When Janet Morana speaks about abortion, she speaks quickly, emphatically, and most of all, compassionately of all its victims. Because, as she points out, there are many more victims than the lost children.
The executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign spoke in Marquette Oct. 7 to supporters of the Care Clinic. The Care Clinic helps pregnant women with a variety of services that continue through their children’s early years. It also offers post-abortion counseling and services for men, including those who have lost a child through abortion. Earlier in the day she spoke with The U.P. Catholic.
“We understand what happens to the baby,” Morana said, adding that she’s also seen how it affects both the women and men involved. According to her, many women did not truly have a free choice in the matter.
“Ninety-nine percent of these women having abortions think they have no choice,” Morana said. “Women say, ‘I was told I was going to get kicked out of my house by my parents, lose my scholarship or lose my job.’ Some guys (the father of their child) tell them, ‘If you don’t have an abortion, I’m out of here,’” Morana said. After the abortion they often leave the woman anyway.
Another issue, Morana noted, is psychological problems caused by abortions in both women and men. She said it’s not uncommon following an abortion for women to have problems that can lead to eating disorders, “emotional baggage,” and even suicide.
There are “two sides to the coin” concerning abortion and men, according to Morana. While some men have to deal with the effects of coercing or encouraging an abortion, others are in the position of knowing their child was aborted against their will.
“The grief is the same,” Morana said. However, men tend to “stuff it way down.”
For many men, the grief comes over them in a “tidal wave” when their wife is having their first child, Morana said. At that point many realize they already have a child that was aborted, which brings the grief up unexpectedly.
Morana has been intensely involved in the pro-life movement for 20 years. Father Frank Pavone, who later became the national director of Priests for Life, was a newly-ordained priest at her family’s parish. He invited her to join him in sidewalk counseling at an abortion clinic.
Seeing the young women – some of them with their pregnancies advanced enough to show – enter and leave the clinic was an eye-opening experience for Morana.
At that time, Morana was what she calls a new “revert.” Raised a Catholic, Morana left the Church as a youth during the Vatican II changes and “just went with the times,” she said. She attributes the prayers and prompting of her mother-in-law in getting her to become more than an “A and P” (ashes and palms) Catholic. Although still a reluctant churchgoer at the time, she said she met Father Pavone, and over the course of several months’ study, he helped her work through her issues with the Church and become a “revert.”
The years away from the Church now motivate Morana to make the most of her time going forward. “When you’ve had a ‘reversion’ you look at all the years you lost and you want to give back.”
In her two decades of pro-life work, Morana said she sees some encouraging changes in society’s attitude toward the movement and to taking a personal stand for life.
“There are more people who are willing to listen about abortion,” she said. “The mission field is ripe.”
She co-founded the Silent No More Awareness Campaign with Georgette Forney, president of Anglicans for Life, to give a voice to those who have been suffering post-abortion emotional and physical pain. The organization encourages not only personal testimonies, but also offers programs to help heal the wounds of abortion.
Clergy need to preach against abortion, Morana said, adding that, “Silence does not interpret itself.” But, just as importantly, she says priests need to let their congregations know that healing is available, both spiritually through the Church and physically and emotionally through available programs.
“By the age of 45, 40 percent of women have had an abortion,” she said. “In the Church, one in three women have had an abortion. We’re not condemning the people who have had an abortion, we’re welcoming them back,” Morana said.