June 17, 2013
Georgette stood quietly facing the demonstration of women in front of the Supreme Court. Her hand-made sign spoke for her: I Regret Choosing Abortion. While these women called themselves the National Organization for Women, she wanted them to know they didn’t speak for all women. They didn’t speak for her.
In the early evening, standing as a silent witness to the NOW members at their annual candlelight vigil commemorating Roe v. Wade, Georgette’s deepest hope was to create dialogue. “If I’m expressing regret,” she asked, “would they try to connect with me?”
After more than an hour, she had her answer. Georgette recalls, “One woman said to me, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way.’ But she was the only person that even came close to reaching out to me. The rest of them sneered and jeered…dismissive of me. I’m thinking, ‘Wait a second. These are supposed to be women representing women…and they’re not. They are women who are representing abortion.’”
Georgette went home that night committed to action. “I felt that we really needed to start a new NOW organization…a new organization that really did represent women who were hurting after their abortion experience, who were willing to reach out to other women who were hurting. Nobody cared about us.”
The sting of their disinterest was personal. At sixteen, in 1976, Georgette found herself pregnant and told her boyfriend she would take care of the problem. “I remember driving down to the clinic thinking, ‘This feels very wrong, but because it is legal, it must be OK.’”
After her abortion, she spent the night with her sister. Her boyfriend paid her for “his half,” and Georgette’s main concern was how to appear normal so her mom wouldn’t figure it out. “I decided I could just pretend yesterday didn’t happen. Block it out. And that’s what I did.”
Even in the years before becoming a Christian, her denial was not perfect. “I could go long, long periods of time and never even think about an abortion…except when I heard the word. It would always feel like somebody stuck a knife in my stomach and twisted it….then I would promptly go back to ignoring it.”
Once she became a Christian, she knew she would have to face some hard realities.
At first, it was painful. “I understood that abortion was wrong in God’s eyes,” she explains. “I knew that it was a baby. I knew that I had lost out on being a parent to a wonderful child, and I began the grieving process.” In a program with other women working to heal from abortion she began to accept God’s forgiveness and to resolve her conflicted feelings.
It was especially difficult for her to understand how she could advise women against abortion. “I was listening to other women in the group talk about how abortion had hurt them,” Georgette says. “It kind of clicked for me that it’s OK for me to stand up and say abortion isn’t good, even though I had one. I began to understand that you could, in a sense, change your mind as you realized that it wasn’t a good choice down the road.”
Georgette’s handmade sign with its five words I Regret Aborting My Child helped her finally break through the personal silence that had imprisoned her for so many years. Leaving the Supreme Court that night, she could no longer retreat and let others define abortion solely as a choice that helps women.
Back at home, she met with good friend Janet Morana. “I wanted my voice to be there in opposition to this other voice that was saying women need the right to abortion.”
Janet agreed. She told Georgette, “I’m convinced that you’re not the only person that feels this way, that has had an abortion and has come to healing. You want to get the message out that abortion wasn’t good for women, for those who are considering an abortion…maybe to stop them…and to reach out to women who are still locked in denial.”
They decided to return the next year to the Supreme Court steps, meeting again in front of NOW’s annual candlelight vigil, and to hold an event where women would stand up one after the other sharing the truth of what had happened to them in their abortions. Women would be Silent No More. Georgette’s vision was clear. “I wanted the truth to stand.”
Plans revolved around “the sign” – something each woman could hold. Janet, a former school teacher, envisioned the new signs stark, “like a blackboard, that if you could be standing 50 yards away, you’ll see the message.” On large poster board, she set large white letters into a plain black background: I Regret My Abortion.
Jennifer O’Neill signed on as their national spokesperson. Discussing her own abortion in her autobiography Surviving Myself, Jennifer tells how she was pressured by her fiancé to have the abortion. Today she is intent on revealing the lies used to protect abortion. “Women are not given the truth so that they can make an informed decision.” She speaks from experience. “I had to have two operations because of scarring. I had trouble conceiving. Women have higher rates of miscarriage. I had nine. We are not told any of that.”
As Janet and Georgette reached out to ministries, making certain abortion counselors would be available to women at the event, word of their plans began to filter out through the Internet. In only three months, 579 women had registered to participate. Some wanted to speak. Others asked to stand and hold signs. Still others, unable to travel to Washington D.C., organized events in their own cities.
On January 22, 2003, on the 30th memorial of Roe v. Wade, women gathered in unity at the Supreme Court to be Silent No More about abortion. “It was an absolutely freezing cold day,” Janet remembers. Beginning at 5:00 p.m., the sun had set. “We were totally frozen. The wind chill factor was below zero.”
Jennifer O’Neill led the evening with her personal testimony of abortion’s harmful impact on her life. She was followed, one by one, by sixty women who stepped to the microphone and shared their testimonies.
Once again, members of NOW rejected the message of Silent No More, yelling taunts and jockeying for position. Just as conflict seemed possible, Bryan Kemper arrived with nearly 40 teens from Rock for Life who had asked to come and pray for the women. “They were some of the extreme rockers, but there they were,” Georgette says. “These kids came in, and they just knelt down in between the two groups and acted as a barrier.”
For two and a half hours, in the freezing cold, this bold group of women and teens gave witness to the harmful impact of abortion on women… long after NOW organizers had packed up and gone home. In each personal story, the women of Silent No More gave individual proof of the long list of negative consequences stemming from abortion.
The next morning, The Washington Post carried a front page photo of Silent No More. Janet was thrilled. “To me, that was a breakthrough in the blackout of the media, just to have a picture.”
Beyond the Washington D.C. event, women around the country conducted their own public events holding up the black-and-white signs and giving their personal testimonies. In Arizona, Joan Maloof gathered a group of women who met at the state capitol. “We were stunned when we stepped up to the podium and saw the number of microphones,” she says, “and the number of people that were gathered….One woman gave her testimony in Spanish.”
Now active in all fifty states, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign is a non-denominational Christian effort with no political or legal agenda. Its emphasis is on awareness, seeking both to educate the public on the harmful consequences of abortion and to reach out to hurting women with compassion and help.
Women can register on their website confidentially. “This is not about getting every woman who’s gone through abortion out to speak in public,” Janet Morana explains. “The most important thing is to meet the women where they are. They’re not all on the same level. Some of them might want to come to an event, and they’re not even ready to hold a sign yet. They’ll just want to stand there as a prayer warrior in support of the other women. It’s in their journey of healing.”
The campaign continues to gain momentum with new volunteers and projects. Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., played a key role in the filming of a Silent No More commercial. Shot in Arizona, with the help of Joan Maloof and Arizona volunteers, it speaks to the common experience of post-abortive women: “You see, abortion didn’t solve our problems. It just created new ones.”
Alveda King credits her grandfather, Martin Luther King, Sr., with saving her from choosing abortion a second time. “That was the Christian foundation speaking through my grandfather.”
When she began witnessing about abortion in 1983, people came to her “one by one, secretly.” In recent years, she hears from women more and more, telling her “Well, you know, that happened to me, too. And this is how I felt.” Alveda is encouraged. “People are responding and getting healing. So it’s positive.”
Jennifer O’Neill agrees. At large conferences for women, abortion is not a common topic. But when she spoke openly about abortion and abuse for Women of Faith, she was on her feet all day at her book table, “hugging women that were lined up. I could see their faces, the ones that had had abortions….Just holding onto me…this glimmer of hope that they could finally be released.”
As she says, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign “creates a safe place for women to break their silence about the pain of abortion.” But it doesn’t stop there. True healing comes from Jesus Christ and a loving heavenly Father.
Joan Maloof has spent years teaching a special Bible study for post-abortive women, Forgiven and Set Free. “I would say the number one consequence that women confess first is guilt…overwhelming guilt.” She encourages pastors and churches to “address the abortion issue with compassion. I think more people would come forward and receive healing. Then those healed people would be a real tool in changing the hearts and minds of others.”
Jennifer agrees. “It is safe to say we all know someone who’s had an abortion, if not had one ourselves. Invite them to consider that possibly many of the ills in their life—physical, emotional, spiritual—could have been born of that act of abortion. Then they can begin to heal.” Acknowledging the source of our faith, she says, “Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins, not for just some of them….He can heal us.”
One woman, one sign, and one lonely night standing for truth. God’s truth shines brighter, bringing hope and healing, thanks to the courage of the women of Silent No More.
RADIO: Hear Georgette tell her story.
Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry serving men and women and is dedicated to healing the pain of abortion. In addition to the information available online, they offer a variety of programs including one-on-one personal support, DVD educational programs, newsletters and retreats. Women and men who attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend are also eligible to join their online community Companions on a Journey.