planned (Un)Parenthood” posts, I had an abortion just over a year ago, almost to the day. While some might say I killed a baby, I’m not as cavalier about it as Glenn Danzig in The Misfits’ “Last Caress” lyrics above (which horrifically continue with raping mothers and killing even more babies). My baby was not yet a baby by definition. It was an unborn, unformed embryo, and removing it from an environment in which it it could live—thus resulting in its death—did matter so much to me.
The most salient emotions from my whole abortion experience were relief and guilt. It’s been reported—though I’m unsure if this website is factually accurate since it reads more like pro-life propaganda—that 55% feel guilt and 10% have reported more serious “psychiatric complications” like diagnosed depression. Fortunately, I, like 95% of those who have had an abortion, don’t regret the decision. This longitudinal study from PLOS also counters the pro-life narrative that all abortions are emotionally damaging, recommends counseling for those having difficulty coping with their abortion, and concludes that the intensity of negative emotions and frequency of thinking about the abortion will also decrease over time. I’m not attempting to discount anyone’s experiences, only provide my own experiences and provide information I’ve collected.
Guilty or Not Guilty
I don’t know if I would’ve even delivered a healthy baby, but I do know I prevented the thing growing in my womb from becoming a person. And I don’t want to do that again.
A year later, I feel guilty because:
- I ended a life before its life began.
- A couple, family friends who were my second pair of parents, had wanted children for the decade I’ve known them. To this day they don’t have children. And there are so many who want biological children and are unable to have them.
- I was able to get an abortion, while many aren’t able due to lack of access or financial support.
- I could’ve not terminated the pregnancy and given the child up for adoption.
On the other hand, I don’t feel guilty because:
- What I aborted was not even an autonomous being yet. At eight weeks it was just a mass of cells without lungs to breathe, a brain to think, or eyes to see!
- I shouldn’t blame myself for parents not being unable to conceive. Perhaps I will serve as a surrogate or donate eggs in the future to help those who can’t have children.
- The option to have a safe abortion was there, so I took advantage of it. I petition to make medical and surgical abortions available, as well as donate to local and national abortion providers. I aim to volunteer more with these providers and use my experiences to help others.
- I would probably feel even more guilty giving a child up for adoption, relinquishing all my responsibility for them and enabling them to be absorbed into the foster care system and possibly have a terrible life.
Friends who were pregnant when I was and continued their pregnancies now have 6-month-old kids. It’s still odd to think that could be my kid, curly or straight hair, brown or blue eyes like theirs, perhaps speaking its first words. At the end of the day, when my friends-cum-parents are up all night trying to calm their sleepless babes, the only thing I’m truly guilty of is making the right decision for myself.
I wish the stigma surrounding abortion were removed, and safe abortion options were readily available and affordable for all. Weigh your options and make the best choice for you. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help with pre- and post-abortion emotions.
Be kind to yourself (as the first link below advocates!).
Additional resources on post-abortion emotions:
Women’s Health Options, Emotional Support
Early Options, Guilty
The Telegraph, More than 95 per cent of women don’t regret their abortions
Mic, 90% Of Women Feel Relieved After Abortion
BBC News, From relief to regret: Readers’ experiences of abortion