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August 2002 - Volume 1, Issue 6


The Monthly E-Newsletter of Rachel's Vineyard
Rachel's Vineyard is a division of the American Life League.

Publisher: Rachel's Vineyard Ministries
Editor: Leslie Graves
Information or comments: or

"And then all her former fear falls away,
and she knows clearly that she is free,
and sings with joy to see herself
in such serene and tranquil peace."

John of the Cross
"The Dark Night of the Soul"


  1. How abortion trauma can change a relationship
  2. Dear Peter, from your new father.
  3. News briefs:
  4. ACTION ALERT from the Elliot Institute - New study reveals psychological problems following abortion
  5. Marketing your post-abortion ministry; new booklet

Please feel free to spread the word and pass along this newsletter to friends and colleagues. If you are receiving this newsletter because a friend forwarded it to you, details on subscribing (or unsubscribing) appear at the end.


Abortion often hurts our relationships. Theresa Burke writes about this in "Paradise Lost: Abortion and Ruined Relationships", a chapter in the book "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion" (Acorn Books, June 2002).

We include here some excerpts, which may help you to identify damaging relational patterns that may be hurting you or a loved one.

The chapter starts out with the story of Tasha and Steve, two young musicians. Tasha becomes pregnant prior to their timetable for starting a family. He persuades her to have an abortion.

"Steve's gentle nudging proved more effective than his steely silence and angry demands. Soon, Tasha began to surrender her hold on her excitement about the baby in favor of Steve's justification. When Tasha finally, reluctantly, agreed to have an abortion, Steve put his sheltering arms around her...

Eight years later, Tasha sat in my office. After the abortion, she said, her relationship with Steve was never the same. Their nights were no longer worn comfortably, fitting their bodies like a second skin. Sex had no sensation; it just reflected the numbness of her heart....

...Tasha and Steve tried to part ways after a stormy and somewhat abusive split. But they kept coming back together in an attempt to mend the fractured picture of their lives together.

In trauma theory, it is well recognized that traumatic experiences affect not only the traumatized person, but also the attachments and relationships of that person to loved ones and the community. According to psychiatrist Judith Herman:

'Traumatic events call into question basic human relationships. They breach the attachments of family, friendship, love and community. They shatter the construction of the self that is formed and sustained in relation to others. They undermine the belief systems that give meaning to human experience...and cast the victim into a state of existential crisis.'

Traumas related to sexual molestations and abortion are particularly damaging to one's ability to trust and engage in relationships. In the case of abortion, some form of relationship, whether casual or committed, was directly involved in the circumstances that led up to the abortion. It is not uncommon, therefore, for relationship issues to become mixed up with unresolved abortion trauma...

...As Nicky learned, in some cases abortion can cement a woman to even the most dysfunctional and unsatisfying of relationships. In many cases, women seek to hold onto the memory of their lost pregnancy by maintaining a relationship with their aborted child's father. He is the substitute for their child....

...David and Penny had stayed together as a means to figuratively 'keep their baby alive'. They were trapped by a form of complicated mourning. They had sacrificed their child so that their relationship could survive without resentment. Since the price they paid for maintaining the relationship was the termination of their pregnancy, their unhappy relationship had to be endured as a memorial to their lost child. In that memorial lay the pain of loss and isolation, re-experienced each day by Penny. Unable to work through her grief and loss, she clung ferociously to their relationship. The thought of giving up David, despite the fact that she knew he would never meet her emotional or intellectual needs, was akin to giving up her baby.

Their relationship served to buy them time. It allowed them to put off their genuine aching grief over the death of their baby until it was more bearable. Their countless relational conflicts became a means of focusing the pain of their losses into something more tolerable. Once Penny became aware of these dynamics, her real grief over the abortion flowed out effortlessly. After that, it was easy for her to say goodbye to David and move on to a future that promised more personal and relational fulfillment."

For further information about "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of

Abortion" please click here: or go

to at buying info: Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion.

"Life breaks all of us at times, but some grow strong at the broken places"

Ernest Hemingway


Nancy Blom ( wrote this to the prayer supporters of the August 9-11, 2002 retreat just concluded in St. Paul, Minnesota:

"I would like to share the story of two of our retreatants, a young couple in their early twenties. They had been through much in their lives. The wife had experienced a traumatic rape that resulted in pregnancy. She aborted the child and became promiscuous. She became pregnant again but miscarried. Eventually she met her husband. They married this past April and he spiritually adopted her two children and comforted her through her grief and trauma. When they learned of this retreat he immediately saw it as an opportunity for her healing and signed up to attend with her. About a month before the retreat, they suffered the loss of their own honeymoon child through miscarriage. Their tenderness and love in the midst of their grief was a powerful and beautiful witness to the rest of us on the retreat."

Here is a letter written by another adoptive father, whose wife had an abortion several years before they met. It was shared recently at another memorial service.

"My Dear Peter,

It's a beautiful day, and as I am writing I see my shadow on the page. You could never cast a shadow, or play with your brother and sisters. But your soul remains free of the sins of time on earth.

I am happy today to adopt you spiritually as a son, and to apologize for not having done so long ago.

You have a wonderful mother, my wife, whose love for you and the others has no limits in space or time.

Your Dad"

"Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders You have done, and Your thoughts toward us no one can recount to You; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."

Psalm 40:5


Rachel's Vineyard was favorably featured on August 6 in a broadcast news story on News 9, the Oklahoma CBS affiliate. Susan Lepak, retreat coordinator, was interviewed, as were two women who had attended past retreats. If you have RealPlayer, you can watch the video clip by going to this page: Welcome to and clicking through on the headline about healing after abortion.

The Monument of Hope. The exceptionally gifted sculptress Beverly Paddleford has created a sculpture to bring hope to those who have lost children through abortion. "Hope" is a full-size statue featuring Jesus holding a baby as he comforts the mother. You may view this sculpture at, and also learn about the different locations where it has been installed.

Post-abortion training for Seminarian Life Link Conference August 16-21. Theresa and Kevin Burke spoke on post-abortion trauma and healing at the 1st annual Seminarian Life Link Conference in Pittsburgh on August 16-21. For information about this event, please click here: National Seminarians Retreat and Conference August 16-21

Patron Saint Productions. Leslie Graves was interviewed for an article, "Rachel's Vineyard Blooms", in the August 2002 monthly newsletter of Patron Saint Productions, a publishing consultancy specializing in online marketing strategy, campaigns and training. The website is located at PSP was founded by Steve O'Keefe. O'Keefe is an instructor at Tulane University, author of the recently released "Complete Guide to Internet Publicity" ( buying info: Complete Guide to Internet Publicity) and a 20-year book publishing veteran.

"The hour has come for me to wake up from sleep, for my salvation is nearer now than when I first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here."

Romans 13:11-12

ACTION ALERT from The Elliot Institute:

Please help spread the news about new PROOF that abortion is associated with far more subsequent PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS than childbirth! (See below a model news release about a new study published in a major peer reviewed medical journal.)

Don't let this news about this important study be buried by pro-abortion news directors.

ACTION STEP 1: Call your local pro-life groups. Make sure they have this notice and will act on it ASAP. Don't rely on someone else. YOU need to make the call today.

ACTION STEP 2: All pro-life groups, especially pregnancy centers and post-abortion ministries, should immediately modify the news release below-inserting comments from their spokeswoman-and send it to ALL your local newspapers and radio and television news desks.

ACTION STEP 3: Both individuals (you) and organizations should start a letters to the editor campaign to either comment this story in the news or to ask why the paper has not covered this important story.

ACTION STEP 4: More important studies from the Elliot Institute will be published soon. We will need your help to publicize those also. Please sign up for our email list at

NOTE: The Elliot Institute is sending news release on this story out to the major news outlets, but we expect, as usual, the major media will generally bury it. YOU are vital to the effort to get the news out through the GRASSROOTS and through smaller local media outlets.

Even if the major media does cover it, you should still do all of the above.

YOU are the key to putting a local spin on this national news.

YOU are also vital to the effort to keep this issue in the news AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. This is where letters to the editor are especially important.

During the next six months, as several similar studies are published, YOU are a vital part of our public relations campaign. YOU can and will make a difference in rapidly raising the public awareness of abortion's dangers.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

For Immediate Release

Women Need More Mental Health Treatment After Abortion, New Study Finds Local Group Offers Help to Women

Springfield, IL-Six months after her abortion, Jane had a mental breakdown. When she later delivered a healthy son, unresolved grief over her abortion contributed to severe post-partum psychosis. "I remember wanting to throw him out the window of the hospital room," she later told her therapist.

A study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry reveals that both the early and delayed psychiatric episodes experienced by Jane are significant risks associated with abortion. By examining Medi-Cal records for 173,000 low-income California women, the research team compared the rate of psychiatric outpatient treatments for women who had abortions versus those who carried to term. To control for differences in prior psychological health, they excluded all women who had any psychiatric care for a year prior to their pregnancy outcome.

Women were 63 percent more likely to receive mental health care within 90 days of an abortion compared to delivery. In addition, significantly higher rates of subsequent mental health treatment persisted over the entire four years of data examined. Abortion was most strongly associated with subsequent treatments for neurotic depression, bipolar disorder, adjustment reactions, and schizophrenic disorders.

Dr. Priscilla Coleman, the study's lead author, said that the study design was an improvement over previous studies because it relied on medical records rather than on surveys of women contacted at an abortion clinic.

"Most studies of mental health status after an abortion rely on small groups of women-usually less than 300-and face high drop out rates of 50 percent or more," said Coleman, a professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. "By looking at medical claims for a large group of women, we were able to capture a more accurate picture of the differences between abortion and childbirth."

Another of the study's authors, Dr. David Reardon, said, "Our results are likely to underestimate the true difference in psychological treatments because the information on obstetric histories was incomplete. Since many of the women classified as 'childbirth only' actually had prior abortions which we did not know about, this would most likely dilute our findings."

Reardon is the co-author with Dr. Theresa Burke of a new book, "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion," in which Jane's experience, summarized above, is included as part of a comprehensive review of post-abortion reactions. (See "Forbidden Grief" was recently highlighted as the book of the week selection by radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Reardon believes the results these recent studies underscore a key message of "Forbidden Grief."

"We need to expand outreach and referrals into post-abortion counseling programs," he said. "There are many women who have great difficulty coping with the emotional stress following an abortion. Without help, and especially the understanding of loved ones, they will be more vulnerable to self-destructive behavior and other psychological disorders."

INSERT LOCAL COMMENTS HERE Following are examples

NAME, director of NAME OF ORGANIZATION, which provides counseling and support for women facing unexpected pregnancies or struggling with past abortions, says her organization frequently sees women struggling with suicidal tendencies, substance abuse, abusive relationships and other self-destructive behavior arising from a past abortion.

Many women come to NAME OF ORGANIZATION after years of therapy, she says, because many counselors who don't understand how to recognize and treat post-abortion problems.

"Some therapists even refuse to admit that abortion can cause emotional problems because of their strong political beliefs in support of abortion," NAME said.

Public interest in the health effects of abortion was last raised in 1989 Surgeon General Koop reviewed the research on abortion at the request of President Reagan. Koop concluded that all the studies done up to that point was so methodologically flawed that no firm conclusions could be drawn about abortion's risks or benefits.

In a letter to the outgoing president, Koop recommended that a major federally funded longitudinal study of abortions health risks was the only way to secure definitive answers. His proposal for a major study died in the Democratically controlled congress, however, when abortion advocates argued that the appeal for such research was politically motivated and a waste of tax payer dollars.

NAME hopes the results of this recent study will rekindle the effort to make the investigation of abortion's health effects a priority of the government's National Institutes of Health.

"If the government had acted on Koop's recommendation, we would have had definitive answers by now," NAME said. "Women deserve to know the true risks associated with abortion."



Elliot Institute: (217) 525-8202


STUDY CITATION: Deaths associated with pregnancy outcome: a record linkage study of low income women. Reardon DC, Ney PG, Scheuren FJ,, Cougle JR, Coleman, PK, Strahan T. Southern Medical Journal. August 2002.

Learn more about post-abortion issues, visit the Elliot Institute website:

You might also consider subscribing to the e-newsletter of the Elliot Institute


Project Grace is a non-profit ministry that creates tools for abortion recovery ministries, hosts abortion recovery groups and raises awareness of abortion trauma and recovery through speaking/singing presentations. Chris Jackson, who lives in Michigan and who worked in radio advertising for eight years prior to founding Project Grace, has written a booklet: "Marketing Your Ministry- Advertising to reach the Post-abortive Client".

This forty-page workbook explores advertising options for abortion recovery ministries, paid and free. "Marketing Your Ministry" focuses primarily on the effective use of paid advertising, and gives suggestions for how best to spend advertising dollars for five different levels of annual advertising budget: 0-$200, $3600, $15,000, $25,000, and $63,000.

The ideas in "Marketing Your Ministry" readily apply to crisis pregnancy centers that are starting post-abortion ministries or want to expand their existing ministries.

"Marketing Your Ministry" costs $25.00 and is available online at the Project Grace e-store at Shipping is free and if you order by September 30, 2002 there is a $5.00 discount.

Questions or comments about Vine & Branches: The Rachel's Vineyard Newsletter may be directed to the Editor, Leslie Graves, at

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