Abortion and Suicide
By J. P. Prichard
Tulare-Kings Right to Life
Many of us would envy Elaine’s life. She lives in a place most of us would consider a paradise, works in an industry that provides for her needs and allows her to pursue her lifelong quest to travel the world. She has always lived her life on her own terms. Enjoying the single life in her late 30s, she never had the desire to marry or have children, and so felt no need to create permanent ties with any man in her life. She would be the first to tell you she had the life she always wanted.
So why had Elaine tried to kill herself four times in the previous year?
Elaine had chosen abortion after finding herself pregnant by her longtime boyfriend. They had been in complete agreement with the decision, and no one in her life was giving her any grief about it.
No one, that is, except herself. In her words: “Life has no meaning, and the day I took my baby’s life, I lost all right to live.
Most of the time, Elaine did her best to stay numb—if her meds took the edge off and if she could keep herself distracted, she could function. But it never lasted. Deep depression would come over her every few months, and if a mental health professional didn’t intervene, she would usually attempt an overdose.
Elaine came to our online abortion recovery group out of sheer desperation. Like most members, she had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. She had expected that she might have some mixed emotions about her abortion long term, but nothing like what she was experiencing! Her abortion was in her thoughts constantly, day in and day out. She simply couldn’t come to terms with what she had done.
Once Elaine found our group, she discovered that she wasn’t alone. Self-hatred and an inability to forgive oneself are common in post-abortive women. Many of the women in the group had suffered in silence for decades, experiencing relationship difficulties, sexual dysfunction, difficulty bonding with later children, and suicide attempts.
Sadly, long-term mental health issues are often dismissed in our society. One study of more than 9,000 women from Finland found that suicide rates in all women that had abortions were six times (600%) the rate that those that chose to give birth, and if those abortions occurred during the woman’s teenage years, their suicide rates grew to ten times (1,000%) the rate of those that chose to give birth.
Over time, most post-abortive people come to reflect on what we have actually done, and can’t escape the fact that we have taken the life of an innocent living human being. A living human being that was our own child. A child that deserved our love and protection. How hard it is to not hate ourselves when we know that we have ended the lives of our own children.
Thankfully, Elaine is no longer suicidal, and is actively working on her recovery. It’s a long road. We’re just glad she found us when she did. It is our hope to reach those who suffer in silence, so that more and more women and men will find the path to hope and healing.
J. P. Prichard is the executive director of Tulare-Kings Right to Life, a community benefit organization dedicated to restoring societal respect for human life of all ages.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.