Since 2003 the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC) has blazed new ground in efforts to reveal the truth of abortion’s impact on women and men. On January 22nd hundreds of mothers and fathers from around the country and at the very steps of the Supreme Court in Washington DC, shared the truth of their abortion loss and recovery.
A recent article in Cosmopolitan How Abortion Changed Our Relationship reveals that efforts of the SNMAC are paying off. The pro abortion forces are taking notice as Cosmo launched a thinly disguised counter offensive. Despite the clear pro abortion agenda of the article, this is good news.
After reading the Cosmo piece you may rightly wonder…and how is this good news? The fact that a rabidly pro contraception/pro abortion magazine with a circulation of millions would even touch this subject points to the success of the SNMAC in its messaging and media outreach. The pro abortion crowd realizes that we have broken through the media blackout and liberal spin. They had to respond.
The problem for Cosmo and their allies in Planned Parenthood is this; when they shine a brighter and more honest light on peoples’ real experience of abortion, the truth of their experience shines forth and overshadows the typical pro abortion propaganda you will find embedded in the stories.
Let’s take a look at the four couples featured in the Cosmopolitan article and what their brief accounts reveal about abortion and its impact on women and men.
Displaced Anger, Guilt and Grief at Pro Lifers
Cindy shares about her first abortion at age 18. She had to pass pro life advocates on her way to the abortion building. They made her pause and return to her car and reconsider. Sadly rather than turn to the pro lifers who could have offered her practical and emotional support during her pregnancy and after the child was born…she instead turns on them with anger:
Cindy: … I’ve had an abortion before, and I also didn’t want to go through that again. The first time, I was 18 and about to start college. I had to walk past protesters who were screaming and waving posters. It made me second-guess my choice. I actually went back to my car to think, and then I got mad, like, If I have the baby, are they going to help me take care of it? Are they going to pay my grocery bills and rent?
Pro lifers are a convenient target for unresolved feelings during the pregnancy and for displacing after-abortion grief and pain, often disguised as anger. Cindy displaces her very real conflicts and fears about her pregnancy decisions and dumps it on the pro lifers. The anger allows her to see herself as victimized by her pregnancy, and assaulted by pro-lifers who in her mind only care about the fetus.
This anger helps suppress her second thoughts, and silence any voice in her heart and soul that is crying out for her to protect her unborn child. Many of the founders of the pro choice brand of feminism have themselves suffered abortion loss and displaced their conflicts, their emotional pain and grief on to the pro life movement. This anger can fuel the radical pro abortion activities of many wounded women and men and keep their post abortion pain submerged in pro choice activism or displaced in anger at a false characterization of pro lifers as mean-spirited and judgmental.
Repetition of Abortion Trauma
Like 46% of all women who have abortions, Cindy would go on to face another unplanned pregnancy and another abortion decision. What Cindy and Cosmo fail to understand is this:
Unless you fully acknowledge what was lost (a baby), repent and grieve that loss, and develop a spiritual relationship with that aborted child in a healing program, you are very likely to find yourself unconsciously recreating the same behavioral and relational dynamics that will lead you once again to the abortionist. That first abortion leaves you even more vulnerable to see the second abortion as the only solution. (You can read more about the psychology of repeat abortions here.)
And so it was with Cindy and her partner Frisco as she faced her second abortion decision.
Pro Choice Feminism and Emotionally Impotent Men
Frisco voiced a willingness to be there for her and the child if she wanted to keep it.
Frisco: I told Cindy I would support whatever decision she made, including being there for her and the child if she wanted to keep it… I can say “I want the child,” but she has to carry and deliver it.
This is a common response from men that have been formed in our enlightened age and on the surface would appear to be offering support while respecting the dictates of “choice.” He wants to stand up for his baby and say clearly that he “wants the child.” But the commandments of pro abortion feminism leave him impotent to defend the life of his son or daughter.
If he was really going to be there for the child, how could he relinquish complete responsibility in the decision and fail to advocate for his child’s life? Rest assured that despite the denial and rationalization after the abortion he is aware of what has died…it’s not an “it” as he sometimes refers to the baby, but his “Child” as he says in other context.
Frisco has been deeply touched by this loss:
From the minute I heard, I couldn’t stop thinking about her and her situation.
Frisco will likely experience confusion, anxiety and depression about his role in the abortion. He may quickly try to suppress those feelings and rationalize that he did the right thing…but as we have learned working with men after abortion, it will impact his life and relationships in the future. Cosmo can’t acknowledge that pain or the ongoing price of their choice. (If you want to learn more about men and abortion and resources for healing visit Fatherhood Forever and the Men and Abortion Network.)
Note Cindy’s reaction to Frisco’s response to the pregnancy:
Cindy: We talked for an hour that day. I knew I didn’t want to have this baby.
Because she knew he really didn’t want to have that baby…or at least he was ambivalent and not prepared to fight for the child’s life. After a woman goes through a healing program and is able to fully acknowledged and grieve what was lost, she has a deeper understanding of her emotions at the time of the abortion decision. Many women report that they were secretly looking for signs that their partner would fight for the life of the child and could be counted on to be around when she was dealing with the realities of parenting a baby. They fear the resentment and anger of their partner if they seem ambivalent or against continuing the pregnancy.
Where’s the Line? Shipwrecked on the Shores of the Sexual Revolution
The story of Brittany/Brandon and Kristina/Chris reveal how we have failed to properly form our youth to negotiate the challenges of relationship, sexuality and parenting. Sending our kids away to college at age 18 in this chaotic moral climate can be like putting two young adults, who have never sailed before on a boat - by themselves - with a storm approaching… and tell them “good luck.” :
Brittany: Brandon and I met our first year at college and became friends with benefits. Our agreement was “We can kiss other people, but we’re sleeping only with each other.”
Kristina: Chris and I met about two years ago…We were tested for STDs and discussed our feelings about abortion before we ever had sex…Birth-control hormones make me feel terrible, so we used condoms. But then I just started getting a feeling that March and thought, I’m just gonna try a pregnancy test. One sort of read positive, so I did another but I wasn’t sure. Those lines are confusing.
Yes indeed, those lines are confusing. More confusing is the boundaries around sex, relationship and commitment for these kids. Our ancestors understood for thousands of years, moral guidelines and anchors (while imperfect) were essential to protect young adults from being shipwrecked on the rocky shores of the sexual revolution.
Kristina came to the abortion center sounding like a child getting her teeth cleaned at the dentist and unexpectedly receiving a shiny new toy!:
Kristina: … I appreciated how normal they made everything. Goonies played in the waiting room, and Beyoncé was on the stereo during surgery. In my counseling session beforehand, they asked if I wanted a ParaGard IUD put in following the procedure. I had never been offered one before and was like, “Hormone- and hassle-free? Definitely!”
But Kristina the child soon had to face the reality of abortion’s impact on the heart and soul of Kristina the mother:
Kristina: I had this idea that once I ended the pregnancy, I’d be fine. But I’m not the same person I was, and I never will be…Chris wanted to talk about it, but more often, we just fought…We broke up that June, and I was a mess. I cried a lot and made my friends uncomfortable because I’d get drunk and talk about the abortion.
A friend sees that Kristina is hurting and recommends a counselor. Tragically most therapist and their professional organizations do not acknowledge the risk factors associated with abortion loss and are clueless about how to guide a wounded woman or man to recover from their loss. They may in fact be hostile to post abortion healing. They may have suffered abortion loss themselves and are invested in the wonders of “choice” and the denial of abortions negative after effects.
In August 2013 three women physicians, Donna Harrison, Mary Davenport and Psychiatrist Martha Shuping, were invited to give lectures on the 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 research confirming there are significant health risks for women after abortion.
As Kristina reveals, 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:
Kristina: I went to therapy, but they just wanted to talk about my parents…When I was 20, I was sure I didn’t want kids. The funny thing is that my abortion made me realize that I do want to be a mother.
What Kristina does not yet understand, is that her after-abortion grief and pain will impact her life and relationships…especially as a mom. Her subsequent pregnancies, the ultra sounds, caring for a baby will be triggers to her abortion loss. Without healing she may struggle to bond with her living children and/or become one of the many overprotective “helicopter moms” who are filled with anxiety for their children…an anxiety that can be rooted in an earlier abortion loss.
Just Make it Go Away – Anger and the Guilty Conscience
Kristina’s partner Chris when confronted with the pregnancy reveals the fruit of the contraceptive/abortion mindset:
Chris: Well, maybe she can take a pill and it will just go away.
As Chris got in touch with the reality of what was about to go down (like Cindy) he found an easy target for his powerful feelings and his failure to defend the life of his unborn baby the day of their abortion:
Chris: When we arrived at Planned Parenthood that Saturday… there was a guy standing outside the clinic. He waited until we got really close and then shoved a picture of dead babies in Kristina’s face. She burst into tears. I wanted to punch the guy in the face. It felt like an act of terrorism. I still hate that guy.
He still hates that guy. This hatred is rooted in repressed shame, grief and guilt about his role in the abortion of his child…feelings that are calling Chris to repent, grieve and heal from this loss. But he remains locked in anger and denial.
Some painful questions for Chris to consider:
Why did Kristen cry when confronted with the pictures of the procedures aftermath? What did she see that caused her grief and pain? Was it the reality of what the procedure will do to the tiny baby nestled in her protective womb? Was this pro lifer trying to do what you have failed to do in your fear and weakness…protect your unborn child? Did this man cut through the denial and obfuscating rhetoric of “choice” and reveal the ugliness and death that lie within the doors of Planned Parenthood?
It is very painful for men after abortion to recognize the true feelings that fuel their anger. Most men are decent and want to do what’s right. But like all of us, we can be tempted during times of crisis and fear to make bad decisions. Denial only compounds and prolongs the pain. Humility, repentance and healing transform the pain into peace and new life.
But there is something else of great significance in Chris’s story. Does the pro-life man with the images of abortion victims outside the Planned Parenthood clinic touch on a deeper conflict with his ob-gyn grandfather?
Chris: I grew up in an Irish Catholic family. My grandfather was an obstetrician who was deeply against abortion. So from a very young age, I was told that abortion is wrong… I never really bought it. I became a vegan and decided I didn’t want to have children because there were too many people on this planet.
Perhaps some of that rage reflected the unresolved grandfather and grandson conflict that sadly would contribute to the death of his child, and his grandfather’s great-grandchild. His grandfather and the pro life man at the clinic stir a sense of guilt in his conscience…which he represses with self-righteous rage. Beneath his misinformed environmental sterility lies great conflict about Chris’s role in the death of his unborn son or daughter.
Turning Away from the Truth
Once inside the clinic after paying for the procedure, Kristina and Chris were given one last chance to step away from the precipice of their child’s death:
Chris: I paid the bill and then waited to meet with the doctor. They had to do a sonogram to determine how far along Kristina was and asked if we wanted to see the image. Kristina said no, and I did too. That’s something I regret. I feel like it would have made the experience more real for me.
This is so sad. Chris regrets not viewing the ultrasound because part of him wanted to connect with that baby, defend the life of the child, and protect his girlfriend. He wanted to connect with the “realness” of what they were doing. Like many young men in this situation, he was isolated, confused and misinformed… but he seems a caring and sensitive young man who may have been persuaded by the ultrasound image. That sonogram could have been the first picture in their family album. Now there will be no future family portrait of mom, dad and baby.
They could not look at that ultrasound image lest they face the truth of their actions. But you can’t escape the truth of that loss. It comes out in the emotional aftermath of the procedure. It can take years for those unresolved feelings and memories to fester before recognizing the symptoms. For others like Kristina the effects are more immediate and debilitating both individually and relationally:
Chris: The abortion really changed our relationship. Kristina went through a deep depression afterward…Kristina felt like a bad person, like she was better than this. It made her feel out of control…It sucks. My attitude about sex has also changed. I’ve dated only one other person since then, and I told her about Kristina’s abortion. It’s a part of my life now.
The abortion is part of his life and his partner’s life…forever. Their feelings and symptoms are a more honest representation of the truth of how abortion impacts women, men and their relationships. Without healing it will always be there with the various symptoms calling attention to this loss…waiting to be acknowledged, hungering for healing of the abortion experience.
Later Term Abortions as the Compassionate Choice
The last Cosmo couple present a story of abortion due to fetal disability. Accounts like this are very useful to create a sympathetic and compassionate reception to the supposed necessity of later term abortion procedures. This propaganda is essential to counter the fact that these procedures are especially gruesome and painful for the child.
Let’s look at an excerpt from their story.
Emily: At the first trimester screening, we saw a mass on the baby’s neck. My doctor thought it was benign and nothing to worry about. But when I returned three weeks later, the mass had grown exponentially.
Dave: …I was worried but hopeful.
Emily: My doctor sent us to one of the best neonatal hospitals in the country.
Dave: The growth on my son’s neck was larger than his head. My first thought was How will he be able to breathe? We discussed options. If the baby survived, he would need a tracheotomy, a vent, and 24-hour nursing care. That’s if he made it, which was unlikely. We got into the car and didn’t talk for 20 minutes. I knew we had to consider termination.
This is an extremely vulnerable time for any couple. We can sympathize with the shock of diagnosis and the desire to prevent suffering for one’s child. Medical professionals (who are often pro abortion) can paint a very dark picture in these situations and often present abortion as the most compassionate and rational decision. A second opinion from a life-affirming doctor may have offered the possibility of effective treatments that could give their child the possibility for a normal life while keeping the baby comfortable as possible during treatment and if a fatal condition, offered life affirming support such as perinatal hospice.
Regardless, the temptation to terminate in these situations, while understandable is a trap for any mother and father. Couples who abort due to fetal disability face serious consequences because of their direct role in the death of their child.
Emily shares about her abortion procedure:
Emily: I knew that an abortion was the most humane thing for baby Aaron Jack. Time mattered. I was put on the schedule the next day. I decided to do a normal delivery, so I had an epidural and pushed. The doctor cut the cord, and I held AJ. He is always going to be one of our children.
Dave: The hospital took handprints and pictures…
It is deeply painful to be induced in labor to give birth to a dead child, or one that would die shortly after birth. It is challenging even without the abortion context. However given their role in the death of their child, it is impossible (despite the rationalizations of this intelligent couple) to deny the realty of this complicated grief:
Emily: I thought since I do this for a living (Emily is an ob-gyn) that I was going to be fine. But then two days later my milk came in and I completely lost it. I tried an antidepressant, but I didn’t like the way it made me feel. Luckily, I had my work to focus on.
How to move on from the trauma? Have a replacement pregnancy, get very busy with work and focus on becoming a type of poster couple for the political battle over later term abortion procedures.
Dave: We waited a couple of months and then got pregnant again. Hannah was born October 24, 2011. She would not be here if we hadn’t lost AJ.
Emily: Everything going on politically right now is heartbreaking. It shows a misunderstanding of why people choose abortions…and a lack of respect for women.
Dave: And frankly, for men too. This was a decision Emily and I made together.
Emily and Dave are past the trauma; they have a new child that justifies the death of the firstborn and are vocal advocates for later term abortion procedures. Everything is looking up right? Cosmo and Planned Parenthood would like you to think so.
But like so much associated with abortion rights since its inception, it is grounded in outright lies and misinformation. It is impossible for parents to participate in the death of one of their unborn children and not suffer ongoing emotional, spiritual and relational consequences. It may not be readily apparent. You would need to follow this couple through the family life cycle. We have learned from countless parents involved in abortions that if their role in that loss is not honestly faced, repented and grieved…they will suffer symptoms in their life and relationships.
This loss will impact the relationship of Emily and David with their surviving daughter and has already deeply touched their marital relationship. The symptoms will come…they will see a pro choice counselor…they will never connect their symptoms and acting out to the abortion loss.
At some point in her life Emily and David’s daughter Hannah may rightly ask:
If shortly after my birth I was found to have some serious medical condition, would it be ok to end my life to avoid my suffering and the expense and suffering my parents would face? Or should they do everything possible to treat my condition, make me as comfortable as possible and pray for the best outcome accepting whatever happens. Why was it ok to force an early delivery of my brother Aaron and do nothing to prevent his death? Why is it ok at 20 weeks and not ok 20 days after birth?
Then You Will Know the Truth, and the Truth will Set You Free (John 8:32)
It is important to note that the Cosmo article ends with an endorsement of the radically pro abortion group Exhale as a place to resolve painful feelings after abortion. Here is an article on why women and men will never fully reconcile and heal of their abortion loss with a group where a “woman’s right to choose” is the one inviolable tenet of the program. If you have experienced abortion, find a program that allows you to fully repent, grieve and heal of your abortion loss. It is the only way to full recovery.
It is good that these couples shared briefly of their abortion experience in Cosmopolitan. They have revealed much more than they or Cosmo could ever have imagined. They shine a bright light on a procedure that has ended the life of over 50 million children in our nation, and wounded the hearts, souls and bodies of millions of their mothers and fathers. Let’s intensify our efforts, and with humility and compassion call those wounded by abortion to healing and end the scourge of abortion on this great nation.
Addendum: [It is important to note that the pro life movement continues to learn what are the most effective strategies to engage the mother and father with love at the abortion center and help them choose life for their baby. We will look at that in a future blog and ask the experts who are veterans of prayerful witness at the abortion centers what they find works best...and what may be counterproductive. Also keep in mind that the pro lifers identified in the Cosmo article may have been peaceful, prayerful and loving in their approach. However anything that calls the conflicted conscience to consider the truth about abortion can be met with hostility. We know the fears of many young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy can be powerful and feel psychologically very threatening to accept the reality of their life changing motherhood...abortion is seen as a way to avoid and end that conflict and threat and be restored to their pre-crisis sense of self...and those conflicted feelings can be projected onto the pro lifers. Of course our goal is to save the child and save the parents from participating in the death of their unborn child and all the pain that will bring. What is the best way to accomplish both on the front lines? I will go to the experts and blog later on that.]