Lise Dufour is the author of the book: J'ai avorté... par peur. Avec Lui, espérer encore! [I aborted...out of fear. With Him...still hoping!]. This woman does not consider herself a researcher or an expert on the subject, but she is a seeker of God. She has a deep respect for Life since she came from darkness to light in a journey of grief centered on the unborn child. As she says, "Life is God's most precious gift and it is eternal."
She therefore "dreams of a society that respects Life and is not turned toward death," quite simply.
Lise Dufour at the launch of her book in Quebec City - Photo: Josée Poulin
Lise just launched her book in Quebec City on October 10, 2022. Brian Jenkins, Vice-President of QLC, was there. He reports that there was a good number of women supporting her and a warm atmosphere. At the end of her talk, she shared her testimony, and Brian called it a "cathartic" (liberating) moment. Several other women then decided to pay tribute to Mrs Dufour’s courage and shared their testimonies.
The author agreed to answer my questions after I read her book. Her book is a testament to her journey after undergoing the abortion of her daughter at the age of 30.
Joanne for QLC: Can you share with me how long you have you been testifying about your story of aborting your daughter Elizabeth?
Lise Dufour: I have been talking about it more openly since the unborn child-centered grief journey with Benedetta Foà (an Italian post-abortion psychologist) in September 2013, more than 25 years after the abortion.
I have testified on a few occasions, but it was through more personal exchanges with women that allow them to open up a bit about their own experience.
Joanne for QLC: Recently, you launched your book J'ai avorté... par peur/Avec Lui espérer encore (I had an abortion... out of fear... with Him... still hoping) in Quebec City in which you testify about your own abortion. I think that your testimony can open the door for other women to give themselves permission to express themselves. Is it common for women to shut themselves off after an abortion and suffer in solitude?
Lise Dufour: I can't answer for all women, but the ones I've met have often told me that it was the first time they've talked about it. I believe that a woman who has had an abortion quickly closes the door on this experience so as not to suffer too much from it. Does she suffer in solitude? No doubt... That is why I wrote this book. I don't know if it will have the desired effect on women who have undergone an abortion, that is, to open their secret garden. I hope with all my heart that it will, so that they can free themselves from a huge burden. Revisiting this experience by naming the feelings experienced can do them a lot of good and all the healing journeys I have participated in demonstrate this. I see women and men straighten up, get back on their feet and become radiant. They come back to Life!
Joanne for QLC: We live in a progressive society that talks a lot about the importance of mental health, but I don't see many people referring to the effects of abortion on the mom’s or dad’s mental health. Can you tell me about that from your personal experience? (p.31-34)
Lise Dufour: This is a very important question, Joanne, and it could be the subject of a whole book. I will try to answer it simply, based on my own experience and the confession of one of my friends. I will not be able to generalize, however, because each situation is unique.
Society does not talk about the consequences of abortion, period, whether or not the person has a mental health problem. Society hardly encourages someone with a mental health problem to have a child. Some doctors may even induce miscarriages if they know the woman has a mental health problem. So we're a long way from warning about the consequences of abortion.
The decision to have an abortion may be more common, but not necessarily easier, for people with mental health problems because they lack confidence in their ability to raise a child. Society is far from favouring people with mental health problems. This is changing, but very slowly. It's clear that parents with mental health problems are under more stress... because of the stigma that society has about mental health. So parenting with a mental health problem is a big challenge. Society does not excuse any fault because of this fragility and puts enormous pressure on these parents. It is also quick to blame, always in the place that hurts the most: "Ah, it's because he or she has a mental health problem."
"Women or couples need a resource (friend, neighbor) who will watch over them,
while everything stabilizes" L.D. - Photo: Pexels.com
This is why Parents-Espoir [Parents-Hope] exists in Quebec City. We created this organization to help parents suffering from a mental health problem. Today, it offers workshops to help parents gain confidence in their parenting skills with the GESPER program. The organization even trains peer helpers.
Women can become pregnant without any apparent problem and symptoms appear during the pregnancy. They may even be hospitalized during the pregnancy or immediately after, due to hormonal readjustment or a more intense "baby blues". Women or couples need a resource (friend, neighbor) to watch over them until things stabilize. I believe in the ability of every human being to become a parent, whatever their condition, with the necessary support.
Having said that, some consequences of abortion can amplify an already existing or dormant problem, always from my personal point of view. For example, people who feel depressed or have low self-esteem may find their image or identity greatly altered as a result of an abortion. It is almost impossible to come out of it unscathed anyway. It is a mistake to think that a woman will get through it without problems. She may not identify them, but the consequences of the abortion will continue to gnaw at her inside.
In my case, having my daughters after my abortion stabilized my life, because I was responsible for lives other than my own. I hope this answers part of your question.
Joanne for QLC: Also, in today's society, we don't talk enough about the negative consequences of abortion. Can you share yours with us? The first days after the abortion, the first months... What was it like? (I ask this question to show women what they are not told in abortion clinics)
Lise Dufour: I have no recollection of how I experienced the days and months following the abortion. Totally hidden! Total amnesia! I went back to work as if nothing in my life had changed. I always reacted strongly, though, when people talked about abortion as a crime. It is so easy to judge someone!
The person who wants to read about the consequences of abortion can find excellent books and even good information on the net. You will find good references at the end of the book. They are not exhaustive, but good suggestions.
It is difficult for me to identify the psychological consequences that belong to the abortion, because I was already in a precarious state. The most important consequences are to have deprived a child of living his own life, in addition to destabilizing the life of his father, who was already fragile too. I realized other consequences in the Holy Land, such as interrupting the generations and the pain inflicted on the being in formation. The experience of abortion bounces back at moments in your life when you least expect it: a conversation with a friend, a movie or TV show, a trip, etc. I think it's a gradual awakening to the existence of the child.
"There are unsuspected consequences that the person discovers as he or she progresses
in realizing the seriousness of their decision, I think" L.D. - Photo: Pexels.com
The consequences are diverse and unique to each person. The suicide rate among young people who have had an abortion, for example, is higher. I gleaned this information from the grief journey focused on the unborn child. Benedetta Foà, an Italian psychologist specializing in post-abortion, has done quite a bit of work on the physical, psychological and moral consequences. Rachel's Vineyard touches on this too.
There are unsuspected consequences that the person discovers as she becomes more aware of the seriousness of her decision, I think. Some women have nightmares; others hear children crying. This was not my case! I didn't know my child existed until the Lord showed her to me during adoration, because I believed, hard as a rock, that there was nothing there until 15 weeks. It must have been my business to believe it to make the decision easier.
Joanne for QLC: Can you tell me about the shockwave you talk about in your book on page 50, what is it?
Lise Dufour: The shockwave is the effect of abortion on the people around you or on the people close to you in the family, as I explain in my book on page 50. It can even affect the future children, the survivors of the abortion.
Abortion affects not only the person who experiences it, but also other people and even society. Mother Teresa was convinced that abortion is responsible for the wars in the world. As a groundswell, this is huge. I invite you to visit this link for more details: https://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/shockwaves/about.aspx. Angelina, the leader of Silent no more, lived Benedetta's journey of grief with us in June 2016. Benedetta Foà also talks about it in her book, but it is in Italian, and it is not yet translated.
Joanne for CQV: What kind of research have you found about women who suffer negative consequences after abortion? Can you share it with me?
Lise Dufour: I am not a researcher. I simply shared my experience and quotes from books on the subject were used to support what I said. From experience, I know that women suffer from their abortion, to varying degrees, once they have passed the stage of denial. They can stay in denial for a long time.
Joanne for QLC: In your book, you describe a lot of the fear that led to your abortion. What were your beliefs during that time in your life? What was your world view based on? Where did this immense fear come from?
Lise Dufour: I'm not sure I understand the question, but the fear was inscribed in my body early on because of an abuse experienced in childhood. I grew up more distrustful than trusting from that moment on. My deepest convictions that accompanied my decision to have an abortion were certainly that I did not want to see my child suffer in turn, either from a mental health problem or from sexual abuse. However, I identified this tip of the iceberg after the abortion, during the grieving process. The first reason I had an abortion was fear about my child's health, since the father was on medication and I had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. That's heavy enough. Then there was the fear of lacking the basic necessities, as I was without job security.
Joanne for QLC: How do you address this fear for young women today who are considering having an abortion?
Lise Dufour: If they could verbalize their fears, put them into words, I think they would have a little more power over them. This is why I created the email address: [email protected]. I invite people to talk to me about their fears if they are feeling ambivalent about their pregnancy. If they were sure they would have support during and after their pregnancy, perhaps they would not consider abortion? They often don't know what resources are available to help them. If their fears run deep, they may benefit from meeting with someone who can help them identify the roots of their fears.
Often young people will not tell their parents for fear of disappointing them, but if they knew how many parents are willing to help them keep their child. Some are even willing to adopt the child to prevent their daughter from having an abortion.
TV shows are starting to put forward other solutions to abortion and that's good. We hear more and more young people who want to keep their child. It's a step in the right direction, because we know that everything society does, it snowballs. I hope that young people will take courage from an unplanned pregnancy. There is always a solution, even if the pregnancy seems to be a dead end.
Joanne for QLC: Were there people around you who motivated you towards this action, actors of the pro-choice movement perhaps or was the main actor the fear that came from you, from your childhood, etc.?
Lise Dufour: I was not pressured by my child’s father, my family or anyone around me to have this abortion, unlike many women. I made the decision after a long period of ambivalence, which is quite normal during a pregnancy, but I did not know. My doctor, on the contrary, encouraged me to keep it. He even suggested that I meet with the best geneticist. But fear had already dug too deep.
Certainly the message "There's nothing there before 15 weeks" made its way into my heart to allow me to do it, but I don't remember where or from whom I heard it! I don't know if society still has this kind of message, because it's totally wrong! Abortion is heavy with consequences. It is a trauma comparable to that experienced by soldiers. That says it all!
Joanne for QLC: How long did you keep this secret? (You say in the book that you closed the door very quickly after the events that took place.)
Lise Dufour: More than 25 years... Some of the people around me knew about it, but I only really talked about it during the Journey of Mourning centered on the unborn child in Medjugorje. The Italian women that were present gave me the confidence to do so. You don't have to go that far to do it. Rachel's Vineyard is an excellent healing journey tool.
Joanne for QLC: You had an abortion at a time when abortion was illegal, but the Laval University Hospital Center in Quebec city still offered you this "service." How is this possible?
Lise Dufour: Because I had a mental health problem, it was easy for the medical team to do this abortion under the guise of a therapeutic abortion, I believe. But I don't know how the decision was made at the hospital. We call and say we want an abortion and they give us an appointment. My life was not in any danger. I was glad, though, that I had the abortion in a safe environment. I wouldn't have liked to have it clandestinely.
"Abortion is heavy with consequences. It's a trauma comparable to that of soldiers." L.D. - Photo: Adobe Stock
Joanne for QLC: Was it traumatic at the time?
Lise Dufour: With the sedative, I was calm. There is surely a trauma, since I still hear the vacuum machine when I think back about the surgery, but nothing major at the time!
Joanne for CQV: When did you decide that it was time to tell your story as you do now, publicly, with a book?
Lise Dufour: Providence led me to write this book, as it also led me to Italy and then to Medjugorje to live the Journey of Mourning with Benedetta. It took me more than six years to write this book, with long pauses for maturation. I felt the urgency to finish it, however, when I learned that a young woman was having an abortion. I said to myself, "Lise, what are you waiting for to finish your book? I did a few testimonials before I started writing my book, but in a very ad hoc way. I always wondered, however, if it was appropriate to testify. I have received so much [to heal] from my abortion that it was only natural that I give back. We are all one family: it is important to allow people who are suffering to lighten their burden. This is what the book proposes. The book would not exist if I had not tried to have Benedetta's book translated into French.
Joanne for QLC: In your book, you are on a first-name basis with the readers. Why is it important for you to have this kind of closeness with those who read the book?
Lise Dufour: I wanted to create a climate of gentle complicity between two women who do not know each other, but who love each other in their suffering, ambivalent humanity. I consider each woman who juggles with abortion as my sisters, my friends. I would like to prevent them from burdening their lives with such a decision. Also, for those who have had one or more, I would like them to take care of themselves by allowing themselves to revisit this traumatic experience and by talking to me about it.
Joanne for CQV: And if someone were to say that you are doing what you are doing now out of guilt, or as a kind of healing therapy, how would you respond?
Lise Dufour: What do you want me to say to that person? This person has the right to perceive what I do through his or her own personal prism. Opening one's secret garden always bears fruit, because it is a way to get to the truth about oneself. The part of my life that I testify about is totally assumed. So much the better if I heal even more deeply by sharing my story. The guilt or the search for true repentance ended at Paray-le-Monial (see pages 86-87 of the book).
Joanne for QLC: We live in a part of the world where the pro-choice movement is very strong, thank you for publicly sharing your story. How can we encourage more people to get involved in this mission? People who may not have stories like yours? What should be their motivation?
Lise Dufour: The precious gift of Life should be the motivation for everyone to protect the most vulnerable in society. It is important to distinguish between people who have a great respect for Life because they have discovered this precious gift of God and people who are militant in one camp or the other. For my part, I do not get involved in these divisive wars of conviction. In a responsible society, the gift of Life should always have priority and always come first. We have to revisit our values individually and collectively.
"People who are in favor of abortion are following a global trend, but without having lived
the experience." L.D. - Photo: Unsplash
Joanne for QLC: Abortion is currently presented as a good, as health care, after your personal experience and testimony, how would you correct this perception?
Lise Dufour: I believe I lift the veil on the lies surrounding abortion throughout the book. By publishing, I have done the most I could do to shed new light. It is up to each and every one of us to step out of a culture of death and truly choose Life. It is important that the boots follow the lips. People who are in favor of abortion are following a global trend, but without having lived the experience. People who have experienced one or more abortions know their discomfort or "disrespect" for life. That is the difference. People who are thinking about abortion should talk to someone who has had one rather than let society distort their own awareness of what is true, beautiful and good.
Joanne for CQV: In the book, you talk about therapeutic abortion. For women who don't know, can you explain more about what it is, how it came about, and what it actually is?
Lise Dufour: At the time when abortion was punishable by prison, only therapeutic abortion was allowed. You only have to read the note that appears at the bottom of page 45 of the book to better understand. This information no longer appears on the Éducaloi site. That's a shame! Abortion was qualified as "therapeutic" if the mother's life was in danger.
Joanne for QLC: What do you think about medical assistance in dying for infants? Just recently, Dr. Roy of the Quebec College of Physicians suggested that children who are seriously ill could receive medical assistance in dying.
Lise Dufour: Unacceptable, because the child will die anyway quite quickly. He is suffering, of course! Medicine is able to relieve the suffering, but not the pain of the parents. Their own decision will simply weigh down their hearts, thinking to alleviate their pain. They will probably experience the same consequences as the parents who must quickly decide to abort their child who has been diagnosed as severely disabled. These parents are so devastated. Pope Francis recommends that parents continue their journey of love with their child to the end. They will have pain, but they will have had time to love him too (see pages 73 and 74 of the book). We are moving quite rapidly towards a eugenic society where there will be no room for people with disabilities and mental health problems. It will be all the less human. That's my opinion!
Joanne for QLC: What is the audience for your book: young women who are thinking about abortion, women of all ages who are thinking about abortion, or women who are seeking healing?
Lise Dufour: All of these answers are good. The book is divided in such a way that the person can read only the chapter that is intended for her. When we experience ambivalence, our brain is so focused on the decision to be made that we have little energy to do anything else. It was important to me that the person could read something short to help her make the best decision possible or to start taking care of herself by going through a journey of grief, including Rachel's Vineyard. The next Vineyard Retreat will be held on Mercy Weekend and space is limited.
Joanne for QLC: Would you want this book to be given as a gift to a woman who is thinking of having an abortion?
Lise Dufour: Absolutely. Some people have already bought a copy for that purpose. It requires audacity and courage on the part of the person who offers it, but I think it is a great gift to give her so that she can continue her reflection quietly. She will be able to put into words her doubts, her fears, her deep motivations. She will even be able to communicate with me if she wants to. Yes, we should not hesitate to give a copy to women who are experiencing ambivalence about their pregnancy and to women who have had an abortion so that they can begin to name what they have experienced. These are wonderful gifts that I have received and would love to share with them.
Joanne for QLC: What is the most important message you want to convey to women through your testimony of choosing life?
Lise Dufour: Life is the most precious gift we can receive and pass on! It is eternal. Choose life and not death!
If you wish to purchase Lise Dufour's book, please order a copy from Quebec Life Coalition or write to [email protected].