The siblings of aborted children sometimes find it hard to deal with their trauma. (Photo credit: James Dennes on Flickr)

The suffering brothers and sisters of aborted children

Siblings are meant to be together. (Photo credit: TimothyJ on Flickr)
Siblings are meant to be together. (Photo credit: TimothyJ on Flickr)

Abortion is anything but a simple choice. It affects not just the child who dies in an unimaginable way. It affects not just the mother who suffers through the abortion or the father who could do nothing to stop it. Abortion affects the family at large – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and brothers and sisters.

It can be a very strange thought to wonder why you were chosen to live while your brother or sister was chosen for death. Why did you survive? What would your sibling have been like, acted like, looked like? Would he or she have resembled you? Become your best friend? Years of memories you should have had were wiped out before you ever knew that your brother or sister should have existed. Indeed, abortion is anything but simple for the brothers and sisters of aborted children.

Barb, who has worked with the AAA Center for Pregnancy Counseling for nearly thirty years, writes this:

Abortion teaches children that they have worth because they were conceived in the right conditions and at the right time; that they have value because their parents want them. Up to 50% of all American children have lost a brother or a sister to abortion, making it much more likely that they live with a performance view of love: I was born because I was wanted therefore I better perform so they will continue to love me.

Barb also talks about the reality of survivor’s guilt among siblings of aborted children and about the horrors of selective reduction, in which one or more babies in a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, quadruplets) are selected for death and aborted while the rest are allowed to live. Mark I. Evans, a doctor known for doing selective reductions, explains the heartache from his own perspective. Imagine the thoughts of surviving siblings once they discover what happened to their brothers or sisters, right next to them in the womb:

It’s a very hard procedure, because the baby is moving, and you are chasing it. That is what is very emotional — when the baby is moving and you are chasing it.

Angie (not her real name) is the sister of two aborted children. She was the oldest child and the only girl allowed to be born. Her only full biological sibling was aborted in a back-alley procedure, just a few short years after Angie’s birth. Angie’s mother then went on to have two sons – Angie’s half-brothers. They were five and nine years younger than her. When Angie’s mother got pregnant for the last time, she decided she was too tired to have a fourth child. So she flew to New York, where elective abortion was legal at the time, and aborted Angie’s last sibling.

The siblings of aborted children sometimes find it hard to deal with their trauma. (Photo credit: James Dennes on Flickr)
The siblings of aborted children sometimes find it hard to deal with their trauma. (Photo credit: James Dennes on Flickr)

Angie will always have to wonder why she was allowed to live when her brother or sister was subjected to a crude back-alley death. Would she have ever had a sister? Would her real father have been able to stay in her life if her full brother or sister had lived? What would it have been like to have had a sibling close in age to her; to grow up with as a friend? Would she have been a second mother to her youngest sibling, just like she was to her youngest living brother? What made the difference? Why was she saved, when others died?

While Angie may never get all of her answers, it’s important that she – and other men and women like her – find an outlet for their painful questions. There are several wonderful healing ministries for men and women who have experienced abortion, but it’s much harder to find a support group for siblings of aborted babies.

Renee – an oldest daughter just like Angie – shares these sentiments on her blog, Surviving Sibling. She writes about her very personal story – her struggle with her brother’s untimely death, her love for her mother, and both her and her mother’s decisions to get involved in the pro-life movement.

Apparently she chose that night [the night of her mother’s abortion], because going out, then, would not likely arouse suspicion. Years later it brought me such pain to think that that night before she left, when I gave her a hug, I also hugged my little brother inside, but the next time I hugged her, it was just her alone. L How sad she must have been. And how innocent and unaware I was. …

For a while after finding out, I had such a deep sadness that I could not identify at first. I felt like I did when I lost one of my nursing home friends, but nobody had recently died. What was up? Then I realized it was my brother. I was grieving the loss of a little sibling, that up until then had not existed (that I was aware of). How strange. How could I possibly feel so strongly for someone I never met, or even knew about? As I mentioned before, I am not an emotional person, so these feelings were extra unappreciated. I felt stupid for grieving 11 years later. He was long gone, I shouldn’t feel anything. But, that’s not how it works. Over time, I felt that sadness less frequently, but still, 6 years later I feel twinges at times. I have also, at times, felt completely at peace with our situation, and at other times, have seriously forgotten about him. That, I believe, is often a defense mechanism.

Renee has decided to reach out to other siblings of aborted children through her blog and through two Facebook groups she’s created: Abortion Hurts Siblings and Others and a “secret” group called “I Lost a Sibling to Abortion.” If you are suffering from the loss of a sibling through abortion – or still processing it – check out Renee’s blog and Facebook groups. Losing a sibling through abortion is a legitimate cause for grief and pain, and it’s important to find healing as much as possible.

Abortion Recovery International also helps siblings of aborted children find healing. You can call them at 1-800-395-HELP.

We must admit that abortion causes only suffering for the brothers and sisters of an aborted child – whether they come before or after the abortion. As Barb says:

I think one of the most difficult things for me to face is a woman who is attempting to justify an abortion for the sake of her other children. I always want to tell them…the best thing for her little ones is to have a brother or a sister. In fact, explaining to sons and daughters a few years in the future as to why they aborted their sibling will probably be the most difficult thing they will ever do[.]

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for posting. I am 25 and just found out a few months ago that my older sibling was aborted. I’m the oldest of a large family, and always wanted an older sibling. It was surreal to find out that the same two parents who gave birth to all of us aborted one before I was born, and that it was only by a fluke that I wasn’t also aborted.

    • Renee

      My heart goes out to you and your family. I, too, am the oldest. We lost our youngest brother to abortion (which sadly changed my view of the youngest living brother). It was hard to understand why she would abort, knowing full well that he was a developing person (unlike some who are unaware of that fact). Peace to all of you.

    • JD

      Thank you for sharing. While it is just myself and my younger sister being the latest generation in my family, we also lost an older brother (it was known that it was going to be a boy) to abortion. I always wanted an older brother, and it turned out I in fact had one… one of life’s crueler ironies. But the overall experience has been beneficial in that my mother is now working with a pregnancy center which presents all the options but advocates for keeping the child. And then there’s this weird part of me that keeps wanting to tell her for my older brother’s sake that he loves her (don’t ask… let’s just say I still consider him a huge part of my life.) Anyways, it’s good to know that I am not alone.

  • Christine

    My mother in law had an abortion before marrying my father in law (also the father of her first baby) and having 4 more children and a miscarriage. My grieving for my lost in law happened after her death. She needed a lot of help the last four years of her life, but only two of her kids were in a place to help her. I grieved the chance an older sibling would have had to be involved and pitch in. I grieved the opportunity to grieve her passing with another person (and possibly their family) who would have loved her. I grieved the potential cousins missing from my kid’s lives. Thank you for this article.

  • mom_e_mae

    This is actually the reason I became pro-life. I was all caught up in the atheist, pro-choice feminist traps when I found out I had a brother or sister aborted less than one year after I was born. It really brought the issue home and made me think of abortion in terms of real people, and not just catchy slogans or some puffed-up indignation. I realized that there was a sibling here and then it wasn’t and I never met him or her. And all the questions about why her/him and not me really made me think about the value of my life. I then realized that I had nothing good about me and then spent years chasing pleasure to try and feel good again. But thankfully I found my worth in Jesus Christ and walked away from all of that. What I have recently figured out is that my mother is ravaged emotionally from her abortion and she really needs help. Yet, I don’t know how to reach out to her. She probably wouldn’t admit it, but anyhow she hasn’t been in touch with me for a few years now. I just pray she will finally find help in facing this. The only time I talked to her about Jesus, she said, “I tried that church stuff and it’s a crock of …”

  • This is something few think about until it’s brought to light as you have done so well here. But, of course, there are the living survivors….Thank you for sharing from a broader view more of the tragic consequences of not choosing life. Write on…..

  • I’m the aunt of an aborted child. My husband and I didn’t know that his single sister was pregnant until after the abortion had occurred. We had just had our son, but we would have joyfully opened our home to her and her child. She thought she was all alone and had no other choice. If only we had known. It does make you terribly sad to think about the lost life and the wound to the dear sister’s heart and mind. If we wonder about our lost niece or nephew, how much more so does she? Abortion is a tragedy who’s magnitude is far too large to truly ever be measured.

  • anon

    I was 7 or 8 when my mom lost a baby, I had dreams of pushing a baby carriage down a flight of stairs, I asked if I killed the baby, It was not till after she died my father told me, it was an elective abortion. thanks

    • Jesenia Estrada


  • K

    I am not sure who you are or what you assume that you think you know in writing this article. Apparently you DO NOT have any experience concerning any of this! I DO appreciate your heartfelt and seemingly GOD led article… But this makes me sick! Really?

    • Jodygal

      K it sounds like you are in denial. There must be an abortion in your past to be so hard. I had an abortion 40 years ago and it has been the most painful experience in my life. I kept it a secret for nearly 30 yrs before The Lord healed me of all the emotional trauma associated with abortion. Thank God I am free. I don’t have to deny it, I can tell others what He has done for me. I was in church “living for Jesus” and was in denial that I had an abortion. No longer, He has taken the worse experience of my life and turn my ashes into joy and only God can do that. Now I work with an abortion recovery group called C.A.R.E. helping men and women that have gone through abortion. K- if you have had or been involved with an abortion there is hope. If you haven’t then you don’t really know what you are talking about. My feeling is you need a healing. The article was so correct.

    • A

      Apparently you are the one who assumes you know all about being the sibling of an aborted child. Your hostile comments makes you sound as if you think it is ridiculous for the siblings of aborted children to grieve and feel loss. But I am glad that you felt a sickness reading this, it should make you sick that yes, there are people who experience grief over their murdered siblings. I can personally relate to all of the things mentioned in this article, and if you look at other comments, plenty of other people have also experienced the feelings of guilt and loss but also the love for the lost sibling that you experience when you find out you are a sibling of an aborted child. So I would say that Kristi Burton Brown (the author of this article, who is also a pro-life attorney) knew exactly what she was doing when she wrote this article, and I am glad she did. This issue needs more awareness. Because abortion doesn’t just involve a woman and her ‘choice.’ It effects an entire family and takes away a life that needs to be lived. So please think before you post K. It could hurt someone still in great pain. God bless.

  • Anon

    This story resonates with me. I’m the oldest of my siblings, one of them a half sibling I never got to meet. Six years ago I found out that my mother had recently had an abortion. I remember feeling shocked, but numb. I pushed it out of my head for some time, telling myself that she had done the right thing. She had already been divorced twice, and her boyfriend, the child’s father, was an abusive person and the relationship ended shortly thereafter. I recently found out that he had pressured her into it, and that my mother deeply regrets what she did.
    After that, I spent 3 years suffering with depression and self-injury, to cope with the many problems of my childhood. It wasn’t until shortly after I met my now fiance that I finally let myself grieve over the loss of my sibling. When someone in my family suffered through a miscarriage, the realization hit me. These were babies. Innocent children who were killed just for being an inconvenience. And my brother or sister was one of them. These feelings were confusing. How could I feel so much grief and love for someone who I didn’t even know existed until after they died? For a while I constantly thought of him (In my mind I imagined it to be a boy). I wondered what made me and my sisters so special that we got to live. That there could have been a fourth one of us.
    I found it helpful to write a letter to him. I still have it, and don’t really know what to do with it yet, but writing brought me some comfort. I do know that he is with God, and away from the suffering of the world at least. I still feel sad and grieve for him though it’s been six years.
    My youngest sister, who is 10, just recently found out about him. I wish I could have saved her from knowing this for a little longer, because now she will have to feel the grief and the guilt at such a young age. Even young children know that that is indeed a baby in there, not a clump of cells. Even they recognize that it’s wrong to kill a baby. It makes me question why intelligent adults fail to do so.
    The silver lining to this is it has given me a desire to fight for the rights of the unborn, and it has taught me the importance of forgiveness. I forgive my mother, and I know her baby does too. And one day, I can’t wait to meet him.

  • ThePaganProLifer

    My mom told me she had an abortion last night. She kept trying to justify. What I told her is I still love her and don’t think any different of her. But I still think of my brother or sister in the Summerlands. But we will all be together one day, and that’s all that matters. I love my mom.b

  • Jeffrey C. Soto

    When it’s inside of a woman, it’s referred to as a fetus, not a baby. The word “baby” confuses the issue and suggests that a fragile human, and not a pre-human arrangement of tissues, a potential human but not a present one, was destroyed.
    One of the things that bothers pro-choice people is that pro-life advocates often conflate abortion and infanticide, which are not equivalent. There is a marked moral difference between the two, and blurring the lines is quite cruel both to women who have undergone the procedure, and to yourself: you are hindering your own ability to empathize with people who find themselves in one of the hardest positions imaginable.

  • JD

    There is no marked moral difference between the two, and your playing with semantics as a way to cover, while it shows you have good overall intentions, is actually in fact far more damaging to these mothers / potential mothers in the longterm even than an abortion itself. Why? Because in doing so, a woman is trying to be dishonest about it, to try to hide a huge part of herself. You can feel free to disagree with me about this, this is your right, and you have the right to be flat out incorrect – but as soon as the sperm reaches the egg, you know that is a developing human. Period. The point being: STOP HIDING BEHIND SEMANTICS AND DEFINITIONS TO TRY TO WIN ARGUMENTS, WHICH IS VERY COWARDLY AND ACTUALLY MORE MORALLY REPREHENSIBLE THAN AN ABORTION ITSELF. It is very true that these women find themselves in one of the hardest positions imaginable. They are running (especially at the time this happened) the risk of being shunned by family and peers, the community at large. All this adds to their misery and likely their guilt (some don’t feel this as much, some feel this intensely.) These women are frightened, hurting and need somebody to be with them not to “guide them” but to BE WITH THEM while they are trying to work out how to proceed. Now, let’s switch gears and try being the oldest but apparently not oldest son of this mother who finds herself in this position. You have always wanted / sort of “knew” you had an older brother, and you find out in your teens that yes, you did in fact have an older brother and were the one “chosen” to survive. So now, you figure out WHY there’s a huge hole there, you find out about your mother’s guilty feelings, you feel guilty because THAT COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN YOU. You love your mother to pieces and would do anything to protect her emotions and her life, while communicating to her that no matter how you may feel at given times you love her, and having a sense that this is what your sibling would want for your mother as well. And guess what you find frees your mother? Her ADMITTING that this was in fact a human life, which had value, and now giving back to the community by sharing her story, counseling, driving busses for what you might disdainfully call the pro-life movement. And guess what? I am insanely proud to be called my mother’s son, because she made the best possible use of a past experience she regrets to show genuine love (not “feel-good” BLL$H1T) to the world in which she lives. Not that you care about my story; but I do care about yours and the advice you give to others needs to be founded on reality, not some feel-good mentality that is actually going to kill, rather than heal, the way it is intended to.

  • Susi O Fanabba

    Hi, I am just now seeing this comment, and am so sorry for your losses and pain! Hugs! I hope you’ve been able to find some healing, but know first hand it can take time. I am the one who has the ‘secret’ group mentioned above. You are most welcome to be added if you so desire. Just send me a friend request and message on my profile ( Susi O Fanabba, which is an acronym for surviving sibling of an aborted baby). Peace to all of you

  • Susi O Fanabba

    Hi, just seeing this now and am so sorry for your loss. I can relate to thinking of my sib while at the same time not looking different at my mom. I am the one with the ‘secret’ group for sibs on FB mentioned in the article. I am not sure how are you are doing these days, but if you so desire, you may be added. just send me a friend request ( Susi O Fanabba, which is an acronym for surviving sibling of an aborted baby) and a message. Peace to you and your family

  • Susi O Fanabba

    I am just seeing this now, but so sorry that you know the pain first hand :( I, too, know it, having lost my youngest sib in ’95.
    I’m not sure how you are doing these days, but if you’d like, you are more than welcome to join the secret group for sibs like us mentioned above. Just send a friend request (susi o fanabba, which is an acronym for surviving sibling of an aborted baby) and a message and I’d be happy to add you.
    May you have peace and any needed healing. You will be in my prayers. God bless