Abortion changes everything. In leaving an abortion clinic, one is dead while the mother is typically wounded in some way. Initially, family members endure the brunt of the emotional, spiritual and psychological fall out. Many have no idea an abortion has occurred.
In 2011, abortion providers outline that fifty-nine (59%) percent of abortions were obtained by patients who had had at least one previous birth. With 1,060,000 lost to abortion in 2011, at least 624,400 mothers aborted their living children’s sibling that year.
The scars of an abortion wound may not be obvious immediately. Many are ignited when significant “life” moments arrive – like subsequent births or deaths of loved ones.
Leaving the abortion clinic, I remember the physical pain and the jarring reality that I had done something that I would regret. Never did I imagine that my future children would eventually grieve their sibling’s death or be impacted by my abortion decision. As a teenager, I didn’t think that far ahead.
In speaking to thousands of mothers considering abortion, many state, “I can’t afford the child(ren) I already have, let alone another…” In order to spare their living children any poverty or difficulty, they abort a subsequent child. These siblings lives are not improved by abortion.
Sibling abortion grief is often unacknowledged and unprocessed. Since abortion is typically kept secret, it can be difficult for living children to understand what happened or the source of their parent’s pain. Even when they know this truth, questioning parents about this choice is rarely deemed acceptable. Many of these siblings are more concerned about their parent’s suffering versus their own emotional, spiritual and psychological pain.
There are 5 major ways in which siblings are impacted by their parent’s choice, even those conceived after their siblings were aborted. These include:
- Survivor Guilt – When siblings discover they are the reason their brother or sister was aborted, survivor guilt can result. They may believe they have done something wrong and somehow are responsible for their sibling’s death. Perspectives include:
- “Why was I allowed to survive?”
- “Did my sibling suffer during the abortion?”
- “Is my life good enough to offset the sacrifice of my brother or sister so I could live a better life?”
- Traumatized Upbringing – Abortion changes people. Couples often break up after abortion. Before healing, post-abortion pain can interfere with the bonding process with present or future children. Being raised under these circumstances often leads to adverse childhood experiences which can result in a myriad of difficulties.
- Repeating Generational Sins – Unexpected pregnancy and abortion decisions often become a tradition through family lines for various reasons. Whether they know about their aborted sibling or not, many will repeat the sins of their parents by aborting unexpected children.
- Haunting – During one woman’s private healing process, her 5 year older introduced her imaginary friend. The family was counseled to welcome the “made-up” friend. The mother listened to her daughter talking to this friend, outlining things about their family. When the child described her pretend comrade, it struck the mother that the fictional friend was the age that her aborted child would have been. Feeling there was no coincidence, this mother named her lost child the same name as the imagined friend. After her healing was complete, the make-believe friend disappeared. When asked, the daughter simply said, “She went back to heaven, Mommy.” I’ve heard similar stories over and over again.
- Discounted Grief – Before I was born, two of my sisters died of separate birth defects. I knew of these heavenly sisters and would spend times as a child thinking about them. My parents rarely spoke about these daughters. Later I visited their graves and had my own memorial for them. The grief in those moments overwhelmed me, despite the fact I had never known these sisters. Many can find peace by naming, acknowledging, grieving and memorializing these siblings.
Many pregnancy centers are now staffed by siblings of aborted children. These siblings often outline their own pain as a result of their parent’s choice with those considering abortion. In most cases, these workers have been unable to provide their parents with direct comfort as it is difficult to address the abortion topic openly.
Abortion is never the answer to an unexpected pregnancy. This choice cuts off a whole family line and often initiates dysfunction and trauma to everyone involved.
Thankfully, God has a plan to redeem abortion decisions along with the associated pain. 1 Peter 1:17-19 outlines this clearly – And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.