Actress Jennifer O'Neill told a Capitol Hill briefing she suffered for years after an abortion until she received healing through Jesus Christ.
"I had the abortion and paid for it all my life until I healed and am now able to help other women," O'Neill tearfully told an audience of more than sixty-five congressional staff members, according to a report from Pro-life Infonet. "I was told a lie from the pit of hell — that my baby was just a blob of tissue."
She underwent shock therapy in an attempt to overcome her despair, O'Neill said, according to the report. She found healing finally through a relationship with Christ, she said.
O'Neill spoke at the briefing in a Senate office building on behalf of Women Deserve Better, a campaign designed to promote the pro-woman aspects of the pro-life message. The effort seeks to inform the public and government officials of how abortion harms women, as well as to provide women with practical support to choose life for their unborn children. Among the coalition members involved in the campaign are Feminists for Life, the National Post-abortion Awareness Campaign, and Women and Children First.
"Of course, the protection of the unborn child is at the center of my heart," O'Neill told a lunchtime audience in September that consisted mostly of congressional staff members, according to Pro-life Infonet. "However, the aftermath of abortion can be equally deadly for both mother and unborn child. [A woman who has an abortion] is sentenced to bear that for the rest of her life.
"If [abortion is] such a good idea, why is it shrouded in secrecy?" O'Neill asked, according to the report. She called for the adoption of laws that would make information about the emotional and physical complications from abortion available to a woman before her decision, Pro-life Infonet reported.
Young women sometimes are coerced into having abortions, she said, according to the report. Abortions under such pressure can be brought about by schools that lack adequate resources for pregnant college students or parents who don't want to help a teen mother raise a child, she said, Pro-life Infonet reported.
"There is no quick fix for an unplanned pregnancy," O'Neill said at the Sept. 23 briefing, according to the report. "But where do teens go when told they are going to be kicked out of the house if they have the child?"
In O'Neill's case, it was the coercion of a fiancé that led to her abortion.
She wrote in her 2001 book From Fallen to Forgiven, "I had become engaged to an extremely powerful man for two years when I became pregnant. …I stood frozen in horror and disbelief at his unequivocal negative response to my 'good news.' In short, he promised he would do everything in his power to emotionally and verbally coerce me into getting an abortion. …Deep down I knew I was wrong to abort my baby, even when everyone else was saying it was right. Nothing in the world could ever make me opt for that choice again. I hated myself. And I hated what I had done."
O'Neill, fifty-four, whose best-known role was in the 1971 move Summer of '42, says she became a Christian at age thirty-eight. By then, she had suffered nine miscarriages. O'Neill, a mother of three and a grandmother, has been married nine times.
In an excerpt from her autobiography Surviving Myself on her official website, O'Neill wrote, "There was not a word big enough to describe my relief, joy, and excitement when I accepted Jesus Christ in faith. …I now understood what it meant to put God above all else and not feel jealous that my spouse was doing the same. With God at the center of my life, I had a change for the first time to love instead of needing to be loved and demanding to be filled up by someone else. God was filling me up and He was never going to let me down."
Other films in which O'Neill appeared included Rio Lobo, Such Good Friends, The Carey Treatment, and A Force of One. She also has appeared in television series and mini-series, as well as several made-for-TV movies. O'Neill began her career as a model at fifteen and was a model or spokeswoman for CoverGirl cosmetics for thirty years. Most recently O'Neill starred in the Christian film Time Changer.