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Coerced by multiple parties to abort her child, Mary ‘felt worthless’ until years later

by | Mar 17, 2023

By Sarah Terzo

In her memoir, “I Was Once Ashamed but I Am Now Forgiven: From Abortion to Healing,” a woman named Mary Sullivan wrote about her abortion and the negative effects it had on her life.

A troubled marriage and a one-night stand

Sullivan wrote that she married her husband Mike when they were both teenagers. Together, they had two children, but then Mike began drinking heavily. An alcoholic, he refused to seek help. He stayed out late at bars and had affairs. 

One day, Sullivan asked Mike if he wanted a divorce. To her dismay, he said yes. He said he wanted to date other people and encouraged her to date as well. The couple separated and filed for divorce.

Alone and facing the break-up of her marriage, Sullivan had a one-night stand. She said, “I wanted someone to hold me — someone to care about me. It really didn’t matter at that point.” After she slept with the man, he left and didn’t call her again. She says the encounter left her with “an empty feeling” and regret.

Later, she discovered she was pregnant.

Coercion, lack of support, and a promise to get back together

Although she and Mike had separated, their divorce still wasn’t finalized. When Sullivan told Mike about her pregnancy, he suggested abortion. Sullivan said, “I told him I couldn’t and wouldn’t do that! How could he even think that?”

Together, they talked with the baby’s father. Sullivan explained:

[The baby’s father] straight out said to abort “it.” To him, it wasn’t a child, just an inconvenience, and a problem to be fixed. The baby was an “it,” as he put it. There wasn’t any hesitation from him at all. He didn’t want anything to do with it. To him, it was just a one-night fling. Mike looked at me as if to say, ‘I told you so.’

Still, Sullivan didn’t want an abortion

Mike, however, continued to pressure her. Finally, he said he wanted to get back together and try to save the marriage — but only if she had the abortion. Coerced abortions happen frequently. One study found that as much as 64% of women who go through with an abortion do so because of pressure.

When Sullivan then discovered through a friend that the baby’s father abused drugs, she worried the baby would be disabled and wasn’t sure she could raise a disabled child, and two other children, alone.

She said, “I wanted our marriage to work out so badly. I asked myself over and over again, Should I? No, I can’t! But then I made that awful decision to go through with the abortion.”

Trying to back out repeatedly

Sullivan went to a doctor’s office for the abortion. She said the doctor and staff seemed to regard the abortion as “just another medical procedure that happened every day.” Sullivan, however, wanted to leave. She wrote: 

… I knew I was making a mistake and suggested to [Mike] that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

I figured our marriage would be all right with a third child. I loved children, and having one more wouldn’t be any different than having two. We could go ahead and have the child and no one would ever know that the baby wasn’t his except for the two of us… I remember wanting to run out of there.

Mike insisted it was too late to cancel the abortion. As she lay on the abortion table, Mike stayed with her, making sure she went through with it. “He kept quietly saying, ‘It will be all right. We talked about this, and this is something we need to do. It’s for the best,’” recalled Sullivan.

“The nurse and doctor looked at me and said, ‘It’s not that bad. It will only take a few minutes; you might feel a couple of cramps. It doesn’t take long, and you’ll be on your way.’”

A painful and traumatic abortion

The abortionist gave Sullivan a shot and told her it was now too late to stop the abortion. However, the type of abortion Sullivan had — a suction aspiration abortion (D&C) — is committed with the use of medical instruments, not an injection. This is an indication that the abortionist may have been lying to her.

Sullivan described the abortion as being very painful, but said, “The pain was nothing compared to the pain I felt inside knowing what I was doing.”

After the abortion, “I felt like a part of me was gone… I felt sorry and regretful for what I had just done,” she said. “I wished I could turn back the clock. I felt worthless… I laid there thinking to myself, I just aborted my child! Lord, what did I do? I just aborted my child!”

Mike, however, was “happy and relieved.”

Failed relationships, abuse, and regret

Sullivan spent the next day in bed, crippled by pain from the surgery, and told those who knew about her pregnancy that she had a miscarriage.

Although Sullivan agreed to the abortion to save her marriage, she and Mike ended up finalizing the divorce.

Sullivan’s next relationship was with an abusive man, with whom she stayed for years. She stayed, she says, because “I figured I had asked for it.” When he threatened to shoot her with the family’s gun, she finally left.

Looking back on her abortion, Sullivan said:

I wish I had been more informed about abortions at the time I had mine. I was told that the baby didn’t develop until after three months in the womb. I now know, over 30 years later, that there is a child as soon as there is conception.

Sullivan is angry at the abortionist and staff “for not talking to me more about it, for not performing an ultrasound to show me there was life at that stage of my pregnancy, and for telling me that it was just tissue that I was aborting.”

Classes at a pregnancy resource center have brought Sullivan healing.

A baby’s life saved

Years later, a close friend had an unplanned pregnancy and was considering abortion. Sullivan shared her story, encouraging her friend to choose life and avoid a lifetime of regret. The woman ultimately did not have an abortion.

Sullivan said, “Years later, she thanked me for talking with her. She is so thankful that she didn’t abort her son.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and reposted with permission.

Categories: post-abortion