What Have We Done? Abortion’s Enormous Impact on Families

By Karen Cross, National Right to Life Political Director

Karen Cross, Linda Shrewsbury, Olivia Gans Turner, and Sister Patricia Barnette discussed the many cultural and sociological circumstances that have changed in America since abortion was legalized in the workshop, "Cultural Changes in  the Post-Abortion Healing Landscape," at the 43rd National Right to Life Convention in Dallas, Texas.

Karen Cross, Linda Shrewsbury, Olivia Gans Turner, and Sister Patricia Barnette discussed the many cultural and sociological circumstances that have changed in America since abortion was legalized in the workshop, “Cultural Changes in the Post-Abortion Healing Landscape,” at the 43rd National Right to Life Convention in Dallas, Texas.

As the political director of National Right to Life most people are used to hearing from me about elections and political action. This year, in addition to the political workshops I took part in at the 43rd Annual National Right to Life convention in Dallas, I spoke at three workshops where I shared the negative effects my abortions had on my life and my family.

Who would have known the tragic choices I made as a young teenager to abort two children would lead me to a journey in the Pro-Life Movement?

Nine years after my first abortion, just three years after the second, I began to have nightmares. I realized my abortions had nearly destroyed my life. I learned that my problems with guilt, low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, nightmares, and alcohol are actually not uncommon with women who have had abortions.

Wanting to help women who were experiencing unplanned pregnancies, I got involved in the Movement. I met other women who had abortions. As we shared our stories we began to discover that while each of us felt very alone and guilt-ridden, our stories had something frightfully similar in common: We were experiencing what is now referred to as Post-Abortion Syndrome.

Fortunately, now there are post-abortion support groups that provide a woman with a safe place where she can discover that she is not alone and can deal with her grief, accept forgiveness, and finally forgive herself and others.

As I began to heal, I realized that not only had the abortions affected me and my life, they had a profound effect on those closest to me – my children and my parents.

Each of my children handled learning about my abortions differently.

When my daughter was nine she overheard me talking about my abortions. After the tears came the questions.

She asked, “Mama, did you ever want to abort me?” I was so thankful I was able to look into her precious blue eyes and say, “I never, ever wanted to abort you.”

While she found comfort in this as a child, unfortunately, as she grew older, she realized it just as easily could have been her. You see, I had five children: Brandi, Jami, Erik, Christopher. and Michael. When I had my abortions, I didn’t know who I was aborting.

Initially I was bitter toward my mother who took me to the first abortion. I wanted–or should I say needed–to blame her. For years I didn’t realize her pain. Sometimes she cried for me and the pain I endured, and sometimes for the grandchildren she’ll never hold.

Later I accepted responsibility for what happened and we forgave each other.

Even after all these years, it’s still not over. As I held my new grandson, I realized I didn’t abort two children, I aborted generations of children.

I share the stories of my mother and my children to help you understand that once I had the abortions, they became a permanent part of my life, my history.

Unfortunately, my story is not unique.

There have been more than 55 million abortions in the U.S. since 1973.

This means that everywhere you go, there are people who have participated in abortion. They may have had one (or more), paid for one, or maybe they have taken their sister, daughter, or girlfriend for an abortion.

In every convention I meet people who are in pain because of abortion. During last week’s 43rd annual convention, I met parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends of babies who were regretfully aborted.

Very often we hear statistical research about abortion. However we must remember that behind each statistic is a real person – with a family forever changed.

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Therefore, I would offer a word of caution to my pro-life friends. In your zeal to protect life, please be careful with the words you choose to use.

When someone hears, “I don’t see how anyone could ever kill their baby,” the one who has participated in abortion is not likely to feel they can turn to you. Keeping that in mind, when talking about abortion, make sure to remind people that there is forgiveness and healing after abortion.

We may never know the extent to which abortion has affected our culture. There are millions of women and families who need healing. We must be willing to reach out to them with unconditional love

Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com.