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Abortion isn’t just the result of a woman’s circumstances. It isn’t just a result of her finances or her broken relationships. In fact, abortion isn’t just the list of things a woman explains to you. No, an abortion goes deeper. Abortion is a result of a woman’s childhood. It’s the result of her history, her patterns of behavior, her thought processes, and the dysfunction that has been passed down to her. Jessie Lapek, Director of Expansion for Support After Abortion, vulnerably shares her family’s story to illustrate how abortion is generational.
Jessie didn’t realize it at the time, but her abortion story started well before she found herself pregnant at 15 years old. Jessie’s abortion story started with her childhood and her upbringing. Through her healing journey, Jessie learned about her mother’s past. She learned that her mother had grown up hearing her parents’ cautionary reminders, “You better not get pregnant.” When her mother found herself pregnant and miscarrying in a hospital room at 16, she was relieved. All she could think about was how angry her parents would have been learning she was pregnant. Jessie’s mother mistakenly believed her miscarriage was a gift from God. She didn’t grieve her loss. Instead, in her mind she believed that terminating an unwanted pregnancy was a good option.
Jessie remembers being told from a young age that if she ever got pregnant, she should have an abortion, thus terminating the unwanted pregnancy. Jessie remembers resisting the idea. She remembers fighting with her mom on the topic of abortion. But, when Jessie found herself pregnant at 15 years old, her first thought was to abort. “I thought my mom’s words all those years hadn’t impacted me, but clearly they did.” Like her mother, Jessie was scared, confused, and upset by the news of her unexpected pregnancy. She didn’t allow herself to consider other options. She simply defaulted to the thought processes of her childhood and what she had repeatedly heard over the years.
After her abortion experience, Jessie began to put up walls around herself. She shut others out. She defended her abortion decision and justified it stating, “It’s my body. It’s my choice.” Like her mother, Jessie’s reproductive loss went unhealed for many years and as a result, it began to trickle into her parenting. The generational cycles continued to take root and continued to wreak havoc. Jessie recounts how her desire to control and protect herself manifested in her parenting, too. She became overbearing with her children. She became overly involved with every aspect of their lives, controlling every minute detail. While her aim was to protect them from any and all hurts, she was actually doing more harm than good.
Perhaps the most impactful example of the trickling down effect of unhealed thoughts and behaviors was with the teen pregnancy of Jessie’s stepdaughter. Her stepdaughter came to her with the intent of having the baby but the beliefs from Jessie’s childhood, along with her unhealing abortion experience, led Jessie to steer her stepdaughter in a different direction. She remembers telling her, “You don’t have to have the baby.” And because the opinions of family members and the father greatly impact the decision, Jessie’s stepdaughter chose to have an abortion.
As you can see, reproductive loss and abortion can cause generational cycles. The thoughts, beliefs, patterns of behaviors, and unhealed experiences can be passed down to the next generation, causing a vicious cycle. Jessie shares “Our brains default to what we have been told over and over again. If we don’t break these cycles, the hurt and pain will continue to all generations.” Jessie’s healing journey was her family’s catalyst. Her healing broke through decades of pain and hurt. Jessie’s healing radically changed beliefs, thought processes, and patterns of behavior. Through Jessie’s healing, her mom received healing and her stepdaughter, too. The healing they have received as a family has led to hope, mending, and restoration. This healing will help to prevent future hurts and future abortions. And now instead of pain being passed down through the generations, healing and restoration are passed down.
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