Fear and Forgiveness
Case Sudy: Teri Lightheart
In 1979, I was nineteen years old. I was sharing an apartment with a
co-worker. One night I went out for a drink with my 34 year old step-uncle.
After a few drinks we left and the next thing I knew we were back at my
apartment. I did not have much contact with him after that until the day
that I called him to tell him I thought I was pregnant. His first response
was how did I know it was his. His second response was "I thought you were
on the pill."
When the pregnancy test came back positive, I set up an appointment
with my doctor. He told me how far along I was, when the due date was,
and that he would be happy to see me through my pregnancy. By this time,
reality was setting in and I was very scared. I asked him about
abortion. His only response was that he didn't do abortions. That's all.
No information at all.
When I called my step-uncle back to report all this, he told me that
he had talked to several of his female friends and they told him an abortion
was "no big deal." I then went to tell my mom and stepfather that I was
pregnant. By now I was really trying to reach out to find some help, but
I didn't find any. My mom and stepfather simply told me I was an adult
and was my decision. Once again there was no support or information given.
I was so scared. I just wanted the nightmare to end. I made the decision
to have the abortion.
From the moment that I found out that I was pregnant, I had begun to
shut down emotionally. This emotional shutdown became even more complete
when I walked into the clinic. The people at the clinic were very cold.
They showed no emotions at all; they told me nothing. I was not prepared
at all for what was about to happen to me. Again, I received no real support
My mother had driven me there, and she paid for it. Most of the girls
there were young, and their mothers had brought them, too. I remember that
while we were all having our abortions the mothers all went out for coffee,
as though we were in there having our hair done.
I felt so dirty and worthless. I remember after leaving the clinic,
I went home with my mother and I remember her saying to me, "You basically
had a D & C. You're young and will get over it. Just forget it ever
happened and go on with your life." I did just that. Or so I thought.
I met my husband, got married. But I didn't tell him about the abortion.
I didn't think I could tell him or he would hate me and leave me.
We had our first daughter and I never felt the deep love for her I should
have. For several reasons, I guess. The first is that I had never grieved
over the loss of the child I had aborted. I was also afraid to love her
too much. I felt that God was just going to take her away from me to punish
me for killing my first child. We then had a second child which I loved
We were married about ten years, and the pain of my abortion was becoming
unbearable. One morning I tearfully told my husband the truth. I remember
telling him that I really needed to tell him something, but he would probably
hate me for it. I told him about the abortion and was then shocked to hear
all the support and compassion that he gave me. I feel that the support
that I received, for the first time in my life, had a lot to do with my
seeking help. Before this, I never felt that I was worthy of love, nor
did I love myself.
I contacted Project Rachel in Omaha, who referred me to a counselor.
I saw this counselor about three times. She then told me about a Bible
Study group through Project Rachel which I could attend. Going through
the Bible Study brought to the surface a lot of feelings which I needed
to work through in counseling, which I then received.
We finished our Bible Study group and from there we have started a monthly
support group. I have also talked to other groups about my abortion experience
and just how it has affected my life. I feel that is so important to tell
my story so people might begin to understand the true devastation of abortion.
I lost a very special child, and I will always miss and love her with
all my heart. But I truly believe that this same child has shown me that
it is possible to love again.
Originally published in The PostAbortion Review 2(3) Fall 1994.