Women reach out on abortion issues PDF Print E-mail
Written by RACHEL GAST, Sentinel Staff Writer   
Thursday, 25 April 2013 08:55
Joan Canning,, from left, speaks about her experience with abortion as Clarissa Lapinski and Michelle McCanley listen and wait for their turn to share their story. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
Joan Canning, Clarissa Lapinski and Michelle McCauley shared their abortion experiences last week with Bowling Green State University students.  
BGSU's Veritas Christian group and the Foundation for Life brought sponsored the talk.
All three women admit to being scared and ashamed by their unplanned pregnancies.
Lapinski became pregnant at age 16. She said, "the most terrifying thing was telling my parents."
While Lapinski said seeing an ultrasound of the baby "would have made a huge difference" in her decision, Canning already had two children before her abortion.
"A large percentage of abortions are by women who already have children," she explained. "If somebody had mapped out a plan to help me pay for childcare and diapers, and how to learn the skills to improve my employment situation - those practical things would have helped build me up."
Lapinski now volunteers with Heartbeat of Toledo. She explained, "I felt overwhelmed. I was afraid. I was 16, unmarried, and afraid" of what her parents would say about her unplanned pregnancy and how she could graduate high school and go on to college.
"After I recovered physically, I felt normal again. It was over. No one knew." She told herself for years that she had made the right decision.
The guilt did not hit Lapinski until her second pregnancy. She would look down at her son and remember the baby she aborted. She felt like she deserved to be punished until she completed the Forgiven and Set Free Program through the Project Rachel hotline.
McCauley, the interim director of the Pregnancy Center in Toledo, focused on how abortion affects more than just the mothers. "The most heartbreaking thing was telling my daughters" about her abortions. "They didn't understand. My youngest daughter saying 'we have two more who aren't here' - it's heartbreaking to watch them grieve."
Canning, a volunteer for the Northwest Ohio Foundation for Life and Silent No More, recalled having to tell her parents about her abortion. "It was painful. They were pretty silent. We haven't talked about it much."
When Lapinski told her family, "They felt guilty, thinking maybe they could have done more, that they should have noticed" she was pregnant and talked to her about it.
All three women had difficulty accepting forgiveness or finding someone to talk to. McCauley has spent the last 20 years telling her story. "My hope is that nobody will have to walk down these dark lonely paths alone. We can walk down a path of healing, hope, and forgiveness."
"I desperately want other women to know that help is available."
Doctors had warned Canning not to have any more children due to the numerous complications in the birth of both of her sons. "My decision was made with ignorance - nobody warned me of the risk of the procedure, that I would suffer with hidden grief, regret and self-hatred for years to come."
Though these three were fortunate enough to not experience any physical side effects, they all experienced bad relationships and began drinking, "trying to run from the pain" of their abortions.
McCauley told the crowd that some women can escape an abortion unscathed. "I'm not saying you need to put everyone in a box and say 'you must feel bad.' But if they need healing, direct them to a place where they can get it."
"I certainly wouldn't want to force them into regret," Canning said. "But if you feel like it's ever getting to you, reach out, we're here for you."
"It's typical for women to say for years that they're OK because it's humiliating to tell people that a choice you've made now makes you suffer. Whenever you're ready, or if you're every ready, all I can do is tell you to call," said Lapinski.
They found healing by returning to their faith. But each woman admitted they were already far from the church before they had their abortions. "Taking faith out of the equation," McCauley said, the abortion "still destroyed us."
"Some groups stand and shout about killing your baby, but we encourage women instead of throwing shame on people," Canning said. Silent No More does not "stigmatize women from a faith-based standpoint."
McCauley thinks it's a shame "we can't come and talk about abortion because it's so polarized. You get into a room like this and it turns into this huge fight. So I would like to see more talking about what we can agree on and what hurts us, without argument or pinning each other down on semantics."
Canning said young people "have never lived a day without legalized abortion in this country and you've heard it's your choice, it's your right, it's liberating and empowering when really it's just a message that we've let women down, that we don't accept women and their children in society."
"We want to make it unthinkable that abortion is a fix to pregnancy."
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2013 09:02

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