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The Cost of Abortion
A Visit to the Lobby of Hell

The following is the first person account of Alex, a young mother who felt trapped by her pregnancy. She thought an abortion was her only viable option, but found the bondage of the abortion experience far more severe than she had been told or could have imagined.

Abortion advocates often minimize the trauma of abortion. This account is disturbing and illustrates abortion's destruction not only of the baby, but also of the mother.

They say time heals all wounds. I know now that this age-old saying is patently false.

It's been six years since I aborted the second of my four children. Six years - and I am still unable to speak of that day without breaking down.

The emotion is as raw, the pain of the loss and the shame as deep and fully present in my consciousness as it was on that crisp October morning, six years ago.

My heart went cold when the window of a home pregnancy test confirmed my fears. A single instance of unprotected sex during an addictive and dysfunctional relationship with a man sixteen years my senior had produced life in my belly.

Yet, at 25, I was already struggling to cope with my own life. The parent of a toddler, I had left my hometown to live in Nashville and embark on a rewarding and fulfilling career. The brass ring was within reach. Perhaps its gild blinded me in the end.

I can close my eyes and remember that week with disturbing clarity. I can see the park where I met him to break the news. I couldn't say the words, "I'm pregnant," I simply shoved the home pregnancy test in his hand and waited for him to say something. We both knew the first words out of his mouth were critical.

Even though I anticipated his response, the actual words were still a blow: ""We'll take care of it - can you pay half?" he said.

Immediately I began to protest. Surely that wasn't the only answer to our "problem."

He combated all talk of alternatives by reminding me the pregnancy was really "my" problem - and mine alone.

"You can have the baby if you want to be noble about it. But I won't help you raise it, I won't marry you, and I'll never pay child support - I'll disappear and live like a bum first," he said bluntly.

I called the only person I trusted to give me counsel. I packed my bags and my 3 1/2-year-old daughter and drove eleven hours to a small town in Texas - the home of my 42-year-old sister.

We talked a lot during what became a weekend of tears. She pointed out my options.

Sure, I could raise the baby on my own, she told me. Then she spoke frankly of my chances of ever finding a man who would marry the mother of two children, by two different fathers.

We discussed the economic impact of keeping the child. The decision would destroy my highly paid and travel-intensive position as vice president of a small construction company. I had no medical insurance, and couldn't go back home, due to the failing health of my parents.

We talked about adoption - but I felt such a strong maternal bond with my daughter, I knew that after feeling the baby grow inside me, and after holding it in my arms, I could never give it away.

In the end, she told me an abortion seemed like the best and most logical choice.

The drive home was a long one. I thought about cutting in front of a speeding semi on the interstate - yet couldn't bear the thought of killing my daughter beside me.

The irony struck me then, as fully as it does now.

I knew what I was planning to do was a sin, that it was murder. My sisters and I were raised by strict Southern Baptists. At age 12, I was saved in Vacation Bible School. Christian faith was as deeply ingrained in me as the ability to speak with a drawl.

I considered turning to the church, even though I hadn't found a "home" in Nashville or moved my letter from the small country church back home. Driving to work the next day I slowed as I passed a number of churches - knowing that if I simply walked in the door and blurted out my intentions I would be taken in and counseled. Something between pride and shame kept me driving on.

With the decision made, I hardened my heart and turned my back on God - as I thought He had done to me. I decided the pregnancy was a punishment for the sin of adultery and couldn't imagine that He wanted the best for me, or cared for my future.

The baby's father made all the arrangements for the abortion. With the yellow pages in hand, he called ob/gyns and hospitals asking bluntly if they did abortions. He told me later he kept hearing the phone slam in his ear. Finally, an exasperated receptionist gave him the name of the abortion clinic in Nashville.

We arrived on a Tuesday morning at the small, nondescript clinic. I filled out paperwork with silent tears rolling down my face.

The nurse took a urine sample to verify my pregnancy. With the positive result, my friend and I were taken into the office of the director - a pleasant, compassionate female. Somehow I expected monsters.

Seeing my tears, she told me that I didn't "have" to go through with the "surgery" if I had any misgivings.

I must have mumbled that I didn't have a choice. Then she explained the procedure. Tennessee law mandates a forty-eight-hour waiting period. I was scheduled for "surgery" Thursday morning.

I had an option of sedatives for the procedure. For $500 I could get a large dose of Valium, but for another $50 I could have "twilight sleep" - an injection of sedatives. Gallantly, my male friend offered to pay the $50.

The clinic didn't take personal checks, but they accepted Visa. The charge was listed on the statement as "medical services," rather than the accurate but crude designation "abortion."

When we returned Thursday morning, I was in a daze. I couldn't get out of the van. With tears now falling uncontrollably, I remember begging him with everything I had in me to make things right. To help me find a way to keep the baby - to take me home and not make me go through with it. He refused.

In that moment, I knew I would never know innocence or naiveté again. I would never be the same person after this day. There were no more tears.

The day became surreal. Like a zombie, I resolved to go through the procedure. I was told to wait in the lobby for a counselor to call me.

The counselor did little more than ask a few questions, ask me to sign a form, and sent me back to the waiting room. She had an open face and was very kind. I would have guessed she was a Christian if I had just met her in another setting.

I sat in the waiting room with twelve other women about my age. I can still see each of their faces clearly in my mind.

The thought kept reverberating, unbidden, in my mind, "I'm sitting in the lobby of hell."

Many of the women had opted for the cheaper version of sedation. Given the Valium, they were ordered to wait for thirty minutes while the medicine took affect.

Like a bad "B" movie where convicts ask, "Whaddya in for?" they each began telling why they had come.

One woman was having her fifth abortion. She had a story prepared about a medical condition that would endanger her life if she carried a child to term.

Being the veteran of the group, she told us the surgery was no big deal.

Another lady was married and in her second year of college. She and her husband had planned to have children, but not until she had a job, established a career, and bought a home. It was a logical choice. A baby would complicate her life.

Another girl was a college freshman. Her parents would kill her if they knew. She was there with a girlfriend.

I said nothing.

By virtue of having the injection, I got to go third. While waiting I heard the first girl screaming, being restrained. I saw her running down the hall in her gown with tears streaming down her face. Later, after the staff had comforted her and taken her back to the operating table, I heard a mournful scream, then sobbing.

When my turn came, I was taken to the room and ordered onto the table by the nurse. I was nervous, shaking uncontrollably, cold all over. She covered me with a warm blanket and said soothing things as she slipped the needle in my arm.

"Just make me sleep," I pleaded. But she explained that I wouldn't sleep totally, I would only be relaxed and unable to feel things.

She lied.

The doctor sat down and methodically flipped on the vacuum pump. I can still see his face. He looked like the devil lived in his eyes. I knew unequivocally that he cared nothing for me, or the import of the task he was undertaking.

Then I heard the suction, the slurping of my baby being taken from my belly. One tear was all I allowed. Afterward, I was led down the hall to a large room and seated in a chair, along with the other post-operative women.

If you've ever had a church-going experience where you felt strongly the presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and souls of the people around you - let me tell you, I experienced just the opposite.

Evil permeated the room. The moaning and crying of the women there exceeded any imagining I had ever had of the torturous sounds of hell.

The college student lay next to me. When she turned her face to mine, her eyes were devoid of life, of feeling. I knew mine must look the same. Silently, I reached out my hand to her and she took it. We lay that way, connected wordlessly by our hands and the shared experience until they came to dress us and send us home.

For six years, I've prayed for forgiveness. I know that God, in His mercy, granted that to me long ago, yet I've never forgiven myself.

I resisted re-committing my life to Him, citing my unforgivable sin as the reason. I've sat in church pews condemning myself, believing the congregation would shun me if they knew what I had done.

Finally, with the love and patience of the Christian man God had intended for me to marry, I began to find closure. I have since begun to realize God's love and forgiveness.

Still, a sense of betrayal remains. The concept that an abortion is a simple outpatient procedure and within the rights of a woman to her body is only a gloss for the truth.

We never hear of the long-term side effects of abortion; of never being able to visit a doctor or dentists office without being jolted back to that place in time; of the sub-conscious self punishment through bouts of depression or the bottle; or of the experience of meeting and becoming friends with a childless couple who have yearned for a baby of their own for years - and knowing that one could create real joy, instead of such pain - if only there were more answers available.

The objective of crisis pregnancy centers is to provide loving answers and alternatives for young women faced with a crisis pregnancy. Many, like Alex, may hesitate to approach a local church, yet might not be so reluctant to visit a CPC.


January 17 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. For promotional materials call the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission at 615-244-2495.

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January 1999 Edition
Volume 7, Issue 4
January 1999