For approximately 50 years I have silently carried a burden in my heart. Recently during my prayer time, I felt that the Lord was asking me to break that silence.
Much has been written and said about the suffering of both women and men who have been hurt by abortion. Yet, we rarely hear or read about the other silent victims of abortion : the siblings of aborted children.
It is not an easy task for me to write about my own painful experience with abortion. I am doing so in obedience to God, who I believe asked me to share it. I am also doing it in the hope of encouraging others who, like me, carry the same type of burden but have not come out publicly. We need to let everyone know, that each abortion leaves many victims, and I’m not just referring to the unborn baby, his or her mother and/or father.
When I was a teenager my mother had an abortion. For some reason that I don’t know about or can’t remember, she asked me to accompany her to the abortuary. I remember that clinic in Havana, Cuba. It was like any other clinic. The abortionist was the same gynecologist who delivered babies at a private hospital where we got our medical care. Even though at that time abortion on demand was illegal in Cuba (my country of origin), it was widely practiced, done mostly by doctors, and used as a method of birth control. Abortion on demand was legalized and the state has been paying for it since Fidel Castro took over more than 40 years ago and Cuba became a communist state. Today, there are more abortions than births in Cuba and the country has the lowest birth rate in the world. I often wonder if that repressive communist regime is God’s judgement on my country of origin, for countless abortions performed.
At the time of my mother’s abortion about 50 years ago, science was not as advanced as it is now. Those who had no medical training had no real knowledge of the development of the unborn child.
Though I was a very young teenager and had very little religious formation, God had already given me a special awareness of the humanity of my unborn sibling , which I believe was a special gift from Him in preparation for the work He would ask me to do later. However, at that time my mother did not realize that abortion kills a human being. She truly thought that it was just a matter of getting rid of some tissue. Abortion was so easy to obtain and so widely practiced in Cuba that it was very common, so probably most people didn’t think that it was wrong.
While on the way to the abortion clinic, I pleaded with my mother not to abort. I even promised her that I would assume the responsibility for bringing up what in my heart I knew was a living human being. But perhaps because I had no scientific proof of the humanity of my unborn sibling and we were not practicing Catholics, my mother went ahead with the abortion. Little did either one of us know, that this decision my mother made, would change our lives forever.
It was right after my mother’s abortion that I began to feel unwanted by my parents, even though I knew they loved me and had always cared for me. I couldn’t help but feel that I needed to be worthy of their love, that I needed to somehow justify having been allowed to be born. Several years after my mother’s abortion and while still an adolescent, I attempted suicide. I took several sleeping pills mixed with alcohol, but they only made me sleepy and my parents never found out what I had done. The loss of part of my self esteem because of the abortion experience affected me adversely in many ways throughout a great part of my life.
Years later, God came to my rescue. I had a religious conversion at a Cursillo in Christianity, that completely changed my life. I experienced for the first time God’s healing love. I became a practicing Catholic and fell in love with Jesus and with the Catholic Church. Shortly after that and in obedience to God’s call, I got involved in pro-life work. In 1972, I was asked to found the first Hispanic pro-life organization in the U.S.: Comite Pro Vida Internacional (International Pro-Life Committee).
Yet, it was not until I saw pictures of aborted babies, that I fully realized how terribly wrong abortion is. There was one picture in particular that moved me: the one of a dilation and curettage abortion. The instant I saw it, I heard an inner voice telling me: “that’s what your brother looked like when he was aborted.” Indeed, that was the type of abortion that was generally practiced in Cuba, at the time my mother had her abortion.
Right after that experience, I began to discover and identify the pain of post-abortion syndrome that I had carried inside of me for so many years, and was not consciously aware of. In the beginning of this journey I even felt guilt over my mother’s abortion, although I had tried to save that baby. The pain for the loss of my brother was so intense at times, that I had to acknowledge it by writing a letter, “to the brother I never met,” which was published in Spanish anonymously. Even though my mother went to confession and reconciled herself with God, I never discussed my feelings on this matter with her. I loved her and I knew that she was truly sorry, and that it would cause her even greater sorrow to have to face the fact that I too was hurt by her abortion.
One day I took my elderly mother to the doctor, and in giving him her medical history, she had to reveal in front of me that she had other abortions, done before the one I knew about. A horrible feeling came over me when I heard this. I realized that I had lost most of my immediate family to abortion and again I went through post-abortion syndrome. For a long time after that, whenever all my family gathered together, I always thought about the missing members and would later cry privately. In fact, I still cry sometimes over the loss of my siblings.
During a pro-life/family conference that I helped organize years ago, I named all my brothers and sisters who were aborted, and I thanked God for the very loving sister and the brother that I have left, as well as for my wonderful parents. My poor father never said anything about my mother’s abortions, but I knew that he also carried inside of him a heavy burden. My parents were both victims of abortion. Had they known how terribly wrong abortion is, my unborn siblings would not have been killed.
I have been truly blessed to have been able to work within the pro-life movement for over 30 years. During that time I have discovered that there are countless well financed and organized efforts to legalize abortion in Latin American countries where it is still illegal. A great number of U.S. anti-life foundations and organizations are exerting their evil influence south of the U.S. border. I work very hard every day so that families in other countries will not have to experience the pain of abortion. When illegal abortion is not prosecuted as is the case in Cuba and other countries; or when it is legalized, it becomes a very common practice and more women suffer the physical and emotional consequences. After my mother had her abortions, she had serious medical problems with the pregnancy and delivery of both my brother and my sister.
I thank God for the work I have been able to do in defense of unborn babies. I could not save my unborn brother’s life or the lives of my other unborn siblings. However, by the grace of God, I have been able to save countless other unborn babies’ lives and their families, from the sorrow and the pain of abortion. I have also been able to console and encourage many women who made the same mistake my mother made. I know how they feel, for I witnessed my mother’s suffering and I myself have felt the pain of post-abortion syndrome. My mother shed many tears of sorrow and repentance when she found out what abortion involves. She used to tell me many times “if only I had known.”
I believe that all priests should preach about abortion from the pulpit, often. One time I asked a priest in my diocese to please do so. He told me that he knew there were women sitting in the pews who had aborted and he didn’t want to make them feel guilty. I responded, “If someone had told my mother about abortion, I would have more brothers and sisters today.”
I pray that every woman be told the truth about abortion, before she makes a decision that she and all her loved ones will have to live with for the rest of their lives!