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Dealing With Post-Abortion Guilt

Mark Huttenlocker

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=> QUESTION: One of my daughter’s close friends called me and told me that my daughter was hiding something from me that I needed to know. She was pregnant and planning on having an abortion the next day without my knowledge. I talked to my daughter about it and she admitted it. I found out that many people at school knew about it and I was humiliated. She told me that she was going through with the abortion no matter what I said, and I could either support her decision or not.

We are active Catholics and this was totally against everything I believe in. I was extremely torn between my Catholic faith and my desire to make sure my daughter was safe. I was afraid of where she was going to have this procedure done. She was adamant that she could not raise a child, even with our help, and refused to place a child for adoption. Her child would have been biracial, Korean and Hispanic, and she felt that it would never be placed in a good home and would end up in foster care. Admittedly, I had no desire to raise another child at this point in my life. I know that her child would have become my full responsibility. In the end, I made the decision to go with her for the abortion. This entire decision was made in less than ten hours, as I found out about the pregnancy the evening before the scheduled abortion.

Ever since the abortion I have been wracked with guilt. I have not attended church since I cannot make myself go because I feel like such a hypocrite. Every week I tell myself that this week I will return, then on Sunday I can't make myself go. She knows that I'm not going and knows why, and she feels very guilty about it. I know that, because she told so many people about it, many parishioners at my church are aware of the abortion. I feel humiliated and shameful. Did I make the decision to help her because I was concerned about her, or about me? I cannot get past my guilt, and if I had it to do all over again, I would have refused to go with her. I would have made every attempt to force her not to have the procedure. She had several weeks to think about it, I had several hours. I deeply regret the decision.

I miss going to church, I miss my faith, but I don't know how to reconcile myself to this. I know that, people being people, many have already passed judgment on us and I will always feel that everyone in church knows what happened. My 13 year old son doesn't know anything about this, and I am concerned that someone will tell him. He wonders why we don't go to church anymore. Both of the kids went to the Catholic elementary school that is associated with this church, we have been life-long members and I really don't want to move to a knew church, I had planned on being a member here for the rest of my life. I am afraid to go and speak to my pastor about this for fear that he will have my daughter, and possibly me, excommunicated.

If you have any suggestions for me, I would really appreciate it.


=> ANSWER: In situations such as this, we have to ask ourselves, “Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?” So, do the advantages of an abortion outweigh the disadvantages?

Advantages of going ahead with an abortion— Some of the consequences of compulsory pregnancy and forced motherhood (i. e. , unwanted children) are as follows. The child:

  • has more emotional handicaps

  • does less well scholastically; is a low achiever

  • is twice as likely to have record of juvenile delinquency

  • is 4x as likely to have adult criminal record

  • is more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs

  • is 6x more likely to receive welfare between 16-21

  • has poorer relationships with parents

  • is at a higher risk to be abused or neglected by parents

    Disadvantages of abortion—

  • creates feelings of regret and grief

  • does not give the child that is in the womb a chance at life, thus it is looked down upon by many religions

  • having an abortion always lessens your chances for having children later in life

  • the “would-be-mother” will always wonder ‘what if’ and may feel some level of guilt for the rest of her life about the child she could have had

    No matter what her political persuasion, it always comes down to a very intimate, personal decision that no woman makes without some degree of emotional trauma. All of the options - abortion, or raising the baby, or allowing another family to adopt the baby - carry emotional pain and personal sacrifice. This is the price your daughter - and you too, unfortunately - are paying for her poor choice to have unprotected sex.

    Millions of women and men, both in society and in the church, are suffering under the guilt of abortion. Nearly one out of five women getting an abortion identifies herself as a Christian. This means a quarter of a million abortions are performed on Christians each year.

    It’s counterproductive to try to eliminate guilt feelings without dealing with guilt’s cause. Others may say, “You have nothing to feel guilty about, ” but you know better. Only by denying reality can you avoid guilt feelings. Denial sets you up for emotional collapse whenever something reminds you of the child or grandchild you could have had. You need a permanent solution to your guilt problem, a solution based on reality, not pretense.

    Bottom line: The good news is that God loves you and your daughter and desires to forgive both of you for the abortion, whether or not you knew what you were doing. So your 1st task is to accept his forgiveness, your 2nd task is to then forgive yourself, and your 3rd task is to forgive your daughter.

    Also, I think you need to go back to your church and start attending services again. If you start getting some “bad vibes” from other church members, then find a church that forgives like your God did.


    Mark Huttenlocker, M. A. , is a family therapist who works with teens and pre-teens experiencing emotional/behavioral problems associated with ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Autism, etc. He works with these children and their parents – in their homes. You may visit his website here:

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