*Publisher’s note: this personal testimony is being reprinted in light of the upcoming vote in South Dakota on Initiated Measure 11 and the recent statement by the American Psychological Association that abortion does not threaten women’s mental health.
By Tracy Reynolds
I was born in the Pacific Island of Saipan when my father was with the CIA. While pregnant with me, my mother was exposed to the German measles and was given a vaccination, which caused me to be nearly totally blind at birth. However, I was always treated like the other children. I went to regular school and always believed that I could do everything that everyone else did.
My mother and I had a stormy relationship; and at 16, I moved out to live with a friend. One night my mother called me after she had been drinking. She said that she was very sad for me because she didn’t think that I would ever find love or get married, and that no one would want me. I was very angry with her words, and I became deeply affected and spent a lot of my early years trying to prove her wrong. This led me into self-destructive, impossible relationships.
In 1981, two significant events occurred that changed my life: I became pregnant, and I had an abortion. When I learned that I was pregnant, I had two distinctly different reactions. Initially, I was overjoyed and filled with wonder because I was actually carrying my own child. Then, I felt guilty and ashamed because the child was the result of a brief affair with a married man.
When I told a few people about my pregnancy, I was advised to get an abortion. I felt an obligation to tell the father of the baby – not because I wanted or expected anything from him but because I believed he had the right to know. He was very upset and begged me to terminate the pregnancy. He said that knowing he had a child out there would ruin his life.
In my heart, I deeply wanted to have the child, but I didn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s unhappiness. I decided to go through with the abortion but changed my mind at the abortion facility and walked out. I felt a tremendous sense of relief, but then I had to face the people who encouraged me to have the abortion, including the father of the baby.
Torn by the decision I faced, I saw a psychiatrist/abortionist who also told me that abortion would be the best solution under the circumstances. I finally succumbed to the pressure.
I vividly remember the sounds, the pain, the feeling of having my child ripped from my body, and the immediate emptiness. The biggest regret of my life is that I didn’t follow my heart and have the courage to follow through with my convictions to give birth to my baby.
For years, I tried to repress this memory. I never talked about that “secret” in my past. I had dreams, sometimes nightmares, and sometimes of my baby girl being alive, talking, and quite advanced for her age.
After a few self-destructive relationships with men, I vowed to give up men and went for many years without any close relationships. I always played the role of counselor, helping them with their problems but being very guarded about my own.
I began my healing journey when I heard a friend tell her story of her abortion on an internet radio broadcast. This had a profound effect on me and I subsequently went through an abortion recovery program through Rachel’s Vineyard.
Currently I answer a toll-free national help line for Rachel’s Vineyard on evenings and weekends. I also volunteer for the national help line two days a week. I receive hundreds of phone calls on both of these lines from women and men all over the country who tell their tragic stories of abortion and who are seeking someone to listen, understand and in many cases help with their burden. We refer these women and men to abortion recovery programs to try to ease their burden, but their pain never really goes away. After being in corporate America for many years, I have decided to devote my life to speaking the truth and educating the public that abortion hurts women, men and families.