Her own pregnancy problems motivate Karina Felton to offer hope to others
After childhood neglect and abuse by an uncle, four abortions, rape and further abusive relationships, Karina Felton is speaking up.
Speaking from Pregnancy Problem House in Nollamara, Western Australia, where she volunteers, Karina discussed her experience with Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS, not scientifically acknowledged) and how faith has changed her life.
After Karina was raped as a teenager, her sister put her in touch with a Christian church, where she made a commitment of her life to Jesus Christ . Karina started studying the Bible but struggled with the idea of creation as a result of her public school education that was heavily biased towards evolution.
“After several months I fell away from the church and didn’t come back until 2001. In that time a lot of damage was done,” Karina recalls.
At 18, Karina had an abortion and tried to commit suicide a few months later.
“I didn’t feel that there was anything good in me at all, I didn’t feel of any worth and so you put an abortion on top of that and life was pretty much a blur. I became bulimic and a binge alcoholic,” explains Karina.
“It took me five years to get pregnant again. The sub-conscious need to replace a pregnancy, that’s part of PAS. When I got pregnant again at age 22, I had another abortion and then it was only about six months after that that I was pregnant again.”
Karina says, “I was infatuated with the father and I guess I was hoping for a happy outcome... I ended up keeping that baby, now my son Connor, who is going to be 15, and is the joy of my life.”
Even though Karina loved being a mother, when she became pregnant again, she decided on another abortion.
“I was worried about having two kids to two different dads and being a single mum, and because I didn’t have any self-worth at that stage, what people think of you weighs heavily upon you... when you don’t have God either, you’re just at the mercy of whatever society thinks,” she says.
Sometime after Connor turned two, Karina became pregnant again. Her doctor booked her fourth abortion for the next day, without counselling (required by law). She says, “Not once in any of my abortions did I hear of the risks, whether physical or emotional.
“I didn’t want to have my first abortion, but the father was adamant about it. I was sobbing, and (the practitioner) even brought in the father but all they did was talk me into keeping my appointment. When I woke up from the abortion I was crying and they carried me out the back door of the clinic because I was too groggy to walk.”
“Once you have one abortion, that’s it,” is Karina’s opinion. “You’ve killed a human being and everybody knows deep down what it is, even if you don’t know God, but because it’s been made socially acceptable and legal, we rationalise and tell ourselves that it’s OK, but it’s not. After one abortion I think you’re pretty much dead on the inside.”
Karina considered ending her life. “I was just sitting there crying, it was like all my pain was concentrated right at that point of time... The thing that stopped me was a flash of Connor’s face.”
Karina told her family about the uncle that had abused her. Her older half-sister, already a Christian for a number of years, visited her. “We just talked,” she recalls, “we didn’t even talk much about God, but I felt different from that day.”
Karina sensed this was when God was drawing her back to Him after years of drifting in a wilderness.
Her desire to drink disappeared. Her sister later prayed for Karina, who recalls it was a Monday, because, “I waited all week to go to church on the Sunday. It’s been a pretty hard journey since then; without God, I wouldn’t be here.”
Karina has two other children, Isaiah (8) and Grace (18 months), from a marriage which ended earlier this year. Still displaying risk-taking tendencies attributed to PAS, she married an abusive man who walked away from their marriage.
“That was a hard one for me,” she admits, “but I know that God set me free. I didn’t have to live in that torment.”
Karina is now determined to keep herself away from unhealthy relationships. “Having self-worth makes you better able to set boundaries and keep them,” she explains.
A passion for helping those who have experienced abortion led her to begin working with Pregnancy Problem House nearly four years ago, after a volunteer heard her speak at a forum.
As it turned out, they needed someone to run an ultrasound machine, and Karina had been an ultrasound assistant before Connor was born.
“What we do (at Pregnancy Problem House) is options counselling. We get a lot of abortion seeking women. People come to us if they think their pregnancy is a problem... We don’t want women to feel like they have to have an abortion because they are unsupported or unprepared.”
“People are starting to realise that we do need to get stories out there so people can hear the truth about what it does to women. I feel grateful and honoured that God’s given me the courage to do that,” says Karina.
“God doesn’t waste anything... when you have wounds, they’re gaping and when they heal you can still see where the wound has been because there’s always a scar. But, as (preacher) Chuck Swindoll said, it’s the scars that qualify you to help others. I think it helps you deal with the pain when you know that it can be used to help others.”
“My favourite scripture is Romans chapter 8, verse 28, because, for those who love Him, God can take the worst things you’ve been through and turn them into good.
Karina says accepting Jesus Christ as her Saviour has brought her healing. “I guess healing means that what you’ve been through doesn’t affect your life in a negative way anymore, you’re able to use it for the positive; it’s freedom,” she says.