This post was co-authored by Kevin Burke, LSW, co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, and Janet Morana.
…You can hide your face behind a smile…
You can live a lie until you die
But one thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside.
- John Lennon, Crippled Inside
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards disclosed in Elle in October that she had an abortion:
I had an abortion. It was the right decision for me and my husband, and it wasn’t a difficult decision. Before becoming president of Planned Parenthood eight years ago, I hadn’t really talked about it beyond family and close friends. But I’m here to say, when politicians argue and shout about abortion, they’re talking about me—and millions of other women around the country.
It is not an accident that some of the founding members of pro abortion feminism and abortion rights movements such as Kate Michelman (N.O.W.), Gloria Steinem and others are women with abortions in their history. Reacting to the success of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign in presenting the truth of abortion’s devastation in women’s lives, Richard’s recent public testimony is part of an overall strategy by the pro abortion movement to normalize abortion. Their strategy is to affirm this most commonly performed medical procedure as a benign rite of passage for many women.
There are powerful post-abortion forces that lead some women to embrace their “choice” and become proponents of abortion rights.
What is really going on here? First we need to start with basic biology.
The Body Doesn’t Lie
When a woman becomes pregnant, everything in her body is gearing up to welcome, protect and nurture the unborn child. The female body is not ambivalent or fiercely ideological about the abortion issue – when conception occurs the female body is never asking:
Is this really a good time for me to welcome this child into the world?
This guys already squirming and I am going to be stuck with this baby. I need to abort.
I want to finish college first.
I was date raped and traumatized…I can’t have this baby.
Once the child is conceived and if it continues to naturally develop a host of complex, mysterious and very natural transformations begin…all very much designed to accept, protect and nurture this little life – regardless of the circumstances.
If you can imagine the body speaking after the abortion procedure, it would cry out:
What have you done to me, why did you invade my body and force opens my cervix and destroyed this child I was nurturing and protecting…and abruptly shut down the process of breast growth (which increases vulnerability to breast cancer)? Why did you allow this violent abusive act?
Even though there may be conscious assent to the procedure, abortion is undeniably a shock to a woman’s reproductive system and body. On a physical and emotional level, Abortion is experienced as an unnatural and violent act…truly a form of abuse.
But as human persons we aren’t just bodies detached from thoughts and feelings… our emotions, our spirit and our minds are interwoven into our being.
The Power of Denial
Now the mind is also a powerful part of the human person. In order for us to keep functioning under great stress or danger, we can for a time shut down our feelings, detach from them and repress this dark material deep into the unconscious and with the release of adrenaline and endorphins keep going.
Psychological survival after participating in the death of an unborn baby requires us to rationalize that we made the right decision…for ourselves and the child. Pro abortion affirmation campaigns, and friends and family often confirm this denial and the dismissal of any feelings of regret or pain with comments such as:
Now you can get on with your life- one day you can welcome a baby into this world when you are in a better place in your life…a time that is best for you and your family.
Some women and many men have the capacity to detach from, repress and deny this painful abortion violation and on the surface function quite well. They often become worhaholics or develop other addictive behaviors and tend to have problems in their marriage and family relationships as they expend considerable emotional energy suppressing the natural complicated grief and loss that the body, mind and soul experience after abortion.
Agents of Death – Re Enacting Complicated Abortion Grief
Some further solidify this abortion denial by become pro abortion activists and even abortion center employees/volunteers. Cecile Richards falls into this category. Richards, Steinem, Michelman and many other activists can for many years normalize their trauma and deny the complicated grief of their losses by helping others have abortions.
They are in a very real sense re-enacting their abortion trauma in the lives of other women becoming active agents in perpetuating the cycles of trauma and death. They also project their complicated grief, anger and pain onto those dangerous anti-choice advocates who hate women and want to control their bodies and lives.
But this denial and repression comes at a very high price over time. It establishes a very powerful psychological division within the mother but also the father as well.
God shares his eternal nature with his created creatures.
God shares his image and likeness with us…it is interwoven into our humanity, and helps define our unique nature among the other mammals. We, his children, are destined for eternal life with our Eternal Father.
We share in the capacity to co-create with God in bringing new souls, new life into this world. Just as the body is geared up to nurture and protect the child, so as the child develops in the womb our natural vocation as parents is to welcome this new life, this new soul into the world.
We know that many pregnancy situations are filled with anxiety, stress, and various pressures. But as the baby develops in its mother’s womb, there is a deeper internal assent and acceptance of the pregnancy within the body, heart and soul of the mother well before the conscious decision to abort.
When we participate in the death of an unborn child we are aborting the birth of that unique person and soul into the world. We violate something fundamental to our vocation as creatures of the Eternal Father, as co creators of life…we rupture our relationship with the Creator. This is often an unconscious rupture though some are acutely aware at the time of the abortion of this violation. It is very deep and desperately cries out for reconciliation and healing.
Without an integrated emotional and spiritual healing of an abortion loss you will never be a whole integrated person..as Catholic Evangelist Matthew Kelly is fond of saying- the best version of yourself. You may be a decent, caring, loving person with many wonderful gifts and qualities…but you will remain in the recesses of your heart and soul – deeply wounded.
Worse, if your form of compensation and denial is to promote abortion rights, like Cecile Richards you are not only ignoring your own pain… you are inflicting untold damage on millions of unborn children and their families.
- Janet Morana and Kevin Burke, LSW