The Decision that Changes Everyone
BookTrends: Changed: Making Sense of Your Own or a Loved One's Abortion Experience
By: Michaelene Fredenburg|Published: January 20, 2010 2:00 PM
Abortion Changes You™ is an outreach movement to help those who have been affected by abortion.
That person may be the woman who aborted her child, or that woman’s partner, her parents, a friend, or other children of the woman who had an abortion. The website offers support, resources, and help in dealing with the grief and pain following an abortion. I have been profoundly moved in reading the accompanying book, Changed, which offers many personal stories.
Often we talk about abortion in a purely abstract and theoretical way. But the reality is that there are many hurting people all around us who are ostracized by what has become such a sharply political issue. Bumper stickers and political debates exist in the same world as the hurting woman who regrets her decision, the boyfriend who pressured her or could not stop his girlfriend from aborting their baby, or the child who later learns that he or she will never know a sibling, or the grandparents who will never know their grandchild.
I think each of us should share this book and website with those in our lives who have been impacted by abortion, or use the resources ourselves to rekindle the compassion that made us care about this issue in the first place. It can also season our discourse on the subject with proper sensitivity.
Over the years I’ve heard many heartrending stories about abortion.
Although each story is unique,
Yet it is difficult to find a safe place
I primarily wrote this book for those who are touched by abortion.
The purpose of this book is threefold:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
That means a significant percentage of men will have also participated in abortion—either knowingly or unknowingly.
Although abortion has touched many of us,
Shame or guilt may play a role in hiding our abortions.
Whatever the reason,
HEIGHTEN AWARENESS OF AN ABORTION’S IMPACT
It is rare for someone not to know a family member or friend who’s had an abortion.
Regardless of whether or not a person’s family members or friends
They may also be disturbed by the emotional fallout they
They often feel helpless and confused.
How do you grieve a loss that isn’t acknowledged by our culture?
How do you reach out to someone you love without causing them more pain?
I hope this book will aid them in their search by creating —
This book seeks to convey the real experiences of real people.
I invite you to begin by reading and reflecting upon the following voices.
And as you read, I hope you’ll be able to address your own emotions regarding abortion
I also hope the stories in this book will begin to equip you with new language
Although the stories in this book are real, I’ve chosen to conceal the true identities of the people involved. Because abortion impacts multiple family members and friends, it’s unlikely that all those who’ve been impacted will reach a place of healing and wholeness simultaneously. Just as their loss and pain are tragic and real, their timelines for healing are also varied and unique. Therefore, the healing process shouldn’t be forced or interrupted. Further information about healing can be found in later chapters, starting with the chapter called “Healing Pathways.”
“My Child Would Have Been 22 This Year”
I was completely unprepared for the emotional fallout after the abortion. I thought the abortion would erase the pregnancy. I thought I could move on with my life.
I was wrong.
Although I didn’t feel this way before the procedure, it was now clear to me that the abortion ended the life of my child. I felt guilty and desired punishment.
I deserved to suffer.
I soon found myself in a cycle of self-destructive behavior
Desperate for a fresh start, I broke up with my boyfriend, quit my job, and moved from the Midwest to Hawaii.
Although Hawaii was breathtakingly beautiful and bursting with life, I felt dead inside. It didn’t take long for me to realize I couldn’t escape from myself.
About two years after the abortion, I was living in Southern California when I began experiencing periods of intense anger followed by periods of profound sadness.
For weeks and sometimes months at a time, I was too fatigued to do more than eat a meal and shower during the day.
I lost interest in food, and my weight fell dangerously low.
This downward spiral continued until suicidal thoughts began to scare me. That’s when I finally went to see a therapist.
With the help of counselors and supportive friends, my time of self-condemnation and self-punishment came to an end.
I was finally able to enter into a healthy grieving process.
As I grieved the loss of my child, I slowly became aware of how my choice to abort had impacted my family . . . a choice they only learned about when I decided to go public with my experience.
I was surprised and saddened that my parents, my sister, and even my children struggled to deal with the loss of a family member through abortion.
In addition to coping with the fallout that the abortion has caused in my family, there are still times that are painful for me.
After all, healing doesn’t mean forgetting.
If my child had gone to college, she would have graduated this year.
My child would have been 22 this year.
“I Never Had the Chance to Know My Brother or Sister”
She raised me to be pro-choice, so I really didn’t think much about it.
Well, not until last year.
While my mother was driving me back to college, out of the blue she told me she’d had another abortion while I was growing up.
At first I was shocked,
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it would have been like to have two siblings.
I’m angry with my mother that she would abort them—
I feel like my life as an only child is a lie.
But I also began to understand why my mother struggles with depression. While I was growing up, there were so many times that her bedroom door would be closed, and I could hear her crying in her room.I feel compassion for my mother;
but at the same time, I am angry with her.
We used to be very close,
but now there is distance between us.
I want to repair the damage to our relationship; but first, I’d need to share how I feel about her abortions.
I’m afraid to do that—
I’m afraid I’ll hurt her,
I’m afraid I’ll be too angry to control myself.
“My Wife Gets Depressed around the Anniversary of Our Daughter’s Abortion”
LISA AND ANN
She called her mother and me for help.
Ann immediately caught a flight to be with Lisa and to help her think through her options. We wanted Lisa to have the baby; but ultimately, she chose to have an abortion.
Ann was devastated by Lisa’s decision.
Maybe if I’d been a better father, this wouldn’t have happened . . .
My daughter has never gotten over it. Lisa never married, and now it appears that she’ll never have any children. Since Lisa is our only child, that means we’ll never have grandchildren.
I think about the abortion from time to time, and it hurts me to do so. But I must admit—it’s much more painful to watch my wife.
Ann has never stopped grieving the loss of our grandchild. Every year on the anniversary of the baby’s due date, Ann mourns and struggles with depression.
Yet she won’t talk about it with Lisa because she doesn’t want to cause our daughter additional pain.
Abortion has profoundly affected our family.
“I Often Wonder if There Was Something I Could Have Done to Help Her”
She said the baby was mine;
I don’t even know what to think about that.
I don’t know what I would have said
but I should have been given the chance!
tell your story,
This book provides a place that is set apart from politics,
The following chapters are a starting point
Although the following chapters suggest a healing pathway, the process isn’t linear.
There isn’t a set timeline—nor should healing be forced.
Each person will go through the process differently.
I invite you to turn the page and begin your journey.
If you haven’t experienced abortion, I encourage you to read through the following chapters so you’ll be better able to compassionately assist others who need healing.
Please remember that you cannot force people to heal—they must welcome healing and embark upon the journey themselves. Once the journey has begun, however, they will often need care and support.
You can order the book Changed: Making Sense of Your Own or a Loved One’s Abortion Experience on www.ChangedBook.com. Pastors, churches, and other ministries can receive the book Changed for $10.00 (a 50 percent scholarship) by ordering at ChangedBook.com and entering the code BREAKPOINT.
Michaelene Fredenburg is the creator of the Abortion Changes You™ outreach. In recent years she has advocated before United States House and Senate Committee hearings about the impact of abortion on women and the need for studies that evaluate the emotional and physical impact of all pregnancy outcomes. Michaelene also founded the Women’s Resource Committee that publishes a comprehensive directory of services for pregnant and parenting women in San Diego County and she serves as the chair for the San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women.
Michaelene is married and the mother of two boys. In addition to boogie boarding, she loves to read, play the piano, attend classical music concerts, and train at the San Diego Academy of Ballet.
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