File 117

Lesson 10: After Abortion

File 386Women have said they feel a range of emotions after abortion—from relief to regret.

Although some women proudly stand behind their abortion decision, many women are coming forward to tell their stories of pain and loss as a result of a choice they once made and deeply mourn.

This grief is understandable. But part of dealing with this grief is acknowledging that it is a legitimate feeling to have because a great wrong was committed.

We need to acknowledge that abortion is not wrong because it hurts women, abortion is wrong because it kills children. And yet, precisely because abortion kills children, it hurts women.

It hurts women psychologically because it goes against human nature to kill one’s offspring. It hurts women physically because the female body was designed to carry pregnancy to term—not to have that pregnancy unnaturally interrupted through abortion.

But while the pro-life position certainly opposes—and condemns—the action of abortion, it seeks not to condemn the actors (women and men) who have made that decision.

Just as societies of the past lived through great injustice and eventually found reconciliation and healing, so too is it possible to find reconciliation and healing on abortion.

One such post-abortive woman who has found forgiveness is Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She wrote,

I and my deceased children are victims of abortion, and subsequently the Roe v. Wade decision has adversely affected the lives of my entire family. I pray often for deliverance from the pain caused by my decision to abort my baby. I suffered the threat of cervical and breast cancer, and experienced the pain of empty arms after the baby was gone. And truly, for me, and countless abortive mothers, nothing on earth can fully restore what has been lost, only Jesus can.

I join the voices of thousands across America, who are SILENT NO MORE. We can no longer sit idly by and allow this horrible spirit of murder to cut down, yes cut out and cut away our unborn, and destroy the lives of our mothers. I am very grateful to God for the Spirit of Repentance that is sweeping our land. In Repentance there is healing.1

Dr. Theresa Burke, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist and founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, a post-abortion training and healing ministry. In her book Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion, she writes,

Certainly forgiveness is at the cornerstone of all Judeo-Christian religions. Despite the fact that the Old Testament patriarchs repeatedly fell into grave errors, the Torah speaks of God’s unending love for his chosen people. The message of God’s mercy is the very heart of the life and teachings of Jesus and the foundation of all Christian religions. Even the Eastern religions emphasize the need for inner harmony. In a broad sense, all religions teach that the goal of our spiritual journey is to reconcile our pasts and find peace...

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Grief can be healing. It signals our living and feeling in connection with others. It represents our vulnerability, our humanity. When we remember and mourn our losses, we free our souls to move beyond the pain.

...Abortion is a death. For many, it is as dramatic and poignant as any situation where a mother suffers the loss of a child born years ago. What hurts so much when a baby dies is the awareness of the life unlived, the lost potential, the existence cut short. There is always a profound ache of grief when death takes someone young from the world. That pang is greatly intensified in a person who feels that the death could have been prevented or who feels responsible for that untimely death.2

As Polish philosopher Karol Wojtyla once wrote to post-abortive women,

The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance... With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life [emphasis added].3

External Link: Silent No More Awareness

This is a campaign where women and men touched by abortion share their stories of regret and healing.

External Link: Rachel’s Vineyard

This is a ministry that provides retreat weekends of healing to men and women wounded by abortion.

External Link: Left to Tell

This is a powerful autobiography by Immaculée Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. After the atrocity, she visited a prison and came face-to-face with her family’s killer—the man who sought to end her life as well. She extended forgiveness to him and shares her remarkable story of moving from pain and anger to hope and healing.

External Link: deVeber Institute

This research organization has extensively studied the physical and psychological effects abortion has on women. Their book, Women’s Health After Abortion, provides an in-depth analysis of this.

External Link: Coalition on Abortion Breast Cancer

This site gives scientific explanations for how abortion increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer, as well as backs up the biological explanation with scientific studies.

  • 1. Dr. Alveda King’s testimony for Silent No More Awareness, viewed online at www.silentnomoreawareness.org/testimonies/alveda-king.html on August 3, 2010.
  • 2. Theresa Burke, Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion (Illinois: Acorn Books, 2002), 54, 66-7.
  • 3. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae: On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life (Washington, DC: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1995), n. 99.