Marina Young and her husband attend Doubtless Bay Christian Centre. This is her story.
How did Buttons Project come about?
In October 1986 I had an abortion, and my husband Peter was the father. If I knew back then what I would go through, I would have chosen life for my baby, and a life free from the consequences of health and relationship problems.
The abortion experience has never left me, and for years I wondered how to give other women like myself a safe place to grieve for, and commemorate, the babies lost. For there is no grave we can visit, no place to lay flowers, and no tangible way of remembering them.
Peter and I were able to come to a point where we grieved together, and found forgiveness and healing. This enabled us to move forward and Buttons Project was born in June 2008, to help others towards healing from abortion.
What does Buttons Project do?
The project enables the women who have been affected by abortion, and also the fathers, grandparents, sisters or brothers, to “do something when there is nothing you can do.”
They choose a button that is special and unique to them, representing a life lost, and send this to Buttons Project. All the buttons are catalogued and are being sewn on giant wall hangings. The project has over 20,000 buttons, which will eventually be displayed in an appropriate place of remembrance, which will be a safe place to visit without judgement.
For some it is a way of simply remembering. For others, it is a step on the journey of healing. Some buttons come with their story; some are in an unmarked envelope.
Why a button? It is easy to find and send, and can be unique, thus representing a personal loss. Buttons are long-lasting, and their purpose is to join or bring together, a symbol that we are not alone. And “a little button means a precious button lived.”
Buttons Project is part of a nationwide network of organisations that help people towards healing from abortion by providing counselling, post-abortion recovery programmes and support where needed. I also connect with those who support women facing an unplanned pregnancy, not only throughout the pregnancy but also afterwards.
With the support of my family and others, Buttons Project continues to gain momentum in New Zealand and internationally. Buttons Project was launched in Singapore in June 2017 and is going well. I love the opportunity to speak in churches, and to youth and community groups, to help bring awareness to the effects of an abortion and to open the door for healing.
How does this help people heal?
Often after an abortion there can be feelings of emptiness, loss, depression, anxiety and low self-worth and, for some, thoughts of suicide. Many women and men struggle alone with their pain and are just waiting for the right person to hear their story—someone who will not condemn them or minimise what has happened. When a story or secret is shared, it is not forgotten. It becomes something else—a memory of who we were—and allows us to start moving forward in hope, love and forgiveness.
I am deeply moved and humbled by the stories and comments I receive. I am not a counsellor but someone with lived experience and a passion to help others. I am also a trained mental health worker.
Recently, we published an A5 booklet, The Unforgotten Babies, which is about the inspiration behind Buttons Project, my abortion story, and the journey of healing. Peter also shares from his perspective, because fathers’ voices are often not heard. This is a great resource for all those that work in the community sector, churches, schools, and for those personally affected by abortion.