by Patricia Mondore
What young girl hasn't dreamed of the day when she would have a baby of her own? It is one of the most natural desires a woman can have. When misused, however, this God-given desire can lead to some serious consequences. The society we live in today has practically put its blessing upon sexual gratification outside of marriage, and, subsequently, abortion on demand. However, our society has not prepared those who naively buy into this new morality for the aftereffects of their choices. Few realize the agony a woman suffers following an abortion. She is told that abortion will be a quick and easy solution to her unwanted pregnancy but is not warned about what she will experience once the realization sets in that she has taken her own child's life. No woman escapes having an abortion without scars -- physical, emotional, and spiritual. The good news is that God offers hope and a bright future for every woman who desires to find healing for the wounds caused by her abortion.
When I first met Jennie (not her real name), she was an inpatient in a psychiatric unit. She was a totally broken woman. The doctors had diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder and gave her little hope of recovery. Just before her latest admission, Jennie had been living with a man whom she described as being caring and kind. She said that at one point they had even talked about getting married. However, he eventually grew weary of her radical mood swings. During one particularly bad episode, he concluded that he no longer could handle it and left. Jennie had herself committed to the hospital and shortly thereafter discovered she was pregnant.
That was how Jennie ended up at the Crisis Pregnancy Center where I work as a volunteer counselor. The young woman who sat before me was gentle, caring, and deeply sensitive, not at all what one might expect from a "mental patient." Something just didn't seem to add up. I started the routine paperwork.
"Age?" I asked.
"Never been married."
"Any previous pregnancies?"
She hesitated, "Well, ... no."
I looked up at her and asked, "Any abortions?"
She looked down. Then after a few moments, she quietly answered, "Actually, I've had four. That's why I'm here. I can't go through it again." It soon came out that Jennie had been forced to have her first abortion when she was only 16 years old. She had a high school sweetheart at that time, and as soon as they found out she was pregnant, they began talking about getting married. However, when her parents found out, they immediately drove her to an abortion clinic, had the procedure done on the spot, and forbade Jennie from ever talking to her boyfriend again. Jennie was never the same after that.
Following high school she went from one relationship to another and had three more pregnancies. The relationships bore amazing similarities. She seemed to be drawn continually to cold and abusive partners. Every time she became pregnant, her current partner demanded she abort their child. She would quietly concede to his wishes, but again, in each case, the relationship ended soon after.
As we talked, it became clear to Jennie that this pattern of broken relationships, along with her emotional problems, all started just after her first abortion. She also came to realize that her wildly vacillating mood swings coincided with the due dates of her various pregnancies. I asked her if she had heard of post-abortion syndrome (PAS) or if any of her doctors or psychiatrists had considered it in managing her case. She hadn't, and the doctors had never mentioned it.
Only recently has PAS been recognized as a diagnosable disorder, so it is often overlooked by therapists. Every one of the symptoms fit Jennie. PAS would also explain the therapists' lack of success in treating her for other possible psychological disorders.
As I explained PAS to Jennie, she seemed to come alive. "Yes, this is what I've been going through," she said. "I never wanted to kill my baby." The tears began to flow. I referred Jennie to a counselor who specialized in treating PAS. Jennie was relieved to think that she might finally get some help.
Several months later, Jennie stopped in to see me. The transformation was remarkable. She was a different person, bright, vibrant, and excited about life. Her counselor had already begun helping her work through her emotional struggles.
A woman suffering PAS must be allowed to mourn the loss of her dead child. She must also find an outlet for the guilt she has been holding inside. She needs to experience forgiveness for what she has done. Jennie's counselor pointed Jennie to the one true source of forgiveness. She told her about Jesus.
"Jesus has forgiven me," she beamed. I knew Jennie was going to be okay.
Today, Jennie, along with her beautiful, ten-month-old daughter, lives in a home of her own, has joined a caring and supportive church, and is well on her way to creating a new life for her daughter and herself.
The death of a baby son or daughter left unmourned leaves a deep wound in the heart of a mother whether she is aware of it or not. These wounds, deep as they may be, can be touched by the healing hand of God. He has promised to bring comfort and bear the pains of all who bring their sorrow to Him. It is the God of love Himself who placed these maternal instincts within each woman. Hence, He is the only One Who can truly bring healing to each woman who places her broken heart in His caring hands. He does this in several ways.
God understands the pain of a mother's loss. God made it clear in His Word that He understands the brokenhearted anguish of a mother who has lost her child. In fact, He even used that very example in describing the devastation of the Israelites in being defeated and carried away as a nation into captivity. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "This is what the LORD says: 'A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more'" (Jeremiah 31:15). Though describing Israel, the Lord has perfectly portrayed a mother's grief and is showing His intimate awareness of what she is feeling.
These verses do more than just describe that pain, however. They are followed by a promise. Jeremiah continues, "This is what the LORD says: 'Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,' declares the LORD. 'They will return from the land of the enemy, so there is hope for your future,' declares the LORD. 'Your children will return to their own land'" (vv. 16-17). God sees every pain His people endure. He knows and feels the sorrow of a mother who has lost her child. In addition, God's understanding is a prelude to His action.
God fills the desires of a mother's heart. Because He is both all-loving and all-powerful, He is willing and able to act upon the awareness He has of His child's needs. He does far more than merely sympathize with the grieving mother. Unlike the empty campaign promises of a politician who claims to feel our pain, God truly does feel our sorrow. What's more, He also heals it. The Psalmist wrote, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalms 37:4). God created us, feelings and all. He is intimately aware of the pain of the woman mourning the loss of her child. He is the only One Who can bring her the comfort and healing she so desperately needs. The desire of her heart and the hope to go on will all be realized in her relationship with Him.
God forgives the failings of a mother's past. The woman who has suffered the loss of an unborn baby due to an abortion requires a special kind of healing touch. Not only will she need to grieve the death of her child, but also she will need to deal with her guilt.
Modern culture offers abortion as an acceptable solution for unwanted pregnancies. Women are told that negative feelings following an abortion are invalid and that they should suppress or deny those feelings. However, many women have not been able to ignore their resultant depression, anger, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, mood swings associated with due dates, and social withdrawal. These symptoms, occurring immediately or years after the abortion, are now recognized as post-abortion syndrome.
While there are an increasing number of trained counselors working to bring healing and relief from these symptoms, God already offers both. His Word is filled with promises of hope, comfort, healing, and, above all, forgiveness. Only forgiveness can alleviate the overwhelming guilt of responsibility for taking a life, and only God can offer that kind of total forgiveness. It's available for the asking. The Bible declares, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). So complete is His forgiveness that He chooses to forget. He promised, "I will ... remember their sins no more" (Jeremiah 31:34).
Jennie found healing when she realized that God was intimately aware of what she was going through. She also learned that God forgives and wipes the slate clean for all who ask His forgiveness.
Have you had an abortion? Can you relate to the pain Jennie was in? Like Jennie, you too can find peace, hope, and a bright future.
Patricia Mondore graduated from Houghton College and received her Masters from Syracuse University. She is the Pediatric Residency Program Coordinator at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. Five years ago she took a class in volunteer crisis pregnancy counseling given by the local Christian CPC, New Hope Family Services in Syracuse, New York. After completing her internship there, she joined the staff as a volunteer counselor. She has helped train several new counselors as they have completed their training classes. You may contact her by writing to P.O. Box 123, Jamesville, NY 13078 or sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.