This month, Jan. 22 to be exact, will mark the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion available to all on a simple choice basis.
There is nothing simple about abortion, however. It is a tragedy that has accounted for the brutal, unspeakable deaths of millions of unborn children. It has also left a similar number of women traumatized and emotionally scarred almost beyond hope.
Jennifer O’Neill remembers her abortion experience vividly. The actress and legendary supermodel had been thrilled when she discovered she was carrying the baby of a man she planned to spend her life with. When he demanded she terminate the pregnancy, she agreed to the procedure, assured by doctors there was nothing more involved than the removal of tissue.
“On the table, I was hysterical at the doctors,” she recalls. “He tried to talk to the father because I was so upset. My response to it was self-loathing, weakness, and even an inability to relate to the daughter I already had.”
O’Neill shares this experience with women throughout the country. Some figures put the number at 25 million women who must cope every day with the emotional and physical aftermath of having had an abortion. They suffer with physical pain, an inability to form bonds of trust and intimacy in their relationships, an increased potential for miscarriage, and the guilt, regret and emotional devastation that comes with having taken a life.
“There are higher rates of alcoholism and drug abuse,” O’Neill explains, “because women who have had an abortion want to be numb. The truth needs to get out that abortion kills our children, it hurts our women, and it destroys our families.”
Jennifer O’Neill found the truth when she was 38. It was a slow process that had its defining moment as she emerged from the water of her swimming pool baptism.
“It was that moment of coming out of the water,” she describes, “that it all was very real and clear to me. I had such an experience of what baptism is supposed to be – a public declaration of things that had been going on in my heart and mind, about spiritual warfare that had been happening over me for years, that I finally stated, resolved and clarified. It was at that moment of coming out of the water that was clear to me in terms of ‘I’ve arrived in God’s arms.’”
O’Neill works every day to keep that feeling alive and fresh in her life, and to share it with women who need it so badly.
“First thing when I get up in the morning, I literally say this is the day that God has made and in it I will be glad. It is my choice to bring my thoughts captive — to choose to forgive on a daily basis and let God know that he’s my only friend, he’s the whole ball of wax, and I worship him. I praise him, but I worship him. I’m so blessed to just know him.
Jennifer O’Neill reaches out to other women who suffer with the aftermath of abortion as the spokesperson for Silent No More, a national effort to let women know they are not alone in their hurt and pain, that they do not have to suffer in silence with the emotional and physical pain they are feeling, and that help is waiting for them.
“This campaign creates a safe place for women to break their silence about the pain of abortion,” she says. “They let women know that abortion is not good for women and they can come out and deal with the subject matter and become these incredible billboards for the truth.”
O’Neill is the subject of a billboard in which she shares her own abortion regret and encourages women to share their own stories. The billboard now appears in seven states and help is available to anyone by calling 800-767-7258.
In addition, Silent No More is making radio messages available at their web site — www.silentnomoreawareness.org — and is sponsoring a rally following the March For Life on Jan. 24 in Washington, D.C.
Jennifer O’Neill has written two books that chronicle her life experiences as a bright, intelligent, adventurous woman — powerful and with the world seemingly at her feet, but all the time wishing desperately to be accepted, to be found worthy, to be loved. Her first book, Surviving Myself, describes her passage from a too tall, too thin girl into the cover model envy of women worldwide. Her second book, From Fallen To Forgiven, relates the journey that saved her from tragedy and brought her to God’s grace. Both are superbly crafted, with phrasing and imagery that leaps from the page.
It is her third book, however, which may be the most important one. You’re Not Alone debuts this month and reaches out to the countless women with whom O’Neill feels such a special bond. In the book, she shares a love letter from God that emerges from scripture – available for anyone who takes time to find it.
God’s Love Letter (partial)
“Please accept this extravagant gift of life that I’m offering you. Come to me and you will find that I am gentle and humble.
“Nothing, absolutely nothing can change My love for you. Trust in Me and I will help you. I’ll welcome you with open arms and I will meet all of your needs.
“Let Me live in your heart and I’ll breathe new life into you. Just invite me in and all of heaven will celebrate. I’ll be with you every day of your life and fill you with hope because you belong to Me.
“I am Jesus, the lover of your soul.”
“If we go to his word and read his definitions, as they’re sprinkled through the Bible, it becomes clear he is writing us a love letter, and he is wooing us and pursuing us,” O’Neill says with obvious excitement for this gift she received. “Put this on your refrigerator or your mirror. When you get up in the morning and the negative tapes begin ‘how dare you get up and even talk to anybody anyway – you messed up yesterday and you’re going to mess up today,’ just read the love letter and know that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect.”
Not perfect – just forgiven.
More information regarding Jennifer O’Neill’s ministry, books and other resources, visit www.jenniferoneill.com.