Imagine: The Impact on Modern Music If Abortion Was Legal in 1940’s England

December 10th, 2015

Rock and Roll

By Kevin Burke, MSS

Let’s imagine that abortion was legal in March of 1945 in the United Kingdom. A 16yr old girl named Patricia takes the bus to her local Planned Parenthood center for a pregnancy test and discovers she is pregnant. Patricia explains to the counselor that she was impregnated from a torrid affair with Edward, a married soldier who will be ending his time of service in the next few months. Edward will be returning to his wife in Canada prior to the expected due date of the baby. Patricia is afraid, embarrassed, and does not want to parent this child.

If you are in favor of abortion rights, you would likely agree with the Planned Parenthood Counselor that the only rational and compassionate solution to this young woman’s pregnancy would be termination of the fetus.

You just aborted blues/rock guitar virtuoso Eric Clapton.

Let’s imagine another scenario: It’s Wartime Britain in 1940 and German bombs are reigning terror on the civilian population. A young woman named Julia is pregnant by Alfred, a merchant seaman who by nature of his profession will have little time to father his son and support his wife. The pregnant mother is a creative and free-spirited woman unprepared for the responsibilities of motherhood with a partner away at sea. Julia’s sister would very soon have to assume the parenting of any child she birthed as the county social services would consider Julia unfit to provide sufficient care and protection of children.

Now, if this mother were to enter a Planned Parenthood or other abortion provider today, what course of action would the counselor most likely advise? Based on the thousands of testimonies of women after abortion, she would have been strongly counseled to abort.

Julia’s son was born and soon raised by his aunt Mimi after Julia relinquished the child. As a teenager, her son would form a band that would launch a seismic revolution in culture and music in the 1960’s. This boy later wrote a very moving and beautiful song for his mother, Julia:

… Julia, ocean child, calls me
Julia, seashell eyes, windy smile, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia

Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering
In the sun
Julia, sleeping sand, silent cloud, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia

If abortion were a common, socially validated and readily available choice for women in 1940, the world would have never heard the innovative and beautiful music of John Lennon and the Beatles. John would have likely perished in his mother’s womb.

The Paradox of Abortion Support in the Creative Arts

Each child lost to abortion reflects the great diversity and endless possibilities of every life that comes into this world. Many of their stories would have featured the combination of triumph and tragedy, joy and sorrow that marks many of our lives; simple lives of love, life, routine and family.  Some, like John Lennon and Eric Clapton would impact an entire generation and change the course of culture and music.  Many of these men and women would have shared their own creative gifts as writers, artists, musicians, actors and poets.

As we learn more and more about the complex and dynamic creative process that begins with the conception of each person, we see that God is the consummate creative artists. What amazing diversity, wonder and beauty are reflected in all of nature from the farthest reaches of the cosmos to the genetic complexity of the fertilized zygote.

This creative power is also shared in a special way with those who are born with and develop those gifts we find in the creative arts. The musical artist has the capacity to take the normal experiences of desire and love and touch us deeply with the power of song and lyrics.

Consider Eric Clapton’s aching love song for the lovely Pattie Boyd, Bell Bottom Blues:

Bell bottom blues, you made me cry.
I don’t want to lose this feeling.
And if I could choose a place to die
It would be in your arms.

The music of the Beatles and Clapton, the thrill of a theatrical production, and the power of story in song, books and movies brings such richness and joy to life. It holds the power to deeply move and even change us and the world we live in.

Across the Universe

There have been nearly 60 million abortions in the U.S. alone since 1973. Consider for a moment how many amazing artists were lost.

Yet most women and men in entertainment, music, art, and theater embrace what they see as the progressive and compassionate position of supporting and promoting abortion rights.

It is time for the artistic community to rethink the promotion of abortion as a human right and social good.

This world and the entire universe are the great majestic canvas of our Creator. Let’s return the providence over life and death to the One who from nothing, unleashed the multitude of galaxies and stars, the diversity of life on this planet, and his crowning achievement, the human family. While God loves all of his creation, he shared his Divine life with human beings alone; offering us the great gift of sharing in His eternal nature.

This is what draws us to an artist like John Lennon. With all of his success and fame, faults and failings, Lennon had that very special God-given talent to touch our hearts and souls with his words and music:

Across the Universe
By John Lennon
Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me…

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe…

Sounds of laughter, shades of life are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on, across the universe



25 Years After Two Abortions Woman Finds Healing After Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat

December 2nd, 2015



By Jen ReedThe Catholic Witness

Twenty-five years of utter grief and guilt from two abortions before the age of 16 was more than Becky Biter could stand.

So relentless was her anguish that she planned to take her own life.

“I started searching for a tree to slam my truck into, because I couldn’t take it anymore,” she recalls.

The tears come fast as she recounts the lowest points of her life, with her husband, Shawn, sitting close at her side.

“Abortion changed my life forever. You cannot take death back. I cannot get my children back,” she cried, striking at the heart of the issue. “It brought me to my knees many, many times, and there just wasn’t relief. There was so much pain and weeping; terrible feelings that I couldn’t let go of.”

Becky endured a tough childhood. Her father was an alcoholic and a gambler who often left his family to fend for themselves, leaving her mother very bitter to the point where the atmosphere at home was even more unstable and full of anguish. By the time Becky turned 13, her life turned upside down when her family became homeless. Refuge was finally found in two local motel rooms because her parents separated once again; one parent living upstairs, the other downstairs, and Becky back and forth, being forced to decide on whom she loved more. No longer able to deal with her parents, she left one night and went to live with a childhood friend.

Searching to fill the void for love that she couldn’t find from her family, Becky entered a physical relationship with a boy when she entered high school.

When she became pregnant, the boy told her she had to have an abortion. He dropped her off at a clinic and drove away.

At the time, Becky didn’t know what abortion was, so when the lady at the clinic offered to pay for it with her own money, she accepted. She was 15 years old.

The abortion procedure proved unsuccessful, and Becky had to return to the clinic to endure it again. She was offered no counseling or follow-up. No one asked her about her situation. She was given birth control and sent home.

She continued her relationship with the same boyfriend, and became pregnant a second time, so she walked herself to the clinic once again, had another abortion, and went to her after-school job at the local hospital.

“I never gave it any thought,” she told The Catholic Witness. “To me, it was the obvious answer.”

Life went on. Becky continued with school and worked at the hospital in the evenings, first in the dietary department and then in the pathology department.

On the first day of Becky’s job in the pathology department, a courier showed up, delivering what are known as POCs (products of conception).

“My job was to sort through the fetal remains and pick out certain items necessary to confirm a successful abortion,” Becky recalled, the weight of the memory evident in her sobs. “I cried over those babies. I would hold their tiny hands between my thumb and index finger, and just caress them and weep. My eyes were opened to what I had done; my eyes were opened to the horrors of abortion.”

To escape her past, Becky entered the Air Force after high school. “I just needed to get away. I buried everything in order to even function, and I kept my abortions a secret for 25 years,” she said.

A Safe Place for Healing

Becky and Shawn met during the Gulf War, and they married on Sept. 14, 1991. Yet, even as a wife and mother in a caring and committed family, and a convert to the Church, Becky found herself in the grips of despair, desperate for a lifeline.

“I was begging God to forgive me, but I couldn’t even forgive myself,’ she said.

She found that long-desired mercy and healing during a Rachel’s Vineyard weekend.

The worldwide ministry offers healing for people who have suffered because of abortion – including mothers, fathers and family members of aborted children, as well as people who have been involved in the industry.

The program gives retreat participants an opportunity to examine their experience, identify its impact on their lives, and acknowledge unresolved emotions.

Rachel’s Vineyard retreats are Scripture-based, strictly confidential and non-judgmental.

“The best way I can describe a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is that it’s a safe place,” Becky said. “No one judges you. There is only love, and you get a true understanding of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.”

She admits that she initially fought the idea of attending a retreat when she first learned of the program, for fear of shame and opening up old wounds.

While working at the Priests’ Retirement Residence in Harrisburg, cooking breakfast and doing laundry for the priests there, she was talking with Father Clarence Olszewski about his plans for the weekend. He said he was preparing to minister at a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.

Becky hadn’t known about the program, so she looked it up online, but wasn’t convinced right away to attend. Soon, it surfaced again, this time when she found a Rachel’s Vineyard information card in the ladies’ room at a hospital.

“I realized it could be what I needed, but I didn’t call the number because I was ashamed and I didn’t want Father Olszewski to be there and see me,” she said.

She continued to suppress her emotions, and the Biters struggled in their marriage. Although Shawn was aware of Becky’s abortions, neither recognized that those experiences were the cause of the stress in their relationship.

“We were active in the Church. We taught CCD for 17 years. Becky was baptized into the Church at the time when her infant son was baptized. We sat up front in church, raised our children in the faith,” Shawn said. “We were doing everything right, so why would our lives be such a mess?”

Becky was jealous of Shawn’s friendships, mistrusted him, battled depression, and considered suicide.

“I was thinking, ‘I killed my children. My husband hates me. My kids don’t love me.’ Thoughts like that are poisonous,” Becky said.

A visit with her parish’s pro-life group to pray at the Hillcrest clinic in Harrisburg began to unravel all the bottled up emotions.

“Everything came back to me there outside of Hillcrest,” she said. “The wounds opened up, and I started crying right there.”

“Then at my lowest point, I dropped to my knees and begged Jesus to drown me in the sea of His mercy, and He embraced my soul and pulled me from the pit.”

She confided in a friend, who offered a sympathetic ear and suggested that Becky attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. Before long, she was on the phone with Joy Crimmins, the local Rachel’s Vineyard coordinator in the Diocese of Harrisburg.

On March 28, 2014, Becky and Shawn began their weekend retreat experience together.

“One thing that men need to know is that they need healing, too,” Shawn remarked. “I had no involvement in her abortions; I didn’t even know her then. But right before the retreat, Becky asked me to spiritually adopt those children. And now, because she is my wife and because I’ve adopted the children, I’m invested too. Rachel’s Vineyard is not just for women who have had an abortion. It’s for anyone affected by abortion – husbands, boyfriends, family members.”

“When you arrive for the weekend, everyone is nervous, scared; blank faces with looks of despair. But as you get further along on the weekend, you find that the people there are probably the only people you’ve trusted, even though they’re complete strangers. And then you become very close friends,” he said. “By the end of the weekend, you don’t want it to end; you don’t want to leave the safety of it. It’s a sanctuary of love and protection.”

The Biters, members of Our Lady of the Visitation Parish in Shippensburg, are now team members for Rachel’s Vineyard retreats, helping other women and men to work through their grief and guilt and find healing. They’ve also found genuine love and a renewed marriage.

“The Holy Spirit is at work at a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat,” Becky said.

“I had never felt true joy before in my life,” she remarked. “Yes, when my children were born, I was happy. But I never experienced true joy knowing that God loved me. I couldn’t fully laugh, didn’t want to experience happiness because I hated myself. I built a wall and didn’t want to share good times. But after the retreat, it’s amazing the burden that is lifted.”

Love Conquers Abortion

One in three women will be a victim of abortion by the age of 45 – a staggering statistic that crosses all cultural, economic and religious backgrounds.

You can’t tell who they are just by looking at them. But they’re in our lives – in our families, our workplaces and our churches.

This is why Becky willingly shares her story, and why she offers her time and efforts to bring awareness of Rachel’s Vineyard to women and men leaving the Hillcrest clinic in Harrisburg.

“I don’t want them to have an abortion, and, if they do, I don’t want them to have to carry the burden for 25 years like I did,” Becky said. “We want them to know that God loves them very much and that a healing retreat is available to them, even if they feel that they don’t need it.”

The “prayer warriors” and “alley counselors” at Hillcrest and at Planned Parenthood in York find sanctuary in the “Undefeated Courage” houses near the clinics. The pro-life contingencies who give prayerful witness there made efforts to lease the houses, where silent prayer, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Mass are routine. The houses also offer a safe haven for women and men seeking counsel or resources when they reconsider their decision to abort.

“Some people are receptive to our presence, some lash out at us, some completely ignore us,” Becky said. “We know we’re meeting them at a very difficult time in their lives. Women don’t just wake up one day and want to kill their children…what we know is that abortion is a symptom of other trauma, and when they show up at an abortion clinic, they’re already broken and suffering. We are ‘alley triage,’ and our goal is to connect them to the resources they need in order to choose life. Our intent is to win a woman’s heart and the baby will come along with her.  She is our focus; she is the one in crisis because she is the one who is rejecting the precious gift that God is trying to give her. Women need to know that their child has a destiny and a purpose just like she does. We empower her and lift her up: ‘You are beautiful, you are special, you are loved!’ Seeing the ultrasound image and hearing the heartbeat of her child is essential and heart-changing.

“I know that not everyone is going to be receptive to us, but I want to be a lifeline for those who need it,” Becky continued. “I know that if someone would have intervened or tried to help me when I entered the clinic, I would have broken down and accepted their help. But there was no one there for me.”

The Biters stressed the importance of being acutely aware of the words they use in counseling near clinics, serving at the retreats and talking about abortion.

“We all need to be aware that in speaking against abortion or talking about healing and forgiveness, we need to refrain from judgment, name-calling or harsh words,” Shawn said. “Look around. It’s likely that someone near you has experienced an abortion or knows someone who has – a mother, a daughter, a sister or a friend. Harmful words can do even more damage to them.”

“The prayer warriors at Undefeated Courage are the hands and feet of Christ who reach out in love to those who seek abortion. This is the only way we will change hearts and foster healing,” Becky said. “I’ve walked down that road, I’m still on the journey, and that’s why I want to help others.”

“I want to be for women today the person I wish was present for me when I entered the abortion clinic.

“For Mary Grace and Joseph Michael, my precious babies in heaven, I do this so that others may live. Love conquers abortion,” she said.

(For information on Rachel’s Vineyard, contact Joy Crimmins, director and facilitator for Central Pennsylvania and Maryland, at 717-788-4959 or All inquiries are confidential. You can also find additional information online at or

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness


The Vicarious Trauma of Pro-Life Advocates on the Front Lines

November 9th, 2015



Pro Choice Rage   Pro Life Prayer

by Kevin Burke, MSS

When we hear of vicarious trauma, we often think of first responders; the brave men and women who serve as firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and police officers.

There is a growing awareness of the importance of caring for these public servants after their exposure to traumatic events and loss.  This is especially important after repeated exposure to accidents, violence, injury, loss of life, and other tragedy. While a single traumatic event may trigger debilitating symptoms, the Trauma Center of the Justice Resource Institute indicates that the longer the exposure to such events, the higher likelihood they will suffer symptoms of post- traumatic stress.

We know that without education and supportive services first responders can struggle to reach out for help.  Women and especially men can experience a sense of shame when they feel overwhelmed by the pain and loss that are part of their vocations.  They may fear the judgment and condemnation of their colleagues if they share their vulnerability and struggles.   Thankfully, this is beginning to change.

There is another Population of First Responders

These women and men are frequently marginalized, cursed, and ridiculed as they try and protect the innocent and advocate for their lives.  They are ignored or maligned by the media, society and sadly sometimes even by their own faith communities; they are the pro-life advocates on the front lines.

Despite the ongoing contentious debate in our society about abortion, pro-life advocates are quite clear about the foundation of their pro life mission; the male or female baby in a mother’s womb is a unique person with an inherent right to life. There is no distinction for the pro-life advocate between a 12-week-old child dying behind the walls of an abortion business and a 3-year-old child dying in a house fire.  They would see both lives as worthy of a communities care and protection.

With this in mind, consider the experiences of pro-life advocates on the front lines.

  • Donna Gardner is a therapist and ministry coordinator with Catholic Charities, Office of Respect Life, Diocese of Palm Beach, FL. She offers training and counseling to their Pregnancy Care Center staff. Donna shared about the burden of the pregnancy care counselors that work with abortion minded clients:

   “I worked with one counselor who developed an ongoing relationship with a pregnant mother.  They were working together to develop the resources and support so she could parent the child.  The counselor naturally developed a close working relationship with this mother and child.  The mother abruptly stopped coming to appointments.  She later learned the mother aborted her 5 month old girl or boy.  She was emotionally devastated by this loss.”  [1]

  • June Matson has been the director of Pregnancy Resource Connection in Granby Colorado for the past 25 years.   Their center has an ultrasound machine. June shared that recently one of her client advisors was able to be present for the first time to witness an ultrasound with a couple coming to their center for support and resources for their baby. Seeing the child and hearing the heartbeat left the volunteer feeling blessed and elated to be part of such a wonderful ministry that provides life-affirming choices for parents.                                                                                                                  Shortly after that peak experience, this same client advisor was assisting another client who chose to abort. She was devastated. June shared that the power of that peak ministry experience in the ultrasound room led to a heightened sensitivity of the volunteer when confronted soon after with the tragic reality that not all choose life for their unborn children.                   
  • June shared another important observation that spoke to the power of the ultrasound experience for a Pregnancy Resource Center. When a client comes in for an ultrasound, all the volunteers present at that time are spiritually and emotionally connected to the clients in the procedure room. Even those women that are folding baby clothes and not in the front line ministry work with clients, are praying intensely for the mother and baby as they go about their tasks.  While they rejoice in their many opportunities to help these parents choose life, when a client later visits the Planned Parenthood next door for a referral to Denver for an abortion, it naturally impacts all those staff and volunteers who provide the Pregnancy Resource Connection services.
  • A Front Line Pro-Life Advocate praying in front of an abortion business approaches a woman with love.   She tries to engage her in a life affirming decision for her unborn baby. The mother goes into the abortion center and comes out with an empty womb. The pro-lifer who has encountered this mother and child is naturally intimately connected to and wounded by this abortion loss.   
  • Women and men pray before abortion centers in all kinds of weather interceding for the conversion of the employees, for the parents and their babies. At times they are cursed at, spit upon, mocked and abused by pro-abortion activists and sometimes an angry parent, grandparent or friend of the pregnant mother.

Institutional Spiritual Neglect

Pro life advocates may suffer from the Institutional Spiritual Neglect of their religious leaders and churches.   They stand for years on the front lines of the abortion battles, praying, counseling, educating, and legislating to try and save unborn lives and protect their parents from abortion complications.

Their spiritual leaders at times respond with a gaping yawn and fail to support and affirm their witness. They sit every Sunday in their church awaiting a word of encouragement and an acknowledgment of their efforts, and usually do not get it. They ask for the involvement of their parish or diocese in pro-life projects, and often receive a “no,” which is lacking any explanation or word of affirmation. Nor do their leaders recognize the deep grief these activists encounter in their pro-life advocacy. They rarely see a minister, priest or Bishop stand alongside of them to pray at the abortion center, advocate for the children and grieve with them. (Thankfully this is not always the case, as there are ministers, clergy and bishops who do stand with pro-lifers, but it is still a very small proportion.)

These spiritual children can feel ostracized, marginalized and unappreciated by their spiritual fathers.  [Keep in mind that those who experience both physical abuse and also emotional neglect say that (while in no way downplaying the pain and humiliation of physical abuse,) severe emotional neglect can be an even more damaging and excruciating type of pain.]

Disenfranchised Grief

Donna Gardner shares an experience that can help us better understand the disenfranchised grief of pro-life advocates[2]:

I recently spoke with an older group of pro-life veterans who spent years in pro life ministry and advocacy.  I asked them to close their eyes and bring to mind one particular situation; think of that one baby lost to abortion that especially touched you deeply.  They all began to tear up and express the grief that has been hidden in their hearts for many years.

As previously noted, the effects of trauma can be cumulative.  After repeated exposure to situations where a pro-life advocate is unable to save an unborn child, while continuing to face the hostility or indifference of the wider community, they can reach a tipping point.   The repressed grief and pain emerge in symptoms that can impact life and relationships.  Keep in mind a single event where one is unable to prevent a tragic death can also lead to some of these feelings and symptoms:

– Anxiety, depression,trouble sleeping, irritability and anger.

– Withdrawing and isolating from others.

– Some may experience a sense of confusion, distance and darkness in their spiritual life and relationship with God.

– Nightmares, flashbacks, or other intrusive thoughts or memories of the event.

– Using substances to avoid feelings, feeling numb, spacing out, or feeling as if things are unreal[3]

Hope and Healing – The Value of Abortion Recovery Programs for Pro-Life Advocates

The good news for pro-life advocates is that we already have in place some very effective programs to respond to this suffering.  Some pregnancy centers and pro- life groups already provide the support and counseling to care for their volunteers and employees.

But there is another very effective resource that can benefit pro-life advocates.  These programs were developed over a number of years to treat the symptoms of trauma and complicated mourning suffered by women and men after participating in the death of their unborn children.  Rachel’s Vineyard and other abortion recovery programs such as Forgiven and Set Free utilize special exercises and scripture mediations to create a safe and effective experience of emotional and spiritual healing.

Donna Gardner had the opportunity to offer training to all the Palm Beach Diocese Pregnancy Care Staff.  She shared the challenges of ministry to those facing unplanned pregnancy and abortion minded clients and provided education on trauma symptoms and recovery.  Donna also shared about her leadership in the Rachel’s Vineyard abortion healing weekends in the diocese.  As a result of this outreach, two pregnancy care counselors ask to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend.

Donna shared that the two pregnancy care staff members who attended their retreat had a very positive and blessed experience.  The other retreat participants, who personally suffered abortion loss, were welcoming of the pregnancy counselors.  One of the participants was an ultra sound technician.  She carried a deep burden of grief for those children who die in abortion procedures and their parents.  Donna shared that the ultra sound tech was renewed and restored by her Rachel’s Vineyard weekend.  The other participant is a counselor with Spanish speaking clients and also had a very positive healing experience on the retreat.

The Value of Grief Work – The Renewal and Empowerment of the Pro Life Vocation

For those pro-life advocates and the staff of Pregnancy Resource Centers who experience symptoms of vicarious trauma from their ministry, abortion recovery programs will bring significant support and relief for their suffering.

But there is a broader vision of the value of this type of grief work for the pro-life movement.  If we can create that that sacred time and sacred space to acknowledge abortion related grief and express that pain, the fruits of that journey can renew and empower the pro-life movement.

There is a healthy and beneficial vulnerability that naturally occurs in a safe and healthy grieving process such as found in Rachel’s Vineyard and other recovery programs.  These programs have the experienced staff and volunteers that create the atmosphere and activities, grounded in the Word of God, to facilitate the grieving process for abortion loss.  As you progress through the program and participate in the activities, the heart and soul open up wide.  God’s grace is able to flow freely and can begin to cleanse the heart of any anger, bitterness, despair, anxiety, and depression that grew from not having the opportunity to acknowledge and share that pain with others.

There is room now in the heart and soul for the Lord to touch you deeply with His love and mercy.  In that vulnerable grieving state, becoming spiritually like little children as Jesus taught, you intimately experience your heavenly Father’s tender love for you as his precious son or daughter.

An important bonus blessing for those pro-life advocates that make this journey of grief; they emerge with an even deeper love for the unborn, their parents and all touched by abortion loss.  It renews their pro-life vocation and empowers them with new vigor and commitment grounded in the love and mercy of God.  They discover a new spiritual energy and gifts for their vocations.

Thinking Out Loud – Next Steps

Post-abortion ministries, Pregnancy Resource Centers, and pro life groups may want to consider offering these healing opportunities with special retreats or groups just for pro-life advocates.

It can be difficult to get people to commit to an entire weekend or an ongoing group program; perhaps a day of spiritual retreat would be a good first step:

–                  Ask a counselor, minister or clergy person to lead a day of prayer and healing.

–                  (With permission of the authors,) adapt some helpful exercises and activities from post-abortion recovery programs.

–                  This will create an opportunity for pro-life advocates to share their grief and entrust these children that have touched their hearts to the Lord.

Another very effective option to consider:

Journaling:  Many find journaling a helpful first-step in processing some difficult memories and feelings:

–                  Take some quiet time in prayer, perhaps in an adoration or community chapel.  Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to light a particular situation or ministry event that is weighing on your heart and soul.

–                  Write down your memories and feelings about that event.  In your journal or in silent prayer, invite the Lord into that area of grief and loss.  Write out a prayer from your heart for that baby and the child’s parents and family.  This may involve a number of ministry situations.

–                  Consider sharing what you wrote with a trusted ministry friend or colleague.   Reading a journal entry out loud can have a surprisingly powerful effect.  If you have a good relationship with your priest or minister request a meeting to share your journal entry and ask them pray to with you.

If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance , self medicating with alcohol or other self destructive behaviors related to traumatic loss, ask your church or pro-life ministry director for a referral to a counselor.  It is important that the counselor respect and support your pro-life vocation.  A caring professional can help you  work through your pain and find healing.

Healing Makes Us Stronger

The suffering that first responders and pro-life advocates experience after traumatic loss is closely connected to the value and dignity of human life.  The painful emotions that accompany exposure to death and traumatic events, and the need to share and grieve these losses, reveal our common humanity.

On a deeper level it reveals the connection we all have as members of God’s family, and as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.

May the Lord bless, protect and heal all those who stand on the front lines to protect the unborn and bring reconciliation and healing to those damaged by the Shockwaves of Abortion.


[1] Thankfully she reached out to Donna for help and she was able to work through her losses and find emotional and spiritual healing.

[2] Disenfranchised grief is a term describing grief that is not acknowledged by society.

[3] Regan, Laura. When Helping Hurts: Trauma’s Effects on First Responders. Good Therapy.Org, February 12th 2015.







A Rising Tide of Grief: The Hidden Abortion Pain of Grandparents

November 4th, 2015


Rising Tide of Grief

Donna Gardner is the Respect Life ministry coordinator for the Diocese of Palm Beach.  Donna and fellow Rachel’s Vineyard leaders from around the world participated in an internet based seminar from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign on the Shockwaves of Abortion. The Shockwaves of Abortion is a year-long initiative with focus each month on the varied population groups impacted by the Shockwaves of Abortion; mothers and fathers, grandparents, siblings, family and friends, as well as the abortion clinic workers and abortionists themselves.

After the seminar Donna shared the information with her Diocese speaker’s bureau so they could help spread this broader vision of the impact of abortion and the healing resources available in their diocese. In 2015 Donna was invited by a parish pastor to share a message about abortion healing at all the masses offered that weekend. This particular parish has a large population of retired women and men. Given the parish demographics, Donna was inspired to draw from the Shockwaves Initiative focus in the month of March; the experience of abortion loss among grandparents.

As she began to share her message with the parishioners, Donna became aware that many in the congregation where deeply moved by the acknowledgement of their grief as grandparents; she could see their eyes filling with tears as they openly expressed their pain.  She wondered if this was a coincidence that so many in the congregation were moved by her message. In the next 3 masses Donna discovered the same widespread level of grief openly expressed by the large numbers of grandparents sitting in the church pews.

I shared my surprise with her that the parishioners felt comfortable openly sharing their grief. Donna responded:

“The pastor here has worked very hard for years to establish an engaging and positive pro life culture in his parish that includes the healing message of the Church for those wounded by abortion. This is a safe place for the parishioners to acknowledge this loss openly.”

After the services many parishioners stopped to thank Donna for acknowledging their grief and loss. One grandmother shared with deep sadness that she lost her only opportunity to have a grandchild when her daughter aborted and later chose to be surgically sterilized.

As Donna reflected on the numbers impacted in this parish, she spoke to the pastor about having a special Rachel’s Vineyard program, offered in a support group format, just for grandparents of children lost to abortion at his parish. The priest recommended also speaking to the 5 neighboring parishes, with similar demographics about the Shockwaves of Abortion and their impact on grandparents so they could also participate in the program.  In February 2016 Donna and her team began this special  Rachel’s Vineyard group for grandparents.  (Once the program is complete I will interview Donna for part II of this article so she can share her experiences and insights from the group. )

The Shockwaves of Abortion are indeed destructive and far-reaching. But as this loss is brought before the healing power of Christ and his Church in programs like Rachel’s Vineyard, we witness the mighty power of the Holy Spirit bearing the fruit of reconciliation and peace to individuals and families touched by abortion loss. Let’s pray for Donna and her ministry and for the Holy Spirit to continue to bless their inaugural Rachel’s Vineyard group for Grandparents.








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

September 21st, 2015



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:


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 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.


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.


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.


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 –

The Impact of Abortion on Military Personnel and Their Families

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]



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

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

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




Uncomfortably Numb: Employees Traumatized by Working in Abortion Centers

August 12th, 2015


Uncomfortably Numb

Viewing the latest video of the unfolding Planned Parenthood scandal, I reflected on our Shockwaves theme for this month; the healing of abortionists and abortion center employees and volunteers.

In this video Holly O’Donnell, an employee at StemExpress, shares how they would be advised to take the tissue, body parts and blood of aborted children obtained without the mother’s consent. Our first reaction is rightly horror at this desecration of unborn human life, and the illegal and barbaric practices of Planned Parenthood. But let’s also consider how exposure to this type of inhumanity affects employees like Holly O’Donnell.

I spent April 18th 2013 inside a Philadelphia Courtroom at the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell employee Kareena Cross shared how countless women with advanced pregnancies were given a drug to open the cervix so the unborn child would “precipitate”, (a medical term they used to describe the baby descending into the birth canal to its brutal death.)

Cross shared seeing one such baby “precipitated” right into a toilet bowl by her mother, alive and squirming in the waters of the bowl.  In this incident the baby was taken out of the toilet with the mother present as the “medical assistant” punctured the baby’s neck with scissors to “snip” the spinal cord.

Everyone involved in this and other hellish procedures at this center, (live births and abortions with breathing moving babies were not uncommon here) experienced direct and intense psychological trauma…including the medical staff.   The employees may be numb by repeated exposure to these barbaric practices.   (You could see this post traumatic flat affect of Cross on the witness stand.)   Gosnell’s employees were being repeatedly traumatized by their witnessing and participating in the “procedures” at that clinic.  Without a healing program, these employees will experience the common post traumatic symptoms such as drug abuse, sexual and relational dysfunction, nightmares and insomnia, depression, anxiety…these are natural symptoms in response to being repeatedly exposed to such atrocities.

None of this relieves these employees of the moral and legal responsibility for their actions.  But it is important to see that Gosnell used his considerable authority as medical expert and boss as he led his employees to engage in barbaric and traumatic actions. This not only destroyed babies, and injured their mothers but deeply wounded his employee’s own souls and psyches. Many of these women were African Americans from that same west Philadelphia neighborhood. It is likely that many of these employees also had abortion, sexual abuse and other trauma in their backgrounds making them vulnerable to engage in such horrific acts under Gosnell’s spell, and more likely to experience more intense symptoms.

I hope that the employees of this abortion center, and the jurors lawyers and other court personnel receive the counseling and support they need to process this traumatic material, and find healthy strategies to deal with any symptoms.  Some of them no doubt have experienced their own abortions.  In this case they would be experiencing traumatic triggering on a regular basis and have to process not only the traumatic material of the trial, but their own emotions and memories of a personal abortion.

How do the mothers exposed to this horror process the memories and feelings of participating with Gosnell in the desecration and destruction of their unborn?  Without expert assistance, it is impossible.  Surely more death and destruction, abuse and more abortions will follow in their tragic lives.  The poor and minorities targeted by the abortion industry are by far the most vulnerable.  (Keep in mind almost half of abortions are repeat procedures, a symptom of unresolved trauma.)

During the trial at breaks, sometimes right after a particularly gruesome picture or story was shared there would be some good natured joking and laughter…it was striking to me as a visitor.  (I have not been subjected to this traumatic material on a daily basis as they have.)  This is not because the court personnel and jurors were insensitive to the death and horror.  They were merely trying to escape for a moment from the darkness they were immersed in on a daily basis.  The judge, though very much in charge of his courtroom and the proceedings, seemed weary and eager for the proceedings to move to conclusion.

Kareena Cross testified that in one later term abortion of a living, breathing baby Gosnell joked “this one’s big enough to walk to the store.”   Of all the gruesome details of the day that I heard, it is that casual and joking accommodation to the barbarity practiced by Gosnell that is most chilling.

The fruit of legal abortion is Gosnell. He is the natural progression of our accommodation as a society to the desecration of unborn human life that is abortion at any stage of a child’s development.


A Light Shining in the Darkness: A Couple Finds Healing Twenty Seven Years after Their Abortion

July 21st, 2015


Light Shining in Darkness

I was 16, and he was my first boyfriend. It was so easy to get caught up in the kissing and the touching and then quickly came the sex. He seemed to be so careful, using a condom every time.  It was New Year’s Eve, and we were drinking at a friend’s house. We slipped away to a bedroom, and I noticed he didn’t put a condom on. I asked him about it. He assured me that everything will be okay. But…it wasn’t.  Later, I was pregnant.We went to different schools. He went to a small town school, and I went to a big powerhouse school. My goals were already set for college out of my hometown. He was planning on going to a community college nearby.  I was not letting anything stop me from going to college. I thought I was too smart to be pregnant at 16. It was embarrassing. I had to have an abortion. I thought it was my only option.

I told my boyfriend. He was not sure what to do. He was scared. He knew his parents would be so disappointed. Probably make him marry me. I certainly didn’t want to get married. No way! I loved him, but I didn’t want to end up in Small Town, USA. I wanted to leave Texas, I wanted to travel. So, I knew I had to end this pregnancy, even though this was against my religion. I was not letting anybody change my mind.

I did end up telling my oldest sister about my pregnancy. I wanted her to know what I was doing in case something went wrong; and I needed money. She told me she would not give me money, and I should tell my mom. I made her promise me not to tell my mom.  Well, she broke that promise and told my mom. My mom didn’t yell or get mad. She was just very sad.  Later, many, many years later, I find out she had an abortion, and she also was there for my older sister’s abortion. My mom did try to talk me out of it, but she knew I was not changing my mind.

As for the money…we needed $200 for the abortion. My boyfriend and I asked every friend we had for money. We asked for $5 or $10 until we got the money we needed. Little did they know to what they were contributing to…the death of our unborn child.  Better they didn’t know.

The day we went to the clinic is a bit of a blur. I remember bits and pieces of it very clearly and other parts are fuzzy. The first part I remember is the big orange chairs in the waiting room. My boyfriend and I sat next to each other and my mom sat across from me. We sat in silence. My boyfriend was on the verge of tears the whole time. It was early in the morning. We were the only ones in the room it seemed. I’m not really sure if we were. They called my name. I paid the $200 at the window and a nurse took me to another waiting room.

This time it was a small room with chairs all around the walls. Almost every chair was occupied. I found a seat and looked around and everyone seemed to be as sad as me. It seemed like I was waiting for so long.  I finally went into the procedure room. I undressed and put on a gown. I sat on the table until a nurse and doctor walked in. The doctor was talking to me, but he sounded like he was babbling. I couldn’t understand him. I felt numb. The nurse told me to lie down on the table.

She put my legs in the stirrups. The doctor was still talking. He turned on this big machine in the corner. He held up this white tube, and I felt it go inside me. It felt like suction. I turned my head to the right toward the huge machine. I felt like everything started to move in slow motion. I turned and saw two large glass jars attached to the side of this machine. I saw blood pouring into them. I saw the blood flowing through the clear tubes running from me to the jars. Then…the image I have burned into the deepest part of my soul…I saw white pieces of my baby’s body running through the tubes from my body into the jars. I turned my head back toward the ceiling. And that was when I began to have tears rolling out of my eyes. Tears for my baby. I knew right then and there that God would never forgive me. He would never love me again. I was a murderer. I had just killed my baby. I guess the nurse noticed. She grabbed my hand and said, “Everything will be okay.”  She was so terribly wrong.

The aftermath of my abortion rocked me to the core. After I left the clinic, I just put the whole experience away and didn’t think about it. My life went on, but it was never the same. I was hurting inside, and I didn’t know why. I did not show anyone that I was hurting inside.

I did not go away to college. I stayed in my hometown with my boyfriend and went to a local community college.   I still had desire to travel, so I joined the Air Force. My boyfriend and I stayed together for four more years, and got married.  We have four kids. I had put the memory of that horrific day so far away in my memory; I did not realize that was the reason for my sadness, depression, and anxiety. I did eventually show my husband the pain I was suffering. But we couldn’t figure out why I was so depressed. At that time, I was an officer in the Air Force. I always had to have a “game face” at work and when I would get home I would just collapse in exhaustion and depression.

It finally became too much to handle. I was admitted into the mental health ward of a hospital for a week. It was during this time, a sweet Chaplin told me about Project Rachel. I went through the healing program. Me and some other ladies who have also had abortions met for weeks going through activities that helped us progress through the healing process. I named my baby, received grace and forgiveness form God, but what I needed most…the beginning of forgiving myself. It was this program that led me to healing and helped me find God again.

Though I was able to find personal healing, my marriage was still suffering from the after effects of our abortion. My husband has never been able to speak of our baby, whose name is Matthew. I held on to this anger because my husband did not acknowledge our baby. I felt angry because he did not seem to suffer the way I did over the death of our first child.

I heard about Rachel’s Vineyard when I attended Project Rachel. Since then, 11 years ago, I have wanted to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat. I finally found one, and I planned on going alone. I told my husband I was planning on going, and to my surprise just out of the blue, he said “I’ll go with you.” Needless to say, I was shocked, and I jumped on the opportunity. I knew it was the Holy Spirit working on us. So, I signed us up, and made sure he did not back out.

My husband and I signed up to go on a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat in June 2015. It was a three hour drive for us to the retreat location. As we got closer to the site, my husband was getting very anxious about what was going to happen at the retreat. He wanted to know exactly what he was getting into. He said he was just going to support me. My prayer to God was that He would show Matthew to my husband.

The retreat was wonderful! It was more than I expected and especially valuable for my husband. On the very first night, our son spoke to my husband at 3 in the morning.My husband said the light around the door all of a sudden started to glow and get brighter and brighter as if it were daylight outside.   Then he heard a little boy’s voice say “Its okay daddy” and he knew it was our son. He began to cry uncontrollably for hours. He knew our son forgave him for not acknowledging him for 27 years. My husband now is going through his healing and fully acknowledges our son, Matthew.

I cannot say how grateful we are to Rachel’s Vineyard and the whole team who put it together. It was a top notch event. My husband and I look forward to helping other men and women in our home town who suffer from post abortion trauma and are discerning helping the Rachel’s Vineyard here. We are moving slowly as my husband naturally needs time to continue his healing and allow that grace to settle into his life.    But we are praying and are open to God’s will for our lives.