Archive for 2013

If “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”…Why do I Feel Like Such a Scrooge?

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

"A Christmas Carol"

Christmas can be a magical time, especially when enjoying the season through the eyes of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  However alongside the lights and festivities, the joy and wonder of this special time, many struggle with a sense of grief and loss.

Sometimes it’s not a pervasive gloom, but more a gnawing melancholy we can fight off by being consumed with all the busyness of the season. You may find yourself (or notice a friend or relative) drinking more than usual at holiday celebrations, dulling an aching pain you would rather avoid.

You don’t have to be an Ebenezer Scrooge to recognize that the expectations for an idealized Hallmark Card Christmas by the fireplace fail to match up to the complex realities, the uncertainty and fear that are part of many of our lives.  If we can slow down the Holiday rush for a few minutes, we may discover something important in this great feast.  Perhaps the deeper meaning of this Holiday does not require us to deny our grief and pain, but to come to see that this suffering is intimately connected to the Christmas story.

Much of the music and mythology of the holiday highlight an idealized and sanitized version of the Christmas story.  But the accounts of the Annunciation and birth of Jesus in the Gospels reveal that God intimately enters human history with a man and woman who are struggling with confusion and fear… just like us.

We know the stories; we have heard them thousands of times.  But focus in a special way on the initial response of Mary and Joseph as they learn of God’s invitation to embrace their very mysterious vocation:

The Angel Gabriel is well aware of Mary’s fear when his greets her.

“Do not be afraid Mary…”

And to Joseph:

“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife…”

Of course they were both confused and afraid.  We think of the Christmas story in the context of cozy and warm family gatherings, with cookies baking in the oven.   But in the real Christmas story, the lives of Mary and Joseph are in the process of being turned upside down!  They will face even more anxiety, fear and uncertainty.

Joseph and Mary, and the life of their newborn child will be threatened with terror and death from a demonically inspired Herod. They face dangerous travel and exile from their hometowns for years to come.  They surely were challenged in many ways that the stories do not recount.  We know that while their faith in God would prove in time to be rock solid…no doubt that faith and trust in Him was forged in the fires of anxiety and fear.  We can imagine that Joseph had other moments of doubt and confusion and would need to remember  the Angel’s words of reassurance… “don’t be afraid, God is with you, keep moving ahead…trust in Him.”

Christmas Triggers

We are not so different than Jesus and Mary.  Fear, anxiety and depression can at times be part of our own Christmas story…and like Scrooge we may face scary ghosts of Christmas past haunting our sleep as the clock tolls midnight.

scrooge and Marley

The focus on the Christ Child and the joy of children at Christmas may remind you (or someone you love) of an event in the past when you were overwhelmed with a fear and anxiety and tempted to see abortion as the only “choice.”  We remember the loss of a son or daughter, grandchild, or a brother or sister who will never share in the wonder of the Holiday.  This can be very much a conscious awareness.  However for many this loss is frozen deep under the waters of denial.  The Holiday themes trigger those feelings and memories of that lost child, which can be expressed in depression, melancholy and a hunger to remain distracted and busy in the hustle and bustle of the season.

Perhaps  this was a child that you longed for in the recesses of your heart, but your partner insisted that abortion was the only rational solution.  Like the Holy Family you felt powerless and afraid.  You grieve that there was no Saint Joseph in your life to save the child from the modern day Herods of Planned Parenthood.  Maybe you’re a man grieving that you failed to be more like Saint Joseph to that vulnerable woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.

Christmas can be a time when we are acutely aware of the loss of a beloved relative, remember joy-filled memories that have faded…or perhaps painful experiences of family dysfunction which are often magnified at the Holidays.  We may be facing the anxiety of health concerns, economic and employment uncertainty, or the breakdown of a marriage.

The Cross Above the Manger

The presence of suffering, death, fear and anxiety need not be denied and suppressed in order to protect some sanitized, idealized Christmas season.  If we can learn the intimate connection between the incarnation and birth of our Savior and his suffering on the cross, we may discover in our own suffering the true joy and hope of this holiday.

Fr. Bernhard Speringer shares:

  The Gospels…indicate that the Cross above the Manger is more than a mere decoration…The birth and death of Jesus Christ, the Manger and the Cross, belong together indissolubly. God became man in order to die for us as man. God was born in Bethlehem in order to be able to lay down his life on Golgotha out of love for men!  Thus the Manger and the Cross form a union. Both the Manger and the Cross are for us the revelation of God’s love.

When our lives are turned upside down by the tsunamis of upheaval and suffering that come unexpectedly and without warning, we can turn to a God that is intimately connected with the suffering of his people.  We can come to a deeper understanding of that powerful and precious title of our savior and God born into the anxiety and violence faced by many poor families, and a baby Jesus who would end his life being tortured to death on a cross.

This child’s title is  Emanuel – God with Us.

Loneliness and isolation in times of suffering and temptation can blind us to an essential truth of our faith; God is with us in our suffering…intimately present to us in Spirit and in the hearts of those who reach out to us in love.

During the Holidays give the gift to a friend or relative (or to yourself!) of providing an opportunity to share what it is truly on their heart and soul this Christmas season.  Acknowledge that while this is a time of joy, you know that they may also be suffering from the loss of a loved one, financial anxieties, and if they have confided in you, a previous abortion.  Allow them to share their feelings and memories.  If they are in need of deeper healing of a loss like abortion, share with them the good news that this is a perfect time of year to bring this suffering to the Lord, and attend a program for spiritual and emotional healing after abortion in the New Year.

This is the Reason for the Season!

May we draw strength in the year ahead from the courage and faith of the Holy Family.  Joseph and Mary, though struggling with with fear and anxiety, gave birth to the mission of their Son.

For those healed of abortion loss, like Scrooge on Christmas morning they learn that despair and death do not have the last word!

Scrooge Christmas Morning

They discover in recovery from this wound their own special mission.  They respond to a calling to proclaim the truth of their abortion loss and the good news of healing to a Nation and world that desperately needs to hear their message in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Jesus has promised us that in time he will transform all our suffering, into the joy and hope of resurrection to eternal life.

When in the darkness and loneliness of suffering this can seem a very distant hope.

I pray that these words of Christ will fill you with peace and joy…that whatever you are facing, and will face in the days ahead, you can trust that He is indeed Emanuel and is close to you in your suffering, and will transform the darkest shadows of your life with the blinding light of His Glorious Resurrection:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them [as their God]. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.” The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” Rev: 21

 

Through a Mirror Darkly: Graphic Images of Aborted Children…and the Graphic Anguish of their Parents

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Through Glass Darkly

For now we see as through a mirror, in darkness, but then we shall see face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I also am known. –Corinthians 13:12

In this Advent season Fr. Frank Pavone  reveals the powerful connection between the images of aborted children and the incarnation and wounds of Christ:

The first Christians…saw and touched [Jesus]…This contact with the humanity of Christ speaks to us of what we are to do now for the unborn. It is the contact with the human reality of their lives, and the human tragedy of their deaths, that is to impel us in our self-sacrificing love for them.  That is why we need to look at the pictures… of what abortion does to that baby…

The use of pictures of abortion victims in pro life efforts is clearly consistent with the strategies of other social justice movements.  These movements used graphic images of social injustice to expose evil (e.g., racism, genocide), raise awareness and stir the lukewarm to take action.   While there are reasonable differences regarding the proper context to display such images, there is clearly a strong resistance to exposing this evil.  Sometimes we find outright hostility toward those who attempt to reveal the true nature of the abortion procedure in their communities.

However I invite you to consider expanding our understanding of graphic images to also include the graphic experiences of emotional and physical pain shared by thousands of women and men after abortion loss.  As we shall see, exposing this graphic suffering can also cause controversy, and even hostility to those that try and reveal this truth.

What does this type of graphic image look like?

From the British Newspaper the Sentinel:

Throughout university I was in a relationship with a girl…Just before our finals she left suddenly and seemed to disappear. Fifteen years on she contacted me through Facebook and suggested we meet. She eventually told me why she left, that she was pregnant with our child, knew I wouldn’t support her, had an abortion and became very depressed and attempted suicide…

The images of aborted children are inescapably gruesome and disturbing.  They reveal the true nature of the actions hidden behind the obfuscating rhetoric of “choice.”  But note in this father’s anguished letter the depression and attempted suicide of the mother of their child who suffered for years after the procedure before finding help.  Consider the despair that would lead this woman to attempt an abortion of her own precious life. (Two studies from Finland(1)show that women who had abortions were 6 to 7 times more likely to commit suicide than women who gave birth. )

This mother’s despair reveals to us an equally disturbing graphic representation of the consequences of choice.  In a very real sense, the graphic image/memory of this mother’s abortion, the unresolved complicated grief and pain, is etched into her heart, soul and mind.  The images of aborted children often surge up from the unconscious of their parents in graphic nightmares, similar to those on pro life graphic displays.  These images of suffering and death between child and parent reflect back upon one another as they are intimately connected.

The graphic images of aborted children and their wounded parents reveal to us an impassioned plea for justice, healing and reconciliation.

A Father’s Graphic Pain

The letter from this father shared in the Sentinel reveals that this is not an event for him buried in the past, but a present reality that came crashing unexpectedly into his life like a blind-side car wreck.  He struggles with the shame, guilt and depression that many men silently suffer after participating in the death of their unborn child.  This is a father that has matured and moved away from the selfishness of his youth so he now understands the full gravity of the child’s death, the effect on the mother and now his own complicated grief.  As he tries to absorb this shock, he struggles to keep up with the normal functions of his day to day life…and keep up appearances that everything is just fine:

I was shocked that she had gone through all of that, on her own and largely because of me. I feel so guilty that I treated her so unkindly. Since she told me I have been off sick from work and my friends are worried about me, but I’m too ashamed to tell them what is going on.

This isolation and shame are such deadly traps for men and women dealing with grief and loss after abortion.  Without a program to share, recover and reconcile this loss men can turn to anything that will bury the pain; drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, work.  But depression and grief can also find expression in a seething anger that may submerge for a time, but will surface like toxic steam bubbling to the surface of their lives, bringing additional pain and heartache to men and their loved ones.

The Truth Will Set You Free

There is often controversy and hostility to the use of graphic images of abortion victims.  But you will find a similar opposition to exposing the graphic images and truth of those wounded by abortion loss.

Three women physicians, Donna Harrison, Mary Davenport and Martha Shuping, were invited to give lectures on complications of abortion for the MWIA, the Medical Women’s International Association.  Pro abortion agents within the conference forced a cancellation of their presentation which offered compelling and legitimate research confirming there are significant health risks for women after abortion.   This type of denial by professional health care providers is a cruel form of malpractice toward those that need this information as well as resources for recovery.

There is Hope and Healing After Abortion

Parents can come to see the paschal mystery of Christ reflected in their own journey of suffering and death caused by sin.   Through an abortion recovery program centered in the saving power of Jesus and His resurrection, parents can embrace their aborted child – not as a dismembered nightmare baby – but as a unique son or daughter, whole and safe in the embrace of a loving God.  They can be lifted out of the pit of despair by the hope of seeing their child face to face one day in heaven:

For now we see as through a mirror, in darkness, but then we shall see face to face…then I shall know even as I also am known. –Corinthians 13:12

Marching for Life

As we once again prepare to gather as a national movement of social justice at the March for Life in Washington, DC, may we pray for an even greater conviction to expose (with humility, prudence and sensitivity) the graphic image of what abortion does to the unborn child, and the graphic suffering of their parents after abortion loss.

Early Treatment of Abortion Loss…Will Save Millions of Unborn Children

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Repeat Abortions

Stephanie Gray writes in LifeNews:

33,000: the number of Canadian women having abortions this year who have previously had an abortion. That’s according to the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada: “At least one third of women undergoing induced abortions in Canada have had a prior abortion” (2012; 34(6): 536).  

In the United States the incidence of repeat abortion is even higher with nearly half of all abortions being repeat procedures (46% according to the Guttmacher Institute.)  The Population Research Institute reports that the average Russian woman has seven abortions in her lifetime.  Those offering after abortion healing programs like Rachel’s Vineyard know that multiple abortions are common as women grieve and heal of repeat procedures.

Some common reactions to this phenomenon of repeat abortions:

What is wrong with these women? Don’t they know about birth control…or is abortion their preferred type of birth control? How can they so casually conceive and abort their pregnancies?  You think they would have learned from their first time on the abortion table to not get themselves in this mess again?

These are understandable questions, and for those of us working to end the scourge of abortion, and heal the wounds of this loss it is important to correctly respond to what is truly an alarming worldwide pattern.

The more you learn about repeat abortion and the connection to unresolved emotional trauma/grief, the greater will be your conviction to not only stop all abortions, but also to bring women and men to healing programs as soon as possible after that initial abortion loss.  This healing will save the lives of millions of unborn children lost in repeat abortion procedures.

Forbidden Grief: The Mastery of Abortion Trauma through Repetition

Repeat abortions are a traumatic cycle of death and destruction for the unborn…and their mothers.  Theresa Burke, Ph.D., published Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion a groundbreaking study of abortion trauma.

Dr Burke shares:

Christine had her first abortion at the age of 18. She was under treatment for mild depression, and her psychiatrist recommended abortion. Since this was before Roe, Christine was told that she would have to sign a paper that stated she would commit suicide if she did not have an abortion. Her mental health care workers orchestrated the entire event. In reality Christine knew she would not kill herself, but she felt that she had to follow her doctor’s orders.

She later married and became pregnant again at the age of 22. Her husband was eager and ready to begin a family, but she felt anxiety and fear over becoming a parent. The message from her psychiatrist that colored her view of herself as a potential mother was that she was not mentally stable enough to have a child and that having a baby would provoke a mental breakdown and even suicidal behavior. The thought of having a baby simply terrified her. Because of her fears of inadequacy, she had another abortion and divorced shortly thereafter.

Christine’s third pregnancy also ended in a second-trimester abortion. This pattern continued three more times for a total of six abortions. Each time she had an intense desire to be a mother, but each time she could see no other recourse but abortion, reenacting the first trauma of helplessness to overcome her perceived inadequacy and incompetence.

Read the rest here

The Dachau Seven: The Nameless Pro Life Hero who Saved Seven Pregnant Concentration Camp Prisoners

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Revelation

-        And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. – Genesis 2:3

The number seven in Judaism is a symbol of the covenant of the Jewish people united in holiness and sanctification with the Lord.  In a basement prison cell at Dachau, amidst the apocalyptic horror of World War…we find seven pregnant women.  The Seven escaped the Auschwitz death machine, and were kept safe and warm by a Jewish Capo (prisoner overseer) who would not allow her basic humanity to be destroyed by the Nazi culture of death.

As we suffer the temporary setback of the defeat  of the Albuquerque Ordinance, we can be inspired to remain steadfast and resolute by the Seven Women of Dachau, and their brave pro life protector. 

The Archetypal Culture of Death…Empowered by Denial

 -        And I saw a beast rising out of the sea…and on its heads were blasphemous names.    Rev 12:3

Near the end of the Second World War, even though the German army was in retreat on both fronts, the essential work of exterminating the Jews and other enemies of the Reich pressed on with characteristic Nazi efficiency and diabolic zeal.

Amidst this European apocalypse, a young Jewish couple, Miriam and Bela Rosenthal fall in love and from that love…new life is conceived:

They were married in Budapest on April 5, 1944…The honeymoon was brief. Within a few short months, Bela was sent to a slave labour camp, Miriam to Auschwitz. She was later transferred to Augsberg Germany, to work in a Messerschmitt factory. All the while, her belly grew.  Two men from the SS appeared at the factory one day, with snarling German shepherds, demanding to know who the pregnant women were. They asked a second time. (National Post)

While the Nazis nurtured the illusion of limitless technological and social progress and a racially purified utopian worker/agricultural paradise…they created the archetypal culture of death:

The Germans murdered over a million Jewish children. Like the sick and the old, they were viewed as useless mouths to feed and often among the first killed. Some were used in medical experiments, but newborns were typically murdered at birth. (National Post)

In such a culture of death, it is no surprise that Miriam (like other pregnant women being summoned by the SS) was destined to be sent immediately to the gas chambers upon arrival at Auschwitz.

On the train to what she rightly feared was certain death, Miriam encounters a German citizen:

There was a woman, a civilian, and she said: “Frau, what is with you? You don’t have hair. The clothes you are wearing. What are you, from a mental hospital? “She didn’t have a dream, this German woman, of all the horrible things the Germans were doing. I told her I am not from a mental hospital, I am going to Auschwitz — I am going to the gas. She looked at me like I was crazy…(National Post.)

Does this reflect the sentiments of so many us and our fellow citizens, decent people not directly complicit but clearly in denial of the atrocities perpetuated in their own communities? How many dismiss the fact that babies are being tortured to death in the womb in many abortion procedures as exaggerated propaganda by pro life fanatics?

A Pro Life Hero Creates a Womb of Safety for Pregnant Prisoners

  -He placed the lampstand in the tent of meeting opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle…And you shall command the children of Israel that they  bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn  continually. Exodus 40:24,  27:20-21

Thanks to the advancement of allied forces and the attempt by the Nazis to hide their criminal acts, the killing machine at Auschwitz was destroyed and Miriam was sent to Dachau where she was surprised to find herself imprisoned with six other pregnant women.  During a historical period marked by merciless cruelty and massive death and destruction on an unprecedented scale, we meet a nameless hero:

A “Capo,” a Jewish woman charged with overseeing
the women, smuggled a stove into the room, keeping the expecting mothers warm during the freezing winter months of 1945. The Germans discovered the stove and beat the Capo bloody, ripping into her flesh with their truncheons.… “After the beating she told us, ‘Don’t you worry girls, the stove will be back tomorrow.’ ”   It was.  (National Post)

What an example of heroic strength and sacrifice.  We can see in the light and warmth of this stove a symbol of the love of God still burning in the heart of this woman despite her sufferings, like one of the shining seven lampstands of Revelation.   These seven lamps of Revelation are associated with omniscient divinity.  We can see the proclamation by Jesus that he is the Light of the World, as the final manifestation and fulfillment of the Old Testament symbol of God’s presence in the Temple Tabernacle.  In a sense, we can see the presence of Christ, of his love and light still shining amidst the horrible suffering inflicted upon the Jewish people, Catholic Clergy/Religious, and so many other Christians and innocent lay victims by the Nazis and communists.

This Jewish “Capo” worked to create a type of warm safe womb to hold these vulnerable women, to protect them and their unborn children from the deadly cold.  This brings to mind those in our day that offer shelter and resources to pregnant women at risk of abortion.

Forming Men into Monsters – SS Officers and Later Term Abortionists

The SS officers who beat this brave Capo were formed by their over-seers to be devoid of all normal human compassion toward prisoners.  Repeated exposure to brutality and beatings (as an orchestrated part of their training) helped to form these men to not only master any natural resistance to such violence but in time to even take pleasure in the suffering of prisoners.

We see a similar type of mastery of emotional trauma by later term abortion doctors who put aside a normal humane response when dismembering an unborn child and grow to take satisfaction and even pleasure in a procedure performed with clinical efficiency.  In these cases we can see the unborn child as a type of prisoner under the abortionist’s total control. You can read a horrifying clinical description of a D&E procedure from Dr Anthony Levitino a former abortionist. 

God’s Mysterious Presence Amidst Horrific Evil

-        Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great whore who is seated on many waters…” – Rev 15:1

The Albuquerque Ordinance, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks fell to defeat Tuesday evening November 19,  2013.  This is the first skirmish in a much larger battle to raise awareness of the horror of many abortion procedures and the pain they inflict on the unborn and their parents.  We are rightly disappointed that the Albuquerque Ordinance failed.  But we can also be inspired by these seven pregnant women of Dachau rescued from a Nazi death machine that viewed their unborn children as useless fetal tissue, not worthy of life.

There was a time when this Nazi evil reigned supreme, and to those under its power it seemed to possess total control over the hearts and mind of the German people.  The power of the Third Reich was broken in a conflagration of judgment manifest in war and destruction, the natural consequence of the grave offenses against God and his people.  Hitler and the other architects of this madness were consumed by the same demons they unleashed upon mankind.

We are called to use every peaceful means possible to pull our nation back from the brink of self destruction as we battle our own culture of death.   The story of Miriam Rosenthal reminds us that the very evil that our grandfathers, brothers and fathers fought so valiantly to defeat, has taken deep root on American soil.  With their allies in academia, media, entertainment, and government pro death forces have created a propaganda machine and control of information that would be the envy of Joseph Goebbels. ( Goebbels was the architect of the very successful marketing strategy to sell the Hitler/Nazi deception to the German people, and mask the true nature of their genocidal agenda.)

Yet, the Thousand Year Reich fell after a short but hellishly destructive reign.

Let us be inspired by that brave nameless Capo of Dachau, learn from the defeat in Albuquerque and fight on with confidence in the justice and decency of our cause and our final victory in Christ.

-       Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”   Rev 11:15

Dante’s Ascent to Paradise…Begins with a Descent Into Humility and the Wounds of Deepest Loss

Monday, November 18th, 2013

paradiso1

[From Rod Dreher below- Very good and essential reading for November  as we come to the end of  the Church year and focus in a special way to remember our beloved dead and pray for their souls.   It is so important in our hyper busy lives, immersed in the ever present now of technology,  entertainment, media etc. to take a moment to focus on essential things...such as where our souls will spend eternity (which is really long btw!) ]

*******

“I climb from here no longer to be blind.” — Dante, Purgatorio XXVI

I stayed up late last night to finish Dante’s Purgatorio, and what a moving finish it was. The poet completed his ascent of the Mount of Purgatory, where Beatrice awaited him in the Garden of Eden in the climactic scenes. I was not prepared for how emotional I became, having gone so far with Dante, out of the selva oscura, through the Inferno, and up the mountain, and now, finally, to meet his true love, the one whose prayers summoned him away from his lostness to sin and back to God.

Read the rest here

 

Fetal Disability Abortions…The Compassionate Choice?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

perinatal-hospice-video-YouTube

On November 7, 2013 Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  The Act would ban abortions after 20 or more weeks post-gestation, with the exception of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.  The Bill would save between 10,000 and 15,000 unborn children a year, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Guttmacher Institute.

In response to the introduction of legislation Planned Parenthood’s allies in the MSM cranked up the spin machine:

Only 1.5 percent of abortions are performed after 21 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and often women who elect to have these later abortions do so because of severe fetal abnormalities, which doctors often detect at around the 20-week mark. This is where pro-choice groups think they can win over voters: the woman who wanted to have a child only to learn that her fetus was developing in such a way that is ultimately incompatible with life.  According to Planned Parenthood’s Augustpoll…a solid majority of voters believe abortion should be legal after 20 weeks…when there were severe fetal abnormalities.  (Newseek: Can the Myth of Fetal Pain Topple Roe V Wade?)

This will be a significant area of battle.  Pro aborts may dispute the scientific evidence that unborn children experience pain during abortion procedures…but this will be a losing battle with the public as polling indicates.  They are more likely to focus on the necessity of later term abortions in cases of a Poor Prenatal Diagnosis…an area that polling suggests is in their favor.

How can we best respond and help shape this debate to protect unborn children and their parents?

We need to educate the public that abortions due to fetal abnormalities and fetal reductions leads to serious emotional and relational problems for couples that abort.

Rachel’s Vineyard is the largest outreach for abortion healing in the world.  Some of the more complicated experiences of grief and loss we encounter are with couples who abort due to fetal disability.

Read this excerpt below from Sharing the Heart of Christ to learn more about how these abortions seriously impact mothers and fathers and the necessity of  healing for these couples and their families:

Couples Who Abort Due to Genetic Abnormality

Kevin Burke, LSW and Michelle Krystofik, DFC

Every year in the United States, approximately 133,000 pregnant mothers will undergo routine pre-natal tests and receive what is called “poor pre-natal diagnosis,” or PPD.  This means that their infant is afflicted with a chromosomal abnormality or a serious defect in a vital organ.  The most difficult and complicated grief that we witness on Rachel’s Vineyard Weekends involve couples that aborted a child for this reason.

With the increase in genetic testing and fertility treatments more couples are facing these difficult decisions.   Parents are often pressured by doctors, therapists, friends and family to “terminate” the pregnancy.  They are given the grim prospect of a child born prematurely who will die shortly after birth or suffer severe deformities and a brief life filled with suffering and pain.  Couples are vulnerable when confronted with many levels of anxiety, uncertainty and fear that are natural when trying to process such an event.

Sadly, health care professionals, friends and family often feed their worst fears.  Often with the best of intentions, they fail to offer life affirming alternatives that respect the dignity of unborn life, and in the long run are in the best interest of the mother and father, and especially their relationship.  Most couples only receive non-directive counseling, which means they are told only the various challenges and likely prognosis of the condition without offering other life-affirming resources.  This can be overwhelming and lead the parents in the aftershock of this news to see abortion as the best solution.

In one study, 80% of parents who received ‘non directive’ counseling chose to abort while 80% of parents who were provided with the option of perinatal palliative care chose to carry their child to term. [1] (Autumn 2008 Issue of Perspectives, the newsletter of the DeVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research.)

Tragically, more than 90 percent of these pregnancies end in abortion.  When abortion is the preferred course of “treatment” not only is the baby’s life ended, but the lives of these parents are changed forever.  Like our first parents in the Garden of Eden, assuming this power over life and death has far reaching consequences beyond the decision to abort.   The fallout from this loss places a tremendous strain on a couple as they struggle to come to terms with the shock and pain of their experience.

Research confirms that women suffer years after the procedure:

Women 2-7 years after were expected to show a significantly lower degree of traumatic experience and grief than women 14 days after termination…Contrary to hypothesis, however, the results showed no significant inter-group differences. [2](More information and research on post abortion trauma for couples who abort due to fetal disability.)

Complicated Grief

These parents suffer from a particularly complex form of grief and guilt years after the experience.  They hunger desperately for healing and peace, but struggle to come to terms with their responsibility in the death of their child and the need for repentance, reconciliation and healing.  They feel strongly that their situation is “different” from others who abort.

Couples cling desperately to the idea that they did what was best for their child, saving them from a life, however brief, of suffering and pain.  In other scenarios they must choose among healthier embryos or multiple fetuses so that the healthiest survive.  Given the medical advice and pressure from a spouse or others, they feel they did not have a real choice.  As with any abortion decision where this is any ambivalence or pressure, they are at high risk for symptoms of post abortion trauma such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance etc.

The husband may see the abortion as protecting his wife from the pain of giving birth to a child who would have died, or would die shortly after birth or would have been born with a physical and mental handicap that sadly is seen as a burden to his wife and family.  In their efforts to establish control and take action, men are tempted to see abortion as the best solution.

After the abortion there can be considerable anger at God, whom couples often blame for putting them in this situation.   One couple expresses this struggle:

If we were given a normal child, we would not be suffering like this.  We are different from others who have aborted because we wanted this child.  God put us in this impossible situation, forcing us to make these painful decisions.  We are left without our child, and with powerful feelings of confusion, resentment anger and grief. 

Without a healing process for this complicated grief, this pain will surely impact marital intimacy, communication and trust and the relationship of parents with their living children.

Empty Arms and Wounded Hearts

It is only when these mothers and fathers come to a clearer and honest understanding of their abortion loss that they can begin to repent, grieve and heal.  An important part of this process is facing their role in that decision to abort, and the understandable fear and weakness that tempted them to embrace this solution.  When the rationalization and seemingly wise counsel of doctors and others fades away after the abortion, a mother and father are faced with empty arms and a wounded heart.  They must face the painful realization that this decision also aborted their opportunity to hold this child and offer that child love and affection for however long the baby lived.  In the case of Down’s Syndrome and other conditions, they were given a child with special challenges to love and care for, and in their rejection of that child, something in them has also died both individually and as a couple.

The healing process can never be forced.  We must be patient, especially in the early stages of healing as the wound is very raw. There can initially be great defensiveness.  It’s important to acknowledge their pain and loss, the confusing nature of the decisions and challenges that their fertility treatment/testing and medical care presented to them.  However, at some point in the process, when they are ready and with God’s grace and much prayer, they must face the truth that their abortion decision led them to make a choice that violated their parental hearts, created to love any children they conceived regardless of the challenges.  They will need to face that the abortion was a crisis of faith, one that we all face in different times in our life where we fail to trust God, and we make decisions that violate His will for us.  We must always speak to them in love, as fellow sinners who have aborted God’s will in our lives.

Lord, Please Help Me Not to Be So Perfect

Susan attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend Retreat after aborting a child diagnosed with a condition that would lead to her daughter’s death shortly after birth.   She expressed a desire to leave the retreat Saturday morning.  Susan shared:

I don’t fit in with these other women and men who freely chose abortion for “selfish” reasons.  I had no choice.  The choice I made was in the best interests of my child.

One of the priests serving on our retreat team spoke with her after breakfast on Saturday encouraging her to stay though the afternoon and then if she still felt the same way, she could leave.  Because of her trust in this priest, and the help of the Holy Spirit she decided to stay.

A major breakthrough occurred for Susan following the Living Scripture Exercise of the Woman Healed of a Hemorrhage offered on Saturday afternoon.  In this exercise, the participants have an opportunity to touch a cloth representing the cloak of Christ.   Susan approached the cloak that flowed from the base of a monstrance holding the Blessed Sacrament, and prayed, “Lord, please help me not to be so perfect, to want everything in my life to be perfect, even my child.”  She broke down in tears and continued on the weekend receiving an incredible amount of healing and peace.

At the memorial service Susan read a letter to her child apologizing for not having the courage to go through with the child’s birth and imminent death:

Our Dearest Marie,

How are you, sweetie?  How are you doing in Heaven?  Mommy and daddy really miss you.  Your brother, Vincent, asks about you all the time….Your sister, Veronica, would have loved to have a little sister like you because you and she would have been best friends…You are our little angel, our most beautiful child.

But we are both so sorry that we denied you that chance to be with our family.  You would have loved to be with us, to hear our voices, to have us touch you, hold you, and kiss you.  Even though it may only have been a short time:  months, days, or maybe just hours, deep Down I know that it would have been worth it.  We would have learned so much from you:  how to love, how to serve, how to be humble, and how to trust in our God completely! 

Dearest Marie…  Your daddy and I both need your prayers.  I know that you are in good hands, as Jesus has shown me that Mother Mary is taking care of you.  We will not worry about you, but you are forever in our hearts.  We love you so much, with all our hearts and all our souls.  We promise that we will pray to you always, tell you about all that is going on in our family.   We thank God that He has blessed us with you, that He has given us a chance to come to this retreat so that both your daddy and I would feel closer to you.  We look forward to the day that we will meet in Heaven, in the eternal home of God our Father, where we can finally hold you close and give you hugs and kisses.

Thank you for forgiving us.  You are forever our child and we are so blessed to be your parents.

Love always,

Mommy and daddy

It may take longer to make this transition but in Rachel’s Vineyard, individuals will experience some release of their pain and anguish.  They may still struggle to fully embrace repentance and healing.   The couple may remain attached to the idea that “we did what was in the best interests of our child” and may still wrestle with feelings of anger and resentment.  Offer ongoing support if appropriate and share any after care services that might assist them.  Offer prayers and encouragement and share with them that the grace of their healing experience has planted seeds that in time will bear a greater fruit.

For those offering the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats, it is important when couples register for the weekend sharing this type of loss, that you go over the entire weekend, making them fully aware of the process.  With that understanding, we can entrust them to the God of mercy and pray for the Holy Spirit to open their hearts to his forgiveness and healing, according to His perfect will and time.

Perinatal Hospice

Those ministering to engaged or married couples are in an excellent position to offer alternatives to abortion when a couple receives the painful news there is a problem with their pregnancy.  The type of counseling couples receive is critical to the decision to abort or give birth to a disabled child.

Fortunately there is a growing movement to provide Perinatal Hospice that supports couples who journey through the difficult birth, death and funeral of their child.  [Be sure to visit Perinatal Hospice and the excellent FAQ section of their website.] With encouragement and education they help provide the vital healing experience of embracing their child with love for as long as the baby lives. Though deeply painful, it gives parents and families the opportunity to celebrate the child’s life and to grieve this loss in a healthy way.   The couple and their family experience the natural process of grief.  With the support team of doctors, nurses, chaplains and social workers they can find healing and meaning in their suffering and loss.  Abortion robs parents of this opportunity.  While we can struggle to understand the meaning of suffering and death, especially of an infant, God’s grace and blessing abounds when life is embraced, loved and released with dignity, instead of abortion.

For those with a Downs syndrome diagnosis we must provide opportunities for parents to learn of the blessings as well as the real challenges that these children will present, to counter the negative picture presented by proponents of abortion.  It may be beneficial to have some contacts of parents who have a Downs Syndrome child who would be willing to speak to those faced with a Down Syndrome diagnosis.  Once parents get over the initial shock and fear of the unknown, their lives are filled with peace and as one mother told us, “I live with pure joy every day.  I’m learning about unconditional love from my son.”

Resources:

Prenatal Partners for Life  If you have come to this site because you or someone you know has received an adverse or negative prenatal diagnosis, you have come to the right place. We are parents who have gone through similar circumstances and we want to offer support. We are here to help you. You are not alone!

www.perinatalhospice.org

National Association for Down Syndrome

National Down Syndrome Congress

The DeVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research

 


[1]  Calhoun, BC, Napolito, P et al. (2003) “Perinatal hospice: comprehensive care for the family of the fetus with a lethal condition.” JreprodMed. V48: 343-348

[2] Kersting, A. et. Al. (2005) “Trauma and 2-7 years after termination of pregnancy because of fetal abnormalities.”  Journal Psychosoc Obstet & Gynae.V26: #1 9-14.

Cosmo Allows a Bit of Loyal Opposition on The Birth Control Pill

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

birth-control-pill-memory-booster

Enlightening article on the Pill from a very pro contraception, pro abortion rights perspective…no surprise as it was published in Cosmopolitan.

Still this is good news.  The fact that Cosmopolitan would publish an article that at least questioned the wisdom of the widespread use of oral contraception with women beginning in their teenage years…is progress.  This is surely not a trusted source for the most accurate medical, let alone moral guidance for women.  But at least they are allowing a bit of loyal opposition…and the article has a revealing surprise ending.

The author Virginia Sole-Smith began taking the pill at age 14 cheered on by her feminist mother.

I’d been missing several days of school every month since my period had started two years earlier, bringing with it vomiting, mind-numbing cramps, and the kind of heavy bleeding that ruins white jeans and fragile middle-school egos…My cramps and nausea eased within a few cycles… Taking the Pill made me feel in control of my body and my choices. It was everything feminists had fought for, all wrapped up in a purple plastic packet.

The years of suppressing her menstrual cycle came with a cost:

At 28, bedeviled by side effects such as sore breasts, loss of libido, and migraines, I took my doctor’s suggestion that I stop taking the pill….While my sex drive did bounce back, the intense cramping and bleeding returned too. I developed an ovarian cyst that ruptured, producing a stabbing sensation that made regular cramps feel like warm hugs. In 2012, a month after my thirty-first birthday, I had surgery to diagnose and remove endometriosis.

Taking the Pill since age 14 had masked her endometriosis:

To Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, prescribing the Pill for debilitating menstrual conditions, such as the endometriosis I suffered from, only masks the problem. “It’s like a mechanic putting a piece of duct tape over the indicator light on your dashboard and claiming he’s fixed your car,” she says.

Dr. Angela Lanfranchi is a surgeon and co-director of the breast care program at The Steeplechase Cancer Center in Somerville New Jersey.  Dr. Lanfranchi and other professionals have been warning for years about the health risks for the over 150 million women worldwide using the Pill.

Cosmo permitted this very guarded look at the Pill, with the necessary homage to their sacred cows of contraception and abortion rights. But don’t look for an honest assessment of the long term effects of abortion on women.   Only women that espouse the great benefits of choice will grace the pages of Cosmo; women who come to regret their choice, will not find a place in the Cosmo sisterhood.  Maybe that will change as more women experience healing and find a voice.

The article has a surprise ending…look what cured what the Pill and surgery could not:

… I’m still on hiatus from the Pill, for an unexpectedly cheerful reason: Despite my endometriosis, I got pregnant last year, and my pregnancy and, now, breast-feeding appear to be doing what neither surgery nor the Pill could—my cysts and lesions have disappeared, as has my chronic pain. If the disease doesn’t recur, I’d like to stay away from synthetic hormones, especially since I get the occasional aura migraine, which means I have a higher risk for blood clots and stroke…

 

One Night I Was Kneeling In There, Looking Up At The Cross, and The Whole Place Became Gold

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Golden Chapel

This is a follow up to my story on NFL player Brandon Marshall and his courageous public testimony and outreach to those suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).    Marshall talks about the importance of Dialectical Behavior Therapy developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan:

“Marsha Linehan, who’s in Seattle, is one of the most profound faces of BPD, because she developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is the best group therapy out there”….Dr. Linehan was the subject of a New York Times profile around the same time that Marshall was diagnosed. The 68-year-old expert on suicidal impulses and other symptoms of severe depression battled her own symptoms throughout most of her life.   (Yahoo Sports)

Take a moment and read her amazing story.  Note the pivotal and life changing religious experience she had before a chapel crucifix and how this influenced the development of her treatment model DBT.    It is hard to understand such innocent suffering…yet God’s grace moved so powerfully in this woman’s life.

Forbidden Grief by Theresa Burke, Ph.D., reveals that some women diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder have abortions in their history.   Abortion healing programs like Rachel’s Vineyard can be an important and complementary part of any treatment approach for BPD.  Sadly, given the pro abortion ideology of many in the mental health community, these voices are often silenced.  Let’s hope that as more women and men speak out about their abortion loss, this will change.

 

Richie Incognito Can Learn A Lot About Courage from Bears Receiver Brandon Marshall…So Could the Millions of Men Wounded by Abortion

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Brandon Marshall

By no means am I all healed or fixed, but it’s like a light bulb has been turned on in my dark room.  – Brandon Marshall, NFL Receiver

If your a fan of the National Football League, you’ve been hearing a lot lately about the racist and over-the-line harassment of Miami Dolphin’s offensive lineman Jonathan Martin by his teammate Richie Incognito.

Chicago Bear’s receiver Brandon Marshall says it’s time for change in the NFL.

Marshall, himself a former Dolphin, brings an important voice to this controversy because of his courage to share about his own struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD.)  BPD features difficulties with emotional regulation, extreme fear of abandonment that makes relationships volatile and unstable, with addictive and impulsive behavior that wreak havoc in one’s life…and without treatment lead to self injury and suicide.  Brandon shares about the destruction this disorder caused in his own personal life.

Marshall sees the problems of bullying and harassment found in the Incognito/Martin scandal as part of the culture of many NFL locker rooms, and something that needs to change.

Marshall, reflecting on Martin’s struggle with Incognito’s abuse touches on a deeper issue that men face when dealing with painful emotions such as abuse, grief, shame, anxiety and loneliness:

Look at it from this standpoint,” Marshall said. “Take a little boy and a little girl. A little boy falls down and the first thing we say as parents is ‘Get up, shake it off. You’ll be OK. Don’t cry.’ A little girl falls down, what do we say? ‘It’s going to be OK.’ We validate her feelings. So right there from that moment, we’re teaching our men to mask their feelings, to not show their emotions. And it’s that times 100 – with NFL football players. You can’t show that your hurt, can’t show any pain. So for a guy to come into the locker room and he shows a little vulnerability, that’s a problem.

There are times when a man needs to suppress his pain, his fear and anxiety for a time in order to fight a battle, complete an essential task, or protect those he loves.  This is part of being a man…and definitely part of being a football player.  On Sundays in the Fall we want our NFL Gladiators to put aside their pain, their vulnerabilities and focus on doing whatever it takes to win the game.

Marshall is challenging the NFL to balance the violent macho culture that is necessary for game day battles, with the support these men need when they step back from the fray, and try and recover from the football wars.  Even the toughest warrior needs an outlet where he can share emotional pain, struggles in his personal life,  an abusive teammate, or when battling physical and emotional illness. Unless we create safe havens for men to recover, this can have disastrous effects on their personal lives, as we learned from Brandon’s Marshall’s struggles with BPD.  This untreated pain can be masked as anger (often hurting loved ones), or suppressed with addictions to drugs, promiscuity and pornography.

Despite the macho lies men are fed, facing difficult emotions or coming to terms with an emotional illness or addiction does not make a man a coward or a weakling.  Brandon Marshall has not been weakened by his recovery.  He has never been more productive and satisfied in his personal and professional life.

From Doug Farrar at Yahoo Sports:

 …Marshall is a different man with a different team…the seven-year vet and three-time Pro Bowler is the NFL’s most targeted receiver, is on pace for a 1,500-yard season, and has been happily reunited with Jay Cutler, his quarterback from 2006 through 2008 with the Denver Broncos. In a Wednesday interview, Marshall compared his relationship with Cutler to the football version of a (relatively functional) marriage, and said he’s never been happier.

Breaking the Isolation-Finding a Voice

As Co Founder of the largest outreach in the world to men and women suffering after abortion Rachel’s Vineyard, we have listened to the stories of thousands of men involved in abortion decisions.   Men are given a very clear message when their partner or wife is making an abortion decision; their feelings are to be strictly quarantined so she is free to make the right decision.  Even though he is a father of that unborn child, he has no voice.

Sadly, other men encourage or even coerce their partner to abort, even when she is ambivalent or against the decision to have an abortion.   But these men suffer as well when they come to a clearer understanding of their actions and the consequences.  Regardless of their role in an abortion decision, men often experience grief, anger, depression and anxiety after the procedure.  But they feel they have nowhere to turn with the pain.  Like Jonathan Martin struggling with his abuser Incognito, they have no idea that others feel like they do, or where to turn for help.

For Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, understanding his BPD, and getting the right help to treat his condition was life-saving:

With treatment and understanding of his condition, Marshall feels that he has a new lease on life. Now, he wants to help others with his condition get to that same happier place. When he went public with his diagnosis, Marshall said that he wanted to be the “face of BPD,” and he’s living up his word with a foundation that tries to facilitate treatment and understanding.  (Yahoo Sports)

Given the nature of his illness, this will be an ongoing process with the help of friends, teammates and professionals to keep his life on track.  Now he wants to reach out to help others.

This is the same trajectory you find in the abortion healing movement as groups like the Silent No More Awareness Campaign educate, raise awareness and provide a forum for women and men to share the truth of their abortion loss and recovery, and reach out to others so they can find healing.

Brandon Marshall points the way for the millions of men who have been involved in an abortion decision.  Just like bullying in NFL locker rooms, it is a difficult issue to confront, and sometimes people will try to silence your voice and shame you.  But Like Marshall, unless you understand the symptoms and nature of your condition and reach out for the help you need,  it will continue to cause problems in your life.

If you are a man who was involved in an abortion decision, don’t try to go it alone.

Like Marshall, if you can get past your fear and reach out for help, you will emerge a stronger and more productive man.

There are times when a man needs to fight, to ignore his pain and stand tall in the battles of this life.  Football players like Brandon Marshall do it every Sunday in the NFL.

But a wise man knows when to step back from the battle and with the help of others recover from his wounds.

 

 

We Need to Make Fatherhood a Man’s Choice…Even if it Kills Me!

Monday, November 4th, 2013

nihilism1ex3

Anna March, a self described deep-seated feminist writing in Salon thinks it is time to Make Fatherhood a Man’s Choice.  This is puzzling given her personal history.

Anna shares:

My Mother was unable to obtain an illegal abortion, though she tried, in 1967 when she learned she was pregnant with me.  Instead, she attempted paternity fraud—passing me off to her boyfriend as his child though I was actually fathered by another man.  Her boyfriend, who became my putative father, married her and then clued in when I was born, totally healthy, three months “prematurely.”  He went along with it, though.

As the article progresses and despite her history she advocates that the “reproductive choice” of women should also extend to men confronted with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy:

…if one believes that women shouldn’t be penalized for sexual activity by limiting options such as birth control, abortion, adoption, and safe haven laws (laws that provide a safe space for parents to give up babies), then men’s options shouldn’t be limited either…motherhood should be a voluntary condition…the construct that fatherhood after birth is mandatory needs to change.

The author shares some ideas how this could work and some feminist backlash against such proposals.  However given the worldview of pro abortion feminists, this is a reasonable and just application of “choice” to men who do not accept their fatherhood.

Yet…without the child support of her mother’s ex husband (who it turns out was not the biological father), the family would have been destitute:

  They divorced when I was six years old, but he paid child support until I was eighteen, $270 a month.  I’m a product of child support, and it was a necessary part of the financial picture for me and my Mom, who did not have a college education and often worked two jobs during my childhood.  

So this guy who is not the father, and learns of this fact, still pays support until Anna is 18!

With all the Screwtape Letter logic that pervades this article…we have a man who really understood his obligation to his family.  We don’t know the broader history of Anna’s step-father or the relationship of this young couple and I am not making him a saint.

But in an article where the author is proposing that men embrace the hyper-individualism of choice when deciding if they want to father their unborn children, her step-father actually emerges as a hero in this tale.  He could have walked away angry that his wife deceived him and refused to support little Anna.  But instead he faithfully supported the family and in so doing allowed Anna’s mom to work two jobs, balance a very tight budget and provide for her daughter.

But Anna March has been drinking a lot of pro choice feminist Kool-Aid.

March tells us that at the time of her mother’s unplanned pregnancy, the father of the child should have been given a grace period where he could opt out of parenting and child support.  The mother would then have the option of either aborting her, or making an adoption plan.

Yet this author, who was “allowed” to be born…would have been aborted if she was conceived after 1973!  And this is fine with Anna March.  Because abortion was illegal and not widely available…Anna is alive today.   But we need to keep abortion legal, and widely accessible she tells us.

What value does this author place on her own life, if it could have been so arbitrarily destroyed while she was developing in her mother’s womb?  But she is ok with this absurdity because she has to be consistent with her pro abortion feminism.

Sadly, the abortion rights movements, and the twisted values of the sexual revolution that support the whole abortion rights construct, have corrupted feminism.  But it has also corrupted the relationship between parents and children, men and women, fathers and mothers.

A healthy feminism advocates for support and resources for women facing unplanned pregnancies, and the  accountability of fathers to support their children.  But when you introduce abortion as a non negotiable tenet of feminism, you twist and corrupt the heart of the very relationships you seek to protect.  Anna March thinks it is perfectly acceptable that as a tiny female fetus her bigger and stronger mother and father had the right to end her life in the womb…even if it meant dismembering her little body limb by limb as you find in later term abortions.

Is there any greater proof that this is an ideology rooted in nihilistic despair?

There is a better way.    It does not romanticize or simplify the challenges that women face in times of crisis and uncertainty.  But neither does it exploit women and men and lead them to the illusion of God-like autonomy over life and death and a hyper individualism that comes with a very high price tag.

There was another individual conceived like Anna March in very complex and anxiety-filled circumstances.

He had this to say:

 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me…  I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 14: 6)

May God deliver us all from the nihilism of this age…and lead us to embrace the joy-filled hope found in the salvation of Christ Jesus.