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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Facade of the Good Life

*Publisher's note: this personal testimony is being reprinted in light of the upcoming vote in South Dakota on Initiated Measure 11 and the recent statement by the American Psychological Association that abortion does not threaten women's mental health.

By Paula Talley
Missouri State Leader
Operation Outcry

My story begins when my father physically and sexually abused me at six years old. My mother eventually left my father, and we returned to Southeast Missouri to live with my grandmother.

At 17, I left home and headed for a larger city. I was a young, naïve, small-town girl. Not long after I arrived, I was date raped. About a year later, I began a relationship with a much older married man. After I ended the affair, he told me that I was looking for a father figure – that was so true! I always needed men to tell me I was beautiful because it helped to relieve the emptiness I felt inside.

A few years later I married and had two beautiful daughters. In 1980, at 33, I divorced and became a single mom, I began a new career in the travel industry. While out of town, I met a man in a hotel restaurant. One thing led to another, and the rest is history. Weeks later, I called him to let him know I was pregnant, and he immediately offered money for an abortion. I accepted his offer, fearing that the pregnancy would adversely affect my job and my reputation. But my greatest fear was the thought of losing my daughters to their father if he learned of the pregnancy.

My supervisor offered to go with me to the abortion facility. Once there, I tried to leave but my supervisor said I had no choice. Oh, I had a choice alright; but, unfortunately, I made the wrong one.

I sat in that cold room with other women that day, staring into space. I looked at the sadness on their faces and thought, “It won’t be long and we will have taken the lives of our babies.”

Lying on the abortion table having my baby sucked from my body, I didn’t realize how much suffering would follow. I knew it was a child, but I went into denial to ease the pain.

Shortly after the abortion, I began drinking. Being in the travel industry afforded me the opportunity to socialize with men and soon promiscuity followed. Most people thought I was a “jet-setter” and had the “good life” because of my job; however, I was struggling financially and hated myself because of the way I was living.

I put on a façade, but my life continued to spiral downward as the memories of my baby remained. I believe in my heart that I had a boy. I always missed my son but especially on what would have been his birthday.

After keeping my secret for 24 years, I told my two daughters about my abortion. They were in total shock and disbelief. I realized that abortion not only hurt me, but it hurt them as well.

Shortly after this, a friend called and asked how I was doing. She told me how she felt the need to pray for me. When I shared with her about the abortion, she referred me to a friend of hers that had also had an abortion.

The next day this precious lady called, and we shared our stories. I felt like the floodgates opened, and I began to cry. Later, I began an abortion-recovery Bible study. I realized that there were women hurting just as I was. I didn’t realize how angry I really was or how my anger had damaged relationships with so many people.

I participated in a memorial service. It was incredibly emotional but needed, and it brought closure to the death of my son who I named Jeremiah. Now I am facilitating an abortion recovery Bible study and working with other women who have been hurt by abortion. Because of all of these vital parts of the journey, a weight has been lifted.

*Reprinted by permission of Operation Outcry.


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