The Buttons Project – Towards healing from abortion
Marina and Peter Young
The Buttons Project aims to create an opportunity for those affected by abortion – mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings and friends – to share their stories. It was launched in 2008 by a couple, Marina and Peter, who had themselves experienced the grief and healing of abortion and wanted to do something to help others heal after their abortions.
Their dream was to encourage those affected by abortion to send in a button in order “to commemorate the babies we never met”. Why buttons? They are easy to find and send; each one can be unique; they are long-lasting; buttons symbolise closure; and buttons join, they ‘bring together’ - ‘we are not alone’.
Marina explains that people who have had an abortion can no longer hold their baby and tell that lost child what they want to say, but they can hold a button. A button allows people to share their stories and to also create a memorial for their babies lost to abortion.
Marina and Pete tell the stories of their own abortion journey in a booklet The Unforgotten Babies. In Marina’s words: “I have walked a long road of grace, forgiveness and healing. But how do others find some closure and healing? Where do they turn for help? Abortion is often a taboo subject, no one wants to talk about it or acknowledge the aftermath of abortion. So, to avoid judgement, too many struggle on their own. It becomes a deep dark secret which affects who they are … My dream was – and remains – to collect thousands and thousands of buttons to create an amazing memorial. It will be a place to visit without judgement, a place to remember, to imagine, to grieve, and to then move on from with some peace and healing … For many, abortion is a life-changing event. Abortion can harm women and yet there are individuals and groups who refuse to acknowledge this, or minimise it, seeming to place the right to obtain an abortion at a higher priority than the long-term health and welfare of women. There is much I could discuss with those people, and much we would probably disagree on, but I do want to say this: ‘Whatever your beliefs are, we need to walk gently in people’s lives as we do not know the journey someone has travelled, or the choices the woman had to choose from, that brought her to having an abortion’.”
Peter tells his own story of experiencing abortion and the different way in which he managed or tried to manage his own reaction to it: “… we thought it was the best thing to do: do it, then leave this unfortunate incident behind us and get back on our road to future happiness. I was completely naïve to what was about to unfold … I realised I needed to acknowledge my failings, admitting my mistakes and seeking Marina’s (and Hope’s) forgiveness, for not being their support and their protector in that situation … The Buttons Project is the beauty from the ashes in our life.”
Over 20,000 buttons have been sent to the Button Project, some arriving anonymously, some carefully wrapped, and many with stories and comments. The Buttons Project website, https://www.buttonsproject.org/ includes picture of some of these buttons with their personal messages. While most messages are from the mothers, many are from aunts or siblings of those lost to abortion as well as from friends of the mother, persons whose grief is either not recognised or forgotten.
Marina and Peter have named their baby ‘Hope’: “The button and her name represent hope for the future, peace now, and freedom from the past. It is for closure, and to commemorate something that was part of us.”