17 years ago I took the morning after pill. Today I went to confession.

Morning-after pill

I’m not sure why I have never taken this to confession. I think I actually have been subconsciously blocking it out of my mind all this time. Perhaps because I didn’t want to admit to myself the horror of the fact that I may well have killed one of my babies, or perhaps I was simply just too ashamed.

3 days ago Pope Francis announced to the world that all Catholic priests will be able to forgive the sin of abortion during the year of Mercy that begins this December. In some parts of the world, abortion can only be confessed to a Bishop because it is such a serious sin. In fact it is so serious that if you have been part of an abortion in any way, be it the mother or father who decided to get the abortion, parents or friends who help the woman to get the abortion, the doctor, nurse or even the receptionist working at the clinic – ANYONE involved in any way with ending the life of that child is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic church. (Excommunicated means thrown out, so you are no longer part of the church and you can no longer receive communion.) It is THAT serious. That was news to me.

Some people don’t consider the morning after pill to be an abortion. But it is. Life begins at the moment of conception, and the morning after pill works by stopping that fertilised embryo from implanting into the womb of the mother. The same can be said for other forms of contraception like the IUD coil or the Mirena coil. They do not stop fertilisation from occurring, but instead stop the fertilised embryo from implanting into the womb.

IUD

When I took the morning after pill my intention was to stop any pregnancy from occurring. I had no knowledge of my cycle in those days, but I knew there was a possibility that I could have conceived the night before. So I went to the clinic, got the pill, took it home, got a big glass of water, put the pill on my tongue, told the virgin Mary “I’m so, so sorry for doing this, but I can’t cope with a baby right now”, took a big glug of water and swallowed the pill.

I knew exactly what I was doing, but I was a scared teenager with a new boyfriend who was not strong enough to say no. And after all – wasn’t I doing the “responsible” thing? The year previous I had sat in class in my all girls Catholic high school and been told that “If the condom splits then you can always get the morning after pill.” Perhaps this is why in the same year I also helped a 14 year old friend get the morning after pill. I helped her to end her possible pregnancy. Even if she was not pregnant the intent was there.

I think that feeling of shame is actually a useful feeling. After all, if we felt no shame whatsoever then it would suggest that taking the life of another human being was perfectly acceptable. But of course it’s not – is it. But shame can be a difficult thing because it can quite often push us into denial. I think I must have been denying to myself that it ever happened. Or that I probably wasn’t pregnant anyway so it wasn’t a sin. But whether I was or I wasn’t – the intent was there to end any possible pregnancy, and on that basis I did definitely need to take it to confession.

Lucky for me, the priests in England and Wales have already been given the authority by their Bishops to absolve the sin of abortion – so there was no need to wait until December. So this morning I went to confession. The priest was kind and friendly and didn’t judge me in the slightest – quite the opposite actually. He was glad that I had had the courage to come to confession and unburden myself of these things that has been in the back of my mind for 17 years. I’m sure i’m not the first person he has had come to confession with this sin and I’m sure i’m not going to be the last.

After he absolved me he said the words: “Go in peace, the Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from your sin.” 🙂

If you have had an abortion, taken the morning after pill or used the IUD type of contraception then I hope my story will give you the confidence to go and see you local priest and ask him for confession. Don’t spend any more time carrying the guilt or shame. Let Jesus take away your sins and free you to come back to into His loving arms.

0 thoughts on “17 years ago I took the morning after pill. Today I went to confession.

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. Thank God for your courage.

    One thing: “Excommunicated means thrown out, so you are no longer part of the church and you can no longer receive communion.”

    Actually, excommunicated means out of communion. Excommunicated Catholics are still in the Church. They are still required to attend Mass but they may not receive Communion.

    Again, thank you so much for this post.

    http://lovedasif.com

  2. You did say it was a Catholic girls’ school you went to?

    Shame on them, twice over! Once for taking condoms for granted, and again for encouraging you to use the morning-after pill as back-up. If anything, they committed the worse sin by misleading you into thinking so lightly of what is a serious matter.

    I am so old that I can remember when the answer to an unwanted pregnancy was to say no and not run the risk in the first place. My mother impressed on me that if you have sex you will get pregnant – she had good reason to; my brother and I were both unplanned and she had intended to wait until she was a bit better off, but she said herself that it was just as well we came along because she might never have felt ready.

    I’d like to see the return of that principle, this time with a bit more compassion than used to be the case for mistakes – they happen. I hope there will be many people who are encouraged to make the move you did and go to confession. I have known a feeling of great relief, a lifting of a burden, after going to confession, and I do hope many will be able to be relieved of such burdens lurking in the dark corners of their lives. That, I hope will bring them the joy that will have people asking the source of it.

  3. Drusilla is quite correct. When you are excommunicated or you excommunicate yourself, you are deprived of the spiritual benefits of the Church. It’s a censure to bring you back, not to be mean. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic still stands. It’s an indelible mark on the soul.

  4. Actually, the “normal” birth control pill can be an abortifacient, too. The third “line of defense” against pregnancy is to thin the endometrial lining so a fertilized egg is unable to implant, so the fertilized egg is flushed out. That’s why I stopped taking it. (I was a Protestant at the time, for the record.)
    Good for you for taking it to Confession! How awesome.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story, Clare. It’s exactly the kind of testimony women and men need to read leading up to the Year of Mercy. Many let these important events come and go without realising their significance, and without being blessed by the tangible graces available to us all.God bless you. XXX

  6. I took Plan B once 14 years ago. It was in college and the health clinic insisted on it. I was told it wasn’t abortifacient, but would prevent conception. From that perspective, even my intent was still wrong. I’ll never know if it caused an abortion or not, but I wanted you to know that I am going to take this sin to confession tomorrow because of your words on this post today. Thank you for helping me find the courage. Forgive me for my mistake, Lord.

  7. Thanks for being courageous enough to tell your story. Hopefully it will help others to come back into Communion with the church. I didn’t know that absolution for something like that has to be given by a bishop, where did you learn that?

  8. God bless you for your courage, and for sharing your story. This just popped across my FB feed, and I’m glad to have read it.

    Just to clarify, the canonical issues are really complicated. For instance, automatic excommunication isn’t the best way to understand the church’s penalty — lots of factors preclude it.

    The bottom line is, Holy Mother Church is merciful and wants to heal and embrace, and Pope Francis is trying to make that easier.

    I wrote a blog post with some details about the canonical issues.

    http://gashwingomes.blogspot.com/2015/09/abortion-excommunication-and-mercy.html

    God Bless!

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  10. You are in error on excommunication.

    Excommunication means prohibited from taking part of the Sacraments, specifically the Holy Eucharist. You are NOT “kicked out” of the Catholic Church. Penance and confession remove the sin. You can always attend Mass and are encouraged to do so.

    Excommunication can be accompanied by a “kicked out” addition, as happened to 3 segregationist Catholics in the 1960’s for opposing Church efforts to desegregate. They were not only denied the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but also prohibited from attending Mass, prohibited from attending any Church funerals/weddings (including friends and family), and denied a Christian burial.