Post-abortive woman finds closure after working in hospital where abortion happened
CORNWALL, Ontario, 13 February, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Dale Barr, 50, always had trouble recalling the details that surrounded her abortion experience when she was 16. It was as if her mind would not let her mentally revisit that dreadful day of November 29, 1979. But all that changed when Dale started a new job in 2011 as a nurse at the very hospital where her abortion took place.
“In the first few weeks of my new job, I did not think about the abortion but in the weeks following, I found myself thinking about it more and more,” wrote Dale in a testimony to LifeSiteNews.com.
As a young teen, Dale had become sexually active and ended up pregnant at 16. The news rocked her family and they reacted with much “crying and yelling,” she said.
A panel of doctors — called the Therapeutic Abortion Committee — convinced Dale’s parents that abortion was the only choice for their daughter. Two weeks after the announcement, Dale was brought to the General Hospital in Cornwall, Ontario where, under general anesthetic, the life of her little baby was snuffed out.
One of the last things Dale remembers prior to the abortion is lying on a stretcher in the hallway and hearing the nurses talking about her. “I felt helpless, afraid, confused and alone,” she recounted. From this moment on, Dale’s memories of her abortion experience had become fragmented. Yet she was sure that repressed memories “too painful to bear” were lurking in the depths of her unconsciousness.
At her new job, Dale began to wonder where in the hospital her abortion had taken place. She desperately wanted to reconstruct the events of that fateful day, but she felt frustrated and defeated by her lapse of memory.
Then one night, Dale suddenly awoke from deep slumber and remembered a hospital record of her abortion experience that she had buried away. She dug out the chart and poured through the pages looking for any mention of room numbers. Finally, on the last pages of the chart she found the numbers 214 and 2. The first was her recovery room number, the second was the Operating Room (OR) number.
During a break during her next shift, Dale made her way hurriedly to the hospital’s 2nd floor, which had now been converted into all-day clinics. She approached room 214. She hesitatingly turned the handle. The door was locked.
Suddenly, a forgotten memory surged into her consciousness.
“I suddenly remembered that after the abortion I was crying uncontrollably and screaming: ‘my baby’s dead, my baby’s dead.’”
Room 214 was hidden in a back hallway, just two doors down from the OR where Dale had lost her baby. She says she realized that doctors had put her in that room because it was so private, a place where her post-abortion hysterics would not be noticed.
Dale was sure there were more memories to awaken. On her next night shift, a friendly security guard, whom she had never seen before, approached her and offered his help.
“He was very friendly and he told me that he would only be on duty this one night because of some schedule change. He said that if there was anything that he could do for me to just let him know.”
Dale asked the man if he might be able to show her a room in which she had recovered from a traumatic surgery many years ago.
The man agreed and followed Dale to room 214. He unlocked the door, and Dale stepped in. Then the memories came flooding back.
“I imagined where the bed had been and I entered the very tiny bathroom where I recalled losing a large amount of blood, like I was hemorrhaging. I remembered that I had almost passed out.”
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The guard then asked Dale if she would like to see the Operating Room suites. He opened the big automatic doors of the OR and led Dale to one particular room.
“I looked up at the big bold number above the door, which was the number 2. My heart was racing, as I stepped inside the very room where my abortion took place.”
“The room was empty and very cold and I found myself thinking, ‘that’s exactly how I felt on that day.’”
Dale returned with the guard to her unit, her heart and mind grappling to make sense of everything that had happened to her on that day so many years ago. She thanked the man for helping her. He told her that if he was ever on duty again when she needed help, to just let him know.
Now, more than three decades after her abortion, Dale was finally able to bring some closure to her emotional and traumatic experience.
However, she viewed this step as only the beginning of yet another chapter of the story of life’s journey. She began to share her abortion testimony with students, church groups, and at pro-life events in Canada and the USA. More than anything, she wanted to reach out to “people who are hurting after abortion, to love and encourage them”.
“I want to help others avoid the pain of abortion,” she wrote.
Dale says she has come to know that the pain and regret from abortion do not have to have the final word on one’s life. She is “constantly amazed” about how much good continues to come out of her “tragic event” that took place so many years ago. She has found “love and forgiveness” through the Church and through organizations such as Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
Dale says that the healing and forgiveness that she experienced is a testament to the words of good news given by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans (8.28): “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.”
“So you see, having the abortion continues to affect my life, even years later. For 20 plus years it caused many damaging effects, but for the past several years God has transformed it into something good.”
Dale Barr has shared her abortion testimony at the Washington March for Life and at the Ottawa March for Life. She is Silent No More Awareness Campaign’s regional coordinator for Eastern Ontario. She is married and a mother of four on earth, one in heaven.