Women who regret their abortions aren’t supposed to talk about their pain.

But more and more women are starting to break the rules. They are telling the world that abortion not only kills a child, but it also scars a mother’s soul for life.

On April 26, women who have had abortions were scheduled to descend on Capitol Hill to tell their stories to lawmakers, whether the lawmakers wanted to hear them or not. Silent No More was one of several groups participating in the “Real Women’s Voices” lobbying effort.

One by one such voices destroy the myths of abortion. (The website SilentNoMoreAwareness.org includes several of their testimonies.)

The myth that abortion is empowering to women is the first to go.

“In the summer of 1994 (before my senior year of high school) I met a man named Joe,” writes one woman. “I was waiting tables at Quincy’s Steak House near Furman and he worked there part-time. He was older, drove a Benz, always had money to burn and was single.

“We went out around my 18th birthday. He seemed perfect. He owned his own home near Paris Mountain, and it was full of beautiful antiques. He said that he worked the part-time job to have cash on hand since he had all of his money in the stock market. I was afraid that he’d drop me since I was a ‘kid,’ so I tried acting like an adult. By February 1995 I was pregnant. I was scared when I found out and asked him what I was going to do. I kept imagining myself receiving my diploma with a big ole pregnant belly. He looked at me as if I’d asked what color the sky was. A few days later he took me to the Greenville Women’s Clinic and I had an abortion at 14-weeks. … 

“After that things changed. Joe became more controlling. He didn’t like the fact that my best friend was a guy even though he wanted to be a priest! How dare I talk to other males. He told me that if I went off to college that he’d dump me. Joe controlled everything that I did.”

The myth that abortion is safe is also challenged in story after story. It’s also clear that abortion is not often a woman’s choice. Often, it’s the choice of men.

One woman said of her break-up with a high-school boyfriend, “I was devastated by his rejection. Shamelessly, I sobbed and begged him to come back, and for a while he did. But things were never quite the same. I always felt in danger of losing his love, always felt I had to do my best to stay prettier than the other girls or he might find someone else he liked better. … The times he did call it would be 3 in the morning, but I would bolt out of bed to answer it so as not to wake up my dad; I lived and breathed this guy.”

She writes, “By the time I realized I was pregnant, the baby was 8 weeks along. I was scared to death because my dad had always told me if anything like this ever happened he would kick me out of the house and disown me. I thought my boyfriend would protect me and our baby but that didn’t happen. He told his parents who then wanted to talk to me about what we were going to do.

“Knowing so little about the developing person inside me, his mom convinced me it was just a blob of tissue that didn’t look anything like a human and we had to get me an abortion as quick as possible before it got too big to abort.

“I panicked. Never had the idea of killing my child crossed my mind. Not for a second. … I didn’t know how to tie a noose or start a stick shift car, and no one I knew owned any guns. I tried cutting my wrists but there didn’t seem to be anything sharp enough and it hurt too much; I felt like a weak little failure. I couldn’t even kill myself!”

She was able to arrange the abortion with the help of a school nurse.

“The morning of my abortion, I sobbed silently in the shower. I jabbed my belly with my finger and called my baby a parasite, trying to distance myself from what I was about to do. My heart wasn’t in those words but I knew if I was going to have to do this I had to do everything I could to keep my mind from envisioning a little face that would never be.

“I don’t remember walking from gym class to the nurses office, or out to my boyfriend’s car. Only the long drive down to the clinic with my seat leaned all the way back, so I wouldn’t be sick and so no one would recognize me out of school. We didn’t speak the whole way down and I knew it was the end of our relationship as well — for good this time.”

When abortion ends, a large portion of the credit will go to post-abortive women — the walking wounded — who weren’t afraid to break the rules, tell their stories and express their pain. Through their courage, the truth will out.