The Mother's Day 2003 Silent No More Event: So what did I actually say, to virtually no one listening?My name is Annie Banno and I am the Connecticut State Leader of the “Operation Outcry: Silent No More” Campaign.
Today, May 9, 2003, beginning at 10 am, I stand here, representing the women of the Connecticut chapter of “Operation Outcry: Silent No More” and other post-abortive women, to hold this Press Conference to commemorate Mother’s Day weekend and the babies we have lost to abortion. I will speak up publicly to share my personal story, and will play the recorded testimony of a woman who could not risk being photographed or identified in the newspapers or on TV news programs. For myself, for “Rose,” for “Norma,” for “Theresa,” “Ruth” and many more women who could not be here today but wanted to, I will commemorate our lost children in a brief memorial by announcing our aborted children’s names, where known, the other mothers’ names, and I will place a single red rose for each child in our Mother’s Day Memorial basket here at the press conference. As a symbol of our regret and of our love for the children we denied for so long.
It is our hope that regardless of how you feel about abortion, you will listen to what we have to say and consider whether women deserve better choices than abortion. The Elliott Institute surveyed many medical research studies, and in applying these studies’ conclusions, it is safe to say that more than 17 million American women silently suffer each Mother’s Day because of their abortions. Or they are in complete denial about them.
Many women (and men) who regret their involvement with abortion were invited to attend today. The reason that there are no other women standing with me yet is because they and millions of American women who have had abortions cannot acknowledge their pain. They are unable to risk having their picture or name in the paper or on TV news. Even if they have sought and found healing and forgiveness, circumstances may not allow them to tell family members. If a post-abortive woman admits it, some pro-life people -- like the ones who shout hateful instead of helpful words outside the abortion clinics -- will condemn her. And abortion rights people will call her crazy for feeling regret. They’ll say she’s “unstable” and it’s all in her head. Those who promote abortion even refuse to support and, in some cases, go to court to block the kind of comprehensive research that would reveal how widespread the suffering is. So a woman who regrets her abortion feels she can’t win, as if both sides make it impossible for her to seek healing from her regret and pain. That’s why so many women don’t talk about their regret. It seems that no one makes it easy.
Still others are convinced that they are the only ones hurting. But the truth is that everywhere we go, everywhere we look, even when female service technicians come to our homes and see the abortion recovery literature strewn on our desks, women cannot help but pour out their grief and their regret.
We are a coalition of post-abortive women standing together to tell the people of Connecticut that abortion hurts women and that if anyone is hurting, there is healing help and they can find the healing they deserve. We will not let our guilt and shame silence us anymore. The truth must be told: Abortion hurts women, and we want to help those who are hurting.
This “Mother’s Day Weekend” Press Conference is the first of its kind. It will not be the last. It is also not the first time women who personally experienced abortion are speaking as a group publicly. This past January, there were over fifty-six Silent No More events in 40 states, with over 800 women speaking up. Fifty women stood for four hours on the Supreme Court steps in Washington, D.C., speaking in the evening in the sub-freezing cold. Every “Operation Outcry: Silent No More” event is a gathering of women who share one thing; each of us had an abortion and experienced physical, or psychological pain and consequences.
I became a mother for the first time - really - in February 1979. I should have first celebrated Mother’s Day that year. Unfortunately for me, I made the wrong “choice,” and by Mother’s Day, I was no longer pregnant with my baby girl.
The “Operation Outcry: Silent No More” campaign tells the truth about abortion’s emotional, spiritual and physical consequences and reaches out to women suffering from their abortion experience.
While a few hundred of us have found the courage nationwide this year to speak publicly, there are many more who contacted “Operation Outcry: Silent No More” nationwide and wanted to speak but could not. Women encouraged us to get the truth out, thanked us for telling the truth but felt it was impossible for them to go public. Why? Because shame and fear of judgment by friends and family keeps them quiet.
But as they said: “The truth must be told: Abortion hurts women.” And if you are hurting, there is help.
Thirty years ago, when abortion became legal, we were told abortion was a simple, safe solution to a problem pregnancy. That is not true.
The truth is women still die from legal abortion. We suffer from infections, inability to have children, painful endometriosis, and breast cancer. And we have struggled with substance abuse, relationship problems, depression, eating disorders, even suicide.
I am here today because I want everyone to know the truth about abortion. It isn’t a simple procedure. Abortion has caused more problems for each of us, than it solved. I have come here to share publicly what has been a very private and painful experience in our lives. And to remember that we are still the mothers of our lost children, even if it was our “choice” at the time.
The members of “Operation Outcry: Silent No More” want other women who can relate to our pain to hear about the hope and help we have found. We have been able to grieve. We have learned to forgive ourselves and others involved in our abortions. And we have been able to find peace.
Strictly confidential help is available from at least 13 abortion recovery support groups right here in Connecticut, and from more than 3,000 programs nationwide. I have the list here today of all these resources for counseling and support. Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats are weekend retreats which I personally can say are incredible times of healing. In addition, many books and websites offer help, such as HopeAfterAbortion.com, and 1-800-395-HELP is a national toll-free helpline to get you help no matter where you live.
We are not statistics; we are your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends. We are normal, capable, rational women. We are sisters, daughters, moms, and wives who can't be silent anymore.
Every day in this country close to 4,000 women and girls undergo an abortion procedure. About two out of every five women who you and I know, has had an abortion. Every day, people who say they love us, encourage us to undergo a procedure that scars us for life. If you love a women, a daughter, a friend who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, please don’t suggest an abortion as the solution. Instead promise and provide unconditional love and support.
Whether you call yourself pro-choice or pro-life, let us focus on developing support systems to help pregnant women. Women deserve better than abortion. We need to go beyond making abortion rare, we need to make it unnecessary and unthinkable.
First, I will give you my own personal story, then you will hear “Rose’s” recorded testimony. Then I will remember our lost children with a Memorial Rose.