REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: by Luke McCormackNews Weekly
Post-abortive women: from silence to lawsuits
, June 7, 2008
A leading Canadian pro-life activist Denise Mountenay toured Australia recently.Raped at the tender age of 13 many years ago, a young Canadian girl was so filled with self-loathing that she turned to drink, drugs and promiscuity to numb her feelings. At the age of 16 she had her first abortion.
Today, however, Denise Mountenay, a wife and mother, is a prominent anti-abortion activist. On May 17, she was special guest speaker at a pro-life conference in Melbourne organised by Endeavour Forum Inc., the Australian Family Association and the ACT Right to Life Association.
In 2003, she founded Silent No More
(Canada) to reach the estimated two million post-abortive women in her country. These women, she says, "have been hurt, lied to and silently suffer from legal
Her recent visit to Melbourne comes at a time when many Victorian parliamentarians are seeking to decriminalise abortion. Denise is adamantly opposed to these moves because, she says, "the argument that resulted in decriminalisation of abortion in Canada was that illegal
abortion was doing harm to women. But legal
abortion likewise damages women".Multiple abortions
Her strong convictions on the subject come from personal experience of multiple abortions. It was mainly her mother's reaction that led to her first abortion.
She recalls her mother's plea: "Denise, honey, you are only 16. You have your whole life ahead of you. Why don't you come with me and have an operation, and you can forget all about it and get on with your life?" Denise concluded, "If it is okay with mum, okay with the doctors and okay with the government, it must be okay."
In her twenties she became unexpectedly pregnant again and went straight to an abortion clinic. After the doctor reassured her that the embryo was "only a clump of tissue", she proceeded with what was "a painful and shocking experience".
She recounts screaming at the abortionist to stop and afterwards "lying in a foetal position on the bed unable to speak" and fearing her "brain had snapped". This experience plunged Denise into deep depression, unemployment, relationship break-up and more substance abuse.
At the age of 30, however, she underwent a dramatic conversion to Christianity, and today is happily married with a son.
Denise believes that most post-abortive women suffer in silence. They are unable to share their grief because of deep feelings of shame and guilt. Even close friends or spouses are not confided in.Silent No More
seeks to gradually put an end to this silent suffering. "We use billboards, a toll-free number and a website to encourage women to start sharing", says Denise. "We receive one to five calls per week and many more following a TV appearance." After a one-on-one encounter with Denise, post-abortive women feel immediate relief.
Recently, Denise visited a 20-year-old woman in a psychiatric ward, who had been admitted (for the first time) a fortnight after her first abortion. Curled up in a foetal position, with absent eyes, the young woman wouldn't speak. "So," said Denise, "I starting sharing my own story of regret, pain and grief."
This had an immediate impact, and the young woman started crying. She thanked Denise, saying, "I feel like a big weight has been lifted", and was discharged a few days later.
Denise Mountenay has travelled to Europe and Asia to share her personal story, which is also recounted in her best-selling book, Forgiven... A True Story
Decriminalising abortion, as the experience in Canada and many Australian states has shown, does not offer women with unexpected pregnancies any safeguards, such as well-informed consent and professional, independent counselling.
"I cannot remember signing anything. I never received the truth about foetal development and never received real counselling", recalls Denise. "The extent of so-called counselling at the clinic was miserable. The nurse asked, 'Do you know why you're here?' I replied, 'Well, yeah.' She said, 'Good, well come with me.'" Denise was never told about the options of adoption or the numerous health risks now associated with abortion.Silent No More
brings together the latest social and medical research along with the personal testimonies of post-abortive women. They highlight research findings that link abortion to increased risks of anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, relationship breakdown, sexual dysfunction, premature deliveries, infertility, future abortions, depression and even suicide. They also describe to women the reality about the development of the unborn child.
Denise remembers, "I changed my attitude to abortion after looking through a pregnancy book at my sister-in-law's house. I gradually realised I'd been lied to. There are arms, legs, toes, organs and a beating heart at 10 weeks!"
Denise today sees abortion not only as a violent form of family-planning, but in truth a form of child-sacrifice, "We sacrifice our children so we can live the life we prefer."Silent No More
plans to begin the process of filing lawsuits, envisaging the day when past abortion clients will revisit the clinics to report years of misery, damaged organs and infertility and, this time, will wave a lawsuit application.— Luke McCormack