I was nineteen when I had an abortion.
I told my boyfriend at the time that I was pregnant. He was older than me, so I was expecting that I would get support and encouragement from him to have this child.
Instead he said, ‘You have your whole future ahead of you.’
I confided in my two closest friends, but they gave me no hope whatsoever.
The thing is that I’m from Nigerian heritage and to have a child out of wedlock is not really the ‘done thing’.
So I had these thoughts at the back of my mind: I’d be disappointing my mum. What would my siblings think? What would my peers think about me? And if my boyfriend wasn’t going to support me, or at least stand with me in this, how was I going to raise a child at nineteen?
Eventually, I gave in to having an abortion at twenty weeks.
In my case, I had become attached to the child because I had the opportunity to see a scan of the child.
The pregnancy was also so far progressed that I could feel my baby moving inside me – I had connected.
So I was confused. I knew deep down inside that I was not making the right decision, but I just needed somebody to affirm that everything was going to be OK.
I needed someone to tell me that I could actually do this and I would be supported if I decided to have this child, but there was not one person who affirmed that to me at the time.
The decision was basically solely down to me.
When we went to the doctor’s, the doctor quickly recommended abortion as though it was the only option.
And so, sadly, I went ahead and sacrificed my child because of fear.
A message to church leaders
When I plucked up the courage to talk to my pastor about my abortion, he prayed with me, he spoke with me, he fasted with me, he gave me Scriptures – but that’s where it ended.
There were no sermons about it in church and no directions as to where I could get post-abortive support. That was it.
I don’t know whether he had ever dealt with anybody who’d had an abortion before, but he tried to deal with it in the best way he could.
The issue of abortion is there. We can’t just turn a blind eye to it, because there are women and men who have already been affected directly or indirectly by abortion, and they are suffering in silence.
Also, a large proportion of women will continue to default to the option of abortion if it’s never addressed within the church. If there is no clear Bible teaching on the issue, they will assume abortion is an acceptable option.
If abortion had the platform of being spoken about in church, it would bring further light into the darkness because abortion is such a taboo subject in our society.
I’ve spoken to church leaders about this and the response I’ve had, which is very heart-breaking, is: ‘We don’t want to open a can of worms here.’ In other words, ‘It’s too difficult, it’s too complicated.’
But Jeremiah 32:27 says, ‘Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?’
My word to pastors and leaders is this: there is nothing that is too hard; it only becomes hard when we decide that we cannot speak about it. You are the mouthpiece of the gospel. If you keep that mouthpiece quiet and put a lid on it, you cannot deal with the real issues people are facing. You will find that you have broken people ‘playing church’ within church. Yet if abortion is spoken about, people have that option to say, ‘This is something that God can help me with.’ They will come forward.
Everybody in church has to play their part: talking about it, providing services for pregnant women, and providing post-abortion support.
My part, which God has called me to do, is to share my testimony. After what I have been through, I wouldn’t want to sit back and stay silent.
The church needs to wake up! We need to talk about these issues today so that people have that refuge place. It’s not about being judgmental, but about providing grace for people.
The more you talk about abortion and the more we allow people to see that we in the church are being gracious in the services we provide, the more you will find that many people within the church will respond.
Silence and shame
When I went to the clinic, I was sat down and given some pills to take.
I remember feeling the sensation of my baby moving into my lower abdomen. Eventually, I was taken to the theatre and put to sleep.
When I woke up, I felt this complete hollow emptiness inside me.
As the nurses escorted me down the lift to the waiting room, I felt that I was meant to have come away with something, but I felt so empty.
I remember saying to one of the nurses, ‘Where’s my baby?’ She said to me, ‘Do you not know what you have done?’
On my arrival at the clinic, I had been told I would be fine, it would be quick and I wouldn’t experience much pain. So as I left the clinic, I held on to those words that I would be fine.
Little did I know that it would be the beginning of nightmares, night tremors, and shame. I was riddled with guilt and so kept it secret. It was not a thing you talked about.
Although I was brought up in a Christian home, I hadn’t really given my life to Christ. I got saved after my abortion, towards the end of 2000.
In the first few months after my conversion, when I was listening to sermons in church, I would hear this high-pitched noise of my baby crying, week in, week out – it just wouldn’t go away.
I would turn around and say to my friends, ‘Can you not hear the baby crying?’ I was so baffled that no one else could hear it.
My friends would turn around and look at me, totally puzzled, saying, ‘No. I can’t hear anything.’ This went on for weeks.
God was doing a work in me: he kept bringing my abortion to the forefront of my mind.
I knew back then that I had not made the right decision, but God had a plan to heal me from it.
However, I needed to speak to somebody. I thought, ‘I can’t just keep this to myself, because I feel like I’m being tormented.’
Repentance and recovery
Finding peace with God began when I committed myself to him.
My peace and healing came from knowing Jesus Christ, but it had to start with that initial repentance.
The start of my journey to salvation was a heavy conviction. I wasn’t at peace. I was carrying this crippling guilt from the ‘choice’ I had made. In fact, my unrest with the abortion was like being haunted. I knew that I was a sinner and that God was the only one who could heal all my brokenness.
Part of what I was desperate for God to heal and forgive me for was the sin of ending my precious child’s life. I knew that it was murder of an innocent life.
Every time I remembered the abortion, I could do one of two things: I could either suppress it or speak about it. (While I needed counselling, I didn’t know where or how to access it.)
The guilt and torment stopped the moment when I confessed my sin openly, which God requires of us in order to do his work in us.
For me, that came about when I plucked up the courage to speak to my pastor.
God will forgive because his Word declares it. Scriptures such as Psalm 32 (taught to me as a child) and 2 Corinthians 5:17 (‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come’) helped me a lot.
One day, I met up with Ruth, a very good friend of mine from my new church.
She said to me, ‘I’m going somewhere,’ but didn’t say any more than that. I kept hassling her and asking, ‘Where are you going?’ I ended up with her at the Clarkson Academy, which trains people in pro-life apologetics.
After the training course, I attended a display outside the Department of Health where images of the aborted babies were displayed in my face.
That was another step in my healing. I broke down because that was the first time I had come face to face with what had actually happened to my baby.
I saw pieces of these children whose lives had been taken away from them, and I thought to myself, ‘That’s what happened to my baby.’ Those images stayed with me. They really exposed abortion for what it is – what I had done – and that’s why this exposure was part of my healing journey.
Over the years, God has healed me from within. I attended the PASE (Post-Abortion Support for Everyone) Recovery Course.
I had to make a conscious decision to walk in that forgiveness and to forgive myself, which wasn’t always easy.
However, being able to speak out about my experience and knowing that it helps others has made God’s forgiveness evident.
I know that only good can come from my place of hurt. Each time I’m presented with an opportunity to speak, I just can’t say ‘no’ – because I know that my experience of abortion impacted me so much and the many years of silence did me no good.
Many people in church need healing because there is such a thickened silence about this topic. If we are not willing to show people there is help, it makes it much harder for them to say, ‘Look! Here I am! This is my situation. How can you support me?’
Extracted from Thinking About Abortion by Ben & Valentina Cadoux-Hudson and Dr Chris Richards, published by EP Books.
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