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Heartbreak after abortion: Indiana women reflect on emotions after procedure

Every year, thousands of Hoosiers choose to have an abortion. For some, the choice to have an abortion leads to regret.

INDIANAPOLIS — Every year, thousands of Hoosiers choose to have an abortion. Individual circumstance differs, as well as each person’s response to that choice. For some, the choice to have an abortion leads to regret.

"When I first walked out of the abortion clinic… I had such an empty feeling," said Machelle Montgomery. "I don't know if I ever felt that feeling in my life. I don't know if that was regret, because I turned that off."

Montgomery told 13News she became pregnant at 15. Her mom drove her to an abortion clinic, but ultimately, the choice was hers.  

"No, they didn’t make me," she said. "However, I think we went into this not fully understanding what natural consequences abortion would bring." 

Montgomery said she experienced depression and struggled with substance abuse issued after her abortion.

"I didn’t care if I’d wake up or not," she said.

She’s now anti-abortion.

"I don’t think it’s an answer in any situation," she said.

More than 40 years later and Montgomery still gets emotional when discussing her decision.

She now works to help others cope after having an abortion. She’s the coordinator for SOAR - Spiritually Oriented Abortion Recovery. It’s a five-week Bible study to help people post-abortion.

"You know, I always tell people, this is not a cure-all, but it will get you well on your way," she said.

RELATED: The amended abortion ban bill passed out of committee and is headed to the House floor. Here's what's in it

SOAR was created by Life Centers, which is also associated with Pregnancy Choices Indy, a group of pregnancy resource centers that do not support abortion. The centers offer pregnancy tests and ultrasound exams, as well as diapers, baby clothing and supplies. However, they are not medical clinics.

The PCI website says it provides information about pregnancy options - adoption, parenting, and abortion.  However, the site is clear that PCI does not perform abortions or refer people to abortion services.

Life Centers is a Christian organization and says its mission is to "affirm the value of life" by providing "compassionate care" to people dealing with unplanned pregnancies. SOAR is focused on supporting women, men and families after an abortion.  

Heather Wilson said she first learned of SOAR when she inquired about volunteering at one of the centers. 

"I’m thinking I’ll atone for my sins, my abortion, " Wilson said. "I’ll help women, and everything will be great."

However to volunteer, she also had to complete SOAR. Talking about her abortion was - and is - painful. However, she said the program helped her address her regret and the other emotions she was feeling that she attributes to ending her pregnancy.

Now, she’s more comfortable sharing her abortion story. 

At 17, she learned she was pregnant. She was scared, but excited. Her high school boyfriend was not.

"I told him and he immediately wanted me to have an abortion," she said. "I could hear him laughing with his buddy that he would push me down the stairs or kick me in the stomach and I still didn't realize how badly he treated me."

RELATED: Kansas voters protect abortion rights, block path to ban

Wilson waited until she turned 18 to have the abortion so she didn't have to tell her parents. At the abortion clinic, she said she wasn’t given other options like adoption or resources to parent. 

"There I had an ultrasound, but they turned the volume down, so I couldn't hear the heartbeat," she said. "And they turned it around so I couldn't see anything. It was just, almost like they took that choice away."

Twenty-five years later and Wilson is still emotional, angry recounting the experience. She reports having second thoughts during her procedure.

"I remember how painful the procedure was and the noise," she said. "The noise of that vacuum and how haunting it is, and I just laid there. And I had this voice in my head, 'Just get up, just get up, just get up.' But they told me it was too late after I took that pill. So, I just laid there and tried to be as quiet as I could."

Today in Indiana, the process is slower. Patients undergo counseling, a waiting period, and must receive an ultrasound with the option to view the image before their abortion.

RELATED: Bloomington mom wants to tell House lawmakers about her abortion

Even with those changes, these women want abortion outlawed. They hope the Indiana Legislature will pass an abortion ban, without exceptions, during this special session.

"I don't think it's an answer in any situation," Montgomery said.

She said the decision to have an abortion is generational. Reporting her mother regretted helping her get one years later.

"If abortion is so easy and such a simple medical procedure, then why do you struggle even 42 years later?" she said. 

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