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Abortifacients -- The Other Forbidden Grief

Janet Morana, Associate Director, Priests for Life

I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1952 and grew up educated in Catholic schools. I am the oldest of four children with 14 years separating the oldest to youngest in my family. I graduated college in 1974 and married in 1975. It was a time when my Catholic faith no longer seemed to make sense to me and I gradually drifted away and became a non-practicing Catholic. At the same time all my close friends were getting married and so marriage seemed like the next step to take— or so I thought.

I became engaged after dating my future husband for three months. From there things snowballed towards our wedding day real fast. At Pre-Cana classes the priest told us that if there were a really good reason to delay starting a family then birth control pills were an option we could consider. What I didn't realize was that this was bad advice both theologically, spiritually, psychologically and physically!

As I was the oldest of four siblings I already had many years of dealing with diapers and babysitting and so I felt that delaying starting a family was a good idea. Also I had taken birth control pills back in high school (although I wasn't sexually active) as prescribed by my OB/GYN for menstrual problems. Now a priest and doctor were both giving me the green light and so I began my journey down the slippery slope.

Three months before my wedding date I started taking birth control pills. I continued taking the pill for two years until it seemed like it was time to start a family. Once I came off the pill, I got pregnant immediately and gave birth to an absolutely beautiful baby girl. I threw all my attention into trying to be the best mother I could be and because of that wanted to delay having another baby right away. So I went back on birth control pills until my daughter was thirteen months old. At that time I felt she needed to have a sibling so I decided to go off the pill. Once again, I became pregnant almost immediately. The lesson I was teaching myself was this: no pills equals countless children!

This time I gave birth to beautiful twin girls. By this time information started to be released showing there was a risk for clots and strokes by taking birth control pills. Since there was a history of strokes in my family I was afraid to go back on the pill. I didn't know about NFP, in fact the only natural method that I knew of was the old "rhythm" method, which was considered by most to be not very reliable. 

When the twins were three I thought I was pregnant again. It was just a scare but it was enough to make me do something really drastic. I had a tubal ligation. Now I felt I had solved all my problems— or so I thought.

I had embraced all the things that the feminist movement had been promoting as being liberating for women and empowering them. I had not been liberated but rather felt more and more trapped every day in a bad marriage.

As my marriage continued its downward spiral I focused more and more on my three daughters. The good news is that I became reconnected with my Catholic faith. As I began to rediscover my faith and the teachings of the Church I learned about God's beautiful plan for marriage, including what NFP was all about.

At the same time I also became aware of how birth control pills really worked.

I thought birth control pills stopped fertilization when in fact that is not the case. The pills stop the already-fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. In other words, they act as abortifacients.

I didn't realize the impact this new found information would have on me until several years later when I was with a friend visiting Epcot Center in Disney World. It was in the Wonder of Life exhibit where I would come to the complete realization of the consequences of my birth control actions. As I began to watch a beautiful photographic video showing the wonder of how life began, I realized what taking the birth control pills really meant: aborting new life. In the years that I had been taking birth control pills, I had been very sexually active. I also knew that I was an extremely fertile woman. Given this fact, there is no doubt that I had successfully conceived new life many times, but that I had never given these little babies the chance to grow inside me. For the very first time in my life, I came to grips with the fact that I had not only shut myself off to life, but had also destroyed an unknown number of children. I came out of that exhibit and there was a giant rushing water fountain nearby. I walked over to it and began to sob uncontrollably. I stayed there for quite some time absorbed in my sudden feelings of grief and remorse. This was the very first time I became aware of the full impact of what I had done.

As my work in the pro-life movement continued I became more aware of the damage that abortion does to women. I realized that many of these women had felt alone with their grief but had found mercy and healing. These women who had come through healing needed to be a voice for other women who are still locked in the secret sin of abortion. I co-founded the "Silent No More Awareness" Campaign. People began to question me as to why I was involved in such a campaign when I hadn't had an abortion. Here again I had to come to grips with all the children I had lost because of birth control pills.

Most people that work in post abortion ministry only recognize the pain and grief from surgical abortion. Yet I know in my heart that the loss I feel is just as real as if I had had a surgical abortion. In fact, women who come to realize this loss from using abortifacients often have just as strong a sense of loss and grief. And yet there is an even bigger problem: Not enough people, not even those in post abortion recovery programs, realize the need to reach out to those of us that are suffering in silence. I know I am not alone. In fact when I am at conferences speaking about the "Silent No More Awareness" Campaign I have many women come up to me and share the grief they have from years of taking abortifacients.

But there is good news. I was able to come to grips with these feelings of grief and loss recently at a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat. It was a first step in having my feelings validated, and I began to deal with my loss in a new light. I am here to say that I will be "Silent No More" about the children that I aborted through birth control and I am reaching out to the other women who I know share these feelings. I am sure I am not the only woman with a testimony like this. I want others that would like to share their story to send it to me. I will post these testimonies here on our website. I know we can help many families realize the damage birth control will do to their lives by getting the word out. I also want to reach out to others that feel the pain that I have described and tell them that they too can take the first steps towards healing.

To find out more information about attending a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat, you can go to www.rachelsvineyard.org. Or you may contact me directly at testimony@priestsforlife.org

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org