On an otherwise normal day in October, 2 percent of the world’s population disappears in an instant. That’s the premise of the HBO show “The Leftovers,” which began its second season this week. Throughout the show’s depressing first season, I couldn’t help but comparing the “departure,” as the event is known, to abortion. Abortion has caused the departure of more than 17 percent of Americans, so that’s not the similarity. The show doesn’t spend much time trying to figure out where these lost 2 percenters have gone. Instead, the focus is on how those left behind are carrying on without them. That’s where I see abortion’s ghost. One first season episode slaps viewers right in the face with its abortion plot device. Laurie, a well-to-do psychiatrist with a healthy family – dad is the police chief, a teenage son and daughter seem well-adjusted – has become so damaged by the departure that she joins a strange cult known as the Guilty Remnant, whose mission is to remind everyone of what they have lost. Three-quarters of way through the season, by the time we are sure her family remained intact, we discover that on that fateful day, Laurie was at her ob-gyn’s office making a decision about whether or not to abort her late-in-life unplanned pregnancy. And then the departure happened, and the baby on the ultrasound screen is gone. Laurie suffered from post-abortion guilt without even having an abortion. But her guilt stems, in my opinion, from being willing to lose this child, while all around her are heartbroken parents who would do anything to have their departed children returned. One main character, Nora, lost her whole family – husband and two kids – and is only brought back from the brink when she finds a baby in the season one finale. But Sunday night’s season opener, which brought us all the way back to Cro Magnon man to demonstrate the fierce bond between mother and child, also brought a new title sequence, one that all but bowled me over. It illustrates exactly what we’ve been saying since January through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign’s Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion initiative: Abortion impacts a wide circle of victims. The sequence shows a montage of family portraits, but in each one, the “departed” is seen as a ghostly spectre. Life goes on, but that missing family member is always missed, and mourned. The same is true of abortion. The child who is lost is never forgotten by those who know about the abortion. But even those who don’t know about the abortion sense the loss of that child. We know that because so many people who have learned they had siblings, grandchildren or other close relatives killed by abortion have told us that they always felt a loss they couldn’t quite define. Abortion has caused much more of an upheaval in our society than the departure. But you will never see a show on HBO about it. Learn more about this wider circle of victims at www.abortionshockwaves.com.
Archive for the ‘Silent No More Awareness’ Category
It comes as no surprise that some pro-abortion feminists are finding they can’t quite bring themselves to tell their children about their own abortions. This story in Yahoo News is an important read and I hope you can all find the time to read it in its entirety. But some lines jumped out at me and I would like to talk about those.
The author, Raven Snook, is a writer who emcees burlesque shows, according to her website. The fact that she’s so edgy, so out there, makes it very telling that even she couldn’t answer her 9-year-old daughter when she asked if she had ever been pregnant before.
I’ve never been secretive about my abortion. My friends and family know and I’ve even performed a monologue about it onstage. I’m unabashedly pro-choice and I’ve talked with my child in an age-appropriate manner about sex, pregnancy, birth control, and the fact that women have the right to decide if and when they become mommies. Yet when it came to revealing my own abortion — a necessary conversation so that my daughter views it as a personal choice, not a political one — I panicked.
Could it be she was worried her daughter wouldn’t see the intentional killing of her older sibling as either a political choice or a personal one but would instead discern the truth? That this child, with the same 23 chromosomes and maybe the same eyes and smile, was killed simply because he or she was inconvenient?
Ms. Snook mentions that she threw herself into mothering her chosen child “with zeal.” Could it be that, having shown her daughter her super-mom side, she can’t find the words to explain how one of her children could be so different from the next. How on earth do you say, “I aborted your sibling, but oh darling, I really wanted to have you! That is a terrifying thing for a child to hear. What might happen, they wonder, if they fail to measure up to Mommy Dearest’s expectations? What happens if they become inconvenient?
The fact that Ms. Snook’s daughter asked the question in the first place is an indication she already had intuited that someone was missing from their family portrait. Sibling survivors often do. The Canadian psychiatrist and abortion trauma expert Dr. Philip Ney once told me a story about a woman who brought her daughter to him to get to the cause of her bed wetting. In a private conversation, the mother told Dr. Ney she had had two abortions before giving the right to life to this daughter. When the doctor asked the girl to draw a picture of her family, she drew a family with three children.
In April, our new Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion initiative at Silent No More will focus on sibling survivors like Ms. Snook’s daughter. In an interview that can be heard at www.abortionshockwaves.com Dr. Ney said considerable research has been done on sibling survivors of abortion.
“It’s quite clear that children are affected,” he said. “They have existential guilt that they shouldn’t be alive when their siblings were aborted. They feel guilty for existing. They don’t trust people. They have pseudo-secrets. They have a long list of difficult problems.” Dr. Ney also talks of how abortion can afflict families for generations: The grandmother has had an abortion, the mother has had an abortion, the daughter has or will have an abortion.
This phenomenon also impacts sibling survivors. “Abortion survivors don’t want to have children,” he said. If they don’t deal with their feelings, they can grow up into narcissistic adults, modeling the behavior that led their mother or father, or both, to see their older sibling as inconvenient and disposable.
In the Yahoo News story, Ms. Snook quotes another post-abortion pro-choice mother about her experience when she told her two kids, including a 10-year-old son, about their missing sibling.
After discussing sperm banks and pregnancy, the topic turned to abortion, specifically hers. “‘It’s one of the choices people can make if they get pregnant and can’t take care of the baby for whatever reason,’ I told them. I felt the whole temperature of the car change. Maybe I was projecting but I saw a look pass on his face that went ‘whoa.’ The statement made an impact. But being open about it, you normalize it.”
Her last statement, about normalizing the experience, is nothing but wishful thinking on her part. But the temperature of the car changing and the look on his face? Those were spot-on observations.
It is my hope that Ms. Snook will one day seek healing for her abortion just like many women do on a daily basis as they visit our website www.AbortionForgiveness.com where they can find an abortion recovery program in their area. Also, Dr. Ney has written about how to tell your child about your abortion and you can view his work at www.Messengers2.com. Remember, to a child, there is nothing normal about the murder of their brother or sister. Children know right from wrong.
On a cold day in January 1990, long before the sun was up, I showed up at my parish church, St. Charles on Staten Island, to board a bus headed for Washington, D.C. Our group was led by our young associate pastor, Father Frank Pavone, whose passion for the unborn gave us the energy to make it through that long, grueling day.
When we arrived and saw tens of thousands of people on the National Mall, I was awe-struck. I had no idea so many people were involved in trying to bring an end to abortion. It was an eye-opening experience for me, and as I boarded the bus for home, I knew my life was never going to be the same. I have not missed the March for Life since then.
Four years later, Father Pavone had become national director of Priests for Life and I traveled with him and others as volunteers with the organization. It was the first time many of us met some of the nation’s most prominent pro-life leaders, and we had the sense that we were kids peeking in at the grownups. But that changed quickly.
At my first-ever March for Life Convention, where dozens of pro-life groups set up booths to help explain their work, I felt like I was in Disney World. Until then it had been on the bus, do the march, get back on the bus. Now I was able to attend all the activities surrounding the March and take in all the great work people were doing on behalf of the unborn. I was humbled, and so grateful to be part of it all.
At that Convention, I was able to meet the great Nellie Grey, who started the March in 1974, one year after Roe v. Wade. I couldn’t believe I was in the same room with her and was feeling a bit star-struck, but when I heard her say she needed a priest to say the opening prayer at the Convention, my Brooklyn chutzpah took over. I told her I was with Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and he would be happy to do it. Minutes later, he did just that.
That year, 1994, was a year of contrasts for the March. Cardinal John J. O’Connor provided a rousing and passionate keynote address at the Convention, but it was Bill Clinton’s Washington, and I remember being watched over by police snipers stationed on the rooftops along Constitution Avenue.
At another March during the abortion-friendly Clinton years, NOW President Patricia Ireland showed up, coat hanger poster in hand, to push her anti-life agenda. Father Pavone was wearing a press pass given to him by the Catholic Press Association, and he was carrying a small tape recorder, so with his Roman collar, hidden behind layers of clothes, he approached Ms. Ireland and asked for an interview. As they were speaking, some pro-life leaders, including Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, were trying to drown out her words. I ran over to them to say the man with the tape recorder was on our side, was in fact a priest, and they quieted down. As expected, Ms. Ireland spouted the usual pro-abortion rhetoric about abortion being vital for women’s rights.
The weather plays a role in any March for Life, and in 1994, the weather was something to remember. Father Pavone and I arrived on the last flight in to Reagan National before snow and ice conditions grounded the rest of the flights. As we stepped out of a cab outside the guesthouse where we were to stay, I found myself sprawled on the ice. The taxi driver left the car to try to help me, and his cab slid down the hill and across the road on its own.
Almost every year has been brutally cold, including last year when the temperature was in the single digits when we woke up to snow-covered rooftops and learned that hundreds of buses had to cancel their trips. But one glorious year, it was so balmy that I remember taking my coat off and carrying it down Constitution Avenue.
The March for Life entered a deeper dimension for me in 2003, when we had the women of the brand-new Silent No More Awareness Campaign, which I co-founded, talk about their abortion regret in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building for the first time. Pro-lifers weren’t sure what to think when the first of 60 women started to speak. Some members of a youth group thought we were pro-abortion counter-protesters and started to yell at us. But Bryan Kemper, the founder of Stand True – and now our youth outreach director at Priests for Life – told the agitated youth that the women were on our side.
These testimonies have become an integral part of the March experience, and now many groups schedule their buses to leave later so people can hear the unvarnished truth about abortion from the only people truly qualified to speak – those who have been through it. People thank these courageous women and men for their witness.
One year, two marchers carried bunches of red roses, and gave one to every woman carrying an “I Regret My Abortion” sign. Another year, a woman who had not registered with the Campaign showed up in a wedding gown and asked to speak. We asked about the dress, and she said her abortion had wounded her profoundly, both physically and emotionally, and she never expected to marry. When she came back the next year after completing an abortion-recovery program, she was not in a wedding dress but she was sporting a diamond engagement ring. Giving her testimony with Silent No More had helped in her healing.
I look forward to the March every year because it is tangible proof that this counter-cultural civil rights movement in which I am privileged to play a role continues to grow. But every year, I hope and pray it’s the last time I have to make the trek to the nation’s capital in protest of the worst U.S. Supreme Court decision in my lifetime. Abortion will end when God says it’s time, and until then, it is my job to show up and bear witness to the truth: Abortion kills an unborn child, damages mothers and sends shockwaves of misery throughout our society.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The year 2014 saw the first “abortion rom-com” in theaters, heard the head of Planned Parenthood express the goal of making pro-life political candidates “unacceptable,” and endured a relentless assault by an anti-life movement that seeks to recast abortion as a social good.
Abortion is not a social good, and in 2015, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign will demonstrate that through a new project called Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion. The aim of Shockwaves is to reach out to those impacted by the loss of a child through abortion: Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, abortion clinic workers and even the abortionists themselves.
The project will be announced at a press conference Thursday, Jan. 8 at 1 p.m. in the Murrow Room at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW. The official launch for Shockwaves will be at the annual Silent No More gathering in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building during the March for Life on Jan. 22.
The Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion was like a series of powerful nuclear devices detonated in January 1973 in Washington, D.C. The damage done by an explosion is not only in the initial impact, but in the invisible shockwaves that ripple out from the epicenter. We often fail to see the radioactive fallout from 55 million abortions but the new initiative aims to make Americans aware of the powerful and destructive shockwaves that have wounded our nation in ways that we are only beginning to fully understand.
“Each individual abortion procedure is an explosive event in the lives of the mother and father and those closely connected to that decision,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life and Pastoral Director for Silent No More. “The shockwaves not only deeply touch the mother and father but all those who are part of abortion decisions and procedures. They extend out into the lives that they will touch as their unresolved grief and loss impact their future relationships, their marriage and family lives. This can and does reach deeply into our society — our schools, our health care and legal systems, our economy and our communities.”
Every month throughout 2015, Shockwaves will reach out to a group that has been directly impacted by abortion loss, with helpful information, resources, and referrals to abortion-recovery programs.
January will focus on “Healing through the Church.” February will recognize Black History Month to offer “Healing the Black Family.” March will put the focus on grandparents, while April will take a look at how the shockwaves have impacted the siblings. Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June provide opportunities to focus on those at the epicenter, the parents who lose children to abortion.
“The new aim of the pro-choice movement is to convince women and men that abortion is the very best thing they can do for themselves and their future,” said Georgette Forney, President of Anglicans for Life and co-founder of Silent No More. “But I can tell you from experience that the abortion I had as a teenager was not the best thing I could have done for myself. It was the worst, and it impacted my parents, my future husband and our daughter.”
Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life and co-founder of Silent No More, was unaware for years that she had lost a grandchild to abortion.
“When I look at my two precious grandchildren now, I often think of their cousin who’s missing,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to think of what my family lost, and what my daughter went through. The shockwaves of that abortion have reverberated throughout my family, and there are families like mine all over our wounded nation.”
The theme for July will be “Healing the Survivors and Friends,” followed by “Healing the Abortion Providers” in August. Family will be the theme for September, with a focus on Hispanic families in October.
“Healing Pro-Lifers” will be the theme for November.
“Those who stand outside abortion clinics, on the front lines of this battle, also need healing,” said Kevin Burke, LSW, co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard and head of Silent No More’s Fatherhood Forever initiative. “So do those who work in pregnancy resource centers, and others who counsel abortion-vulnerable women. Every woman who chooses abortion represents a deep and personal loss to these people who are so committed to life. They feel the shockwaves most acutely.”
December will be devoted to seeking healing through Jesus Christ.
“When a spiritual and emotional healing program safely opens the abortion wound to the light of Christ, there are miraculous encounters with the Lord,” said Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life and a spokeswoman for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. “We hope that by the end of the Shockwaves year, we have made a start in healing the heart of our nation.”
The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is clearly on the radar of the pro- abortion movement. Since 2002, Silent No More has been equipping men and women across our nation to share the truth of the devastation abortion unleashed in their lives. The pro-aborts are pushing back with campaigns to “affirm” abortion and “normalize” this procedure as a safe and benign rite of passage in many women’s lives. Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion will counter these efforts with the truth.
The actress Ellen Burstyn has had more than her share of hard times. She had a mother who didn’t love her. She was already divorced twice when her third husband became an abusive stalker. But asked during a 2007 interview with a Toronto radio station what the low point of her life was, this is what she said, according to a Lifesite News transcription:
After a pause during which the interviewer prompted her about single motherhood, struggles with her son and more, Burstyn said, “You know, I guess, I hate to talk about this on the air, but having an abortion.”
Burstyn continued, “You know that was really an extremely painful experience.”
“Did you feel you didn’t have a choice?” asked the interviewer. “At the time I was just young and dumb, I didn’t really want to have a baby then,” she replied.
“It was the wrong thing to do and I really didn’t understand that till later,” said the actress.
“That was very very painful, that was probably the worst.”
Ms. Burstyn, now 81, is talking about abortion again. In an interview on WNYC’s “Death, Sex, Money” podcast series, Ms. Burstyn and host Anna Sale had the following exchange:
Sale: Speaking of a young woman with wanderlust, in the early months of leaving home, you discovered you were pregnant. It was 1950.
Burstyn: “That was before I left home. I was still in Detroit. When I left home, I was 18. I think that was just before then. Yeah at that time, there were no legal abortions. And you could only get an illegal abortion. And that’s not a pretty sight. There’s nothing but shame connected to that. And although I don’t recommend abortion to anybody, I don’t think it’s a good thing to do, at the same time if women are pregnant and don’t want to have a baby, under any circumstances to take care of a baby, they will get an abortion one way or another. And if it’s illegal, they will get an illegal abortion. As I did. And it’s a scarring experience …
Sale: Did you go alone?
Burstyn: … I had no one. I had no one to go with me. That’s not a good way to go. It’s not a good experience. It’s harmful. And I would always, if I had the opportunity, counsel somebody — a girl –to not have an abortion. To have the child and give it up for adoption. But, it has to be legal.”
Sale: Is that because of what you personally experienced, having gotten an abortion, that you advise against it?
Burstyn: Yes. Yeah, I think it’s a very traumatic experience, not necessarily at the time, but later. It doesn’t go away.
The host then asks if the abortion played a role in her inability to get pregnant later, and Ms. Burstyn replies: “The illegal abortion just botched me up so I could never get pregnant again.”
It’s disappointing, of course, that Ms. Burstyn still thinks abortion should be legal, but her logic is flawed.
Making abortion legal did not make it safe. Women still die. Women are still injured. Women still lose their fertility. We have to stop pretending that making abortion legal made it safe and sanitary. That is just not the case.
As I wrote about in my book, Recall Abortion, a pregnancy termination is like no other medical procedure. There is no pre-admission testing, no meeting beforehand with the doctor, no follow-up care.
On the day of an abortion procedure, women arrive at free-standing abortion clinics – many of them uninspected and completely unregulated – pay their cash (usually) up front, and see the “doctor” for the first time when they are already on the exam table.
My book and the Silent No More website are full of stories of women who received sub-standard care at abortion clinics. Tamah Warren of Tennessee recalls how, when the pain of the procedure (being performed without anesthesia) became too great, one of the women attending the doctor gave her a washcloth to bite down on. Can you imagine that happening at any other medical facility?
Kim in Mississippi remembers changing her mind and telling the doctor she wanted to get off the table. “After that, I was forcefully held down by two people and given another sedative.”
Can you imagine the lawsuit if this happened in a dentist’s office, or at any legitimate medical facility?
Don’t tell me that making abortion illegal will bring back the back-alley abortionists. The abortion industry never left the back alley, they just took their shingles off the back door and put it on the front door.
Ms. Burstyn says abortion has to remain legal because women are always going to have abortions, no matter the risk. I argue in my book that abortion has to be taken off the market because it is a failed product that harms women and kills their children. Which approach makes more sense to you: Keeping a dangerous procedure legal, or looking for life-saving options?
We don’t know how many women died from illegal abortion before Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton because the people who were fighting for legalization lied. We don’t know how many women have died from legal abortion since 1973 because reliable statistics are impossible to find. The deck is stacked against life.
But we do know that times have changed. Even though abortion in 1950 was no less wrong than it is today, we have to acknowledge that is it NOT 1950 anymore. An unplanned pregnancy is not the catastrophe it was in the past. Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, for all her pro-abortion filibustering, was a single teenage mother. Cathy Lanier had a baby at 14 and now she’s the chief of police of Washington, D.C.
There are three times as many pregnancy resource centers as there are abortion clinics, and growing numbers of maternity homes, so there are real options for women now. Choices that no one has to die for.
And then there is the loving choice of adoption, which is so often dismissed. After discussing her abortion and how it robbed her of her fertility, Ms. Burstyn talks about the son she adopted.
“I do have the feeling my son is my son, period… When you mother a child, that relationship is formed.”
We need to stop accepting the premise that finding adoptive parents for a child is somehow worse than abortion. That’s a ludicrous argument. Hundreds of thousands of couples undertake unhealthy, immoral and frankly, strange, procedures to become parents while more than a million babies a year are literally thrown away in this country alone. One woman’s unplanned pregnancy can be another woman’s treasured child and that is the truth.
Even though I disagree with Ms. Burstyn about keeping abortion legal, I’m glad she was honest about her own experience. As long as we are, for better or worse, a celebrity-obsessed culture, let’s make sure to tune in when someone in the spotlight has the courage to tell the truth about abortion. And pay attention, again, to what Ms. Burstyn said about abortion with the clarity of hindsight:
“I think it’s a very traumatic experience, not necessarily at the time, but later. It doesn’t go away.”
If you agree with me that it’s time to recall abortion, please go to RecallAbortion.com and sign the petition.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the saying goes, maybe the women of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign should be pleased by Planned Parenthood’s new fund-raising campaign.
A story on the Bloomberg news site explains how the tactics developed in the fight for recognition of gay marriage in California are being employed to change people’s minds about abortion. Young women are being sent out to knock on doors and tell people that they have had an abortion. By seeing the person behind the statistic, the thinking goes, California pro-lifers will give up their antiquated views and jump on the Planned Parenthood bandwagon, checkbooks at the ready.
A few things about that:
This idea is being credited to political strategist David Fleischer, who saw results when he had gay canvassers talk to voters about gay marriage following the Prop 8 vote. But the idea of speaking personally about abortions is not new, and is not his. The Silent No More Awareness Campaign was founded in 2002 to do just that, and thousands of women have held signs at public events and outside abortion clinics and inside churches since then. They tell their unique stories, many of which are included in my book, “Recall Abortion,” but the similarities shouldn’t be missed. Abortion is unlike any other encounter with a medical professional. It is cold and impersonal and brutal. It hurts, and the emotional pain lasts long after the physical agony has subsided. It is a choice they will regret forever.
According to the brain trust behind this door-to-door idea, pro-aborts are too impatient to wait for
“generational evolution” to make abortion widely accepted. But anyone with eyes can see that today’s youth is evolving towards life. The March for Life in Washington every January, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, is overwhelmingly dominated by those 21 and under. Youth realize they were the lucky ones; one-third of their generation has been lost to abortion. They have grown up with the internet and ultrasound and selfies. They see a baby in the womb, not the “products of conception.” They know, instinctively and organically, that killing an unborn child is wrong.
Pro-choice people have always stuck to the story that they are not pro-abortion, but that is changing. Many are coming out and saying things like, so what if a child is killed in abortion, and abortion is always good, or even a blessing. An abortion worker got her 15 minutes of fame by filming her abortion and declaring it “cool.” A young woman tried to crowd-fund her procedure, claiming she couldn’t pay for the procedure herself because it would cut into her cigarette money.
Does Planned Parenthood really think people are going to change their minds on abortion just because young women are willing to knock on their doors and talk about how inconvenient their unborn child was for their plans? Are they imagining there is no one left in California who considers personal responsibility an admirable character trait?
Planned Parenthood gets taxpayer funding to the tune of $1.5 million a day – A DAY! – and has most of Hollywood’s deep pockets already playing their tune. Is it really necessary to endanger women by sending them out to strangers’ homes?
It seems that Planned Parenthood cares more about money than it does about women’s health and safety. But we knew that already.
By Janet Morana
and Kevin Burke, LSW
During a recent radio interview on the subject of post abortion trauma a listener asked if it was possible to have an abortion and not experience any negative side-effects or regrets about the decision. Julia Fawkes Stuart conveniently penned a piece that can help us address this important question.
Stuart, while being a great admirer of Sen. Wendy Davis of Texas, has a bone to pick with Davis’ public admission of a previous abortion due to fetal disability:
Wendy Davis’ pregnancy termination stories fall solidly on the side of the “good” abortion: she wanted a baby, she was excited for a baby, and then … medical disaster struck. Completely outside her control and maternal desires, Davis’ pregnancies were compromised, and she was the smart, responsible woman who made the hard, painful choice as much for her fetus (more!) as for herself.
Stuart contends that such abortion stories serve to highlight the acceptable hard cases…and stigmatize the majority of abortions that women have simply because they do not want the baby:
Most women end a pregnancy not because it is medically necessary or because their fetus is unwell — that’s only about seven percent of terminations, according to Guttmacher [PDF] — and not because they’ve been raped or are victims of incest (that’s only about one percent of abortions) — but because they don’t want to have a baby.
Julia goes on to makes some public confessions of her own about two past abortions:
…I’ve had two abortions. Unlike Wendy Davis, mine had nothing to do with medical necessity, nor were they harrowing decisions. I just don’t want kids. Not when I had those abortions, and not now. Not ever.
Stuart has no regret for her abortion decisions:
They were not difficult decisions. I’m not ashamed about them and I suffer no guilt or second thoughts… one of the few decisions I’ve made in my life that I was 100 percent certain about…
Let’s return to the question posed at the beginning of this post. Can a woman or man have an abortion and emerge free of regret, or emotional and physical complications?
Julia Stuart would seem to support the conclusion that yes, this is possible. But let’s take a closer look.
To be fair, without a more extensive and objective review of Stuarts life, we must speculate here based on previous post-abortion themes. But Stuart offers a clue on why abortion has been experienced thus far as such a positive and freeing decision for her:
I just don’t want kids. Not when I had those abortions, and not now. Not ever.
Why no kids? What led her to proclaim this with such force and finality…not ever! It’s as if Stuart has placed a 100% emotional contraceptive barrier between her life and her motherhood.
The Body Don’t Lie
Is this rooted in some negative childhood/family experience? Did that initial abortion further entrench the negative emotions and life experiences already present that led her to fear and reject her motherhood? Perhaps it is based on some perverted environmentalism that requires protecting the planet by ending the life of children in your womb.
Regardless, when she was pregnant for the 5 and six week periods prior to her abortions…Julia Fawkes Stuart was in fact a mother…and remains the mother of two children. Stuart’s ideology and strongly held pro choice values deny this reality.
Stuart writes that any restriction on abortion “is ultimately about undermining her autonomy over her body.” We can play games with language to rationalize reality. But the female body is not bound by personal pro-abortion ideology and during her pregnancies Stuart underwent complex changes to protect and nurture the growing son or daughter in her womb. [Abruptly ending this process is an unnatural and traumatic shock to a woman’s body with potentially negative impact on her future health and well-being.]
A House Built Upon a Foundation of Sand
It is quite possible, based again on extensive experience from the hundreds of testimonies of those that have experienced abortion loss, that the symptoms of complicated grief from her abortions may be hidden deeply behind a tendency toward drug or alcohol abuse, depression/anxiety or other symptoms such as relational instability and dysfunction.
Women and men have shared in their testimonies that long periods of their lives were (seemingly) symptom free with no conscious awareness of any negative after-effects from their abortion procedures…in fact they felt only relief. Some would have identified as “pro-choice” on the abortion question. At some point an event in their life, a loss of a loved one, a medical crisis, or some other moment of spiritual clarity and grace shook them to the core. They found that beneath the detached self assurance…was a gaping wound from their participation in the death of their child/children. This pain led them to reach out for reconciliation and healing.
Getting to the Soul of the Matter
Let’s assume that that Stuart has no conscious awareness of any regret and no apparent post-abortion symptoms…and continues to feel relief that she is not shackled to two teenagers.
There is another aspect to the human person that has been neglected thus far in our discussion…the spiritual perspective. Here we do not need to speculate, and can speak with great clarity. Stuart is not only cut off from her mother’s heart and the natural love for the child that lived briefly in her womb, she is also suffering a potentially fatal disconnect from her soul.
God, as all the great religious traditions acknowledge, is Eternal Spirit and the source of all life. The Christian faith above all religions manifests the great dignity of the human person that lies in God sharing His Eternal nature in the incarnation of Christ in the blessed womb of his mother Mary and in the soul of every human person.
This is a great mystery. Yet those who have attended abortion healing programs like Rachel’s Vineyard can attest to the overwhelming experience of clarity when participants encounter in a very personal way the consoling truth that the child they lost to abortion…is not lost, but living in the Lord. God shares his eternal nature even with the smallest of human beings in the womb. This is a source of great hope and consolation for it offers the opportunity for a spiritual relationship with their unborn child and when their lives end the hope of embracing their beloved child in eternity.
Abortion is An Unnatural Event – Consequences are Natural
Let’s conclude by addressing once again the question… is it possible to experience an abortion and have no symptoms, no negative side-effects, and no regrets?
The answer: For a human person with a heart and soul…participating in the death of one’s unborn child, at any stage of development from conception to natural death attacks the natural, emotional and spiritual foundation of our identity as women/men, parents and co creators with the Eternal God. To remain seemingly symptom/regret free after abortion necessitates an internal division in the emotions, body/mind and spirit. Such a division over time requires a great repression of the very natural feelings of grief and loss and conflicted emotions that follow the procedure (regardless of one’s position on abortion.) This internal disconnection normally leads to symptoms such as drug/alcohol abuse, depression/anxiety, relationship and sexual dysfunction/instability etc.
Without reconciliation and recovery from this loss, as with Julia Fawkes Stuart it can also lead to a self-chosen sterilization of not only one’s motherhood/fatherhood, but of the soul itself.
Stuart closes her article with a Pro Abortion Declaration of Independence from those that would challenge a women’s right to abortion:
Needing a reason why a woman had an abortion is ultimately about undermining her autonomy, and taking their power away. And I won’t be a part of that. I’m not ashamed of my abortions or the reasons I had them.
Stuart may remain hunkered down in her pro choice bunker. But maybe…maybe this was the first step in her reaching out and telling her story. Perhaps she will read this blog, and at first respond with either mocking dismissal or perhaps great anger. But in time it may plant the seeds in her that will take fruit at a time in the future, when she is stripped of her self-assured declarations of personal autonomy and ideology. We can hope and pray that she might one day turn to her Creator and humbly admit that she violated something fundamental to her humanity and womanhood – that she is deeply wounded – and the blessed awareness that she is need of reconciliation and healing.
By Janet Morana
and Kevin Burke, LSW
For more than 11 hours in June 2013 Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) laced up her infamous pink sneakers and stood on the Senate floor, without food or bathroom breaks, to filibuster an abortion bill that has shut down more than a dozen abortion centers so far in the state of Texas.
Now we learn in her recently published book that she experienced a traumatic abortion loss in 1997. The media will spin this story in predictable directions. They will present Sen. Davis as one who personally understands the difficult health care decisions women face and as future Democratic governor she will be a courageous advocate for the women of Texas.
But there is a deeper and more complex story behind the headlines. The filibuster of Sen. David and the public confession about her own abortion are less about political activism, abortion rights and opportunism. They reveal much more about the complicated grief that follows an abortion procedure…and how that repressed emotional and spiritual pain may be driving her pro-abortion activities.
From the New York Times:
[Davis]…learned in the fall of 1996 that she was pregnant for a fourth time. In her second trimester, she and her husband at the time, Jeff Davis, learned that their unborn daughter whom they named Tate had a rare brain abnormality. Doctors told the couple that if the baby survived delivery, “she would probably be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state.” In the spring of 1997, Ms. Davis terminated the pregnancy, describing it as “the most humane and compassionate thing we could do to spare Tate” any pain and suffering.
We can imagine the fear, anxiety and grief that followed the diagnosis. Many good people, in the darkness and confusion of such times, will be tempted to see abortion as both a sensible and compassionate decision. The medical community aggressively counsels that abortion is the only medical solution for such a diagnosis. (It should be noted that physicians often present the worst case scenario and fear of lawsuits can be deadly for the unborn.)
Legalized abortion has tempted medical professionals to assume a God-like authority over matters of life and death for their unborn patients. This places anxiety-filled, grieving parents facing a challenging pre-natal diagnosis in the impossible position of having to participate in the death of their own child:
Sen. Davis shares:
In our doctor’s office, with tears flowing down both our faces, Jeff and I looked at our baby daughter’s beating heart on the sonogram screen for the last time,” Ms. Davis wrote. “And we watched as our doctor quieted it. It was over. She was gone. Our much-loved baby was gone.”
Predictably, depression followed the abortion.
Davis writes quote, “an indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief. A heavy wave that crushed me. It made me wonder if I would ever surface…and when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed.”
The Truth Will Set You Free
Sen. Davis and her husband, with the counsel of medical professions, felt that ending the life of their unborn daughter was, as she stated, the most humane and compassionate thing we could do to spare Tate any pain and suffering.
Surely the suffering of their daughter was part of the motivation of these parents to abort…any parent can sympathize with their dilemma. But is it possible that if they were to be totally honest, they were also fighting with their own fears? Were they struggling to accept and embrace the challenges and pain of giving birth to a child with disabilities?
Wendy Davis and her husband very likely have not attended an abortion healing program. If they did, they would have to face the reality that while the medical dilemma put them under serious pressure to see abortion as the only option…they participated in the death of their unborn child. It is impossible to witness the direct and deliberate ending of a child’s life and not experience emotional and relational consequences.
Abortion is an unnatural and traumatic shock to the body, heart and soul of a pregnant woman. Medical professionals and counselors should have used that time to prepare the couple for the child’s birth, what to expect, and how to love and care for their precious child for however long the baby lives. Here is a good resource for such life-affirming choices.
The Filibuster of 2013: A Labor of Complicated Grief?
Wendy Davis was denied the opportunity to go through the natural birthing process with her daughter. The Davis’ were not able to hold and love their daughter for however long she lived and learn to see the great benefits that this challenging but also blessed time could have been for their family. Failure to acknowledge falling to this temptation to assume God’s providence over life and death will make it difficult for this couple to fully grieve and heal this loss. Guilt, pain, anger will remain…often hidden deep beneath the rationalizations that this was the right and compassionate choice.
Some of the founding members of pro-abortion feminism movement were women with traumatic abortion in their history. Like Davis, without a deeper emotional and spiritual healing of this loss, they need to continually justify their choice by becoming active in pro-abortion politics, advocacy and even volunteering at abortion centers. The Texas bill that presented reasonable restrictions on abortion, and those who fight to end abortion, present a direct psychological threat to the defenses Davis has established deep in her psyche against her abortion trauma.
The pro-abortion activity and public confession of her abortion also serve as a powerful outlet for the complicated grief, guilt and anger that needs to be continually repressed…but struggles to find expression. Anti-abortion activists and public political activity that highlights our nation’s contentious struggle with this issue, become a convenient target for anger and rage at one’s spouse, self, God and other involved in the abortion decision.
Perhaps we can revisit the abortion filibuster of June 2013 and see in this very public action on behalf of abortion rights as being closely connected to her incomplete abortion healing. At great personal sacrifice she labors for hours on end, without food and water…to fight what she sees as draconian abortion restrictions. I would suggest that what was driving this display may be closely related to the abortion disrupting her body’s ability to go through the natural labor process…which she displaces onto a dramatic, lengthy and painful filibuster process.
An important part of any abortion recovery program, is telling your abortion story.
Sen. Davis now has offered a public confession in her book about her traumatic abortion loss. Here too we see an attempt by Davis to continue to process her loss and find understanding and support. This is common among those who suffer abortion loss and helps end the secrecy and isolation that normally follows the procedure. Davis in her political role receives the affirmation and support of other women, pro- abortion activists and media, and when confronted with opposition, may see herself as a courageous heroine for other women’s rights, willing to stand tall and take the heat.
The Challenging but Rewarding Journey to Heal, and the Deadly Cost of Denial
But the human heart and soul defy our desperate rationalizations. They seek a healthy and honest grieving of this loss. They call us to accept that in fear, anxiety and a failure to trust in God’s providence, we can take actions that are reserved for the Creator of life. This requires the deepest humility and much grace. We can all abort God’s will in our lives at times of fear and darkness.
The journey of healing is not one of judgment and condemnation. It is more the blessed gift of being able to confess our weakness confronted with an overwhelming moral and medical dilemma. But it is only with the gift of honesty and humility that healthy grieving and deeper healing are possible. This can take time as these wounds are very sensitive, especially immediately after the loss.
The failure of Sen. Davis and her husband to fully reconcile and grieve this loss has led her to become a very public proponent of abortion. Sadly, the unresolved complicated grief, guilt and pain of her own abortion experience has not only taken her disabled daughter’s life in the womb, but could lead to the death of many more unborn children if her political power increases and she gains access to higher office.
Let’s pray she will read this article and find in it a compassionate and loving invitation to a deeper healing of her abortion loss in an abortion recovery program.
To read about couples who received poor pre-natal diagnoses and chose life for their babies, read “Recall Abortion.”
The testimony of a faith-filled, passionate pro-life teenager who learned her mother was post-abortive was published yesterday on the web site of Stand True, which is Priests for Life’s youth outreach. The whole piece is worthy of a read, but there’s one part I want to delve into a bit deeper.
The girl was almost 13, the oldest of her siblings, when her mother told her that, years earlier and in a previous relationship, she had aborted her first child, a son.
“Big brother,” Zoe wrote. “For years I had been saying, ‘I wish I had an older brother or sister!’ Now I knew that I had one.”
The truth is that Zoe probably always knew – perhaps buried deeply in her subconscious — that she was not her mother’s first child.
Dr Philip Ney, a Canadian psychiatrist, discovered in the late 1970s that siblings of aborted children often have this awareness and, as consequence, suffer from Post Abortion Survivor Syndrome (PASS). In a 2011 opinion piece published by LifeNews, Dr. Ney wrote:
“The most prominent symptom of PASS is existential guilt, ‘I feel I don’t deserve to be alive.’
“Other symptoms include pervasive anxiety, fear of the future, sense of impending doom, self injury, obsessive thinking, poor self identity, low self esteem, self destructive behavior, fear of becoming psychotic and dissociation.
“PASS helps explain low rates of child bearing and raising. PASS people are afraid of having children. PASS helps explain economic recession. PASS people are pessimistic about the future. PASS helps explain the younger generation’s fascination with the occult. It helps us understand mad bombers who are extremely angry at adults and politicians who have allowed the massive slaughter of their siblings. It helps explain suicide bombers who have no joy in living but want a ‘noble’ meaning to their death. It helps explain the large number of depressed people who have unresolved grief of an aborted sibling. It may help explain the growing interest in euthanasia. PASS people are poorly bonded to their parents.”
None of this is true about Zoe, and I’ll discuss why a bit later. But first I’d like to repeat a story Dr. Ney told me, and that I recounted in my book, “Recall Abortion.”
A woman came to Dr. Ney for counseling because her 6-year-old daughter was having nightmares, wetting the bed and suffering from separation anxiety. In his interview with the mother, Dr. Ney asked her about pregnancy losses, and she confided – out of earshot of her child – that she had undergone two abortions prior to giving birth to this child.
Then, working alone with the child, Dr. Ney asked her to draw a picture of her family. Although she was an only child, her family portrait consisted of her mother, her father, herself and two siblings – a brother and a sister.
Dr. Ney said that for children like this little girl, growing up in a home where she felt there should have been other children created a whole range of deep internal conflicts that likely were the root of her problems.
This is clearly not Zoe’s experience. After learning of her mother’s abortion, she wrote: “I will never forget that experience, but I am kind of glad it happened. I have taken the pro-life movement even more seriously than before. I want to be able to say I avenged my big brother David by abolishing abortion, and I am confident that I am part of the generation that will do that.”
I haven’t had a chance to confer with Dr. Ney about this, but it seems to me that the difference between Zoe and the 6-year-old, and how each of them copes with the internal awareness of someone missing, is the way abortion was treated in their respective homes.
Although Zoe’s mom kept the truth about her own abortion from her children until she thought they were mature enough to handle it, abortion, and efforts to end it, are front and center in their lives.
And even above that pro-life commitment, and as strong, or stronger, than their familial bond, is Zoe’s family’s faith. Her mother suggested she speak to a priest after learning of the abortion, and he suggested visiting Jesus in the Tabernacle. Zoe prayed for understanding, as her mother before her had prayed for forgiveness. Both were freely given by a God who loves us no matter what we do. He always knows we can do better and if we’re listening, he tells us how. Zoe’s mother became a member of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and she speaks publicly of her abortion regret. Her testimony is valuable to the pro-life movement, but its price is above rubies for her daughters.
In his 2011 piece, Dr. Ney wrote that one of the most important factors in determining whether or not a woman will have an abortion is whether her mother had one. The forgiveness that Zoe’s mother asked for and received, and the way she has raised her children since, has broken the chain for her family.
Let’s pray that all families wounded by abortion will find a way to break that chain.
I had never heard of the singer Viv Albertine until earlier this week, when I read on Hollywood.com that her abortion in 1978, when she was pregnant with The Clash guitarist Mick Jones, has haunted her for decades. My heart went out to her. In her new book, “Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys,” Ms. Albertine wrote about her 11 subsequent attempts at in vitro fertilization, her two miscarriages, giving birth, finally, in 1999, and her lingering abortion regret.
“I didn’t regret the abortion for 20 years. But eventually I did and I still regret it now. I wish I’d kept the baby, whatever the cost. It’s hard to live with.”
But her next quote tempered my sympathy. The right to choose, she said, “cannot and must not be ever taken away from us.”
After 36 years of abortion regret, she still thinks women must have the right to choose? To choose what, exactly? A lifetime of regret? Infertility? Difficulty carrying a pregnancy to term? In my book, “Recall Abortion,” I delve deeply into all the health problems that can be the direct result of an abortion – including, too often, death. Abortion is not health care. It certainly didn’t make Ms. Albertine healthy, emotionally or physically.
Why is it vital to keep this terrible choice available to women?
If we really want to be pro-woman, we would help friends facing an unexpected pregnancy in meaningful ways. We could ask how we can help, what they need. We could direct them to pregnancycenters.org to find a pregnancy resource center equipped to help with everything from financial resources to a place to live, to job training. We would discuss making an adoption plan with them. We would go to the first ultrasound appointment, and be thrilled to see the flashing light that is the baby’s heartbeat.
It’s been more than 10 years since I co-founded the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and in that time I have met hundreds of women with the courage to say they regret their abortions and then work to bring about an end to abortion. They want to warn women that this particular choice comes with consequences that can’t be fully understood until it’s too late.
Ms. Albertine knows that herself. Why would she want other women to suffer the way she has?