PAS: An Ever-Present Reality

By Shellie Burnell
Rightgrrl Contributor
April 14, 2002

“A small pink candle in a glass votive cup remains on my desk, in the baby powder scent, that reminds me of you.

A small angel statue sitting atop my computer monitor, keeps your memory alive within my mind, and the stinging of your loss burning in my heart.

I miss you, my little one that I never got to hold. I long for the day that my mistake might be erased, and I may hold you in my arms and smell your baby skin. I wait anxiously for that day to come, that I may feel your precious body, and apologize for the pain that was inflicted on us both, because of my selfish choice to end your life before you were born.”

Long since the debate over Post Abortion Syndrome began, the hearts of the women that have experienced the pain, know all too well that PAS is truly a reality.

In a heart such as mine, there is no questioning the existence of the hurt and anguish that we women experience day in and day out after aborting a child, and regretting our decision. There is no questioning for us, that for years to come, the pain will remain within our souls, regardless of how deep it may be buried. WE know that we will remain forever changed in a way that we cannot control, nor ever forget. WE know. I know.

While the great abortion debate continues, souls such as my own continue to fight for our lives. We fight for our sanity, in a world where nothing will ever be the same, and the cruelty that we have experienced continues to be experienced by other women, day after day. We struggle to live THROUGH our pain, and not remain dead inside, because of what we have done.

Fathers of aborted children also attempt to move on with their lives, while grieving the horrid death that they themselves might not have chosen for their child, but were forced to accept regardless of their feelings.

Grandmas and Grandpas dream of the grandchildren they will never know, and try to cope with the loss they themselves feel due to an abortion that has directly lessened the family they might have someday known.

Post-abortive women such as myself, labor through ‘triggers’ of smells, songs, and even future unknown events that push the buttons of pain, and put us right back on that table where we sacrificed the lives of our children.

I remember how I felt after my husband had a vasectomy. My heart was flooded with grief, and although I did not understand why, I was right back in the pain of my abortion of a child to another man from before my marriage. I was traumatized so deeply, that I was literally speechless for 3 full days before I went to the crisis pregnancy center where I originally found some healing after the abortion, to discuss what was happening to me now.

I thank God for the counselor that reminded me of the ‘triggers’ I had learned about, and referred me back to my Post Abortion Counseling & Education study guide to find some answers as to why I was experiencing the pain all over again. I reviewed my PACE workbook, and realized that I felt that I had experienced another abortion, by the choice of my husband to become sterile. PAS was alive and well, and I was right back in the throws of suffering from PAS.

Recently, I found myself going through some difficult times, and it led me to a counselor and some group sessions to discuss the turn of events my life had taken. I was given an address, and sent to a facility where I could learn and grow through some of the things that had recently occurred in my family’s lives. I arrived at the facility, unsuspecting of what was about to occur.

When I arrived in the back parking lot of the facility, I realized that I recognized the back of the building next door. I glanced around trying to figure out WHY on earth the building was so familiar, yet so distant in my memory. I saw a sign with the word ‘Hillcrest’, and I was instantly transported back to January of 1996. I remembered the day. I remembered the escorts and the shouts from pro-life activists that rang throughout my head like sirens on a fire engine blaring on the way to a blazing inferno. Six years had passed, yet it felt like time had actually stood still.

In an instant, I froze. PAS was alive and well within me that day also.

I stood outside leaning on my car door for what seemed like an eternity unable to come back from the terrible day in 1996. I searched the building with my eyes, and remembered the layout inside, the location of ‘the room’, the areas for waiting, and the place they made the fathers of the unborn go and wait, secluded from the rest of the horror so as not to distract or stop anything if they felt so led. They were kept clueless as to what was happening, and I was clueless as to where the father of my unborn child was waiting.

I remembered the pain so clearly of wishing with all my heart that my baby’s father would run in like a knight in shining armor and beg me to not go through with it. I remember so vividly how disoriented I was, and how it was over before I had the presence of mind to stop what I had begun. I remembered the horrible pain and the profuse bleeding and hemorrhaging I experienced. I remembered how they offered me cookies and milk as I sat in a room full of young women that like me had just made the same fateful choice. I remembered sobbing and crying so loudly for my baby, that I didn’t even realize that it was me they were trying to calm down and shut up.

PAS was with me as I tried to free myself from gazing at that clinic, so I could make it into the building where I could talk to people that were willing to help me sort out my life in 2002, not 1996.

I made it through that day, and all the others, but it hasn’t been anything short of a literal fight for my life.

Each new day brings new opportunities and chances for a ‘trigger’ to pop up and rip my world apart again.

I really don’t think there will ever be a cure for the PAS I suffer from. But there is hope. I live in that hope everyday. I live knowing that there will be more women that suffer, and there will be more opportunities for me to help someone else as others have helped me make it through my roughest days.

I live knowing that the only cure for the PAS that I experience is believing that I can give back what has been given to me, and I long to help other women that are hurting, and to one day see an end to PAS. That day may never come, but I am here, and I am waiting, and I am hoping that my baby’s life will count for something in this world of pain and PAS that is caused by abortion each and every day.

Copyright 2002 by Shellie Burnell. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.