[Editor's note: This testimony was originally published in 1987 in the book Aborted Women, Silent No More.]
My name is Nancyjo Mann. I am one of the 16 million of women who has had an abortion since 1973. I've seen this from all angles; from the pro-choice side, the pro-life side, and most importantly, from the side of a woman who has experienced abortion.
I exercised my "right to choose," and I became a victim of this Pandora's Box. It was a pretty, tempting treasure. It promised to solve all my problems and restore full control over my life. But instead, this "right," this "gift," was filled with sufferings and regret which I could never have anticipated or imagined. What follows here is my story. It is not a unique one. Millions of others have been seduced by the same false promises. Mine is but one example of the abortion reality.
Abortion is the result of pressures on a woman's life. The pressures leading up to my abortion began in high school where, like many careless, impatient, and short-sighted teens, my boyfriend and I were sexually active. In my junior year, I became pregnant.
My mother was terribly upset. "Oh, what are the neighbors going to say?" she worried. "You'll shame the family. You've got to have an abortion."
This was in 1970. We lived in Iowa, where abortion was still illegal except when necessary to save a woman's life. This fact, however, did not deter my insistent mother, since abortions were easily available under the "progressive" laws of New York and California. My mother only wanted what she thought was best for me, but I didn't want an abortion. I wanted to get married.
Fortunately, my father stood by me and my mother learned to accept my decision. This was the first time that abortion was ever in my thoughts.
Being a wife, raising a daughter, and finishing school is rough, especially for a 17-year-old.
No one goes out of their way to make it easier, either. Instead, it seemed like everyone figured I wanted to face all those pressures alone. After all, I could have had an abortion and saved everyone the hassle.
But I survived. I graduated. And I was happy. Two years later I had my second child, a son. Not long after that, my husband left me. The responsibilities of being a father and a husband had become more than he was willing to handle. The joys of our young married life were no longer worth the pressures of adjustment. He wanted out, and so he left.
No sooner were we divorced than I fell right back into trouble. I was still on the Pill, and so when I began dating a new guy, I figured there was nothing to worry about. After all, I was being "responsible." But despite the wonders of modern contraception, I became pregnant with my third child. Four months later we were married.
Though there was a superficial happiness in this second marriage, it didn't last more than ten weeks. On October 30, 1974, he walked out the front door. My strong, "dependable" husband just couldn't handle the prospect of being responsible for another child. It was too much for him.
I was absolutely stunned by the suddenness of his departure. I was left five-and-a-half months pregnant, with my two young children and no source of income. I didn't know what to do. Finally, I took the kids and drove over to my parents' house. My mother and one of my brothers were there. I was at a loss. "What am I going to do? He left!" I said. They talked to me for awhile and finally my mother said, "Nancy, you're never going to amount to a hill of beans. What man is ever going to want you with three children, let alone the two you already have? With all those kids, you'll probably end up on welfare for the rest of your life. You're never going to be anybody. It's obvious that you'll just have to have an abortion."
If I wasn't upset and depressed enough already, this type of "practical" advice made me feel even worse. I felt totally helpless. I was a failure . . . How could I resist when everyone was just trying to "do the best thing" for me? They were sincerely trying to help me and they were the only source of support I had. Upset, depressed, tired, desperate, I took the path of least resistance. I adopted the attitudes of those around me. I accepted their decisions as my own. I simply floated along with "what had to be done." Besides, I thought, maybe if I get rid of this "problem pregnancy," my husband will come back to me.
My mother made all the arrangements. She called my ob/gyn and he said he wouldn't do an abortion, much less a second trimester. He told her that the only one in town that would do it was Dr. P. F-, a prominent doctor in that area. Without losing a moment of time for reflection or doubts, my mother and I went over to see him. When he learned that I was seeking an abortion, he immediately had me brought into an examination room.
After a quick examination, my abortionist told me that I would have to have the abortion done within the next 24-hours or I would be outside the limit of the law. Of course this wasn't true, but I didn't know that then. Abortions are legal throughout all three trimesters, right up to the day before birth, and I was still well within the second trimester. He just used this little lie to pressure me into making a quick decision.
Becoming "Silent No More," Part II
Nancyjo Mann, Founder of Women Exploited by Abortion
The second lie [the abortionist told me] came during my "counseling session," when I asked, "What are you going to do to me if I have this abortion?" All he did was look at my stomach and say, "I'm going to take a little fluid out, put a little fluid in, you'll have severe cramps and expel the fetus." "Is that all?" I asked. "That's it." "O.K.," I said. It was only later, after the abortion had begun, that I was to learn that what he described as "cramps" was actually the labor process. These "severe cramps" were not just going to make my pregnancy magically disappear. Instead, I was going to go through all the motions of normal childbirth–water breaking, labor pains, etc. The only difference was that the baby I would deliver would be dead.
After telling me I had to have the abortion within the next 24-hours, Dr. F- scheduled me for a saline abortion in the hospital that same afternoon. Ironically, a little while after my abortion a nurse who worked at the hospital told me that Fong always scheduled his abortions for the same day that the patient conta
cted him. At one time he had admitted patients to the hospital the night before the surgery so that they could be observed and their food intake limited. But when some of his patients had changed their minds during the night, sometimes after questioning nurses about what actually would happen, he began to insist on doing the abortions immediately. Too many patients, and profits, were slipping out the front door.
The third lie in my "counseling" was a lie of omission. He never told me any of the risks involved. Only later did I find out that if he had hit a vein, the saline solution could have made me violently ill or caused any number of other complications, including death. He told me none of this. Instead he made it sound like a simple and relatively painless procedure.
I was so naive. I trusted him. After all, he was a doctor. A respected and educated man. And like everyone else, I had always heard that legal abortion was "safe and easy." It wasn't until he had me on the table that I began to question these illusions. It wasn't until he pulled out an enormous syringe that I became scared. The needle alone was four inches long. Suddenly I realized that this was not going to be as easy as he had implied.
The first thing he did was withdraw 60 cc's of amniotic fluid. At that point I started to feel afraid for my baby. I could feel her thrashing about, scared by this intrusion. I wanted to scream out, "Please, stop. Don't do this to me!" But I just couldn't get it out. I was petrified with fear.
After the fluid was withdrawn, he injected 200 cc's of the saline solution–half a pint of concentrated salt solution. From then on, it was terrible. My baby began thrashing about–it was like a regular boxing match in there. She was in pain. The saline was burning her skin, her eyes, her throat. It was choking her, making her sick. She was in agony, trying to escape. She was scared and confused at how her wonderful little home had suddenly been turned into a death trap.
For some reason it had never entered my mind that with an abortion she would have to die. I had never wanted my baby to die; I only wanted to get rid of my "problem." But it was too late to turn back now. There was no way to save her. So instead I talked to her. I tried to comfort her. I tried to ease her pain. I told her I didn't want to do this to her, but it was too late to stop it. I didn't want her to die. I begged her not to die. I told her I was sorry, to forgive me, that I was wrong, that I didn't want to kill her.
For two hours I could feel her struggling inside me. But then, as suddenly as it began, she stopped. Even today, I remember her very last kick on my left side. She had no strength left. She gave up and died. Despite my grief and guilt, I was relieved that her pain was finally over. But I was never the same again. The abortion killed not only my daughter; it killed a part of me.
Before that needle had entered my abdomen I had liked myself. Though I may have had my share of problems, I had seen myself as basically a good person. I wasn't into any wild scenes. I was a good housewife and a loving mother. I was happy to be me. But when that needle entered my womb, when it pulled out the nurturing fluid of motherhood and replaced it with that venom of death, when the child I had abandoned suddenly began its struggle within me, I hated myself. It was that fast.
Every bit of self-esteem, every value I held dear, every hope of which I had ever dreamed–all were stripped away by the poison of that one vain act. Every memory of joy was now tainted by the stench of death. That moment of desperation which had led me to this "healer's table" had now positioned itself as ruler of my life. I had abandoned myself to despair and despair was my future. There was no way to stop it. There was no way to put everything back the way it had been. I no longer had any control, any choice. I was powerless. I was weak. I was a murderer.
A little while after my baby stopped moving they gave me an intravenous injection to help stimulate labor. I was in hard labor for 12 hours, all through the night. When finally I delivered, the nurses didn't make it to my room in time. I delivered my daughter myself at 5:30 the next morning, October 31st. After I delivered her, I held her in my hands. I looked her over from top to bottom. She had a head of hair, and her eyes were opening. I looked at her little tiny feet and hands. Her fingers and toes even had little fingernails and swirls of fingerprints.
Everything was perfect. She was not a "fetus." She was not a "product of conception." She was a tiny human being. The pathology report listed her as more than seven inches from head to rump. With her legs extended, she was over a foot long. She weighed a pound-and-a-half, more than many of the premature babies being saved in incubators in every hospital in the country. But these vital statistics did not mention her most striking trait: She was my daughter. Twisted with agony. Silent and still. Dead.
It seemed like I held her for ten minutes or more, but it was probably only 30 seconds because as soon as the nurses came rushing in, they grabbed her from my hands and threw her–literally threw her–into a bedpan and carried her away.
To add insult to injury, after my daughter was taken away, they brought another woman into the room to finish the last hour of her labor. But this woman wasn't having an abortion. No, she had a beautiful, healthy baby boy. No words can describe how rough that was on me.
I was released from the hospital eight hours after the delivery. The official report filled out by my abortionist stated that the procedure had been completed with "no complications." Three days later I went back into what felt like labor again, and I passed a piece of placenta about the size of my hand. It had been an incomplete abortion, a fact which had been missed by the pathology lab which had reported that the placenta had been delivered "intact."
Soon afterwards I began to withdraw from those who loved me, especially from my family since they had supported and encouraged me to have the abortion. There was a part of me that didn't want to be loved, especially by those who had known me before. I was filled with guilt and sorrow. I felt empty, and I lived under a constant feeling of dread. Newborn infants caught my eye and filled me with longing, but I was afraid to touch them. Whenever a friend would offer to let me hold her baby, I would always refuse. I was too afraid of my own destructiveness. I was terrified that I might somehow hurt another child…
[Part I & II, Nancyjo Mann, Founder of Women Exploited by Abortion] Reprinted from the book Aborted Women, Silent No More, by David C. Reardon (originally published 1987, reprinted in 2000 by Acorn Books). For
ordering information, visit www.afterabortion.info/awsnm.html.
[Elliot Institute News, vol.5, no.5, 15July06]
The Elliot Institute News Post-Abortion Research Vol.5, No. 5 — July 27, 2006 http://www.AfterAbortion.Info]
See the next issue of the Elliot Institute News for Part III of Nancyjo's testimony.