Parental Consent: Through the Eyes of a Post-Abortion Teen
This story was written by a close friend, who recently testified before the state legislature. While many people know the story, it seemed unnecessary to include her name. If you wish to contact her with questions or input, contact our ministry and she has said she’d be glad to talk with you.
I am in favor of the parental notification bill because of the irreparable damage I experienced due to the decisions I made as a minor. When I was 17 years old, I determined that I was mature enough to make my own decisions, and didn’t need my parents’ advice on how to live my life.
My first boyfriend was 22 years old, and I believed, as only a teen-ager can, that he was the love of my life. There would never be anyone else for me, even though he was an illegal alien, he was seeing other girls on the side, and he drank all the time. I hid my relationship with him from my parents, certain that they would never understand the depth of my feelings for him.
As I became more entangled in the relationship with my boyfriend, I began to let my grades at school slip, and began skipping classes. The school authorities informed my parents of my behavior immediately. Because I had not thought to use birth control, I soon became pregnant.
Facing this adult situation was difficult for me as a very immature teen. I decided that the very best way to handle this dilemma was to drop out of school, move out of my family’s nice comfortable home, and into an old, leaky house with the migrant farm worker who was the father of the baby I carried.
I believed all my dreams had come true.
Well, almost all of them. I was still pregnant and didn’t want to be. My parents believed that abortion was wrong, but I really wanted to avoid labor pains at all costs. So I began to consider abortion as an option.
But I usually had trouble deciding what to wear to school in the morning, let alone deciding what to do in a crisis situation like this one. I was scared and alone with nowhere to turn. I felt I had let my parents down and had no right to ask for their advice. After asking some friends for their opinions, I made an appointment at an abortion clinic. But when I went to the clinic, it was discovered that I was 24 weeks, or six months, pregnant.
This information stunned me, simply because it meant that I could not have a standard clinical abortion. Panic-stricken, I was weeping in the waiting room when someone came and led me in to meet with a counselor. As she put her arms around my shaking shoulders, and helped dry my tears, she quietly let me know that they could still help me obtain an abortion. It would involve a day-long hospital stay, and although she had only met me a moment before, she assured me that she felt this was really the best answer for my problem. She just needed to know if I could come up with enough money.
Two days later, without my parents knowledge or consent, I checked myself into the hospital so that I could have a saline abortion performed. Despite the fact that I couldn’t vote, couldn’t buy a beer, had barely learned to drive, and still couldn’t see certain movies without my parents coming along, I could still admit myself into this hospital to have a dangerous surgery performed without the two people who were legally and financially responsible for me being notified. My parents were also the ones who cared the most for my well-being, not the paid professionals, who by not notifying my parents did my family a tremendous disservice.
Once inside the hospital, I was led, along with about a dozen other young girls, into the basement of the building. We were settled into a large ward which was lined along the walls with portable cots. There were no partitions between the beds, and we were told to remove our clothes and put on the hospital gown. We were then wheeled out of the room, one by one, and taken to where the doctor in charge systematically injected our wombs with a saline solution, which would begin the abortion process. I was shaking with fear when they came for me. After being wheeled back into the crowded ward, I nervously asked a nurse what I was supposed to do now. “Just wait there until you abort,” she answered shortly.
Childishly, I began to wish for my mother’s comforting presence, but sternly I reminded myself that I was doing this without her knowledge, and I would make it through on my own. Then the contractions began. At 17 years old, I had never taken Lamaze classes, and I had no idea how to deal with the overwhelming pain that was wrenching my insides, and again, I began vainly wishing for my mom. Somewhere, in the back of my pain-fogged mind, I realized that I was actually going through labor, the very thing I had wanted so much to avoid.
Suddenly, I felt a lurching sensation, and my baby’s body slid lifelessly from mine. I was shocked and terrified and could not stop the tremors that shook my bed when I saw the tiny, perfectly formed child laying in a pool of blood on the sheets. The nurse silently scooped him up and placed him in a plastic bucket on the floor before taking him away.
When the abortion was completed, I felt devoid of any emotion, empty, almost paralyzed with non-feeling. I left the hospital unable to share with anyone what had happened to me. I felt wicked for the choice I had made. That sense of self-loathing, and disgust would stay with me for years.
Although I have not suffered from any of the numerous physical complications now known to be linked to abortion, I very likely could have. Just last week I received a phone call about a woman who had had a standard suction abortion at a local abortion facility. Because she was so ashamed, this woman had not confided in anyone about her decision to end her pregnancy. A week after the abortion, the woman began to bleed, and it continued for five weeks. Finally, she became so weakened that it was obvious something was drastically wrong, and her husband rushed her to the hospital. By the time they arrived the woman had lost such a large amount of blood, that her blood pressure was dangerously low. She actually would have bled to death if she had not received immediate medical attention. Is this really a surgery we want to allow our teen-age daughters to be able to obtain without any notification whatsoever to their parents?
Aside from physical complications, the severe emotional trauma caused by abortion should not be overlooked. For many years I have felt the need to hide, for fear someone should see what I thought was the real me; an evil, depraved person who was undeserving of love. This is far from an uncommon response, and now, as a Post-Abortion Counseling and Education (P.A.C.E.) group co-leader, I am constantly reminded of the severe emotional crippling that so many women suffer from due to their abortion decision. In fact, an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics dated 1981 alerts doctors to the possibility that a teen-ager who has had an abortion may actually attempt to kill herself on the day that corresponds to the approximate day that the baby would have been born, had she carried to term.
I am no longer a frightened and naive teen-ager, but the emotional scars and haunting memories that I carry with me to this day, may possibly have been avoided altogether by simply giving my parents vital medical information which was their right to receive as the two people who had been responsible for me since birth.
The fact remains that abortion does cause a myriad of problems, from Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) to death, and it certainly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a teen-ager is hardly ever capable of making sound, life-altering decisions on her own under the best of conditions, let alone when she is under extreme stress due to her crisis pregnancy. As a parent now, my heart literally breaks when I think of my own daughter, or anybody’s daughter, facing this traumatic situation without the guidance and wisdom from the people who love her and know her best. With all the potential risks associated with abortion, it is like allowing our daughters to gingerly cross an active mine field without the benefit of a map.
This article originally appeared in Eternal Perspectives, Summer 1995