ABORTION: by John BallantyneNews Weekly
Suffering in silence no more
, January 20, 2007
Speakers from Operation Outcry, an organisation of American women hurt by abortion, toured Australia recently, reports John Ballantyne."The instant I heard my baby's helpless body hit the garbage can, I knew! I had just killed my own flesh and blood, an innocent life."
With these words, American mother of two, Kay Painter, recently described to Australian audiences her memory of an abortion she once underwent.
"I was panic-stricken," she recalled. "The nurse callously told me to 'calm down'; in a few days all would be back to normal.
"[But] the abortion followed me through the next 16 years, bringing isolation, bad choices, a horribly ugly divorce, unspeakable shame, terrible loneliness, and a depression so deep that I denied its existence."Pain endured
Painter is a spokeswoman for Operation Outcry, a movement of American women hurt by abortion who regularly tour the U.S. speaking out about the pain and consequences they have endured.
She and Karen Bodle, the organisation's international director, recently toured Australia, along with Texan lawyers, David and Linda Schlueter, veteran pro-life campaigners.
Operation Outcry's lobbying efforts are slowly beginning to pay off. In Texas, the abortion rate has plummeted since a law was passed in 2003 requiring abortion centres and doctors in that state to warn women of the possible long-term medical and psychological consequences of abortion.
Karen Bodle recalled her dismay at becoming pregnant at age 18 after her first sexual encounter. When she told the baby's father, he ended their relationship immediately.
"I was ashamed to be pregnant and unmarried, so I thought abortion would solve my problem," she said. "I believed the lie that it was just a blob of tissue that could be thrown away."
The memory of her abortion, however, haunted her life, plunging her into a chronic depression. She spent time in a mental hospital with a nervous breakdown.
Lawyer Linda Schlueter described how most women seeking abortions are given insufficient information about the procedure and no post-abortion counselling. A woman is all too often coerced by her boyfriend, parent or husband into undergoing an abortion, and is seldom offered an alternative.
Karen Bodle pleaded: "There is a disconnect in every woman's heart and mind when she consents to abortion. Although she tries to forget the abortion and suppress the memories, eventually she will face the reality that her own child was mutilated by abortion.
"My denial lasted 21 years. I wept uncontrollably from the depths of my soul for three days when I finally faced the truth."
Kay Painter added: "Abortion doesn't just hurt the woman and kill the child; it hurts the husband and the grandparents. There are two things we need to do: (1) make abortion illegal, and (2) make adoption easy. Abortion is not the answer."
Linda Schlueter stressed that pro-life activists should talk about the harm that abortion does to women, not just how it kills the unborn.
"Graphic pictures of aborted foetuses have not touched people's hearts in the same way as testimony of women who have undergone abortion," she said. "Put a face to it in order for people to recognise and identify with."
Her husband David Schlueter, a law professor who has worked in the U.S. Supreme Court, agreed, saying: "Dead babies don't vote; women do."
He described how Operation Outcry, through churches and voluntary organisations, has invited women traumatised by abortion to fill in a special questionnaire/affidavit describing their experiences.
Over a number of years, Operation Outcry has collected some thousands of women's affidavits. Now it is dawning on legislators how many of their women-constituents have been hurt by abortion.
(579 KB PDF)
In the Schlueters' home state of Texas, the legislature in 2003 passed a Woman's Right to Know Act. Under this law, a doctor or abortion-provider must provide a woman patient with a special 23-page information booklet, from the Texas Department of Health, entitled A Woman's Right to Know
The booklet describes the different methods of abortion. It warns about the medical risks for abortion, pregnancy and childbirth, but particularly the medical and psychological side-effects of abortion, including possible future depression, grief, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and behaviour, substance abuse and possible infertility.
The booklet always refers to the embryo as an unborn child, never as a foetus, and describes how, at fertilisation, "the unborn child has his or her unique set of DNA material - or genes".
The booklet displays a series of colour pictures of the growing child in the womb. It informs the mother where she can find support and counselling, should she continue with her pregnancy, and also the benefits available to help with medical care before, during, and after childbirth.
The Texan informed consent laws have reduced abortion in that state to the lowest level since 1978.See Texas Dept of State Health Services, Woman's Right to Know Act, 2003: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/wrtk
or view the PDF booklet (579KB): Woman's Right to Know