Culture

At 23, I had an abortion. I’ve never told anyone, until now

Jane Koh // April 3, 2017, 12:20 pm

I had an abortion at 23.

I was about 23 years old when I was faced with the most difficult decision of my life. I wasn’t married, but I got pregnant.

This was probably the worst thing that could’ve happened to me then. I was brought up in a strictly Catholic household where I was taught about a God whose jealous rage was tremendous, intense and to be feared. Whose great wrath would be poured out on sinners.

It wasn’t a one-night stand. I did it in the loving trust of my partner, who eventually became my husband. But there was so much shame and condemnation surrounding this issue, and there was no way I could avoid the judgemental looks and gossip if word got out.

I mean, I was always the perfect Catholic girl. Or rather, that was the image that I strived to uphold to avoid bringing shame upon my family.

One thought kept resounding in my mind. If it was less than 6 weeks into the pregnancy, it would be just a bunch of cells that would get washed away. Abortion would just be a medical procedure.

In retrospect, this sounds cruel. But as someone who is typically governed by logic, abortion made perfect sense to me then.

I wasn’t ready to be a mother, I reasoned; neither would I be able to give this child a good life. It would be better if this product of guilt never saw the face of the earth. Such was the justification I used to try to convinced myself.

The emotions that were attached to this decision were then concealed and stored away; I refused to think about it or the consequences of this.

I tried going for confession, but the shame formed a wall of pride when I tried to confess it before the priest. I couldn’t.

So I went to the clinic alone to have the abortion, not wanting company. The doctor gave me heavy anaesthesia and I soon blacked out. When I woke up, it was over.
But the conflict in my heart tore me apart, with guilt heaped upon guilt.

I’d killed a human being.

I’ve never spoken about the abortion, because I never really wanted to feel the emotions. I wanted to be detached from it all. I am haunted by the thought. I’ve tried to shake the memory out of my mind but it remains, lingering in the depths of my innermost conscience.

I was once told that I’d have three children. Including the two boys I have now, I should’ve had three.

Some days I sit in church, thinking what could’ve been. I tried going for confession, but the shame formed a wall of pride when I tried to confess it before the priest. I couldn’t.

For me, overcoming my perception of an angry, jealous God is tremendously difficult since that was what I was taught growing up. It is one thing for people to tell you that you’re loved, or that God loves you. But you’ve got to believe it yourself.

I don’t know if I would’ve made a different choice if I could turn back time. The fear of the judgement and condemnation of the people around me – especially my parents, who are still in the dark about my abortion – is still real.

What I had envisioned as a simple, logical decision turned out to be one of those choices that still eats away at my heart, years after it took place.

It’s a torment living with this regret, and each day it becomes more difficult to live with the decision that I made.

What I had envisioned as a simple, logical decision turned out to be one of those choices that still eats away at my heart, years after it took place.

It’s so difficult to forgive myself for this decision that I find it hard to believe that Jesus has forgiven me, even though I know he has.

I need to understand what that means for me. I’m still on a journey of forgiveness and understanding what His love means for me.

If you’re a young woman reading this and you’re faced with the same decision, you are tasked with a tremendous responsibility. You are accountable to nobody but God and yourself. Make the decision with discretion and careful consideration, because once you’ve made a mistake, it could be a scorched scar for a lifetime – one that never fully heals.


The author’s name has been changed to protect her identity.