As originally published on Reclaimed Story’s blog, August 25, 2021.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” C.S. Lewis
I am about to share with you a piece of my story. I am not looking to start a debate. Rather, this is simply me inviting you into a moment in my life. Before we dive in I want to tell you that my story is one of love and compassion for my mom.
In October of 1975 my mom found out she was pregnant.
In the midst of a very complicated life, in November, around eight weeks of pregnancy, she took four white pills (“the abortion pill”) to end the pregnancy. The first two white pills were to stop the baby’s heart from beating, the next two white pills were meant to force her body to expel the baby.
A month later (December) she was surprised to find out she was still pregnant. She then scheduled a surgical D&C procedure to end the pregnancy once and for all. Again to her surprise, in February of 1976, she discovered she was still pregnant and around 4-5 months along. It was now too late in the pregnancy to attempt another abortion procedure.
Her baby was born full-term in July of 1976. That baby was me.
I survived my mom’s abortion attempts.
At the age of 42, I found out this part of my story and I began to question everything about my life.
Was I wanted and loved or just tolerated?
What did I hold as truth for forty-two years that wasn’t true?
What else do I not know about my story?
I struggled with rejection, betrayal, and a whole lot of other emotions. After hours in counseling, I was certain that I was the only one in the world with such a crazy story.
One day I found the courage to Google “Do people survive abortions?”
When I did, I found The Abortion Survivors Network. I found other people who have survived abortion attempts, all with unique and different stories yet a common thread that someone had tried to take our lives before we took our first breath.
I have now been involved with ASN for two-and-a-half years. I am a recipient of their incredible programs and I have the pleasure of serving as their Healing Program Coordinator. We have connected with over 400 survivors worldwide! It is an incredible organization that is growing daily. This community is one of the biggest blessings in my adult life.
It was there I found friendship and a family of survivors.
Last month, I had the privilege of helping to lead the first ever in-person retreat for abortion survivors. Seventeen women who had miraculously survived, gathered together from around the country for community, connection, and healing.
Our theme was “You Belong”.
The retreat attendees ranged in age from 41 to 76. Some of them learned their stories as children and have been carrying that knowledge with them throughout their lives. Some, like me, found out as adults, but hadn’t known another survivor before finding ASN. Imagine it taking decades to finally meet face-to-face with another person who could say “You Too?”.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
The room was permeated with the saving grace of Jesus.
In a room filled with these incredible stories, I can tell you there was nothing but empathy, love, and compassion for our birth moms and their stories. There was a shared understanding and belief that our moms did the best they could with what they knew. The forgiveness that each of us is able to extend comes from the grace that we have received from Jesus.
This weekend feels sacred to me. Although I had just met these ladies in person I have never felt more like I belonged. To know that I am not alone is extremely healing for me. It is hard to talk about it without tears, yet I want the world to know that we are here, we are united, we are healing and we are finding our voices.
History was made at this retreat.
It was the first time that more than three abortion survivors have ever gathered together. What happens when survivors of abortion find hope and healing through an incredible community? Belonging. What happens when the survivors who feel called to share their story find their voice and begin to tell it? We humanize the unborn and put a face to choice.
In 1975 in the state of California there were 165,550 legal abortions performed.* I was one of those, but I survived. Every day I am thankful that an abortion pill or procedure was not the end of my story.
** Sullivan, Ellen, et al. “Legal Abortion in the United States, 1975-1976.” Family Planning Perspectives, vol. 9, no. 3, 1977, pp. 116–129. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2134520.
To read more about the day I found out my story, check out my blog “I am one of 165,550.”