A Publication of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries www.RachelsVineyard.org
Published in “Christian Counseling Connection” A Publication of the American Association of Christian Counselors Issue 2 / 2005
The Journey from Grief to Grace
Reaching Out to Those Hurting After Abortion Theresa Burke, Ph.D.
Once a woman has made a decision to abort, it is a clear indication that her difficult challenges have resulted in absolute despair. In her desperation, she forgets that God has a plan for her life. Likewise, she cannot see that He also has a plan for the life of her child. We need to comprehend the magnitude of desperate circumstances that have fostered her profound and shattering desolation. These emotions do not go away after an abortion. They continue to intensify and swell, choking off her connection to herself, God, and to others.
As people of God who proclaim forgiveness, restoration, and renewal, we need to be aware of the numerous factors that compel the decision to abort a child: physical and emotional abandonment by the father, threats of violence, coercion, pressure and manipulation from others, fear, anxiety, and despair. Nestled tightly within the alluring grasp of a culture of death, she is offered the freedom to choose by the same welcoming arms that tempted Eve while Adam was nowhere to be found, let alone trying to protect her!
At first, it feels like empowerment and freedom, until the choice turns into an intimate weapon. She is embraced with instruments that scrape empty the tabernacle of her womb, resulting in the destruction of her child, created in the image of the very likeness and love of God. This reality becomes the genesis of a war, an internal battle of guilt, shame, secrecy, suffering, and self-contempt.
As we reach out to those who have suffered the loss of a child through abortion, it is important to understand the paradoxical tendency:
They want to bury abortion-related memories and run away from the feelings.
They have a desperate hunger to find an outlet for the pain, to find reconciliation, understanding, peace, and healing.
This creates a real dilemma for friends, family, and pastors who want to reach out to those hurting after abortion. The issue is so agonizing, there is a marked sensitivity to the subject. Most women and men “don’t want to go