Linda Oppelt
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How I Know that Abortion is Violence Against Women

By Cheryle Martinez

In February 1986, I started getting nauseous at the same time each day. A friend suggested I might be pregnant.  I highly doubted it, but decided to go to Planned Parenthood in early March for a pregnancy test. I was shocked to discover I was nine weeks pregnant.

The nurse said I needed to get in right away and scheduled me for an abortion the next week. While the nurse was doing my intake information, I asked what my baby looked like. She told me it was not a baby yet, but just a clump of tissue. It now sounds naïve, but I had no idea at the time that she was lying. My adolescent mind was comforted to believe it wasn’t a baby yet. 

The day of the abortion, my mom and my aunt took me to Planned Parenthood. They stayed in the waiting area with me until my name was called. I took my place on a bed while a nurse told me they were going to dilate my cervix and I might hear a loud noise. The doctor came in. He was cold and direct, only telling me he was there to perform the abortion. After being told to count backward from 100, things started to fade, and I could hear the loud noise they mentioned. It was very loud and quite scary. I wouldn’t know until years later that the loud noise was the sound of the vacuum aspirator, a suction catheter, inserted into my uterus to extract my baby.

I woke up in a bed that was along a wall with several other women who were also waking from their abortions.  I was crying and in pain. My chest hurt and my abdomen hurt. I think the pain in my chest was my breaking heart. I know the pain in my abdomen was from my child being ripped from my womb. The nurses were going from bed to bed trying to encourage women to sit up and get up. I was told that when I could get up and dress myself, I could go. I just wanted to lie there and cry.

I felt so broken. It was not what I expected. I expected to feel free and unburdened.  Instead, I felt as if I’d been violated. I felt the violence committed against my body, my soul, and in every fiber of my being.

Eventually I was able to sit up on the edge of the bed. I was extremely nauseous, but they were very insistent that I get up. My body recognized that I had just experienced the traumatic surgical procedure of my baby being torn from my uterus, and yet everyone was treating me like I’d just had a tooth pulled. Actually, there was much more sympathy when I had a tooth pulled.  A tooth extraction is far less invasive than an abortion, but one is taken from the dentist office in a wheelchair. The abortion left me in pain and nauseous, emotional and confused, but no one cared. Perhaps Planned Parenthood reasons that, after an abortion, if they treat a woman as if nothing has happened to her, then she will believe that nothing has happened to her. It is the perfect way to bully a woman into silence.

I was finally made to stand and was able to walk to a small waiting area nearby and eat some crackers and drink some orange juice. I got dressed and went to meet my mom and aunt in the waiting room.

I spent the day crying in my bed. I was confused. Wasn’t this what I wanted?  Wasn’t I supposed to feel better? I was supposed to be relieved that I wasn’t pregnant anymore, but the truth is, I ached.  My body hurt from the physical pain of having the “procedure,” and my soul ached from the violent sin of the murder I felt I committed. This would be a recurring theme in my life for years to come.

I slipped further and further into depression. I slept roughly 20 hours a day. I was made to see a psychologist. He put me on an antidepressant and a tranquilizer. When I tried to discuss the abortion, it was dismissed. I was told I did what was best, because a baby would have ruined my life. No one recognized that the abortion had ruined my life and my baby was dead.

Over the years, I would often feel conflicted. I was the one who sought out this abortion, so I felt that I didn’t deserve to grieve or receive sympathy. Years after suffering alone with the guilt and shame of my abortion, I found the courage to call Project Rachel Abortion Healing Ministry. Through this ministry I discovered I wasn’t alone, that Jesus forgave me, and that I deserved to grieve my aborted baby and learn how to forgive myself.

As I’ve healed and gained more perspective, I have come to understand that I was the victim of a traumatizing and violent procedure. I was misled into believing that abortion was a commonsense choice for my unexpected pregnancy. I’m sharing my story because women deserve to know the truth: abortion is violence against women and their babies.

If you have had an abortion and are still grieving, there is free, confidential help available through Project Rachel Abortion Healing Ministry. Call or text the local helpline: 719-203-8112.

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