‘I Miss My Child Every Day’: Women Speak of Post-Abortion Trauma as Nation Shifts From ‘Law of the Land’ Mentality
The voices of those wanting to tell of the devastation of abortion have been largely squelched, but here are some bravely talking of the pain still felt today.
She would give almost anything to reverse time and choose differently, but that’s not an option for Mary Kominski. “I miss my child every day,” she told the Register.
Fifty years have passed since the New Jersey woman had her abortion at age 17. Now 67, her memories of that day remain fresh. But so does the tightly held hope of preventing others from the same regret.
“We’re seeing [the effects of abortion] now in society. There’s so much depression and anger. And anger is a huge one — especially in women who are post-abortive and not healed,” Kominski said. “That’s why you see so much screaming and yelling … it’s so deep and dark.”
The voices of those wanting to tell of the devastation of abortion have been largely squelched, she said. But with the June 24 overturning of Roe v. Wade, the time is ripe for the truth.
‘No One Needs to Know’
Raised in a strict Catholic home, Kominiski knew right from wrong, she says, but not how to adjust to life’s reroutes.
Eventually, a doctor at a Planned Parenthood facility sold her on a “simple and easy” solution: abortion. Though illegal in her home state in 1972, abortion was licit in several others, including neighboring New York, for women age 18 and over.
Since Kominski wasn’t of legal age, she recalled, “The doctor said, ‘Don’t tell your parents. You’re a good Catholic girl, and it’s something they don’t need to know.’”
She went to the New York facility of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, famed abortionist and later pro-life advocate. “They were saying to young women, ‘Come get an abortion. It’s going to be fine.’ It was the start of the push to legalize abortion [everywhere].”
She was “scared to death,” and the procedure worsened things; they had mistimed how far along she was. “The doctor got very angry,” Kominski said. “I remember him saying, ‘I don’t ever want to see you here again!’”
Though she felt like “jumping off the table,” the nurse assured her everything would be fine. “On one side of the room, they had these large jars, filled with the [human] remains. That’s a visual I’ve never forgotten,” she said. “You start to understand later what really happened.”
For 25 years after, Kominski kept her abortion secret, leading to depression and doubt of her own worthiness.
‘Just Don’t Look’
Brigette Blair, 55, of California, was only 14 when she underwent the first of three abortions; she admitted she was “pretty naïve” about sexual intimacy. “When I found out I was pregnant, I felt dirty.”
A guidance counselor at school helped her obtain a pregnancy test at a nearby facility, and Blair scheduled the abortion herself in a neighboring town. Her boyfriend drove her there.
“When we sat in the parking lot before I went in, he asked me, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’” she recalled. She nodded. “I was desperate to keep the secret, especially from my parents.”
The nurse advised her, “Whatever you do, don’t look,” Blair recounted. “Of course, when you tell a child that, they already know you’re doing something wrong … and I did look.”
She, too, saw a collection bottle filling with blood and small body parts. “That’s the moment I shut everything down so I wouldn’t have any feelings.”
From there, Blair’s life spiraled, she related, through drugs, drinking and other means of escape. Her only sibling, a brother, also died during this time of brain cancer.
By the time of her third abortion, she “knew it was murder” and began crying on the table. The nurse noticed her distress. “You don’t want to do this, do you?” she asked, then promised her it would be over soon. “I wish someone had been there to rescue me, to tell me, ‘It’s okay. You don’t have to do this. You have choices,’” she recalled. Instead, “the doctor just got to work.”
And as the child vanished, so did her hope.
Still Haunted Years Later
Delia Warnecke, 62, of Vermont, says that the pain of her abortion at age 21 has grown deeper over time. “The memory is vivid,” she said. “I didn’t want to do it. I was definitely coerced.”
The abortion “haunts me to this day,” she said, despite God’s healing. “It is the most unnatural thing for a human being, to kill their own child,” she said, noting that our culture is in severe denial. “A lot of people are in pain and need to heal, and until we do, it’s not going to get any easier.”
Warnecke recalled that day as “like walking into hell.”
“I love honesty, and I don’t want to embellish anything, but it’s like I was selling my soul to the devil.”
She remembers putting her hands on her stomach and saying to her child, “I love you” and telling Jesus she was sorry, right before being “knocked out” by anesthesia. “After I came out of it, I was crying profusely, and I was told to be quiet because I was disturbing the other patients,” she said. “But I knew my ‘blob of tissues’ was my child.”
Warnecke later got involved in the 40 Days for Life campaign, praying at the sidewalk of abortion facilities to warn others of abortion’s harm. “There’s so much help out there to do the right thing. When you kill your own child, you’re also killing your own spirit.”
She believes the Church has a huge role to play in healing and hopes priests will start being braver about the topic. “They don’t want to see [post-abortive] women’s eyes welling up with tears, but we need to stop sugarcoating abortion.”
Kevin Burke, a trained social worker and counselor, co-founded Rachel’s Vineyard retreats, an abortion healing ministry, with his wife, Theresa.
“When I attended my first Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, it was the real beginning of my education,” he said. “It’s a master’s class in learning about how abortion impacts women, and men, too.”
In 2003, the ministry teamed up with Priests for Life, adding a focus in the last decade on how abortion also affects men.
“I was surprised by the depth of the man’s grief, but when he’s given an opportunity to tell his story, with the support of Scripture and the sacraments, men have strong feelings about their involvement,” he said, and women benefit from seeing men reconnecting with and loving their children.
“We have a nation of over 65 million people who have been complicit in abortion,” Burke said. “There’s this massive need, with so many denying the wound within, for healing.”
Despite being sold abortion by the world, Burke says, when women begin to feel the natural, powerful feelings of loss through abortion, the topic shifts from being about rights or a political issue to a wound touching a relationship. And being silenced by the culture — even as many are shouting their “abortion rights” — only deepens that wound.
“If men loved women as Christ loves the Church, you wouldn’t have the clamoring for contraception, abortion and reproductive rights,” Burke said, calling such failure “a corruption” of God’s plan. “Men were ordained to create a climate to welcome children, not facilitate their deaths.”
“We still don’t understand how profoundly abortion has fed the divisions in our society,” Burke added. “As our country continues breaking apart into two separate nations, we can trace back a lot of the emotional energy and spiritual darkness to that 1973 [Roe v. Wade] decision.”
Healing the Culture
For more than a decade now, Jody Clemens, of North Dakota, has been leading a panel of post-abortive ladies (PALS) who publicly share honestly — and vividly — about their abortion experiences.
“We believe so many lies prior to abortion,” Clemens said. “We’re not thinking, ‘What am I going to lose?’ but ‘What am I going to gain?’”
But the perceived gains become deadly losses, with women not aware of how their “shameful secret will intensify a hundredfold afterward,” she explained. “As we walk in [for an abortion], the Father of Lies tells us, ‘It’s harmless.’ But as we walk out, he whispers, ‘It’s hopeless.’” And many women believe they’re beyond hope and mercy.
Clemens recalled the biblical story of David after his affair with Bathsheba, leading to a child’s conception, a husband’s murder and the child’s death — all due to lies following an errant decision. In Psalm 38, we read of David’s despair, and “how the light went out from his eyes,” Clemens said, not unlike in post-abortive women.
But in time, David cries out to the Lord, “Restore onto me the joy of my salvation!” “When we start to exchange the lies we’ve believed for the truth of God,” Clemens said, “we, too, find redemption, mercy, forgiveness and healing.”
Clemens, an evangelical Protestant, says the Church should be the first face of mercy to the post-abortive and not the last word of hope.
“Who knows better than God’s church,” she added, “that life begins at conception; that we are our brother’s keepers; that abortion violates the 10 Commandment; and that we are to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves and rescue those being led to the slaughter?”
Lucinda Mundorf, a post-abortive Catholic and physician, originally from Baltimore but now working in western North Dakota, says until we as a nation make respecting human life at all levels a priority, “I don’t think we’re going to be able to contradict the world’s perspective on the body.”
She has been advocating for parishes to implement Teen Star, a program developed by Sister Hanna Klaus incorporating the theology of the body for adolescents.
As an additional resource for young people, Kominski recommends Janet Morana’s new title, Everything You Need to Know About Abortion for Teens.
For the post-abortive, she calls to mind the umbilical cord and how it brings nutrients to the unborn baby, helping the child grow in his or her mother’s womb.
“For the mother who has had an abortion, through the mercy of God, we can believe our child is in heaven, and we can hope and pray that the child is also a lifeline to the mother on earth, praying for their parents to recognize them as their children,” she said. “It’s like a spiritual umbilical cord coming down, from them to us.”