Few topics inflame passions in the U.S. more than the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
There is no shortage of conversation about this issue.
At Music for the Soul we are always looking at a situation to see who is not being talked about. We want to know where the hidden pain is in any situation and how we can help.
That’s how we came to create a project of songs for abortion healing entitled Mercy Great Enough.
Maybe you’ve never heard the phrase abortion healing before. It refers to those who have guilt or shame or remorse, or all three, over an abortion decision in their past. It is also referred to clinically as post abortion syndrome.
What I found as I began to research the issue was a hidden sea of pain affecting the lives of literally millions of people. One of the first interviews I conducted was with a woman named Georgette Forney with an organization called Silent No More.
She introduced me to a book called Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion by Dr. Theresa Burke. To call it eye opening is to understate the case. If it were up to me this book would be required reading for anyone before they were allowed to speak on the abortion issue.
Why? The book is the definitive work on the study of traumatic reactions following abortion. In all the media dialogue and political back and forth clogging the airwaves I had never heard any of the information found in these pages before. Wherever one stands in the pro-life/pro-choice debate reading this book will make you think long and hard about what is in the best interests of the woman facing an abortion decision.
NOT JUST WOMEN
Of course it’s not only a woman’s issue. There is always a man involved. When I told Greg Hasek, a Christian counselor who has served in a consulting role for us, that we were thinking of working on some songs for abortion healing, he immediately insisted that we include songs from the man’s perspective.
“I have never had a man in counseling be able to look me in the eye when talking about an abortion,” he said. “They always look at the floor. That’s because it is a double shame. They feel as if they have failed the woman and the child.”
I had never thought about that.
What about others besides the woman and the man? Forney, who was working on a campaign called Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion told me that on average every abortion decision impacts at least forty people. She began by telling me about how the daughter she had later on felt upon discovering that she would have had a sibling.
I had never thought about that scenario either.
From there she mentioned those who would have been the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, extended family – and even the doctor and nurses at the clinic.
I’ve learned from talking with countless therapists over the years that people with post abortion trauma will often seek to numb their unresolved trauma with harmful behaviors. According to Heartbeat International patterns of long-term emotional disorder include: depression, grief, anxiety, helplessness, despair, sorrow, lowered self-esteem, distrust, hostility, dependency on alcohol/chemicals/food/work, guilt, sexuality problems, self-condemnation, weeping, emptiness, distrust, frustration, insomnia, nightmares, dysfunctional relationships, flashbacks, anger, fear of rejection, bitterness, un-forgiveness, fear of commitment, and the inability to form close relationships.
TIME TO END THE SECRECY
How can people heal as long as the issue is shrouded in secrecy?
Both the Catholic Church and the evangelical church of course publicly oppose abortion. But how are they doing with helping the millions among their number who have already had an abortion find the healing, support, and forgiveness they need?
According to Christianity Today only seven per cent of churchgoing women who have had abortions have discussed their experiences with anyone at church. In that same article it says about 130,000 abortions per year are committed by women who identify as evangelical Protestants. According to Care Net More than 4 in 10 women who have had an abortion were churchgoers when they ended a pregnancy. And according to the latest numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, 24 percent of women who procure abortions identify as Catholic.
Songs like Hope Will Rise Again, Listen with Love, Stain Upon My Heart, and We Forgive You are designed to help the body of Christ find a way to open the doors to healing dialogue with those in the pews – those who fear judgment and exclusion awaits them if they share their abortion story. The numbers above suggest the church-at-large needs help with opening such a dialogue
If the statistics don’t convince you of the need consider the number of organizations that exist to help people heal in the wake of an abortion decision. Abortion Recovery International, Cradle My Heart, Deeper Still, Rachel’s Vineyard, and SaveOne just to name a few.
A CHANGE OF HEART
Ever since working on the Somebody’s Daughter project to help people break free from pornography I have come to believe that laws will never solve the debates where matters of personal moral choice is concerned. Remember how the whole prohibition thing worked out?
What is always needed is a change of heart. Even if you make pornography illegal people will still look at it unless they’ve had a change of heart. Even if you make abortion illegal women will still have abortions unless they – and those who influence them – have had a change of heart.
To have a change of heart you have to be willing to step back from your personal bias and preconceived ideas on a topic. You have to be willing to engage in civil discourse. You have to be willing to look at facts, which have a habit of often revealing things that are counter intuitive. And finally, if you ‘re a person of faith, you have to search your heart to see what God is revealing to you.
With a debate that incites so much anger and even hatred for the other side there a few changes of heart I would hope we could see happen regardless of what happens with the next Supreme Court justice nomination and Roe Vs. Wade.
For those who oppose abortion I hope that they will come to the place where they can let go of their judgment and find ways to offer healing support to those carrying pain from an abortion in their past. Pro-life ought to mean that we support those who are living.
For those who are Pro-choice I hope that they will come to the place where they can acknowledge that abortion is a devastating experience for many women – and that this being the case, we need a climate where all of the facts surrounding abortion are available so that women have all the information they need to make an informed choice.
Compassion beats an argument every time.