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Abortion Worker Seeks Therapy for Post-Abortion Trauma

by | Jun 26, 2024

Sadly, she never found true healing

By Sarah Terzo

Ellie Shumaker is a therapist who specializes in treating post-abortive people. In her 2019 book, she wrote about some of them. Although Shumaker changed names and identifying details, the stories in the book are true.

One story that stood out to me was of a woman Shumaker calls Megan.

A Coerced Abortion

Megan came to Shumaker years after her abortion. When she became pregnant, she was engaged. She assumed her fiancé would be happy, but he demanded she abort.

Megan says:

He started being real ugly to me, saying I’d tried to trick him, that I’d wrecked everything, that if I had this baby, he was going to break it off with me. He didn’t want anything to do with adoption, either. Said I’d never see him again if I tried that route…

 

He yelled at me, and I can’t stand that. I just can’t stand for people to yell at me. I feel like I didn’t have any choice. I had to get an abortion. What else could I do? I didn’t want Al mad at meI loved him and wanted to marry him.

So, she agreed to have an abortion she didn’t really want.

Emotional Trauma and Suicidal Feelings

Megan recalls waking up in the recovery room and how silent all the women were. The woman next to her was crying, but no one else seemed troubled. It was in the recovery room that Megan first felt the emotional impact of her abortion.

She says, “[T]his dark, dark emptiness came over me … I wanted to scream, ‘Where are you, baby, where are you?’”

To make things even worse, her fiancé broke up with her. She had aborted to save the relationship, but he left her anyway.

This is an all-too-common story.

Megan began drinking heavily and hanging out in bars. She says she went to bed with “just about anybody that would have anything to do with me.”

Megan never used contraceptives and became worried when she didn’t get pregnant. She was afraid the abortion had damaged her physically and made her infertile. She never saw a doctor, because, as a single woman, she thought the doctor wouldn’t understand why she was so worried about infertility.

Megan tells Shumaker, “There’s no way you can understand how bad it scares me to think that I’ll never have another chance.”

Megan was devastated by her abortion, and contemplated suicide. She says:

I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for that abortion. It’s been years now and I still wish I was dead. I wish I could go to bed tonight and just never wake up. What is there to get up for? I should have died instead of that baby…

 

I think about [suicide] every day. I should have died that day in the clinic. I should have died and been buried and been done with it.

Megan also quit her job at a daycare center after her abortion because, she says, “I couldn’t stand to look at those little kids’ faces.” She continues to drink heavily.

Working in an Abortion Facility

Shumaker tried to help Megan cope with her abortion, but Megan was keeping a secret. She finally came clean and told Shumaker that she was working at an abortion facility. Megan went every day to a local abortion facility and assisted with abortions. She helped other women abort their babies.

She tells Shumaker, “I feel really stupid about it because I had an abortion myself and it wasn’t so great.”

Shumaker had encountered other traumatized post-abortive women who worked in abortion facilities. She says:

I’ve had other clients who’ve had abortions who work in the abortion field, some in doctor’s offices, some in agencies that refer people for abortion, some in politics. I even had a client working in an abortion clinic who tells me, ‘Look, Ellie, don’t you know everybody working in that clinic is trying to get over an abortion?’

Most of those women started doing the work within a few weeks or months after their abortions.

A Hallucination and a Revelation

It was at the abortion facility that Megan had an epiphany that made her realize that her abortion caused her depression, alcoholism, and suicidal thoughts. Before that, she hadn’t known what was wrong with her. Her depression worsened every year in November, around the anniversary of her abortion, but she hadn’t made the connection.

She was in the waiting room cleaning up. She says she was “depressed and kind of in a daze” when she picked up an abandoned Styrofoam cup that was half-filled with coffee, intending to throw it away. But:

…I looked down in it… and I saw a little baby, all curled up and lying in there, lying in the coffee…

 

And I sort of screamed and dropped it. The coffee spilled on the rug, a big, dark stain, and of course there wasn’t really a baby there, but it had looked so real. I was shaking all over and I went and told my boss I needed to go home…

 

[W]hen I got home, I locked my door and pulled down my shades. I lay there on the bed. I don’t know for how long. It was hours. And sometime while I was lying there, these memories started, and it came back to me what had happened eight years ago … And then I knew why I got depressed in November.

At that point, Megan realized she needed healing, and made her first appointment with Shumaker.

Never Finding Peace

Megan eventually ended therapy. Shumaker believes she never achieved true healing. Shumaker says, “I never felt that Megan found the emotional and spiritual freedom that I would have wanted for her.”

Shumaker never encourages Megan to leave her job, or if she does, she doesn’t mention it. Presumably, Megan continued working at the facility during and after counseling.

Maybe Megan’s insistence on working in the abortion industry prevented her from finding healing.

Source: Ellie Shumaker Frozen Tears15 Stories of Blindness Before and Hope After Abortion (2019) 47, 53, 49, 52, 53-54, 52, 55.

Editor’s note. This article originally appeared on Sarah Terzo’s Substack. You can read more of her articles here.

Categories: post-abortion