Understanding Abortion's Aftermath
Since 1973, there have been more than 45 million abortions in the United States. While some women report relatively low trauma following abortion, for many, the experience is devastating, causing severe and long-lasting emotional, psychological and spiritual upset.
Evidence of post-abortion trauma is increasingly attested to by psychologists, counselors and those involved in post-abortion ministry. We now know, for example, that women hurt by abortion may have some or many of the following symptoms:
- Low self-esteem.
- Grief, mild to profound.
- Depression, sometimes to the point of suicidal thoughts and attempts.
- A sense of alienation from family and friends.
- A feeling of being 'numb,' not able to feel joy from activities that used to be pleasurable.
- Isolating self from others to avoid discussing the abortion experience with them.
- Guilt and shame.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Anger toward self, or the child's father, or others involved in the abortion decision.
- Sleep disorders.
- Abortion-related nightmares, flashbacks or even sounds of a baby crying.
- Alcohol and drug problems, to dull the sorrow.
- Desire for a 'replacement' baby.
- Anniversary reactions of grief or depression on the date of the abortion or the baby's expected due date.
- Problems bonding with her other children (being over-protective but emotionally distant).
- Fear that God will punish her, or is punishing her.
- A belief that she is unforgivable.
Some, especially young girls, experience symptoms soon after the abortion. Counselors tell us, however, that it is more common for the symptoms to occur over the course of five to twelve years after the abortion before a woman seeks help.
Abortion's aftermath is largely ignored by the public. Groups organized to protect the availability of abortion claim that abortion is no different from any surgical procedure and that pro-life groups are fabricating the existence of post-abortion suffering. Consequently, many women think that their grief reactions are somehow abnormal and believe that there is nowhere to turn for help.
Many women who have walked a path of grief and hopelessness after abortion feel a deep spiritual wound. Sadly, they also are likely to believe that they have committed 'the unforgivable sin' and fear God's anger.
Women who have had an abortion often have many questions, the answers to which are indispensable to beginning the healing journey. Can God ever forgive me? Can my child? Can I ever forgive myself? Will the Church let me stay when I confess this sin? Will this horrible pain ever go away? Is healing possible?
The answer to all these questions is, of course: Yes.
Retreats are held at different times throughout the year in many locations in English, Spanish and Polish. Our next local retreat in English will be held on April 4-6 in the Diocese of Joliet, and there is an upcoming Retreat in the Archdiocese in Polish that will be held Feb 9-11.
Please contact Kay at 1.866.99.4.GIVE (4483) for additional information and local retreats in English.
Please contact Sr. Maksymiliana Kaminska at 773.656.7703 or firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information and local retreats in Polish.
And for additional locations and contacts in English, Spanish and Polish, please go to the national Rachel’s Vineyard website.
A Journey of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering the Effects of Abortion
Project Rachel is a sensitive, private, free and confidential experience with a network of specially trained priests and caring people who understand the painful road back from abortion. It is open to Catholics and those of other faiths. Please click here to view the Project Rachel Brochure.
How does Project Rachel work?
Project Rachel Ministry begins with a phone call to the Project Rachel hotline, 312.337.1962; or 888.456.HOPE. The Project Rachel hotline in Polish is 773.656.7703; or email@example.com. The Polish website is www.aborcjabolterapia.com. A counselor will take the call, guiding the woman or man suffering from abortion through the initial steps on the road to healing.
The Church, through its sacramental life, offers those who have been traumatized by abortion a powerful way to encounter the healing and reconciling love of God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and especially the Eucharist. By meeting with a priest or counselor, those seeking healing will prepare for Reconciliation. Forgiveness in the Catholic tradition is not forgetting what happened, or simply relief from guilt or punishment. Forgiveness means being restored by the God who knows and cares, and being transformed in the heart and created anew.
Although the journey of forgiveness can be painful and frightening, but each step you make toward home is evermore freeing and life-giving, rooted in forgiveness.
Let the Healing Begin
To find out how you can give of your time to this powerful, vital ministry, please contact Respect Life Ministries, 312.534.5355.
"Rachel mourns her children; she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more. Thus says the Lord; Cease your cries of mourning. Wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward. There is hope for your future." Jeremiah 31:15-17
The Respect Life Office provides support groups for women experiencing sorrow and guilt associated with their abortion experience. These support groups are positive and encouraging for women, leading them to discover the mercy and forgiveness of God and their own feminine dignity.
If you would like to participate in one of these groups, please contact Respect Life Ministries at 312.534.5355 or;