I received a significant amount of response from an article I wrote some time ago, The Case Against Legal Abortion. Fortunately, I have never had an abortion and failed to recognize some of the desperate circumstances that accompany the heart rendering stories of post abortion participants – many have become committed pro-life advocates.
A “loving” family is where we learn our most basic spiritual characteristics of love, compassion, morality, empathy, tenderness, tolerance and every other value that defines our individual humanity. Every family does not fall into the “loving family” category. We are supposed to learn social skills which help one function in interpersonal relationships with spouses, children and others. We learn to accept responsibility, work hard, accept consequences and help others to do the same. It is in the family that we are defined emotionally – our initial self esteem comes from the treatment we receive within our families. Unfortunately, the love we receive is sometimes based entirely upon our conformance to arbitrary rules and regulations.
Few individuals are reared in a wonderful environment. With working mothers, single mothers, low media moral standards, lack of reasonable discipline, dumbing down school agendas and secularist standards, we have rampant dysfunctional families. So where does one obtain a sense of self. The social mirror, though inaccurate, is frequently employed in attempting to define worth. One may drive an expensive car, wear the right clothes, belong to the right clubs and use this “stuff” to define worth. Stuff is insubstantial – there are many who never attain any degree of self worth no matter the size of their bank account.
However, while many families demonstrate some degree of dysfunctionality, there are some families whose degree of perversity is higher than most. A family which harbors incest falls in this category.
Incest is the most destructive of all other forms of sexual abuse. Incest is at the hands of someone who should have exhibited love. As with any sexual deviation, it is never about love or lust. A victim of incest suffers at the hands of someone that she knows and trusts, a brother, a father or a grandfather. This trusted but completely untrustworthy individual robs her of her self confidence and esteem. The selfish, self satisfying, controlling perpetrator has stolen the victim’s ability to understand male/female intimacy.
I would like to share some of the heartfelt unedited sentiments received from one woman, an incest victim, as a result of that previous article. Although abortion is heinous, the women who have them are not. I have not included the real name of the individual who wrote me to protect her privacy. All of her comments are italicized.
I would like to respond to your article because you seem like a very compassionate and intelligent person seeking the truth. Hopefully this will give you a little insight about abortion from a post-abortive person's (me) perspective. I regret those abortions, even as they occurred. I am actively pro-life, and I believe it will be the testimonies of post-abortive men and women who educate the public about the lies that the media and anti-life, I mean pro-choice groups like NOW and Planned Parenthood espouse.
In your article you state: “I do not believe that most people understand the brutality w/ which abortion is perpetrated upon the only real victim in any abortion- the innocent infant.” I agree with the first part of this statement, but I very much disagree with the part about the “only real victim in any abortion- the innocent infant.”
I believe that the woman having the abortion is a victim (whether she realizes it or not). The fathers are often victims because they often have no say in the process. Society, at large is a victim, because every abortion takes away a unique miracle of God, and every abortion is perpetuating the insidious culture of death.
I do agree with you that each of us is personally responsible for our actions and choices. All choices have consequences, whether they are "good" consequences or "bad" consequences. I partially agree with your statement, "Women can only be considered victims in one sense of the word. They have been conned by others... They have been deceived into thinking that there are no psychological, spiritual or emotional consequences." You need to add to that that women are told that abortion is a safe procedure. They are NOT told that they can become sterile, have a much higher chance of breast cancer, can hemorrhage and can have serious female health problems the rest of their lives as a result of having an abortion. Pro-life groups are trying to get Congress to pass laws that say clinics have to tell them these things. ... Hopefully soon...
You are very correct about being conned that there are no psychological, spiritual or emotional consequences. In Theresa Burke's book Forbidden Grief, she states on p. 33, "... abortion touches on three central issues of a woman's self-concept: her sexuality, her morality, and her maternal identity. It also involves the loss of a child, or at least the loss of an opportunity to have a child. In either case, this loss must be confronted, processed, and grieved in order for the woman to resolve her experience." On p.34 she quotes Dr. Fogel who is both a psychiatrist and an obstetrician and has personally performed over 20,000 abortions. He states: “Every woman- whatever her age, background or sexuality- has a trauma at destroying a pregnancy. A level of humanness is touched. This is a part of her own life. When she destroys a pregnancy, she is DESTROYING HERSELF (the victim’s own emphasis). There is no way it can be innocuous. One is dealing with the life force. It is totally beside the point whether or not you think a life is there. You cannot deny that something is being created and that this creation is physically happening. Often trauma may sink into the unconscious and never surface in the woman's lifetime. But it is not as harmless and casual an event as many in the pro-abortion crowd insists. A psychological price is paid. It may be alienation; it may be a pushing away from human warmth, perhaps a hardening of the maternal instinct. Something happens on the deeper levels of a woman's consciousness when she destroys a pregnancy. I know that as a psychiatrist."
You ask, " What possible set of circumstances would make a female prefer death of her infant- is it embarrassment, convenience?" What most people like you who have obviously not (and thank God) had an abortion fail to understand, is that often times it is a CRISIS. Think about it. When you are in a crisis, you do what you think is best at that exact point in time. You may or may not have time to make your decisions. You definitely are not thinking as clearly and as objectively as you normally might. You are usually under extreme pressure to perform. So it is with a "crisis pregnancy". I am not condoning this, or using this as an excuse as to why women go have abortions, but through my own experience of listening to many men and women share their post abortive stories with our Ministry, and with my own personal story, I know it to be true. As a defense mechanism, we block out the fact that it is a baby we are killing. We just try to deal with all the pressures surrounding the "crisis pregnancy". And of course: Legally, must surely make it O.K.????? How else could we possibly be able to do this evil thing? Intrinsically, we know that that is a BIG lie. God did not make us to kill each other. But like me, I tried to bargain with God. Trust me, I don't believe that ANY woman can have an abortion and not be bothered by it. It is called DENIAL, which, as stated by Dr. Fogel, can last a lifetime, but she will suffer, as will every one she touches in her life.
You stated: “Once a woman has an abortion it is emotionally easier to have another abortion. So it appears that abortion functions as a sacrificial, selfish birth control method.” For some, or even many, this may be true, but for many others, it is only emotionally easier because we feel that we have committed the worse evil crime and that we are going to hell anyway so what is one more... and one more... etc. Typically post abortive people have very low self esteem. We may show the world that we have our "act" together, but in reality, we are just around the corner from the next "crisis", usually of our own making. Theresa Burke has a theory that women who have multiple abortions are subconsciously trying to recreate the situation so that they can get "it" right. They want to be a good mother, wife, daughter, and if they can just get one thing straight, everything else will fall into place. Obviously "this" doesn't work because even though it may be a different time, place, man, or it could be the same man; usually the situation is similar, i.e. abusive relationship, one night stand, etc. It is kind of like Gerri's story that you mention in your article.
On a personal note: I have had three abortions, two from incest and one from my then boyfriend, who later became my husband. The first two abortions were a result of incest, but I denied that fact for 18 years. Each time I became pregnant, I agonized about what I was doing and tried to make "deals" with God. I hated myself for compromising my own morals. Obviously, I have come from an extremely dysfunctional family, but God has always been a central part of my life, and that is what has pulled me through my trials and tribulations.
The only reason I am telling you that two of the abortions were from incest is to let you know that if: 1) I had been a stronger person and reached out for help instead of making the decisions all by myself I could have made a more informed decision; and 2) Had someone grabbed me and said, "I will give you food and shelter and help you place the child for adoption", I would have done that. 3) If abortion was not legal, I would never have considered it as an option.
I always felt that I had murdered God's children. Intellectually, I knew that God had forgiven me, but I could not find it in my heart to accept that forgiveness, nor could I forgive myself. To me it doesn't matter how a pregnancy occurs, God does not make mistakes. A child is a child. In other words, I feel that incest or rape is NOT a valid reason to have an abortion. The paradox of this is that I still went through with the abortions even though I knew what I was doing was horribly wrong. I suppose I was more afraid of the wrath of society than I was afraid of the wrath of God. Of course I knew the wrath of God was inevitable. I felt condemned so it didn't really matter anymore whether I did the right thing or not.
I have gone through many countless hours of therapy, but what really healed me of the trauma of abortion was going to several Bible studies dealing with post abortion, and attending two different Rachel's Vineyard Retreats. I have come to terms with the abortions. I have thankfully accepted God's forgiveness, and I have forgiven myself, but I am still trying to deal with the incest part of my history.
Being part of a post abortion ministry has also been a blessing from God and part of my healing journey. We use Theresa Burke's program, Rachel's Vineyard, which is an emotional, psychological and spiritual journey of healing. We have weekend retreats about two or three times a year which provides a comfortable, confidential and safe environment for women and men to explore their experiences of abortion by talking through unresolved feelings and conflicts. Participants are gently lead through the critical steps of healing after abortion- spiritual exercises of God's compassion and mercy, the process of grief, memorializing their aborted children, accepting God's forgiveness, and forgiving oneself and others involved. We emphasize that God is the healer, and we are only the vessels. It is a place to accept God's mercy, and to find peace. We do not condemn the sinner, but we do NOT condone the sin. We also help them realize what parts of the abortion experience they are responsible for, and what parts they had no control over. This helps them come to terms with events and people surrounding the abortion.
We have had men and women who were directly involved in the abortion, ie. Husband-wife; boyfriend-girlfriend; woman w/ present husband who was not the father of the baby; mother-daughter: mother forced teenage daughter to have abortion; grandparents of aborted baby without the mother of the baby attend these retreats. This just goes to show you who the abortion can affect. It is like throwing a pebble in the water. It has a ripple effect. So not only is the mother of the aborted baby affected, but so is everyone involved in her life, then and now.
Part of the point of responding to your news article was twofold. One is to ask you that in the future you be a little more compassionate towards men and women who have had abortions. I think you were almost as harsh on the side for LIFE as the "angry abortion proponent" was for women’s RIGHT to choose. I certainly am NOT asking you to condone their actions, but like in the story of the adulterous woman, do not cast the stone. After everyone had left the courtyard, and no one had thrown a stone at her, Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." Just like you stated that 62% of the population, and according to Father Frank Pavone that number is even higher, really don't support abortion; most women who have had an abortion very much regret having their abortions. It just may take 10 -30 years to come to terms with what they did and seek the healing grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Have you ever heard of the Silent No More Campaign? It is a national grass roots organization that lets women who have had abortions stand up and testify about why they regret their abortions. We are trying to educate the public about the true ramifications of abortions and how it affects each and every one of us. Currently, the media projects the idea that women just LOVE to have an abortion. Yet how many parties have you gone to where someone gleefully announces, "I just had an abortion the other day, isn't that great?" What I am trying to say is that society doesn't really accept abortion, and people don't really want to hear about how you regret what you did because you resolved a "problem". We are told "Get over it." So what do we post- abortive people do? We go internal, and then eventually we find help, or we go nuts - almost literally.
Here are some excellent websites that can start helping you understand what abortion is medically, psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally. It can also show you what's happening from a legislative standpoint. See www.priestforlife.org, and www.rachelsvineyard.org
We pray for our enemies, not that they might change, but that our hearts will be softened towards them. One of the most Christ-like acts that we can perform is to extend forgiveness to someone who has grievously wounded our bodies and souls. We can only truly follow Christ if we also emulate his love and compassion for the most monstrous crimes. It is relatively easy to forgive someone for minor infractions but major offenses also require forgiveness – for our own peace.
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