Ian and Jan Letchford can’t remember any specific details of the day they ended their child’s life, but the pain and guilt of that mistake has been a constant reminder for the 44 years since.
Now in their 60s and living in the Darling Downs of Queensland, the Letchfords decided in February to share at church their story of loss and regret.
Ian says he felt numb as he stoically read through his carefully-prepared testimony, not daring to make eye contact with the congregation or his wife.
He told the congregation: “We regret our decision to this day that spoiled God’s plan. Even now I feel sick at the thought of it.”
It was raw and real as they laid bare their sin of having an abortion just six months after their first child, Tracy, was born.
Tracy was conceived in the UK while the couple was engaged. Somewhat embarrassed, Ian and Jan brought the wedding forward and Tracy was born in 1974.
Jan was desperately ill throughout the entire pregnancy, recalling how she heaved into the ever-present sick bucket between contractions right up to and including the birth.
They decided not to risk another pregnancy, and Ian had a vasectomy. It didn’t take.
Six months later they found out they were expecting.
“We panicked,” Ian said.
“We remembered how sick Jan had been throughout the first pregnancy and decided to have a termination.
“We always wanted more children but didn’t want to go through another pregnancy.
“Neither of us can remember much about the actual day other than that the medical staff told us our eight-week old child was nothing more than a blob of cells, and that the procedure was safe, quick and easy.
“To be honest, we felt a great sense of initial relief.’’
Ian and Jan had already decided to foster children, and were delighted when they ended up fostering Vicki, then aged five months. They adopted her five years later when finally given the opportunity.
They forced the abortion to the back of their minds, but unresolved grief, guilt and shame have a habit of revisiting at unexpected and inopportune times such as the birth of a child, news about abortion and even mention of Emily’s Voice within the church.
The Letchfords said they had been surprised at the number of church friends who have since shared similar abortion stories, and familiar feelings of shame and regret.
The couple, who share a property with Tracy and her family, said they wanted to warn other families sold a lie that abortion is easy and risk-free, and bring awareness to those suffering with unresolved abortion grief.
They have four grandchildren ranging in age from 6-20, two each to their two children, but will always wonder at the earthly impact of the unnamed child in heaven and the untold lives and generations affected as a result of one decision.
Do you have a similar story?
Or do you know someone touched by abortion grief?
You will find truthful and non-judgemental information and support HERE (scroll down to Grief Support for contact details of support services).