Friday marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade here in the United States. Roe v. Wade is famous for making abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy and for virtually any reason. Along with its sister case, Doe v. Bolton, Roe v. Wade has both laid and maintained the foundation for so-called abortion rights in America.
Forty-three years later, the debate rages on between those who are pro-life and those who are pro-abortion. But the abortion debate is no longer just for politics or political parties. It seems that Hollywood and the mainstream media show as much support for abortion as do Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation.
Anti-abortion activist sign is held aloft during a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
Just in the past year, we’ve had lists of celebrities that support abortion, a Twitter campaign urging women to voice their positive experiences with abortion, and a primetime television show horrendously depicting an abortion to the tune of Silent Night. From women documenting their abortion experiences to presidential candidates wanting to make sure women always have the right to “safe, legal and rare” abortions, one might believe that there is hardly anyone left to verbalize opposition.
Moreover, while women who support abortion or have had positive experiences with it are given regular media attention, there is one group of women which gets almost no media attention and whose voice is mostly ignored. This is the group of women who regret their abortions. They are millions in number and they have suffered, living with the shame and regret of the choices they have made.
[sharequote align="center"]There are millions of women who have suffered, living with the shame and regret of their abortions.[/sharequote]
Five years ago, I began working with Rachel’s Vineyard, a post-abortion healing ministry for women and men who regret their decisions and have been unable to forgive themselves or others in their lives. Aside from being an immense blessing in my life and the lives of countless women, the experience of working with these women and couples has shown me a different side of the abortion discussion.
As I have previously written of my experience working with post-abortive women,
I have heard and read countless stories from women who have had abortions. Each story is different, each has different characters, is based in a different location, has different explanations and reasons for choosing abortion. The emotions range widely: some experience sadness, grief, loss. Others experience regret, shame, or an unwillingness to forgive themselves. Still others experience isolation or a raw emptiness of being unable to experience any emotion at all. Some have dissociated themselves from the experience, or buried it so deeply within themselves that no matter how badly they want to discuss it, they have difficulty. The men oftentimes are also consumed by loss, regret, and a feeling of helplessness about their past.
I’ve heard the sorrow. I’ve heard the grief. I’ve heard the torment, the angst, and the shame. I’ve listened to the regret, the guilt, the helplessness. I’ve seen the tears, the emotional blockades, the defense mechanisms. Still more, I’ve heard women who have been silenced by the pain and the hurt. They have learned they cannot speak out, and so they have kept their stories to themselves. They have been silent for years, sometimes decades. It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking. It’s eye-opening.
This is a far cry from the liberal narrative on abortion; that it’s a harmless medical procedure that is a normal part of women’s healthcare. The women with whom I have spoken or whose stories I have read adamantly and repeatedly tell me how much pain abortion has caused them. Some of them were in denial for years before they finally had to come face-to-face with their decision.
As one post-abortive woman told me, “There are two types of post-abortive women: women who regret their decision, and women who will regret their decision in the future”.
While I’m sure there are exceptions to that rule, an overwhelming majority of women do experience regret to some degree after they have an abortion. While pro-abortion advocates will chalk this up to stigma and self-doubt, this comes off as merely a convenient explanation for something that is nearly universal in the aftermath of obtaining an abortion. Indeed, abortion does come with a psychological impact, but it’s far from the society-driven self-stigma that pro-abortion advocates like to claim. Rather, it’s been my experience that this psychological impact is a sincere experience of guilt, anger, regret, and unforgiveness.
Thankfully, there are countless organizations out there helping women to share their stories and find healing after an abortion (see here, here, here, and here for a few examples). Most of these organizations do not exist for political purposes. In addition to giving women places to share their stories, they also do tremendous good by showing a different side of the abortion discussion. Furthermore, the mere existence of these organizations dedicated to post-abortion healing provides insight into the trauma and suffering brought on by choosing abortion.
Pro-life activists demonstrate during the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.(AFP/Getty Images)
Women who suffer after abortions (and men, and former abortionists and their nurses, and siblings) deserve to be heard just as much as those who voice support for abortion. It does a disservice to young women who might be considering abortion to ignore the immense emotional struggles, trauma, and shame that can accompany them throughout their lives.
These women share their experiences in order to find healing and help younger women see the truth of abortion. They are not receiving media attention, posing with CEOs, or stumping for presidential candidates. They do not have a political agenda, just a common experience of pain and trauma they wish to help others avoid.
I initially began writing in order to help this particular group of women find their voice and be heard. I want to make sure every post-abortive woman knows there is healing out there if they need it. It is because of these women that I can’t sit silently when it comes to abortion.
Perhaps instead of falling for the liberal narrative when it comes to abortion, we should work to understand why it has the potential to bring so much pain and suffering.
Perhaps we should listen to those who have been through the torment and turmoil. Their voice of experience can enlighten us just as much as a liberal narrative, and these women deserve to have their stories heard.
Cullen Herout is a pro-life, pro-family writer. He has a passion for writing about life issues, Marriage, fatherhood, and creating a culture of life. Follow him on his new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cullenheroutwriter.
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