By Dave Andrusko
“Since You Asked,” I gather, is a kind of advice column found at www.salon.com. Since no one would come away thinking this is a home for card-carrying pro-life activists, it is to Cary Tennis’ (and Salon’s) credit that he answered a letter from a deeply unhappy woman under the headline, “My Abortion Traumatized me: The father of my child dropped me at the clinic and disappeared. Every day I mourn.”
Highpoints [actually low points]?
- She wanted the baby but aborted “based my relationship with the baby’s father” [a promise of marriage and kids down the line…if only THIS one was aborted].
- She continues to have nightmares. “I wake up every morning and it is the best minute of my life before the knowledge of what happened returns to me and the cycle of sadness and regret begins all over again.”
- And “I am a liberal woman and as pro-choice as you can be! Which is even more upsetting.”
Her question? How to move forward and free herself “from this unending cycle of regret?”
Tennis’s final recommendation—that she links up with a pro-abortion “after-abortion counseling talk line”—is unfortunate. But much of everything else he says is helpful to women grieving after abortion. I will summarize what he says and then offer three brief comments.
He points out, “You are lucky to be living now. Not too long ago, women suffered in silence after experiences like yours.”
Tennis, again to his credit, addresses the woman as an individual human being. “I don’t want to equate your story with any other story,” he writes. “This battle is yours. It is personal. It is unique.”
And getting better, he advises, “has to do with the difference between knowing and doing. Knowing about medicine won’t help. You have to go see the doctor. Knowing about addiction recovery services won’t help. You have to go to a meeting. And just knowing that there are people out there who will help you get over this traumatic experience won’t help. You have to call them.”
Okay, #1. There is, tragically, plenty of hurt to be addressed. “A conservative estimate from the best available data is that 20% to 30% of women who undergo an abortion will experience serious and/or prolonged negative consequences,” says Priscilla Coleman, Ph.D. who has researched and written extensively on the subject.
#2. Tennis doesn’t write as if the woman is politically incorrect for saying she “feels like a part of me died that day and will never return.” A baby DID die that day. And when the reality of a child’s death runs smack into a professed political posture—“and as pro-choice as you can be”—the truth can win out.
#3. There is hope—as more than one post-abortive woman has put it—in the mourning. Acknowledging that she made a tragically wrong decision is a vital first step toward reconciliation. Reaching out to others who will respond in love can make it possible for a healing shaft of light to penetrate the darkness.