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I Aborted My Child, I Feel Guilty

I Aborted My Child, I Feel Guilty

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Question:

What's done is done. I had an abortion years ago. I did it to avoid shame, but instead I am riddled with guilt. Even though I can't reverse what I have done, is there some way to alleviate the burden I am carrying? Can I somehow make amends? Am I condemned to a life of guilty feelings?

Answer:

Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body. Pain itself is not a good thing, but it does serve a positive purpose. Pain alerts you to a problem that requires action, it calls you to seek its source and alleviate it.

Guilt serves a positive purpose too. Guilt that eats away at us is pointless. But guilt can be used as a catalyst for becoming a better person when it alerts us to acknowledge mistakes we have made, take responsibility for them and not blame others - even if others were partially to blame - and then resolve to improve because of the experience. We must turn around the negative feelings so they can propel us to do more good.

In the case of someone who wrongly had an abortion, perhaps one way to channel the guilt into positivity would be to take on a project that will specifically benefit unwanted or abandoned children. The ultimate would be to actually adopt such a child, but that is not always possible. Here are some other suggestions: volunteer time and donate money to an orphanage; become a "big sister" to a child that needs extra support; or help out a friend or family member who is bringing up their children in difficult circumstances, such as a single mother or someone battling serious illness.

Guilt creates a void in our soul. Fill that void with something meaningful. Redirect your energy towards a new venture that will benefit someone in need. That way you don't just alleviate the guilt, you actually transform it into a force for good.

You can't bring back the potential that was lost. But you can reclaim your own potential. Don't let guilt paralyze you any longer. Ask G‑d to forgive you. Then turn your guilt around, and use it as a springboard for positive action. Make what was a negative chapter in your life into the introduction to the next chapter, a chapter focused on love and life.

Please see more on Jewish guilt on The Judaism Website.

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Anonymous Melbourne February 26, 2016

Feelings more than guilt A person who regrets having an abortion should also recognise that they are dealing with other feelings than just guilt. They are mourning the loss of the blessings associated with having that child in their life and the lost potential of the child. They have also gone through a very sudden and unnatural termination of the hormonal surges associated with pregnancy and this can lead to deep depression and other psychological effects. Even though these are usually short-lived (about 3 months) they can leave longer-term scaring and add to the other feelings of loss and mourning. Seek help to work through the grief as well as the guilt. Reply

Julie sydney February 23, 2016

Such an interesting topic. So many interesting issues come up from it. Is legal access to abortion permitted under Jewish law? It must be, because the alternative, illegal "backyard" abortions often result in death and a death of a person is worse than the death of a foetus. Is a woman having an abortion the same level of sin under Jewish law than a man "spilling seed"? If so there would be lots of men becoming big brothers to unwanted children all around the world. Maybe the person who wrote the letter could write a book about her decision and her feelings to help other women who may be considering it. Or she should get involved in a campaign to help young women value themselves so they don't look to casual intimacy to find meaning, or an education campaign for men so that they learn the consequences of intimacy. If men want intimacy, they have to be prepared to raise a child if one eventuates from the act. Women often seek abortions because men don't accept responsibility Reply

Anonymous February 22, 2016

It takes two to tango Very good article, but one essential point that was missed.

To get pregnant - there needs to be a partner.

Asking G-d for forgiveness is only part of the remedy.

If there was a partner with whom you "chose" to become pregnant, but then backed out to avoid shame -- you have robbed him.

G-d can not forgive for sins done against another individual. Reply

Anonymous March 1, 2015

abortion
When I was pregnant a member of the extended family warned that if "it" was disabled I should abort "it" or they'll sever ties with me and make my husband divorce me.
I was prepared to leave and gave them the ultimatum i.e. "I leave now or else".
My child was not diagnosed with a disability till he was a preschooler, and the family ended up loving the child anyway.
However I never felt the same trust towards them again , and not likely to.
My theology may be basic, but I think G-d protected me and my child through that time.
We have a special bond. Reply

Priscilla CHILE February 26, 2015

abortion guilt invites us to repentment, only G-ds forgiveness releases the guilt and set us free again i beleive and had experience....shalom Reply

Anonymous Israel February 25, 2015

i had 2 abortions. I was blessed after that with one son. After becoming religious I felt unbelievable remorse, regret and grief. I davenned at the Rebbe's ohel. I doubted if it was possible to be forgiven even after doing teshuvah. I regretted so much not having those babies. I began lighting 2 extra Shabbos candles but never told anyone the real reason. I knew in my heart that the aborted babies were girls. When I turned 59, my son got married and 10 months later his wife gave birth to twin baby girls. I now believe Hashem forgave me and sent their neshamos back to me.They are the light of my life! Reply

Michelle UK February 25, 2015

forgive yourself I think the biggest thing I faced was feeling I had to 'hide my story' and like in many situations felt very isolated and alone. I was 17 years old. I understood the reasons for everything but none the less I remained with feelings of GUILTY and much more. For me the biggest thing that helped me was finally my Mother's understanding - for she only felt their was one option - and I paid for it (literally) and the whole situation was hidden from the rest of the Family. but when I was in my 30s my Mum heard a radio broadcast about what the suffering REALLY feels like and she gave me a book about it. I couldn't read the book because the pain and the knowledge of others feeling the same hurt more in print... yet over time... it helped me appreciate that I wasn't alone and I think if more people had heard from the women's experience before them, they would be making a more informed choice. G-d bless all of us for our mistakes and heal and lighten the burden of living with regret. AMEN Reply

Anonymous KISSIMMEE February 24, 2015

accept and utilize i have had an abortion. i have had miscarriages and i have been blessed with healthy children. my only regrets are the miscarriages. the abortion was necessary, i was young and stupid. i have no guilt, only relief. i went on to have a good life and children when the time was right. my doctor told me not to blame myself for the miscarriages that it was not 'divine retribution' and to speak to my rabbi. he said the same thing. he then advised that i go to mikveh and free myself. try it. Reply

Julie Smith Sydney February 24, 2015

I have a couple of questions that in part are about not wanting men to be let off the hook in all of this! I've got you, girls :-) Is a man who refuses to take responsibility for a pregnancy as 'guilty' under Jewish law for the abortion as the poor woman who is forced to harm her body and spirit to have it? And is using contraception at times when it is not allowed under the law the same level of sin (if it can be measured) as having a abortion? And what about spilling seed, which is solely the domain of the man, is that considered the same under the law as having an abortion?? It's such an interesting topic if it's free of the emotional pain that many women would be feeling. My apologies to anyone who is suffering who may consider my questions insensitive. Reply

Julie Smith Sydney February 24, 2015

Even before I became religious I felt strongly against abortion as an option for myself but saw it as necessary and merciful when the terrible things that happen in the world happen - incest, rape inside and outside the marriage, or just to give disadvantaged girls a chance in life. I thank G-d that I've never had to make that decision. Friends of mine who have all regret it. I think it leaves deep spiritual scars that are felt even by those who aren't religious and dont believe that life starts at/ before conception. Helping children out would seem to be rubbing salt into the wound I would think, and she may have her own children (she doesn't say) who she cares for with great kindness. If she is looking for a special project to donate to I would suggest one that helps child prostitutes - a sad world that girls are born into when their mothers are not financially able to support them. There are unfortunately millions of them around the world. Reply

Anonymous PHILADELPHIA February 24, 2015

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and a pregnancy the same day. There's just no words to describe how awful that was. I had an abortion, followed by a diagostic D&C three weeks later, then a total hysterectomy, and ovaries and lymph nodes removed. it was more widespread than anyone thought and the doctor said it was unlikely a pregnancy would have continued past the 20th week because of condition of the uterine lining; the hormones related to pregnancy could have made the cancer spread even further. I don't regret my decision - I'm alive 35 years later. In all the talk about abortion as a choice, the pro-life arguments seem to be ignoring those of us who had no choice. For some it's life or death. The medical neccesity argument is being pushed aside, even completely discounted by some. There are times the decision has to be left to a woman and her doctors. Reply

beth February 24, 2015

Wow that was so right on! I love what you said about guilt being used for positive. We are a culture that shames those who struggle with guilt. Never do we suggest that it be turned to something beautiful and healing. Reply

Anonymous Arizona February 24, 2015

Choices are good I had an abortion when I was 25. Never one moment of guilt or remorse. I'm just not maternal. It was the right choice for me. I advocate the right to choose but would never force an abortion on anyone. It's a difficult decision and not one that is made lightly. Women should be supported in whatever choice they make. Reply

miriam miami October 20, 2014

my heart is swollen with tears when I hear, see or any story relate abortion, my heart goes numb from this pain and chill rise up on my body. I have done that twice in my past life and greatly regret it, I cry my eyes out when I realize now how terrible is that to commit such a crime that in the past I did not know how severe abortion is. And now I feel guilty that I have no way out of it I feel a smear of sin that stays for ever on me that can not remove ...it is just an awful feeling. I would love to adopt a child and give that child the best of life to live for especially, the teaching of jewish life according to the path of almighty G d. I am willing to do such a decision BH to compensate of what I have done wrong. Reply

Anonymous Canada March 24, 2014

You can still love Hi - I am Laura, I am 44 - I had an abortion also. I was 19 - old enough to know better but far too immature to realize what I was doing.

My partner told me he was not able to have children - (he already had a young son) and said that due to a hockey injury he was sterile and not able to get a woman pregnant. At my young age (he was much older) I believed him.

I had only a few weeks to make this life altering decision and never spoke to my parents about it. I truly wish I had...

I wish I had been older and given more thought to what I was doing. I was so very nervous and concerned as to what my parents would think and afraid of disappointing them (now I know that "all" would have been fine, my parents are pretty amazing). I was the eldest - I should have known better.

He did drive me that day, to the hospital and waited for me.

It was hard but actually not all that unpleasant as the nurses gave me gas and were very kind and caring - they rubbed my shoulders and spoke calmly to me throughout the whole procedure. I remember I was crying.

That is what it is was to them "a procedure".

I think of my "lost" child every day and wonder what "he or she" would have accomplished at 25 years of age - would they be happy? Would they be In love? Married? Living in Canada? Have a child of their own? Would they love me?

I have all of these questions that I will never have an answer to... I guess I really don't deserve to...

I did not give you life - I am so sorry - please, please forgive me...

I Love You - Your Mother Reply

Linda Spokane WA March 14, 2014

What awesome words Thank you.
I have walked around with guilt for over 50 years about almost anything and every thing I have ever done, said or been.
Your words have been written not to comfort but to give instruction! I do better with HOW to change myself than WHY change. You have given me exact detailed list of how to walk away from guilt I seem to wear always. Very good instruction.
I really appreciate it, more than you will ever know. Reply

JDV November 30, 2013

Abortion More women need to know there is more to abortion than meets the eye. I was assigned to work in an abortion clinic as a social work student many years ago and i see abortion as a real act of violence against women. Maybe more women should not let the men have their way with them. Why even RISK putting yourself in such a position? Reply

dan. yardley, pA, USA July 17, 2012

abortion In a responsum, Moshe ben Maimmon wrote that if a woman claims that she will commit suicide if she is forced to have the fetus she is carrying, that fetus may be viewed as a "PURSUER" and she may defend herself with an abortion. Nowadays, with the day-after pill, the matter of abortion becomes moot, except if one accepts the extreme views that contraception is forbidden, and that a (possibly) 1 day old fertilized egg is a fetus. My point is that we do have a reference for the need for an abortion for a woman in extreme emotional stress. Anyway, it all becomes a moot point, because despite what Rabbis and husbands say, Jewish Wives being who they are will do what they will do, regardless. Reply

Leif McHenry, MS/USA April 18, 2012

This is sad... This is sad, but anything can be worked on and turned around.
My ex had one abortion in youth due to her parents (they would have frowned on a mixed baby).
Years later she had one that was a medical necessity.
And she has guilt all the time.
But you can learn to channel that into something productive. Reply

Anonymous Chilliwack , Canada November 10, 2011

Abortion I did the same thing, I did not even do it out of shame or fear, I just had an abortion because I did not want to have a baby.
In my 30s I started reading the Bible and and my heart change. I always knew what I did was wrong, but I was very cold hearted and I did not suffer guilt, but I never forgot what I did. In my 40s I started working with children from broken homes and after a few years at the age of 45 I adopted 2 children siblings my daughter was 6yrs old and my son 17months old. I also was an advocate for 7 other children who were adopted from my home. G-d used me to find homes for them. All the while I did not do it to atone for what I did , It never entered my mind that it would atone for what I did, for one can not atone for oneself for the death of an unborn child. At least this is what I believe. My point is G-d had a purpose for my life here on earth and no matter what I did once I opened my mind to G-ds word things worked out. Reply

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