Prisoners of “Choice” by Patti Smith

As believers, we know God’s timing is perfect; we just need to listen for His voice and obediently follow the guidance and direction He gives us daily. My ears are always open to His voice, and I’m looking for God in every circumstance of my life. Several weeks ago, I posted on Facebook this article, The Power of Pro-Life Women: It’s time to harness “feminine authority” to protect the unborn. I added this comment:

This is a great article. Women deserve better than abortion. They’ll have to live with the grief, trauma, guilt, sin, and consequences for the rest of their lives. Abortion is not a “women’s issue”; rather, it is a human issue that affects women uniquely” and women need to speak out against it offering hope, encouragement, and support for saving human lives. Men can only speak intellectually … women speak from experience. Don’t let Hilary be the women’s voice in the next election.

A short while after posting that comment, I received a Facebook Private message from Patti Smith: “Don’t know if you read my blog post about pro-life feminists but here is the link.” Patti sent me the link to today’s blog post, which I’m sharing with her permission. It’s a powerful article and a dramatic window into the other side of the Pro-choice feminist rhetoric about women’s health and right to her body.

Patti’s article here, along with the newly released Sidewalk Chronicles, in which Patti appears, should encourage you to be the “feminist” voice for why Prolife is the healthiest choice and right of women and babies. Sidewalk Chronicles is about an hour long, so after you read this blog post, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and listen to the voices of women like Patti who know the tragic effects of abortion on the life of the woman. It exposes the ugly truth that Planned Parenthood never tells women, and exposes the ignorance of “Pro Choice” advocates who are clueless about the prison of guilt and shame these women experience.

This article will also help women struggling with the abortion choices they’ve made in the past. At the end of the post there are post-abortive helpful resources.

For now, read Patti’s account of using her testimony to help women who have had abortions and find themselves not only in an emotional prison … but also inmates in physical prison.

PRISONERS OF “CHOICE”

by PATTI SMITH

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Three of us stood at a bulletproof window separating us from an armed, uniformed receptionist. She slid a sign-in sheet and black pen through a small opening and asked us to sign it and exchange our driver’s licenses for a visitor’s badge. I thought back to the orientation: In the case of lock-down, visitors will be escorted out; however, under certain circumstances they may be required to stay until the situation is resolved. What was I getting myself into? Maybe my husband was right, and I should have declined the invitation to co-lead one of the, post-abortion healing retreats that Rachel’s Hope takes into the local women’s jail.

The metal door opened and for security reasons, we had to go through one door at a time. I was first, and as the door thundered shut behind me, I faced another metal door. Being claustrophobic, I started breathing heavily in this little portal, even though it was only seconds before the second door opened.

The chaplain and biggest supporter of bringing post-abortion healing to incarcerated women, waited for us on the other side of the doors. The retreat was in the library on the opposite side of the facility. Curious eyes followed us as we passed the high chain link fences that enclosed small yard areas outside each dorm-style cell. The cells seemed absent of any form of comfort or homeyness … just bunk beds and bare walls.

We arrived at the library and began making the room less institutionalized: more inviting and calming to create an environment that would help the participants forget for a while where they were. Open flames weren’t allowed, so we scattered battery-operated candles around the room. The chaplain provided pencils … the tiny ones used by golfers because larger ones are potential weapons. We brought in a variety of snacks—a special treat for participating in the program and one more way to make the women feel special.

I expected to see cold-hearted criminals, smacking gum, and sneering at the “church ladies,but as the seven women entered, I was taken aback. Although displaying pleasure with the décor and practically drooling over the snacks, they were visibly anxious and nervously chatting among themselves. One inmate, Ann, told me later that she, as well as the others, avoided approaching “the ladies” in fear of saying something stupid or wrong. In addition to anxiety, their faces displayed defeat, sadness, and pain.

Sharing Their Abortion Stories

The first activity involved going around the room and sharing our abortion stories. We three co-leaders went first. As we spoke, the women nodded their heads and exchanged knowing looks. Although I was the only co-leader that suffered from alcoholism, albeit sixteen year sober, and institutionalized for depression, we all had past demons. While we shared, the women whispered, “Them too?”

Their offenses primarily related to drug and alcohol possession, possession for sale, and some cases theft and assault. All but one in the group had obtained multiple abortions, including Susan, who had over ten. They either had been encouraged to abort by parents or a significant other, felt it was best due to their living situation, or as Susan candidly disclosed, “a form of birth control.”

They tried to maintain a sense of “being cool” while sharing their stories, but it didn’t take long before the dam of pain and remorse broke, releasing torrents of tears. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their pregnancies, they weren’t prepared for the havoc their “choice” would wreak on their lives.

Abortion Often Leads to Destructive/Abusive Behavior

Substance abuse is common among many women trying to deal with the emotional turmoil from abortion. It’s a temporary way to forget or minimize what we have done; however, the negative feelings continue to surface, which leads to more and more self-medicating. Dependence increases to the point of desperation and total loss of control. These women were all involved with drugs and alcohol at some level, and hearing their stories, I thought, There but for the grace of God, go I.

I’m a recovering alcoholic. Abusing alcohol was the method I used to forget my two abortions. I drove drunk all the time, but never got caught. I could have easily caused an accident resulting in injury or death to another person and ended up attending this jail retreat instead of co-leading.

While drugs and/or alcohol are used to numb emotional pain, they also disclose other self-destructive behavior, such as promiscuity. None of these women served time for prostitution, but they all admitted to numerous sexual encounters. Again, the same applied to me; in fact, I had a nickname back in the day: “Pass around Patti.” Sex is a weapon to combat self-loathing. We’re duped by the misguided notion that sex equals love, so the more love, the better. Eventually, we come to our senses and end up demoralized and ashamed.

In an attempt to “settle down,” we try to become monogamous, and end up in multiple unsatisfying, or sometimes abusive, relationships. I’ve been engaged too many times to count, entered into several affairs with married men, and am on husband number three. A distorted self-image makes us feel undeserving of being truly happy so we “settle,” which only adds more misery to our already fragile emotional state.

Assault behavior can stem from suppressing feelings of lack of control in our lives, and subsequently, those feelings escape in the form of physical violence. When we transfer the pain to another, the relief is so great; it mimics a chemically induced “high.” Just as with drugs and alcohol, however, the “high” eventually dissipates, and the need for relief returns. Personally, I resorted to verbal assaults, lashing out at loved ones for no reason. The pain I inflicted left emotional scars as ugly as any physical ones. I spared no one in my family or circle of friends.

When discussing destructive behaviors and consequences, each of these women disclosed something that had not even crossed my mind. In an odd twist of fate, their self-destructive methods of dealing with the emotional turmoil of abortion(s) eventually resulted in losing custody, temporarily or permanently, of the children they chose to keep. This happens on the “outside” as well. Self-destructive behavior doesn’t always lead to illegal activity, but threatens the well-being of children.

As for me, I never lost custody of a child, but I did purposely lose the ability to have one. I convinced a doctor to give me a tubal ligation at the age of thirty, and I know of other women compelled to do the same.

All destructive behaviors, illegal or otherwise, are a way of coping that reflects a form of self-punishment. Three of the inmates admitted to having suicidal thoughts, a permanent solution to end the pain and anguish. Their admission brought back memories of the darkness I experienced prior to institutionalization for being suicidal and telling the psychiatrist that I was already dead inside and just wanted to finish the job.

The Lies of the Abortion Industry Revealed

As the retreat progressed, we grew to love these women, and when it was over, we hated to say good-by. Although we weren’t supposed to have physical contact, hugs were in order.

When I initially walked through those metal doors, I expected to find a significant difference between “them” and “us.” Instead, I realized we are all sisters in suffering that fell prey to the pro-choice rhetoric. We experienced the same pain, remorse, and regret, and exhibited the same behaviors, just to different extents. We used whatever means necessary in an attempt to find peace and regain control of our lives.

The abortion industry uses the feminist movement as its primary marketing target by promoting “my body; my choice” as a source of empowerment. But empowerment requires that a woman feels comfortable in her own skin, confident, and at peace. Once a woman has an abortion, empowerment slowly slips away leaving a gaping wound in her soul filled with pain, self-hatred, guilt, shame, and remorse.

The number of pro-life feminists is growing, which actually should be the rule rather than the exception. They are the ones not only fighting for the rights of the unborn, but for the well-being of women. They are exposing the lies perpetuated by the abortion industry; the lies that lead women to believe that choosing abortion over life is a source of empowerment with no ill effects.

Really? Take a walk with me behind that metal door.

If you received this post by email, leave a comment here.

Note from Patti: I am not claiming incarcerated post-abortive women are there because of their abortion. They’re incarcerated due to their actions. However, the psychological effects of their “choice” could have easily exacerbated other contributing factors.

Note from Janet: All names, expect Patti’s, are fictitious, but the story is all too real! Please share this post, and let’s all become “Prolife feminists” who support the right to life and the right to a woman not experiencing the emotional, physical, and spiritual ravages of abortion. Listen to Sidewalk Chronicles for ways to help these women save their baby’s life and their own lives.

Rachel’s Hope is located in San Diego, CA, but there’s also an international program Rachel’s Vineyard, and many others listed at Silent No More.

Patti Smith

Patti J. Smith serves as Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, leads Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats, and recently developed a follow-up retreat, “The Healing Continues,” a contemplative/meditative one-day program to reflect on life after healing. She has shared her testimony at the San Francisco Walk for Life, speaks at a variety of venues in the San Diego area, and appears in the recently released documentary, Sidewalk Chronicles, She has also been a guest on Immaculate Heart, Cradle My Heart, and Blogtalk Radio as well as Radio Maria.

Patti is the author of Moments with God, and Redeemed, co-authored a Christian romance series, and is completing Volume 4 of her own Christian suspense series. Visit Patti’s blog.

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Comments

  1. I read the blog with tears in my eyes. This is a story I am hearing over and over again. As a RN, I have worked in a hospital that did abortions. I have taken care of women during an abortion and after. It is not just a “little procedure,” but a very dramatic life changing experience. At the time I was working in the hospital, I was allowed to refuse to work in the operating room during an abortion, (not sure I would have that choice today), but I did care for many women after the abortion in the PACU (recovery room.) No matter their age, every single one woke up from the anesthetic crying. Many remorseful and many not knowing why they were crying. Yes, I know, some people do cry while coming out of an anesthetic, but every woman I cared for, cried. As a Christian nurse, I used the opportunity to share with the patient the love of Christ, and to encourage them to seek his love and forgiveness. This was sometimes very tricky, as I was working in a secular hospital could have been fired. But, no one can stop us from praying, so I was able to pray for these patients. I am so encouraged that Pro-life women are speaking up. Thank you Janet and Patti for this great post. May God use both of you in continuing to share the truth about abortions.

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Penelope your comment brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing from the perspective of the medical profession seeing up close and personal the devastation these women experience from the moment they realize there’s no going back to undo what’s been done. I know you comforted many of them through your prayers and compassion. Hopefully the open discussion about abortion today will help these women find forgiveness through Christ. It’s the time for the church to be reaching out to them to help release these women from the prison of shame and grief. Jesus can set them free and like Patti they can share their testimony to help others not make the same mistakes.

    • Penelope, thank you so much for the love and compassion you provided post-abortive women and for sharing your love of Christ, not just to those women but in your reply to the blog post. You warmed my heart!

  2. Janet, thank you for the blog of Patti’s experience with the abortion and prison retreat. I can testify myself of the anguish a woman goes through after an abortion. Mine was over 40 years ago. Other than a few people knowing about it I planned to go to my death bed with my secret! It was when I was young and unsaved. After salvation I listened to Christian radio and almost died when I realized what I had done. Surely no one would love me if they knew…Through a lot of tears and prayers over a long period of time I finally realized God’s forgiveness and grace in this area of my life. The enemy had me bound tight, but God asked me to write a book about my life and one day He told me I needed to write about my secret….I knew I feared God more than man and through some very painful times I wrote about my abortion and the results it has on a woman’s life. I know through personal experience the devastation abortion has on women. They can run, but they can’t hide from the shame, hurt, despair, and on and on the cycle goes. Empowering is nowhere in that definition. By the grace of God He has healed my heart and mind and body and He is using me for His kingdom and to His glory. Thank you again Janet for sharing what needs to be heard. Blessings to you, Laural C. Eph.6:10

    • Laurel, we are both sisters in healing and I’m so glad you share your story….it’s through our words we can impart the wonderful healing that can be obtained through God’s infinite mercy as well as prevent other’s from making the same mistakes we did. God Bless!

  3. Janet Thompson says:

    Laural, praise God you sought His forgiveness and now you’re using your testimony to mentor others–sharing life’s experiences and God’s faithfulness. Hopefully there will be many abortions prevented by hearing your story and others seeking the same forgiveness you found through Jesus and being released from their own prison of pain and grief. Thank you for being open and vulnerable and willing to let God turn your pain into purpose that glorifies Him. Did you write that book?

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