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Abortion is a difficult, emotional choice, and I would never judge any woman who chooses to abort. However, my choice to have an abortion 33 years ago is a cautionary tale that merits telling.

At 32, I was in a long-term relationship when I became unintentionally pregnant.  Even though my partner offered to marry me, he had previously said that he did not want children. I didn't want to coerce him into marriage out of a sense of obligation. So, for the sake of the relationship, I aborted.

I regret that decision to this day. I immediately went into a serious depression and felt regret, guilt and shame for many years. I coped in ways that allowed me to function more or less normally, however, my choice had far-reaching consequences. I could not wait to make up for my loss and within six months of the abortion got pregnant again with my partner. We married and had three healthy children. I concentrated on being "super mom" to my kids to compensate for my loss. This inordinate focus on my children affected my marriage. After 17 and half years of marriage, my husband called for a divorce -- I believe in great part out of feeling neglected.
I know from personal experience and counseling women who abort that this is a life-changing decision. Many women who, like me, abort suffer long-term grief, remorse, guilt and anger. Since few women readily talk about their abortion, many can not find the counseling and healing that is available.

The facts of early fetal development are often ignored in the rush by a frantic woman to "get rid" of an unplanned pregnancy. There is a beating heart inside you at three weeks. At six weeks, brain waves are detected and recordable, and all major organs are present in an embryo only 1/2 inch long. Had I known these facts, I would not have aborted.

I respect a woman's right to choose. However, true choice remembers that these decisions are permanent. My experience showed me that abortion isn't the giant eraser it promises to be. It erased my pregnancy but not my emotional attachment to the life growing inside me.


With a Perspective, this is Rosemarie Gresset.

Rosemarie Gresset is a substitute teacher and volunteer peer counselor at a nonprofit counseling center and medical clinic that provides support for women facing unplanned pregnancy.