Archive for September, 2015

The Plannned Parenthood Scandal: Reaching out to those Wounded by Abortion

Monday, September 21st, 2015

 

Earthquake

by Kevin Burke, MSS

As the Planned Parenthood scandal continues to unfold, new videos and news reports graphically reveal the practice of selling aborted baby body parts and the disturbing techniques used to obtain the organs and other parts of the fetus for biomedical research.

Viewing the images of the aftermath of an abortion procedure not only connects a mother or father with the reality of what abortion did to their unborn child, and their role in that child’s death, but it also connects in a powerful way with the wound that is deep inside a mother/fathers heart and soul.

Just as the images of fragmented and broken children are deeply disturbing, inside each women or man who has experienced this loss there is also a divided, fragmented heart and soul of a mother or father who is struggling to face the very painful feelings of aguish, anger and grief that flow from that abortion decision, the procedure and the aftermath.

Making Sense of the Pain

This information is naturally upsetting to anyone who has experienced abortion loss. This would be especially true for women who had more traumatic abortion experiences such as seeing parts of their baby during or after the vacuum type procedures and certainly with mid and later term D&C and Partial Birth abortions.

Anger: The graphic content of the videos and transcripts and the cavalier attitude of the Planned Parenthood physicians will naturally arouse powerful feelings of anger, outrage, disgust in those who have been abused at the hands of Planned Parenthood staff and physicians. It may be difficult to find a healthy outlet for this anger which can be deflected onto family members, friends or colleagues at work.   This anger can also feed a preoccupation with the unfolding scandal and even in extreme cases an obsession with the reports.

Intense Emotions: The emotions can be intense, especially for those who are facing for the first time the reality of what abortion is about. A woman, or possibly a man, may struggle to concentrate at work, have sleep disturbance and nightmares, experience some anxiety and even full blown panic attacks and renewed feelings of sorrow and grief. Please be assured that you are not alone or going crazy. Many women and men discover that these images and the transcripts of the Planned Parenthood staff connect in a powerful way to what is often deeply repressed and painful emotion and memories.

 Finding Healing and Wholeness

If you, or someone you love is hurting and in need of healing here are a few key points to consider:

Normalize:

The intense emotions such as anxiety, depression, a renewed sense of grief and loss, anger/rage that you may be experiencing are a normal human reaction to both the disturbing nature of the scandal and your own painful experience of loss. The powerful and shocking videos and transcripts of those videos can bring a dramatic re-connection to what your own child (or children) experienced during and after the procedure. The videos being released reveal how heartlessly and inhumanely Planned Parenthood attacked your child’s precious body.

Understanding Anger:

You may develop anger and intimacy issues with those closest to you as you struggle to make sense and regulate your powerful emotions. Anger can serve as a shield to the more vulnerable feelings that are trying to surface such as grief and sorrow, guilt and regret.

 Reach out:

If possible, avoid any tendency to isolate, and affirm the natural need to find an outlet for those feelings and memories. Without support and a healing of this loss you can be vulnerable to engage in self destructive ways to repress or cope with this pain such as the abuse of drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or work and other addictions. You can find yourself feeling anxious, having anxiety attacks, insomnia and depression. Again, these are all symptoms that are calling attention to your loss and to reconciliation and healing of your abortion experience.

Reach out to a counselor, minister/clergy, or friend who understands your loss and can help you take the steps to healing and wholeness that you long for. Visit www.abortionforgiveness.org where you can enter your zip code and find abortion healing programs in your community. If you are reaching out to a friend or family member suffering after abortion, make sure to initially receive their pain, listen patiently and then gently open the door to the blessing and hope that a healing program will provide them.

There is hope and healing of the fragmentation and brokenness that abortion inflicted on you and your unborn child (children). In that healing process you will discover that the horror and shock of what happened to you and your baby, will be replaced by a new relationship founded in loving reconciliation and peace with God and your unborn child. That can seem a distant and hard to trust possibility. Be assured that thousands of women and men just like you have found that healing. Take the next step and get the help you need. If you struggle to do it for yourself, do it for those you love; your spouse, family and friends who will be so blessed by your recovery from this loss.

Exercise:

Depending on what is appropriate for your age and health, as you begin to take steps to reclaim healing and wholeness, find an activity that can increase your heart rate and reach a level of exertion that will help your body releases toxins and at the same time release soothing and stress relieving chemicals into your body.   Regular exercise is one of the most effective medications for stress, depression and anxiety.

Spiritual:

If you are watching the videos and the news about these events, you are encountering a disturbing level of spiritual darkness. It is natural that this can attack our own spirit and cause some feeling of oppression as we encounter this evil. You may connect in a new way with the reality of what you and your child/children suffered. Let every step in your recovery be immersed in a very simple and heartfelt prayer to God:

Lord I open my mind, my heart and soul to you that has been so deeply wounded by abortion and the loss of my child (children). Lord let me experience, in a new and powerful way, your love and mercy in this time of anxiety and fear as I open up this dark area of my life to your light. Even though I am afraid, help me to trust in your love for me, in your infinite mercy and your love for my child (children.)

Prayerful reading of scripture, church sacraments, prayer with a friend or clergy/minister and spiritual fellowship and support are the medicine that will help to refresh us and lift that oppression and help us to continue the path to healing and wholeness. If you have been distant from God and a faith community since your abortion, you will find that as you recover from your abortion loss through an abortion healing program, this will open the door to healing your relationship with God and to finding a spiritual home where you can find the support and fellowship you need as you recover.

Balance:

If you find yourself or a friend or colleague spending too much time being exposed to this information, reading and viewing accounts and stories about the scandal – and it is beginning to have a negative emotional, spiritual, relational impact – if you see an increase in alcohol use or other self destructive coping behaviors – you should make a firm decision to avoid any further reports or videos on this scandal until you have the opportunity to attend a healing program.

As you reach out for the help if possible do something fun that exposes you to the joy and beauty of life such as music, theater, sports, visiting some friends or family, a walk by a stream or woods, playing with a grandchild or niece/nephew…whatever can help you (or your friend/colleague etc.) regain some balance and perspective as you continue on the path to recovery and peace.

Kevin Burke is a Co-Founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and a Pastoral Associate with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign –  k.burke@rachelsvineyard.org

The Impact of Abortion on Military Personnel and Their Families

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

 

Military Abortion

By Kevin Burke, MSS

 Jody Duffy RN, is a former Army officer, military spouse of 35 years and wife of  a Major General.   In the following interview Jody shares some important insights from her extensive personal and professional experience helping women and men recovering from abortion loss:

 Can you share some of the unique challenges for families in the military?

Jody:           There are many stressors and challenges faced by military families such as frequent separations, communication difficulties, frequent and long deployments, frequent moves, and long work hours. In times of peace and in times of conflict, for the soldier it is about duty and about the mission.

In many cases duty to the mission overshadows duty to the family.  What happens to deployed soldiers is well documented. What happens to the families left behind is too often overlooked.  Only in recent years have studies begun on the effects of deployments on the military family.   Frequent moves and frequent deployments are a way of life for these families. Military life in itself can be stressful for both soldiers and their families.

How widespread is the experience of unplanned pregnancy and abortion in the military?

The military has a higher pregnancy rate than any other any group in the U.S. Because abortions are procured at local clinics, there is no means to track abortion rates among those pregnant military members.   According to a few military doctors and OB nurses I have spoken to, a large number of female soldiers and dependents go to a military medical facility to validate the pregnancy and never come back. They procure an abortion at a local abortion facility.

How does abortion impact our military personnel?

Jody:   The pain and grief of abortion only adds more stress and conflict to their lives.  Whether it is the female soldier not wanting to sacrifice her military career or feeling pressured to fulfill her duty, or the male soldier feeling fatherhood may stand in the way of his mission, sacrificing our unborn children to abortion is an unfortunate and frequent reality of military life.  Abortion decisions often involve varying degrees of pressure and conflict.  This predisposes them to have more intense post abortion reactions and even trauma.

 Left untreated, how does this post abortion problem manifest in a soldier’s marriage and family life? 

Abortion provokes a major crisis in the lives of a married couple which is frequently followed by the instability of that relationship. Frequently, one or both of the couple have been involved in an abortion before they met their spouse. Many carry this baggage into the marriage causing even further problems in the relationship.

The family is the cornerstone of the church, our nation, and civilization.  Whether National Guard, Reserves, or active duty, our military families are the strength of our soldiers. When unresolved abortion grief leads to strife in our military families, it affects the strength of our soldiers, the strength of our military, and ultimately the strength of our nation.

 We know that abortion can be a contentious issue.  How receptive are military chaplains and others in the armed forces to your outreach in this area?

Jody:  There have been many positive responses by military chaplains to the concept of post abortion healing programs. However, chaplains move as frequently as any other military members do. Programs embraced by one chaplain may not be priority to the next chaplain coming in. However, many members frequently attend services or mass at churches off post. Contact with these pastors has been very positive. Many acknowledge that there are large numbers of military members attending their services and have been very receptive to receiving information about post abortion healing programs.

Yes, the issue of abortion is controversial, however, the issue of healing should not be.

Why is this important concern for our military and civilian political leaders?

 Jody:  Our military leaders should be very concerned about the effects abortion has on their soldiers.  It is tragic that soldiers may choose abortion to try and protect their mission.  Soldiers who bring unresolved abortion grief and even trauma into their mission, are not able to function in the same way they did before the abortion, therefore compromising their capacity to serve safely and effectively.  Unresolved abortion grief can affect a soldier’s morale, performance and effectiveness which in turn may affect the unit’s cohesiveness and mission.

Is there an abortion connection to the high suicide rate among veterans?

Jody:   Eventually, soldiers become Veterans. This unresolved abortion grief follows them into their civilian lives. Suicide rates among young veterans are rising at an alarming rate. Unresolved abortion grief can be a factor in these suicides.

Abortion recovery programs such as Rachel’s Vineyard provide women and men an experience of a safe and very effective grieving process and emotional and spiritual support that are so essential for recovery.  It’s a foundation they can build on as they make the transition to post military life.

It is our duty to reach out and help serve those who have served our nation. Fortunately I have had very positive results at Veterans conferences and on Veterans Facebook groups to which I belong.  But we need to do more to get the word out and connect both our active military and our veterans with resources for abortion recovery.

[Jody served as an Atlanta Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Leader and as a Military Liaison for the Silent no More Awareness Campaign  Jody is also the Military Outreach Coordinator for Post Abortion Treatment and Healing (PATH) ministry in Atlanta.  She continues to help our nation’s service women and men find the information and resources they need to recover from their abortion loss.  You can reach Jody at jae.duffy@gmail.com.]

 

 

Pope Francis Visit to U.S. : The Abortion Elephant in the Family Room

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

 

Pope Francis Elephant Family Room

The recent news reports on Pope Francis and his statements on confession and abortion in the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, focused exclusively on the mother of the aborted child.

Most people see abortion as primarily a women’s issue. Pro-abortion apologists emphasize that abortion is a private, personal decision between a woman and her health care provider. Sometimes it seems that when the Church talks about abortion (repentance, confession, and healing) they are also focusing exclusively on the mother of the unborn child.

The Pope is coming to Philadelphia later this month for the close of the World Meeting of Families. This is the perfect time to invite the Church and our nation to view the issue of abortion through a much broader lens.

The Shockwaves of Abortion[1]: The Impact of Abortion on the Family

You might be wondering, how does an abortion that happened 1-5-10-20 years ago have any effect on marriage and family life today?

The Family Shockwaves:

–                  We know that when someone is intimately wounded by a traumatic experience of abuse or loss, the symptoms they experience after that event are not suffered in a vacuum. The anxiety, depression, behavioral and relationship issues, physical and psychological symptoms they experience, will naturally impact their families, marriages, school and work life.

–                  Abortion is often a closely guarded secret and a complicated grief; the isolation and shame associated with the abortion event do not allow a healthy expression and resolution of the loss as you normally experience with grief that can be publicly acknowledged.

–                  Secrets (like other hidden wounds such as abuse, addiction, affairs etc.) seriously impact intimacy, trust and communication between family members, and create an environment that prevents those hurting from seeking healing.

–                  In such an environment various addictions and destructive communication patterns can develop as ways of coping with and expressing painful feelings and the complicated grief that follows abortion loss.   If these problems existed prior to the abortion…the abortion can intensify and exacerbate previous dysfunctional dynamics.

It’s a Family Affair

Family members and friends are often influential players in a woman’s decision to abort.   Family members can share in the emotional conflict and complicated grief from their role in the child’s death. Like other public health concerns, without education and information, people fail to connect their painful personal, marriage and family symptoms to a previous abortion loss.

Yet the symptoms can be expressed in a variety of ways in a family:

– The insomnia and depression of the grandmother who could not prevent her daughter’s abortion and her grandchild’s death.

– The grandfather of an aborted child, that forced his daughter to abort and suffers from anxiety and depression.

– A mother self-medicating her anxiety and depression with alcohol after she felt pressured to abort because her husband was laid off from his job.

– A father with anger issues and affairs plaguing his marriage after they aborted a child with Down Syndrome.

– A sibling angry and disillusioned to learn that he is not his mother’s first born; he has a sister lost to abortion.

When parents are weakened emotionally, spiritually and relationally after abortion loss…children are inevitably affected. When we look across our nation and see the epidemic of single-parent families, failed marriages and over-medicated children in problem schools…we need to see abortion, at the very least, as a contributing factor.

The Good News

Just as proper diagnosis and treatment can restore the emotional, physical and spiritual health of the individual, attending an abortion recovery program can be an important factor in developing more intimate and satisfying marriage and family relationships.

Acknowledging abortion loss in a family and participating in an abortion recovery program, (especially when one or both spouses/partners have previous abortion loss), can provide an avenue for deep emotional and spiritual healing. Groups like Rachel’s Vineyard allow couples, fathers, grandparents, and when appropriate siblings of aborted children to attend their healing weekend retreats and Sunday Memorial Services that honor the unborn children. This healing journey helps individuals and couples who attend to re-establish a healthy spiritual and emotional foundation for their relationships damaged by abortion. Over time this will greatly bless their living children, and lead to healthier family dynamics. The abortion recovery ministry Lumina offers days of prayer and healing for siblings with abortion loss.

So as you can see, abortion is far from a private, personal decision. Given the 55 million abortions since 1973 in the U.S. alone, and the impact on marriage and family life, education and healing programs for abortion loss must be a priority for the Church in her mission of mercy and evangelization.

– Kevin Burke, MSS  – Pastoral Associate of Priests for Life

[1]The Silent No More Awareness Campaign in January 2015 launched a yearlong event, the Shockwaves of Abortion. This initiative is designed to help the Churches and the general public to see the reality that the shockwaves of abortion extends far beyond the mother and her unborn child, who are indeed at the epicenterof the event. Each month looks at a different population group uniquely touched by abortion loss; fathers, grandparents, siblings, abortion providers, and minority populations targeted by the abortion industry with information and resources for awareness, education and healing. In September we focus on the family.

 

 

 

Repeat Confessions of Abortion Sin: An Important Issue for the Coming Jubilee Year of Mercy

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

 

confession woman at well

The comments by Pope Francis on abortion, the sacrament of reconciliation and the Jubilee year of Mercy have caused quite a stir.   Most Catholics were not aware of the automatic excommunication penalty associated with abortion. Those who have already confessed the sin of abortion wondered if their sacramental experience was valid.  At the close of this article, I will include a clear and reassuring response from Fr Frank Pavone that briefly addresses these concerns.

But I want to use this opportunity to broaden our discussion to include a very common and distressing phenomena associated with abortion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I hope this may be helpful for Clergy ministering to those with abortion loss in this coming Jubilee Year of Mercy.

The Common Experience of Repeat Confession after Abortion

Dr Theresa Burke of Rachel’s Vineyard has noted for years in her international post abortion outreach, that it is common for women (without the benefit of a healing program) to confess their sin of abortion multiple times. There is a difficulty embracing the grace and forgiveness of the sacrament. Women and men may still  struggle after confession with guilt, depression and anxiety.  They may still be troubled by an inability to forgive themselves and trust that God really forgives them.

What’s going on here?

Abortion is a complicated experience of grief and loss. Along with the abortion of the child, the natural expression of the feelings of grief and mourning and any public expression of the loss of their child are also, in a sense, aborted. The normal social support and religious rituals that help us negotiate the experience of grief and loss are not present after abortion.

Women and men usually want to get as far away from the memories and feelings about their abortion event as soon as possible. This is reinforced by friends and family who tell them it was for the best and you just need to move on. Maybe they do “move on” and try to pick up and carry on with their lives. But they remain spiritually and emotionally wounded. At the heart of this wound is the reality that somewhere in the recesses of their heart and soul (even though often aggressively repressed and denied), there is a deep hunger to acknowledge, love and care for this child.

In addition, the abortion experience is often one of great conflict. There can be some intense feelings of anger, betrayal, bitterness and hatred of self and others for being put in the position of making this desperate decision.

Returning to the sacrament of reconciliation and the phenomena of repeat confession, a few points to consider:

  1. Because of the complicated and intense feelings around the abortion event, there is a need for safe way to process those feelings in a supportive faith filled environment developed for those with abortion loss, such as a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat. Without this opportunity to empty the heart of this toxic pain, there is difficulty for the wounded person to embrace the forgiveness and grace of the sacrament.  Penitents remain forgiven and reconciled with the Church and the Lord after confession…but they may still struggle with other post abortion symptoms and accepting this forgiveness. The healing process allows mothers and fathers, as Dr Burke says, to empty the heart of their abortion pain and make room for the grace of the sacrament.
  2. Dr Burke also teaches that this repeat confession, without the experience of an abortion healing program, can be understood as a parent’s desperate attempt to remain connected to their unborn child. They are crying out for the need for a healing process where they can safely access their painful experience, and have a loving encounter with the child lost to abortion.

The Importance of the Healing Process

The Rachel’s Vineyard program features grief work in a group setting, with the loving support of the retreat team and other participants, and within that process an opportunity to receive the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.  The weekend program acts to cleanse the heart damaged by abortion. Now a mother or father is free to welcome their unborn child into their lives with love.  They can develop a spiritual relationship with their child, and embrace the sure hope of being with them in eternity, God willing.

There is now no further need to continue to confess their sin of abortion.

May this Jubilee Year of Mercy call many wounded souls to embrace the mercy and forgiveness of Christ and His Church and to consider attending an abortion recovery program.

From Fr Frank Pavone:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The recent news about the Pope giving extra authority to priests to absolve the sin of abortion is good news, but is also causing some confusion. I will be commenting more about this in the weeks ahead, but initially it is important to understand a couple of things.

Some Catholics have wondered whether they were properly absolved in the past. Yes, you were. There is no need at all to worry about the past. Sins that have been confessed and absolved are absolved, as is any penalty that may have been incurred.

Keep in mind that many bishops had already given to their priests the full authorization to absolve both the sin and the penalty. What is being said today by the Pope is that all the priests who had not been given that authorization will now be given it. But if they didn’t have it before, then they would have known that and would have told the penitent that they had to come back at a later time.

The bottom line is simple: do not worry. This is all about more mercy and peace, not less.

— Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Pastoral Director, Rachel’s Vineyard and Silent No More Awareness Campaign