The Catholic Church has a mission to bring forgiveness and healing to all its members. That includes the women who are in need of post-abortion healing.
One in four women in America has had an abortion. As discussed in a previous blog, Catholics are as affected by abortion as any other group. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/musingsfromthepew/2021/10/p361/
Chances are that some of the women at Mass have had an abortion. In addition are all those avoiding church because they are afraid they aren’t welcome or are too ashamed to attend.
There are post-abortive women who say, “I can’t forgive myself. How could God forgive me?” God can forgive anything though. The Church needs to get out that message loudly enough to reach post-abortive women.
The Consequences of Abortion
So many post-abortive women say, “I knew it was wrong, but . . . .” This knowledge that abortion is wrong causes them to have deep regrets later. Their consciences catch up with them.
Even women who had no qualms about getting an abortion are surprised by the aftermath. I met a woman who had no reservations about abortion and was very relieved to end the pregnancy. In fact, she went to a celebratory lunch after the procedure with her sister. Six months later, she attempted suicide.
A woman knows, in her heart, that she is killing her child. She can try justifying it to the nth degree, but the truth won’t go away. The women who “shout their abortion” are most likely just trying desperately to fool themselves with faulty justifications, lashing out in anger at themselves and the world that caused them to kill an innocent.
What post-abortive women learn, with ironic sadness, is that disposing of the temporary problem leads to a lifetime of other worse emotional and possibly physical problems.
They discover that they feel shame, grief, guilt, emptiness and anger. They resent those involved in the abortion, so relationships and friendships break up. They may feel unworthy of love and are either distant from any subsequent children or overprotective of them.
Men can also have these feelings of loss, guilt and shame. If the father, they hate themselves for failing to protect their child or take responsibility.
I’ve known men who thought they were helping a sister or friend by taking her to the abortion facility. One was shocked when the girl cried all the way home saying, “I killed my baby.” He realized his “help” was the wrong kind. As Feminists for Life advises: Women need love and support, not abortion.”
Consequently, there is a big need for post-abortion healing and forgiveness. Most Pregnancy Resource Centers offer post-abortion counseling or referrals to such.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sponsors Project Rachel, a “diocesan-based network of specially trained priests, religious, counselors, and laypersons.”
In addition to referring for Sacramental Reconciliation, this post-abortion ministry provides “an integrated network of services, including pastoral counseling, support groups, retreats and referrals to licensed mental health professionals.” https://www.usccb.org/topics/project-rachel-ministry
One of the largest and best known post-abortion programs is Rachel’s Vineyard, developed by Dr. Theresa Karminski Burke, author of Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion.
Currently, Rachel’s Vineyard hosts 1,000 retreats annually in 375 locations and over 70 countries. Hundreds of “counselors, lay ministers, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists are involved in this very effective effort. https://www.rachelsvineyard.org/
Another helpful book, The Healing Choice: Your Guide to Emotional Recovery After an Abortion was written by psychotherapists Candace De Puy and Dana Dovitch. “
De Puy and Dovitch point out that the emotional pain of an abortion may not surface until months or years later but will result in self-destructive or addictive behaviors, depression and low self-esteem.
Formerly with Focus on the Family, Sydna Masse founded “Her Choice to Heal.” It is an online program and each of its nine modules “addresses an emotion of post-abortion pain, providing information and comfort along with healing activities designed to produce enlightenment and healing.” https://ramahinternational.org/
Although most programs are Christian-based, people of any religion or no religion can benefit.
Live Action, a pro-life activist organization, has a resource page (https://www.liveaction.org/learn/resources/) that includes further groups, including hotlines.
Option Line – 800-712-4357;
International Helpline for Abortion Recovery – 866-482-5433;
Entering Canaan (operated by the Sisters of Life) https://www.enteringcanaan.com/; and
Support After Abortion https://supportafterabortion.com/
More information on studies about the risks of abortion is provided by the Elliot Institute at http://afterabortion.org/
No sin is too great for God’s forgiveness and no pain is too great for God to heal. These support programs are critical to restoring these damaged women and men to the fulness of God’s love and returning them to the Church.