As published in National Right to Life’s News Today on February 20, 2013

Editor’s note. Melissa, the survivor of a “failed” saline abortion in 1977, speaks all over the world including at the last two National Right to Life Conventions.  She has graciously agreed to write on occasion for National Right to Life News Today.

I had just finished a presentation at his high school recently when a young man approached me with this painful admittance.  “I feel like I’m a bad person,” he whispered as the tears streamed down his face.

I didn’t need to guess at what might lead him to think such a thing about himself. I had just finished speaking to the students about the impact of abortion. But when he was finally able to slow the sobs racking his body and explain further, I was still both surprised and devastated.

Everyone has a story, especially when it comes to abortion and how it has changed them personally or someone they know.  In the last six years, I have met thousands and thousands of people whose lives and stories have touched me, changed me, and shaped the work that I do.

Yet in all those years and all those talks and all the follow up discussion, no young man’s story has affected me more. Why?

Maybe it’s the degree to which he was devastated by what has happened in his life and the choices that he’s made. Maybe it’s the acknowledged responsibility, and the corresponding guilt that he exhibited. Maybe what moved me so was the fact that he gave a voice to the experience of so many men in our world who don’t yet talk about what they’ve experienced. Or maybe it’s because David’s overwhelming sense of shame reminded me of the words my biological father spoke to his own brothers when he wasn’t much older than David.  In his words, he had done something he was so ashamed of, that he would never tell another living soul about it.

Whatever the reason, meeting this young man, who I will call “David” has changed me forever.

David, it turns out, knew all too well about the impact of abortion.  As a high school student, he has already gone through both an abortion and a miscarriage with his girlfriend.

And he is devastated.  He feels the loss of his two children heavily.  In his words, he regrets the abortion and is fearful that the subsequent miscarriage was either a punishment from God and/or a consequence of abusing substances.

A young man whose mind should be focused on sports, academics, music, his friends and family, and his future is instead thinking about what his children would have looked like, how it would have been to hold them in his arms, and how he may never have another child again.

Keeping silent about the pain of abortion is not unique to adult men and women.  Young men like David and young women like his girlfriend often suffer in silence, wracked with remorse and guilt.  As David so aptly described it to me, “It’s just easier to not talk about it.  We try to pretend like it didn’t happen.”

Although David wasn’t yet willing to talk to anyone at his school, he was willing to reach out to me that day, and since then, we’ve remained in communication. It’s both heart-warming and heart-breaking to hear from him.

His pain is still real, and there is much healing to be done, for both him and his girlfriend. But it evident in our communications that a weight has been lifted from him. He knows that God blessed the two of them with their children, that they are both loved and forgiven, and that they are not “terrible people,” just as my parents weren’t terrible people for aborting me.  They were good people who made a terrible choice and therefore faced many consequences as a result of it.

I would give anything to take away the pain that David and his girlfriend, that all of the men and women, young and old alike, have experienced as a result of abortion.  But I can’t. What I can do, however, what you can do, is let them know that they are loved, they are forgiven, and they don’t need to be silent in their suffering.

There is always someone they can talk to, always someone they can turn to for support and help. I am hopeful that in time, David and his girlfriend will walk further on the road to healing for more post-abortive support.  I have hope for them.

I am so grateful to have met David and be a support to him.  Meeting him has reminded me why I do what I do, why I will continue to fight my way into schools to speak to young people.

It is only just about saving children, as immeasurably important as that is. It’s about saving their parents, too.  And that, I believe, would make my biological father, who David reminded me so much of, quite proud.