Spotlight: June Bai – On Abortion And The Buttons Project

June’s decision to have an abortion in her early twenties was one that filled her with guilt and shame for longer than she had anticipated. After attending Rachel’s Vineyard, a Catholic-based weekend retreat that addresses the emotional and spiritual pain of abortion, June experienced an inner healing that propelled her to find ways to help others affected by abortion. In June 2017, she founded the Buttons Project Singapore to give those who have been through abortions a tangible memorial of their unborn child. Here is her story.

What were you like as a teenage girl?
Studious. I didn’t really give my teachers any problems, and I’d like to think that I didn’t really give my parents any problems too. My brother would tell me, “Can you get a life?” [laughs]

You started the Buttons Project in Singapore out of your own experience with an abortion. How did you go from being so studious and ending up in this situation?
I think actually it was the fear of abandonment. I just wanted love. I also didn’t really know God, so I wasn’t assured in my identity as His daughter. I didn’t know how loved I was by my Father, so this guy was where I went to [get love]. We were dating for two years and there were no physical boundaries.

Was he a Christian as well?
Yeah, we said that we were Christians but we didn’t go to church, and we were quite new as Christians.

So in that sense, the two of you made the decision to get an abortion alone; nobody was there to support or guide you?
We didn’t seek help, but on hindsight I feel like I should have. Things would have been different. Deep down, we kept asking ourselves the ‘what-if’s’ — what if I had kept the child? What would life be like? A lot of questions, a lot of regrets.

What drove you to have an abortion?
When I had my abortion, I was just in my early twenties. There was a lot of fear that I saw in my partner’s eyes… I mean, I also had fears right, like what if I lose him and become a single mum? What if I choose to keep my baby and he decides to leave me? What will my parents or other people feel about this? So there was a lot of fear, and it was fear that drove us to make this decision.

I struggled a lot after the abortion. There was a lot of guilt, a lot of shame… so anyway, the relationship ended six months later. I think it was too much for us to bear — we didn’t have the maturity to deal with it, and it felt as if my whole world came crashing down. Before that, I always saw myself as a good person, but suddenly this abortion came and I felt like the worst sinner on earth. For the first time, I saw myself as a horrible person. I’ve always wanted to be a mum, but I actually became like the worst mother in that sense.

Wow, so how did the process of healing take place?
For a year and a half after the abortion, I ran away from God. I blamed Him, asking things like “God, why did you let this happen to me?” Actually it was my own fault, but I was angry at Him and refused to go back to church. Like, I was crying myself to sleep for one and a half years. But somehow He never let me go. And even though I didn’t read the Bible or go to church, the story in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery kept coming back to me every time I felt so condemned.

You know that part where Jesus asked, “Has anyone come to condemn you?” Then she said, “No, no one,” and He said, “Then neither do I. So, go now and leave your life of sin.” Something like that right? It just kept repeating in my head. And I think it was that passage that saved my life, because I really wanted to die. I felt so hopeless.


I also attended Rachel’s Vineyard’s weekend retreat, and a few very significant things happened. The first thing that struck me when I walked into the room of eight participants was “I’m not alone.” The second thing was that God showed me a vision of Jesus, carrying my child. In the background, I could hear children’s laughter. My child just walked toward me and Jesus placed him on my lap. And I froze, like what do I do now?! But it was life-changing. The split moment of this vision healed me of many years of pain. That was very healing because I’ve always asked, “Where’s my child?” but now I know my child is with Jesus — he’s in the best possible place that he can be.

So how did the Buttons Project Singapore come about?
Buttons actually started in New Zealand by a lady called Marina. When I found out about it, it was like something was burning inside me; it resonated so much with me.

Actually, when you have an abortion, it’s very quick. Like, you find out you’re pregnant, you fix the date, see the doctor, do a scan, okay, decide you want to go for an abortion. So from the time you find out you’re pregnant to the time you abort, it can be just 2-3 weeks. So then it was like, “Did it even happen? Did I even go through this?” And you’re left hanging there. If you lose a loved one, you can go to the columbarium. But for unborn babies, there’s nothing. There’s nothing for you to grieve, and there is no closure. Yeah, so when I first found out about this project, I knew that this was it. It was exactly what I was going through.

I stayed with Marina for a few days, and when she showed me her buttons I was just blown away, because there were like jars of buttons, twenty over thousand of those. When you know that each button represents a baby, it means so much. The abortion stats for 2016 in Singapore was 7217, and it’s “just a number”, but when you see the buttons, it’s not just a number. They are babies. Then you wonder, where are all the people affected by abortion? Grieving and hurting out there? That’s why I felt I needed to do something, and decided I was going to bring this back to Singapore.

How difficult was it for you to go public?
Very difficult! I was like, “God, no, I cannot do this! Lord please take this away from me, but not my will, but Your will be done.” I had to die to myself. On one hand, I was thinking, “What would people think? How are my parents going to take it?” but at the same time, I wanted to obey God. I had to walk into my destiny. It was a struggle, really a struggle.

How did people respond when you started sharing your story?

It was very painful. It was as though I was reliving everything. But I wanted to do it, because all I wanted was to get out of this — all I wanted was to have nothing to hide.

I think my friends were shocked. They were usually at a loss for words. But they were encouraging. I mean I remember someone sent me a text that said, “We still love you the same, we won’t judge you.” My family didn’t really know how to respond, but through this process I can tell that they love me a lot.


On hindsight, I should have told my friends and family about the abortion earlier. When I shared it with them for the first time, I could see the hurt in their eyes. They were not just hurt because I had an abortion, but because I went through so much pain and doubt alone. They were hurt to see me so hurt, and I felt so bad about that.

What’s coming up next for Buttons?
We have no idea what God is going to do next. We want to create a memorial for these babies, but it’s not just about gathering buttons. Sending a button is not going to heal you of unresolved issues like unforgiveness or anger. Those things still need to be dealt with. I guess in sending in the button to acknowledge that it happened, or sharing the story for the first time, it is a first step. It is not healing in itself, but it’s a step.

We’ve crafted the buttons we receive into paintings that we hope to display in cafés. It’s like a memorial right, so if I send a button, I would want to know where it is, and I’ll want to be able to visit it. I hope that when they look at the picture, they find some healing or comfort. We also have a support group of women who have also gone through abortions to walk with them, journey with them, and just be their friends!

Do you have any last words for our readers?
If you’re in a relationship and thinking of crossing the physical boundary to get love from your boyfriend or have already done so, that’s not where love can be found. We should first be so assured in our Father’s love that we don’t need anyone else’s love to fill up your emotional tank.

And if you’re considering an abortion, I urge you to find out more about abortion first. You can even contact me or my team at our website One of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt from this is to seek help. Don’t suffer in silence! Seek help from the right people who are mature and able to give you advice. Though we aren’t professional counsellors, we have all been through abortions ourselves and may be able to help.

Quek Shiwei
Shi Wei loves organic teas, hearing her son sing and watching her baby girl take her first steps.