There is a lie that abortion does not end a life. There is a lie that the life ended by abortion is not really human. There is a lie that the aborted baby is not worth anything.
Abortion ends the life of a small human being, a little person as human as you or I, with unique DNA, a separate person from the mother. A male or female person, a life cut short.
So where does that little human being go?
Life is the spirit of a person connected to the body. Death is when the spirit leaves the body. Christians believe that our spirit– that essential thing that is uniquely ‘us’ - goes to be with the creator at death. For many the question “where is my aborted child” can haunt us, guilt and pain can hold on to us. We can feel that we do not deserve to recover or be happy ever again.
Scripture teaches us that the sins of the fathers are not visited onto the children. (Ezekiel 18:20) Therefore we can be confident that the fate of our aborted baby is the same as any little one who was stillborn, miscarried or died in infancy.
Jesus revealed that he had a special concern for children when he said:
“It would be better for a man to be cast into a deep pool with a millstone around his neck than to harm one of these little ones. (Luke 17:2)
“I tell you their angels are always beholding the face of their Father in heaven” (Matt 18:10)
We can also remember that Jesus said, “Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3)
Throughout times when infant mortality was high in England we can see the confidence Christian parents had that their little children would be received by Jesus. That hope and confidence can be read in the inscriptions on infant headstones in graveyards around the country.
However no one can speak with certainty, this is a matter of faith. “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” Maybe each of us has to seek the scriptures for ourselves, earnestly pray and honestly wait on the Lord to receive His peace. For myself I have given my poor little dead child to Jesus and received assurance that He holds my little one in His loving arms.
Abortion is a trauma. It is an event significant enough to trigger a stress response known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There are certain symptoms of PTSD that exhibit themselves more often in mothers and fathers bereaved by abortion and this is sometimes referred to as Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS).
You may read through these symptoms and find yourself feeling relieved. You have not suddenly changed your character, you are not going crazy, you are struggling with trauma.
The British Journal of Psychiatry published a study in 2018 which concluded:
"The results of this analysis indicated that women who have had an abortion experienced an 81% higher risk of mental health problems of various forms when compared with women who had not had an abortion."
View the study here.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists term president 1990-1993 Professor Andrew Sims had even said that:
"There is nothing so detrimental to a woman's mental health as abortion."
One of the most effective ways to deal with traumatic events in our lives, is to talk about them. PASE is a growing community of women who are ready to listen because they have been where you are now. There is a way to healing and recovery.
Some of the symptoms of PTSD can be seen below. If you're living with some of these, be encouraged that there is a way forward towards healing.
Reliving aspects of what happened
- Vivid flashbacks (feeling like the event is happening right now)
- intrusive thoughts or images
- intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma
- physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling
- Anniversary grief
Alertness or feeling on edge
- panicking when reminded of the trauma
- being easily upset or angry
- extreme alertness, also sometimes called 'hypervigilance'
- disturbed sleep or a lack of sleep
- irritability or aggressive behaviour
- finding it hard to concentrate – including on simple or everyday tasks
- being jumpy or easily startled
- self-destructive behaviour or recklessness
- other symptoms of anxiety
Avoiding feelings or memories
- you have to keep busy
- avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma
- being unable to remember details of what happened
- feeling emotionally numb or cut off from your feelings
- feeling physically numb or detached from your body
- being unable to express affection
- using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories
Difficult beliefs or feelings
- you can't trust anyone
- nowhere is safe
- nobody understands
- blaming yourself for what happened
- overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness, guilt or shame
If you’re asking yourself this question, we’re so encouraged! We know there’s only one person who can truly heal us from the grief and pain of abortion, that’s Jesus. The church should be the first place bereaved mothers seek for restoration and we are hopeful that it will be increasingly possible for them to do so.
First step part 1
In order to set up a link to PASE in your church, the first thing that needs to be established is a culture of openly talking about abortion. How is this most swiftly and effectively achieved? By speaking about abortion on a Sunday morning. When you talk about abortion it allows those who have been affected by it to learn that it’s not so terrible that the cross doesn’t cover it, and it’s not so harmless that you don’t need to mention it. Speaking about abortion tells those who are grieving, “I understand the depth of your pain because I see the destruction that abortion is. Your sorrow isn’t disproportionate and there is comfort from the Lord.” .
When the whole church has had the chance to hear this, you will find some women and men begin to engage their friends, the pastoral care team and hopefully you about their personal experience of abortion. This trust is an open door to future healing.
Speaking about abortion on a Sunday morning can be a daunting prospect. Our brother project, Brephos, exists to help churches respond to abortion. Please get in touch with them by visiting their website.
First step part 2
Simultaneously as you prepare to speak about abortion, prepare your pastorally gifted brothers and sisters to receive those who respond. You can request the resources from PASE to share with your pastoral team so they’re spiritually and emotionally equipped to serve those who approach them for support. This looks at the long term friendships that best serve these women, the most effective way to engage in conversation about the abortion and things to avoid doing/saying.
Promote your connection to PASE. You may not be aware of who in the church needs this resource and they may not ever make themselves known to the pastoral team until after they’ve been in touch with PASE. All the more reason to leave PASE literature available, place a link on your church website and socials and inform your small group leaders of this available resource.
The PASE Recovery Course runs online in groups. If two or more women from the church are seeking help to recover, we can place them together on a course. If only one comes at a time they can still complete the course with other women from across the country. We encourage course graduates to train to run the course themselves. Most will become support leaders, then take on the responsibility of course leadership. When this happens it would be possible to run in-person courses from the church.
These recovered and trained women are a powerful resource in the church and in the community. The number of women affected by abortion is staggeringly high and without the local church, we cannot help those who seek it. Please get in touch to receive resources, literature and training so that your church can be a supportive place for those bereaved by abortion.
We don't want to minimize the mother’s responsibility for the death of the baby, but rather we want to understand there is a whole support network which has let her down. It can be easy to believe that all the shame and guilt rests only on the mother but is that entirely true?
Often no alternatives to abortion are offered when she’s in an unexpected or difficult pregnancy. It’s hard to go against the cultural flow. The mother is responsible for her actions, but usually the build up to the death of the baby involves many people’s actions or inactions .
Parents and Father of the baby
Her parents are often involved in the decision making process, or the baby’s father. The pressure they exert or the abandonment they threaten will have a huge impact on the outcome for the baby. They are responsible for their actions which led to the death of the baby.
Where was the Church? Did they teach her the truth about abortion? If she attended a church that never spoke about abortion, her leaders there are responsible for their silence. If she never went to a church beforehand, that doesn't excuse the local church from not reaching out to the society around them to offer friendship and care to those who are confused and frightened. They are responsible for their inaction which led to the death of the baby.
The medical services that misinformed her, concealed facts, the doctors and nurses who performed the abortion or prescribed the drugs used to kill the baby- they are responsible for their direct actions in the death of the baby.
The education system that teaches us when we’re young that abortion is the best course of action when we find out we’re pregnant and the circumstances aren't perfect. The lessons that talk about abortion with such euphemistic language that it’s impossible to discern what will really happen to the baby or the mother. They are responsible for their actions which led to the death of the baby.
The politicians who continue to allow abortion laws to relax and expand, who put a stop to bills seeking to implement impartial counseling as a requirement before abortion and not only stay silent but push hard to decriminalize it. They are responsible for their actions that led to the death of the baby.
Clearly the responsibility of the death of the baby doesn’t solely lie with the mother. It is 100% her responsibility as the last defense against the death of abortion is her body. It is 100% the responsibility of those who encouraged, pushed or enabled the abortion and 100% the responsibility of those who said and did nothing to defend the baby and mother when they had the power to do so. We are all entirely responsible for every abortion.
We’re not creating a victim identity for the mother. Although it’s true, she has been let down and not protected as she should have been. In that sense she is a second victim, but in Christ she now can let go of that identity. We all can come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. We can all forgive those who played a part in the death of each baby. This can be challenging and PASE’s Recovery Course covers responsibility comprehensively. Please sign up on the Recovery Course page.