Still carrying the scar: the impact of abortion from a father’s perspective

This article was written by Bruce Trice. Bruce and Janice Trice have served on the board of Caring Hearts Pregnancy Center in North Little Rock, Bruce for seven years and Janice for three. Bruce spent two years as Development Director for Caring Hearts. The couple have been married for 34 years and have five adult children, three sons in law, and five grandchildren.  Part of the process of healing included sharing their story with their own children, and today they are a family of staunch and vocal pro-life advocates who have worked to expose the horrible nature of abortion and its after effects.

Our Story—In 1986, after four months of dating, and a lifetime (23 years for both of us at that point) of saving ourselves for marriage, we began having sex, thinking that we would be getting married anyway, why wait any longer. That, as we know, is a large mistake on several different levels. 

I would attend church with Janice from time to time, but we really ignored the grounding that each of us had in our faith, and we had zero accountability to anybody around us. Neither of us was using any kind of birth control and we let our emotions lead the way.

Janice became pregnant.  She was advised by a peer/friend to go to see a local OB-GYN and get a clinical pregnancy test.  The test came back positive.  When it was made clear that we did not want to have a baby at that point in time, the nurse gave Janice a separate number to call for their after hours clinic in the same facility where abortions were performed. 

It is important to note that in the moments when she was told that she was pregnant, the staff at the clinic never referred to the pregnancy as “a baby.”  The nurse put her hand on Janice’s arm (remember the power of touch) and asked, “Is this a problem?”  She responded with a simple “yes.”  There was no counseling or alternative offered. Only abortion.

After a couple of days of deliberation framed in guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, blame, selfishness and every other negative adjective that one can imagine being attached to this situation, the call was made to set the appointment. Janice was told to have someone drive her there and bring her home, bring $250.00 cash (this was 1986) and not to eat or drink anything 12 hours before.  

It was approximately one week between setting the appointment and our going back to the clinic which gave us even more time to develop resolve in carrying out the abortion.  We lived and worked in separate cities, about 70 miles apart and we didn’t discuss it until the day of the appointment came.  I remember pulling into the large parking lot across from the tower, getting out of the car, walking to the building and taking the elevator up to the clinic. 

I remember the color of the office furniture and that the room was full of other clients, mostly couples, all there for the same purpose.  Some were talking and even laughing.  After checking in, we sat silent until Janice’s name was called. I watched her rise from her seat and walk toward the door, and I kept watching as the door closed behind her.  In that instant, I became completely oblivious to everything that took place on the other side of that wall, just a few feet away.  We were seven weeks along.

I remember the sound of the soft music that was playing over the intercom system.  I made hesitant eye contact with a few men who were sitting alone, like me. The abortion process, which I had little to no awareness of at that time, didn’t take very long.  Afterward, we both walked back to the car and made our way to Janice’s west Little Rock apartment after a quick stop at Kroger where I got her some ice-cream.  It was like she just had her tonsils removed. I had no idea what it had really been like behind that door and that it would have a lasting negative impact on our relationship.

Though we set a wedding date for that upcoming July 19th and had a very traditional wedding with many attendees, our decision to have an abortion immediately began defining the next 15 years of our life. As I later learned in counseling, Janice didn’t trust me and was angry and carrying around a large amount of resentment.  She tried to tell me how horrific her experience had been behind that door at the clinic, but I wasn’t ready to deal with that truth for many years. She repeatedly told me how painful it was, and how uncaring and clinical the staff were once they had her money. 

She heard women screaming, and two nurses in the hall talking about a patient who was back for the third time after changing her mind.  None of these are things that women will talk about openly – in fact, they are being encouraged to “shout your abortion” in an effort to normalize the gruesome facts. Yet those facts have caused so much destruction to women and men. Suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, abusive relationships – these are just a few of the resulting issues in women’s and men’s lives because of abortion.

Fast forward several years. We were pregnant for the seventh time in our relationship.  Three of the previous pregnancies had begun with much fear and blame on my part.  The seventh was different.  We had five children and with my work going well, I was the one telling Janice that we would be okay and that everything would be just fine after she emerged from the master bathroom with tears in her eyes and a pregnancy test in her hand, which was clearly positive.  

With immediate acceptance, we shared the news with our children and began to call our family and close friends to let them know.  Janice and I were both 46 years old at the time and because of that, her pregnancy was deemed “high-risk” by her doctor.  Despite that, baby Trice was progressing right on schedule and everything was as normal as a pregnancy could be, until the beginning of the 16th week. Janice got a little ill over the weekend and felt that there could be an issue. So, she scheduled an appointment with her OB-GYN the following Monday afternoon.

The doctor could not detect a heartbeat, but he said not to be concerned just yet and asked if we could go down the hall and “take some pictures.”  We were taken to an ultrasound room, and soon our 16-week-old baby was on a very large screen, while the ultrasound tech searched diligently for a heartbeat as we held hands. 

As she searched, our eyes were on each other and the image of our child on the monitor to the right of the exam table.  It was in that moment that I saw a perfect little image of humanity right in front of me, perfectly formed but without a heartbeat. The ultrasound tech finally stopped and said, “I’m just so sorry y’all.”  

We have photos in the womb of the other five living children at various stages but for some reason, in that image, I got total clarity in my soul of the inhumanity of abortion; of what we had done five months before we were married, all those years ago.  Finally, after a previous year and a half of intense marriage counseling hadn’t helped my understanding, my eyes as a father who was complicit in abortion were opened.

Men totally miss the physical connection to the child in the womb.  We don’t carry the child.  We don’t provide sustenance for the child.  We don’t feel the child inside a womb.  We have no physical connection with what is happening with the child in the womb.  The best we can do is see images on an ultrasound monitor, hear a heartbeat, watch and feel the mother’s shape change as the baby grows and see and feel the baby move around…all from the outside.

Janice and I would like to believe that if someone had been on the sidewalk that day offering to pray or offering assistance, or just to simply listen without judgement, that we would have made a different decision that day.  We will never know the answer to that question, and though we know we have been forgiven and made pure by the blood of our Savior, it has left a scar in both of our lives that serves as a reminder of our brokenness.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Arkansas Baptists give financially to support several pregnancy care centers in the state through your gifts to the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering.  Many of the people who serve at these centers have been personally impacted by abortion. As part of our Sanctity of Human Life emphasis, in this week’s eMagazine we  will feature their personal stories of hope and healing and share some practical ways that you can get involved in this life-changing ministry.

For part two of this article, click here.

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