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Testimony Before the South Dakota Task Force on Abortion

Luana Stoltenberg , Davenport , Iowa

Testimony before the South Dakota Task Force on Abortion

October 2005

 My name is Luana Stoltenberg and my life has been devastated by abortion.

I have had 3 abortions because I didn’t think I had any other choices. I was 17 years old when I had my first abortion. I was too afraid to tell my parents that I was pregnant so my boyfriend drove me to a clinic that was out of town and out of state.

I was scared to death the entire ride there. I knew in my heart this was wrong. Everything in me cried out saying this is a baby. I was pregnant with a baby.

When we arrived at the clinic I paid my fee of $250.00 cash and was seated in the waiting room with several other girls.

They took each one of us separately into a room to do our paper work and talk to us. The nurse asked me how I felt about this. I told her how I was feeling, that I was sure this was a baby and that it couldn’t be the right thing to do. She quickly informed me that this was just a blob of tissue. In fact she told me that this abortion would be safer and easier then if I carried to term. They were all dressed in white uniforms, and they were the adults, I was the teenager with no medical knowledge or experience. I thought they were the medical professionals, so they must know what they were talking about. I thought I could trust them. So I listened to them. I believed them. I was a scared teenager that needed help, so I went through with the procedure.

 I laid on that cold table waiting for a doctor I had never met to come in and do this procedure on me. I was given no anesthetic for the pain, and even if I would have, I don’t think any amount would have dulled the pain that was in my heart and mind that morning.

The doctor came in and was very cold and unfriendly. He told me to lie still that it wouldn’t take long. He said I would feel a tugging sensation and just slight cramping. He was wrong. It was extremely painful, and I didn’t think it would ever end.

I could hear the increased labor of the suction machine when a part or limb of my baby was being extracted. Each time I tried to sit up enough to see what was going into that jar. To see if it was a baby, my baby, but they kept pushing me back down and telling me to lie still. As soon as the procedure was over they quickly wheeled the jar with my baby’s remains out of the room so I wouldn’t see it.

 They knew it was a baby. They saw her head, and her tiny little arms and legs in that jar. They didn’t go over fetal development with me. They didn’t tell me that my 9 week old baby that they were ripping for my body had a heart beat at day 18, that her brain waves were functioning at day 40. They didn’t tell me that she had toes, fingers, and even finger prints, or that she could suck her thumb, and even feel pain. Why didn’t they want me to know that? Were they afraid that I would change my mind? Would it have been a “wrong choice” if after knowing the truth and all the facts, I would have changed my mind and choose life for my child?

 When the procedure was finished I was sent to a waiting room with the other girls. I was given a cup of juice and some cookies and told I could leave after 20 minutes if I felt alright. In 20 minutes I told them I felt fine, when in fact I had never felt worse. I just wanted out of there. They gave me a tiny little pill to take on my way out and told me it would help shrink my cervix. I was in severe pain on the way home. I lay in the back seat of the car crying and bleeding profusely the entire trip back. When I got in the house I immediately called to tell them about the pain and bleeding. They told me I was no longer their problem and that I needed to call my own physician. There was no way I was going to do that. I was too ashamed and didn’t want my parents to find out what I had done. That was why I had driven all the way up there in the first place. So I painfully laid there and wondered if I would die.

 I did die that day. I died on the table with my baby. The happy, fun loving, compassionate, caring Luana died that day. I was never the same. Never.

I broke up with my boyfriend shortly after the abortion. I couldn’t stand to look at him. It was too painful. He reminded me of the child I had killed. I became depressed and angry. I started drinking heavily; doing drugs, and became very promiscuous. I absolutely hated myself. I thought the only way anyone else would possibly love me was if I gave them sex in return.

My life was spinning out of control. I became pregnant two more times, and choose abortion each time. Each experience was similar to the first, except the second abortion, they actually showed us a slide presentation of blobs of tissue. They told us they were only removing blobs of tissue like what we saw on the slides. That it wasn’t a baby at all.

This second time it wasn’t a professional, medical atmosphere, with adults dressed in white. It was an old two story house in a college town. Those who worked there had on jeans, and tie-dyed shirts, and looked like hippies.

 My third abortion was done at the same place as the second one. Only this time I was so ashamed and embarrassed, I didn’t even give them my real name. I used the name of a friend of mine. I cringe now to think what would have happened if there would have been complications or I would have died. Who would they have called? Would my parents have ever found out what really happened to me?

By this time my life was a mess. After every abortion I would move to different city thinking no one would know me, and maybe I could start over? But that wasn’t my problem. Having abortions didn’t solve any problems. It only created new and larger ones. Abortion didn’t remove the fact that I was a mother. I was still a mother it’s just that my three children were dead and I killed them. Wow, how do you deal with that problem?

The way I dealt with it was more alcohol, more drugs, a deeper depression, a self hatred and self destructive behavior.

I had constant thoughts of wanting to kill myself. I thought of ways I could do it that wouldn’t be painful. Then the thought turned to actual attempts. I tried to kill myself three different times. The first time I tried to slit my wrists and twice after that I turned the gas on in my oven and lay on my kitchen floor, crying waiting for the pain and guilt to go away. Each time friends came banging at my door and interrupted my attempts.

I hated myself for what I had done. I couldn’t run away from myself or live with myself, so I thought I would make myself pay for what I had done. I saw no hope and no way out.

In 1981 I finally found hope and forgiveness in Jesus Christ . I accepted Him as my Lord and my life began to change. Two years later I met a wonderful man and we were married. We wanted to start a family, but we were having no success. I went in for endless tests. I had a laparatomy, and a laparoscopy. Then I went in for a dye test. That is were they put dye through the fallopian tubes to see if and where there are blockages. Again it was very painful and I had no anesthetic. In the midst of the procedure my doctor looked at me and asked if I had ever had abortions. I never put it down on my paper work and would never tell my doctors because I was too ashamed. I admitted to her that I had three abortions. She showed me on the screen where the suction from the vacuum aspirator had sucked my fallopian tubes down like an accordion and spiraled them. One was 90% blocked and the other was 100% blocked. She then told me I would never be able to have children because of the abortions. She also wanted me to have a hysterectomy because she was afraid of the risk I had of having an entopic pregnancy. I was only 26 years old and was trying to process all this information.

She then told me the test was completed, that I could get dressed and she left the room.

I literally laid there paralyzed as I let it soak in, that I would never be able to have children. That the only children that I would ever bare, I killed.

Then I started thinking about my husband. Here was this wonderful man who married me knowing the past I had. How was I going to go out there and tell him that he was never going to be able to have his own biological children because of the “choices” I had made before he was even in my life? I couldn’t think of a single reason why he should have to live with the consequences of my mistakes. I wondered if he would stay with me or if he would want a divorce.

My husband is a man of honor. He stayed with me for better or worse. It was a very hard road ahead of us. There were a lot of tears, a lot of pain, and a lot of sleepless nights. I went through counseling and Bible Studies. I learned how to accept Gods forgiveness for what I had done, and then tried to forgive myself.

There was also a lot of anger. I was angry at the abortion workers.

I was angry that they didn’t tell me the risks of the procedure and that it could cause infertility.

I was angry that they didn’t tell me I would have severe pain every menstrual cycle because of the damage done to my tubes.

I was angry that they didn’t tell me the development of my child.

I was angry that they didn’t give me all the facts and let me make the “choice” for myself. I thought they were pro-choice .

I was angry that they would lie to me, and then tell society that they care about women.

I was angry that they didn’t tell me that I might feel immediate relief but I would live with the consequences and pain everyday for the rest of my life.

Yes, I had a lot of anger to work through and a lot of forgiving to do.

There were also other people in my life that my abortions affected. I called my family together and told my mother and father that they had 3 grandchildren that they would never hold. I told my brother and my sisters that they had nieces and nephews they would never meet and that would never be a part of our holiday gathering and family photos. I asked them to forgive me for altering our family tree and removing generations from our family linage. I asked them to forgive me for changing what was meant to be, and playing God with life.

I want to thank you for listening today and leave you with this though.  The most important decision I would ever make in my life was to spare or to end the lives of my children. The worst decision I ever made in my life was to end the lives of my children by abortion. Abortion is final. I can never take back that decision or bring my children back. Shouldn’t women be told the truth and all the facts before making the most important decision of their lives?

Thank you.
Luana S.