Do you have a friend or relative who has experienced abortion? Maybe you were involved in the decision. Maybe you were in the waiting room during the procedure. Or maybe someone confided in you long after the fact. However you discovered this truth, you’ve probably seen the sadness in these hearts and wondered how you can help. Here are some tips that might help you reach these wounded hearts after abortion.
You can talk about the abortion if she knows you realize this truth. Please don’t bring up this topic without prayerful consideration and a heart that is full of God’s love and compassion. After Abortion post-abortive people are their own worst enemies and need no help in further wounding themselves. They sit in these silent prisons of pain awaiting for someone to unlock the door. Avoiding the topic of abortion can signal your rejection to these hearts. Keeping silent about this fact in their past can reinforce their untruthful conclusion that you cannot accept or love them. Especially around Mother’s day and anniversaries of abortion-rights victories, respond in love and compassion.
If you have heard about her “choice” indirectly, and she does 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. If you know this truth from credible sources, then you can start by discussing abortion in an indirect manner.
Start with an open heart by saying something like, “Abortion is something that nearly thirty three 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.”
Her reaction to this calmly spoken message will be your next cue for action. God’s anointing can fall like rain and she can confess this to you openly. Be ready with love and acceptance, and even honesty about the fact that you knew all along but were afraid to address it with us because you didn’t want to cause more pain.
If this comment enlists no response, let it be. I have known many women with deeply imbedded masks that are strong and tight, allowing no physical response to indicate they have made this choice. This response has been practiced and performed over and over again. Post-abortive women in public arenas (pastor’s wives, women’s ministry leaders, etc.) continue to amaze me at their level of restraint. So do not be alarmed by a lack of reaction or assume that means she has a cold heart.
Your positive comment has invested love into her heart. It can take time for that nourishment to reach her broken root system, breaking the mask’s grip on her hearts. Perhaps tomorrow, next year or many years from now she will trust you with her truth. Maybe she never will. But loving comments like this go a long way to helping God’s love grow in her heart.
In discussing this choice, avoid the direct use of the word “abortion.” After abortion many hear this word and writhe in pain, actively avoiding it like a scared rabbit who hears the close noise of the hawk’s fluttering wings as it descends to attack. There are other ways to address this topic.
A good example is, “I wanted to talk to you about your pregnancy loss…” If she becomes uncomfortable and won’t talk, do not push further. Simply end the conversation by noting, “I just want to make it clear that I love you and there is nothing you have ever done in the past that could make me think less of you. I am always here for you.”
Understand that few women chose abortion in a “murderous” mindset. Frederica Mathewes-Green, a positive-life minded feminist made this accurate quote, “A woman doesn’t want an abortion like she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche, but like an animal caught in a trap who gnaws off its own leg,” Abortion is a legal option and not considered homicide in most nations. Please do not use derogatory terms about this procedure or encourage their use in any way. These terms lead the post-abortive into further depths in self-imposed prisons of silence.
Acknowledge your truth to her that had you walked in our shoes, you could have easily made the same choice. Make this confession every time you hear anyone discussing abortion. If you don’t think that abortion was a possibility in your past, you are mistaken. Abortion is a very real option in times of crisis, no matter how much you abhor the concept today. Post-abortive women need to know that this choice is more common that most imagine and that we are all sinners, guilty and stained before God.
Realize that the post-abortive are always within listening range. Many have overheard judgmental conversations that relayed messages like, “I think any woman that chooses abortion should go to prison!” Even discussing a woman who has made a positive life decision during a crisis pregnancy can result in their being cast down in whispered communications.
This fact has changed greatly in the past few years, thankfully. Many pastors can speak strongly and more condemning in their rhetoric against abortion believing that their congregations will then be influenced to choose morality and abstinence. Unfortunately, these bombastic sermons can sometimes cause greater pain and lead us to withdraw further in our own private hell if we are not addressed directly with compassion.
If you overhear judgmental communications about the post-abortive, be sure to vocally address post-abortive that may be around in a sweet way. Offer compassionate responses like, “Excuse me but I heard what you just said. You may not realize that women who have chosen abortion could be overhearing your comment. I don’t think you meant to come across as judgmental. God’s grace extends to us all. Isn’t that amazing!”
Messages on the sanctity of human life should always include God’s compassion and grace. When addressing abortion to any audience, include points like this one — “I know I’m talking strongly against abortion but I also know that there are individuals here today that have chosen abortion. I want you to know that there is no sin that God cannot forgive! The problem may be you don’t forgive yourselves and may need help in coming to that healing place. We are here to help you!” If you are not actively considering adding abortion recovery ministry services within your outreach program, make sure you have contacted your local pregnancy center and discovered the ways their programs can assist your congregation in dealing with this pain.
Honor individuals who have made a positive life decision in their unplanned pregnancy situations in a tangible way. Each woman who has chosen life, or made an adoption plan, should be considered heroic and applauded. Congregations should offer them direct support through baby showers and loving encouragement. In this manner, others who may find themselves in these situations in a future life will be more likely to avoid an abortion decision. One of the main reasons I chose abortion was to avoid the humiliation my family would endure at the church level should my unplanned pregnancy be discovered. I had seen how other women had been treated and shunned. Many congregations believe honoring these pregnant folks encourages sinful behavior. Truly, that is not the case.
Become educated on post-abortion syndrome and what women experience during abortion procedures. Watch the videos on Ramah’s web-site, Sydna’s Abortion Testimony and Sydna’s Post-Abortion Healing Testimony, to learn more about what your loved one may have experienced. My story is very typical. That is why God has me offer it to you this testimony in a transparent manner. Obtain a copy of my book Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion. Read through it and understand this pain at a deeper level.
If you are a family member of the post-abortive individual, understand you are also post-abortive at a secondary level. You have a need to grieve this lost child personally. So many times when related individuals contact me to comfort their post-abortive loved ones, they have not recognized their own pain and grief. A family member has been lost. If that person had been living, they would have certainly grieved their passing personally and privately. The same process should be observed after abortion as well.
In the desire to help their loved one, many family members set aside their own needs. While only limited resources exist for men and grandparents, progress is being made to address these needs as well. The symptoms and healing process came be similar for you as well. If you are in this category, start now by simply asking God to reveal to your heart areas that need addressed. The resources for post-abortive women can still be helpful for you.
Sydna A. Masse – President & Founder, Ramah International, Inc.