In working in post abortion healing, we often get calls from family members or friends of those who have experienced abortion. Since the passage of Roe vs Wade in 1973, over 60 million abortions have taken place in our country. We all know someone who has had an abortion.
These calls usually come in two types:
Let’s try to address both, in the hope that it will help those looking for answers.
Suffering After Abortion
It is difficult to see someone we love suffering the heart wrenching pain of abortion. So often those who have participated in abortion have bought into the lie that if they terminate their pregnancy life will go back to the way it was before they became pregnant. Sadly, they find out too late that this is not true.
Often the person experiencing this pain will feel alone and isolated. It can seem that those close to them just don’t care. Once the abortion is over, it appears that they expect you to move on with your life and seem not to want to talk about it. After all, this was supposed to solve the “problem” right?
Words like, “You have to move on with your life”, or “It’s over now, you will have other children” are often said in good faith, but are just not helpful, leaving the person feeling even worse. What often seems like the right thing for family and friends to say does anything but relieve the pain. The problem is not that they don’t care, but that they have no idea what to say! Most often, they too have bought into the lies of abortion believing it was the solution or going along with it because they truly thought the person wanted the abortion and wanted to support them in their decision. So, what to do?
There is no one answer, but here are some suggestions that may help those you love:
Yes, it can get tiring and you can feel helpless, but it is so important to be there and allow them to process their experience and all the emotions that go along with it. Abortion can leave people filled with guilt, shame, grief and anger at themselves and others. There is a tendency to play the experience over and over and torture themselves with “would of, could of, should of” scenarios. It is important to point out that it is easy to see in retrospect and there is no way to go back but they can move forward for healing with the right help.
What if they say they are fine?
Often the devastation of abortion does not set in for months or even years. We have had people come forward whose abortions were over 60 years ago! It is often another event in life that awakens the sleeping dragon, like becoming pregnant, the birth of another child, illness, having a grandchild, or even realizing the child they aborted may be the only one they will ever have.
You cannot force anyone to look at an abortion. There may be many factors stopping them, and currently, a lot of people available to help them in their denial. One only must look at recent events where women were proclaiming the joys of abortion (Ireland) or marching to insure its rights at any time, for any reason, no matter what to know that this is true.
To those who would like their love one to look, I say, pray. You cannot force someone to look at an abortion experience, and denial can be a good thing if they are not psychologically or spiritually ready to face the truth honestly.
Look to make sure your motivation is not more about you addressing your own pain in relation to the abortion. While you should never condone the abortion, you should never condemn the woman either. Only God knows her heart and can judge her. This does not mean telling her the abortion was okay, it never is, but it could means saying things like “I am sorry you felt like you had to make that choice”.
In truth, you do not know what’s in her heart or how she is when she is alone. She may be struggling deeply with her thoughts but puts on a front to make it seem like she is okay. Many women are terrified to look at their abortions and so rationalize and justify it to make it okay when deep inside they know it was not. It is important for her to know she can come to you when she is ready by not condemning her with your words, while at the same time never condoning the abortion.
Literature that explains the dynamics of abortion and offers hope of healing may also be helpful to leave for her without much of a discussion, or even sent anonymously. We once had a woman who received materials in the mail, kept them for years, then took them out one day and called us. To this day she has no idea who sent them to her. At first, she was angry, but she kept them anyway. When the time was right for her she remembered them, then, reached out for healing.
Stepping forward for healing is frightening. The self-loathing that often comes from an abortion is a terrifying thing to face. The most important thing you can do is pray for the person to become willing to step out for healing, trusting God is working because He knows what they need better than you. Then as before, take care of yourself and your own loss.
Abortion devastates many people. But, as hopeless as it may seem at times, He is there, always waiting to embrace us all with His mercy! -TB