When Abortion is a Family Secret
“My grandmother insisted I abort when I was 15,” the middle-aged mother shared. “She was an incredible person who raised me when my parents could not. I loved her completely. Sadly, when she discovered the father of my baby was 25 years older than me, her decision on my having an abortion was final. I had no choice in the matter.”
Few understand that women – particularly minors – may have little choice regarding an abortion because their families decide for them. In this woman’s case, her child’s father was over 40 and an obvious pedophile. For some sad reason, removing a pedophile’s child from a young teenager’s womb still seems appropriate, in even Christian families. Tragically, her abuser faced no charges and likely went on to molest other teenagers.
No matter what the circumstances of conception, abortion can wound teenagers at a spiritual, emotional, psychological, biological and physical level. Without a say in whether their child will live or die, many teenagers will go on to embrace other dysfunctional behaviors.
Over the years, many have shared with me their stories of having an abortion at their parent’s insistence. Perhaps the parents are in ministry or they are overwhelmed with health issues. Maybe they are older and don’t feel they have enough time left to raise another child. Even more common, they are more concerned with their family’s reputation in the community.
When a child is conceived through sexual abuse, even pro-life hearts can insist upon abortion. There are millions of different ways an abortion can be coerced but the results are the same. After abortion, one family member is dead while the other deeply wounded.
When a mother does not make this choice, it’s normal for her to blame those who insisted she abort. Since she cannot divorce her family, her life can be miserable whenever she’s around those that forced her to take the life of her child. Holidays, weddings, funerals and even causal dinners with this family often reignite the memories of her lost child.
Another woman shared, “My mother was so angry when she dropped me off at the abortion clinic. I was crying, pleading for her to let me place the baby for adoption. She told me to, ‘Shut up and get it done!’ Afterwards, she insisted on taking me out shopping. My body felt broken and walking was hard. My mother’s message over lunch was that I had experienced something that millions of other women had chosen with no obvious regret. She was clear she would not let me cry over a “blob of tissue” and that I was to never mention my abortion to her again.”
Being unable to express her emotions to her mother ensured that there was an emotional separation between them. Soon the young woman turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with her sorrow. She became pregnant again and would abort two more times without informing her mother.
The biological phenomena of microchimerism relays that mother and child exchange cells during the first stages of pregnancy. These fetal cells never leave the mother’s body, regardless of whether or not the child was aborted. Microchimerism means that the cells from my aborted child, whom I named Jesse, still exist within me today. Because the grandmother’s cells are in the mother’s body, part of that family DNA is transferred on to additional children.
Many women share that they finally learned that abortion was chosen by their parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents. Keeping abortion as a family secret means that future generations may continue on the same path as their ancestors.
Even when the family is not involved in this choice, friends and family members don’t want to talk about a past abortion. Many even discourage the abortion recovery concept by simply saying, ‘Why would you want to resurrect all that pain? It’s in the past. Leave it there.”
The problem is that the abortion is not in the past. It is often sheltered deep within the mother’s heart, soul and mind, constantly working to come to the surface by way of grief. Dysfunctional behaviors that began with an abortion can then continue to impact future family members.
Eleven years after my own abortion, I felt my aborted son was haunting my heart. In sharing that truth with my husband, he relayed, “Why bring that up now? It’s all in the past.”
I responded, “I’m not resurrecting that pain. It’s settled in my throat and I can’t swallow it anymore. I must find help and address this life that I lost.”
By that time I had endured two pregnancies and could no longer escape the memories of my lost child. My husband understood that word picture and accepted my logic and wanted me to be more at peace. God had come to the end of the road with my heart and was insisting that I drop my reservations and trust Him enough to attend an abortion recovery class.
My husband didn’t know the local pregnancy center well enough to trust them with my heart, especially at a spiritual level. He didn’t know if they were even Bible-based. The fact that the class was called PACE (Post-Abortion Counseling and Education) only made him more hesitant.
In my husband’s mind, I was not a “basket case” at that point. He thought I was stable and secure enough not to need extensive counseling that we simply could not afford. When he learned the abortion recovery class was free and Bible based, ran by lay ministry leaders, he felt more at ease with the idea and agreed to support my healing journey.
Spouses and loved ones can rightfully be concerned that an abortion recovery class could wound loved ones further. They are understandably protective. My husband had one condition when he asked me to come home each night of class and share details with him of what God was doing in my heart. This made him part of my healing.
Before my recovery class, I rarely spoke about the abortion. My husband would later relay that he wondered why I was so cold to not miss my lost child more. It was not in my nature to be cold and not grieve this lost child. In a way, my desire to address this pain came as a relief to him.
Participants to abortion decisions also impact the healing journey. These can include parents, friends or a partner/spouse who promoted the abortion as a good decision.
It is very difficult to grieve around someone who shares guilt for a decision that caused so much devastation to our hearts. These abortion deciders often discourage the person from healing because it could trigger their own guilt and shame. Private, one-on-one ministry may be easier as the healing process can remain a secret from those whose personal involvement could stall God’s healing.
Family secrets are crippling. When one family member finds God’s healing, 2 Corinthians 4:2 NIV becomes part of the family healing – Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
If abortion happened in your family, know that God has a plan to heal that pain and use it to bring everyone to believe on Him and receive His peace and healing. Ramah International is always here to help. Our healing site at Her Choice to Heal can begin to help you process this pain. Our team is always here to help!