In the halls of a pregnancy center one woman relayed, "I don't know how anyone could ever choose abortion." In overhearing that comment, I had to mentally remind myself she didn't intentionally seek to wound me personally because she had no idea I had chosen abortion. Prior to God's healing, her comment could have been a tool of the enemy to further my bondage to this choice. While she was wrestling with an issue that many Christians do not understand, she neglected to understand I was in her midst and wounded.
My former boss at Focus on the Family, H. B. London, Jr., explained these comments by saying, "There are those in spiritual leadership who feel that the stronger and more condemning their rhetoric against abortion is — the more people will be influenced to choose morality and chastity. I pray that is so, but for most who hear the bombastic sermons, it only causes more pain and a tendency to withdraw even further into one's private hell."
Statistics from abortion providers state that, "At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy, and, at current rates, about one-third will choose abortion."i The post-abortive are clearly among us, and each comment on this difficult topic must be couched in love and compassion or these wounded individuals will withdraw even further into misery.
Understanding Post-Abortive Behavior
In the early stages after abortion, post-abortive dysfunctional behavior can reinforce society's judgment, especially in Christian circles. Angry women shouting on the pro-abortion picket lines are often working to prove to their own hearts that abortion was a good decision. These actions reinforce the denial process to deeply embed the grief and guilt that most eventually experience.
Sadly, I not only recommended abortion to my friends, I also openly and righteously told myself it was my best choice. I even casually relayed my abortion decision to my brother. His horror at my lack of remorse was interpreted as judgmental and initiated my withdrawal from anyone who would not accept my choice as a good decision.
On that prodigal journey, I could not bear the thought of consciously addressing the grief, guilt, and agony of resurrecting my child from the depths of my heart. To acknowledge my child as an individual was a thought that I felt could lead me to suicide. In the end, I was completely wrong. In accepting this child into my heart, I found real peace.
Addressing Abortion Positively
Understand women seldom make abortion decisions in a "murderous mindset." Frederica Mathewes-Green made this accurate quote: "A woman doesn't want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche, but rather like an animal caught in a trap who gnaws off its own leg." Post-abortion syndrome is a result of this choice, a form of post-traumatic disorder. The physical abortion experience is often horrendous and, just like the veterans from past wars, the taking of life has lifelong effects.
Always refrain from using derogatory terms about this procedure. Referring to abortion as murder leads post-abortive people into deeper depths of pain. Would you seek ministry services from someone who just called you a murderer? Abortion is not considered homicide in our nation. However, for the grace of God, anyone could choose abortion.
If you know a post-abortive person, do not avoid the abortion topic. Evading the topic can reinforce post-abortion conclusions that society cannot accept or love those who have chosen abortion. Especially around Mother's Day and anniversaries of abortion-rights victories, positively address abortion with a heart that is full of God's love and compassion. The book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion, is a great resource for anyone who has made this choice (see sidebar).
If you have heard about our "choice" indirectly, and we do not know that you are aware of this decision, be very careful in approaching the topic directly. It could be that you have been misinformed and the person did not choose abortion. If you know this truth from credible sources, then you can start by discussing abortion in an indirect manner by saying, "Abortion is something that nearly 33 percent of all women have chosen. My heart goes out to those who find themselves in these situations. I understand the pain that is often connected there and the judgment many of these individuals can experience. I hope no one ever perceives me as judgmental. But for the grace of God, I could have made the same decision."
Be patient with us at whatever stage we are in the healing process. In the timeline of God's healing process, we need you to love us along our journey. God can use our healed voices to spare women from making this choice and helping others discover His magnificent grace, love, and mercy. Through your enduring love, God's restoration process can be advanced quickly.
Sydna A. Massé is the founder and president of Ramah International whose mission is to encourage post-abortion healing throughout the world. She authored the book, Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion (David C. Cook Publishing, 2009). For more information, visit www.ramahinternational.org or contact Sydna at 941-473-2188 or write to Sydna@aol.com. Ramah International, 1776 Hudson St., Englewood, Florida 34223.
i Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States, July 2008, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Washington, DC, (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html).
SIDEBAR: How to Offer A Choice to Heal to a Post-Abortive Woman
The first step in helping the post-abortive is to become educated about the topic. Read Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. In reading about my healing journey, you will understand this pain at a deeper level.
Pray about offering this resource to post-abortive individuals. Place this book in an envelope and then put it inside a larger envelope. Present the envelope with a message that says, "I found this resource and thought of you. I've read it myself and it's positive and loving. Perhaps it may be helpful to you someday." Avoid mentioning that the book is about abortion.
Because of the double envelope concept, if they curiously open the envelope in your presence, they won't see the book's title. They won't be embarrassed or have to comment about this difficult topic immediately. Instead, they will have time to process the resource in the privacy of their own homes. Do not ask them about the resource afterward, but be assured that when the time is right, they will have access to godly help and encouragement.
If they ask questions about the resource, mention that the book is about pregnancy loss and refrain from using the term abortion specifically. Their reaction will be your next cue for action. God's anointing can fall like rain, and they can confess this to you openly. Be ready with love and acceptance.
If your efforts have no response, leave them with the Lord. Many women have strongly embedded masks that allow for no physical response about this topic. Do not assume this lack of reaction indicates a cold heart. Your actions will invest love into our hearts. It can take time for that nourishment to reach our broken hearts. Perhaps tomorrow, next year, or many years from now we will trust you with our own truth. Maybe we never will. Nevertheless, loving comments like this go a long way to helping God's love grow in our hearts.