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October 2002 - Volume 1, Issue 8


The Monthly e-Newsletter of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries
Rachel's Vineyard Ministries holds weekend retreats for emotional and spiritual healing after abortion.
It is a division of American Life League

Publisher: Rachel's Vineyard Ministries
Editor: Leslie Graves
Associate Editor: Catherine McHugh
Comments and questions:,


  1. I Sing in the Choir
  2. "Loaves and Fishes" for retreat team formation
  3. Article about Rachel's Vineyard in "The Indianapolis Star Tribune"
  4. Rachel's Vineyard webpage updated
  5. Controversy surrounds Tim McGraw's "Red Ragtop"
  6. Your letters do matter: feedback from Donahue
  7. Theresa Burke scheduled in online chat
  8. Article about post-abortion trauma in Maine paper
  9. Dates, locations of upcoming retreats


Martha Shuping, MD, is a psychiatrist in private practice in North Carolina. She has been facilitating the Rachel's Vineyard retreat weekends there since 1998. Dr. Shuping is also the creator of the Rachel Network Evening of Prayer for Post-Abortion Healing and conducts clinical trainings in post-abortion trauma and healing around the country, often in conjunction with helping a local team host their first Rachel's Vineyard weekend.

Dr. Shuping is collecting stories from men and women who before or after their abortion decision were actively involved in church. Her goal is to create a booklet, tentatively called "I Sing in the Choir", to share with clergy or churchmembers who are unaware that it is highly likely that people in their congregation are suffering the emotional and spiritual aftermath of abortion. Stories will be anonymous and will only be published with the permission of the person involved. Drachel Network Evening of Prayer for Post-Abortion Healing, I was speaking in a church about post-abortion issues. The parish had let me talk to the moms while the kids were in CCD classes, and it was packed. Afterward, one mom came up and said she needed to talk to me privately, that she had had an abortion.

Turns out, she was a member of a neighboring parish and just come over to this parish for my talk. She was a mom of half a dozen kids, and active in everything at her parish... a pro-life leader, committee member... she was a very active parish leader. But she had had an abortion at age 17 after having been raped at a poorly supervised teenage party. And, her CCD teacher had recommended the abortion. Said God would understand. So she had the abortion on the advice of her CCD teacher, without telling her mom.

At the point at which she talked to me, she had all the signs of clinical depression. She was crying, couldn't get up in the morning, very depressed, having difficulty functioning, no energy. She was very preoccupied with thoughts aboutthe baby she had lost, and consumed by guilt. She had been to confession... gazillions of times... to priest after priest... but she didn't "feel" forgiven.. and she felt like she couldn't keep going on... just exhausted from trying to stuff this inside.

Post-abortive women are not off living on some other planet, they are right here with us at Mass every week. Or every day.

The good news, of course, is that programs like the Rachel's Vineyard retreat, and the Rachel Network Evening of Prayer for Post-Abortion Healing, are making a difference. Women and men affected by abortion are being healed. But beforehealing can take place, the Church needs to recognize this hidden grief and help to provide the opportunities for healing. We hope this collection of stories will help raise awareness."


Ann Depner of the Pittsburgh Rachel's Vineyard team has created a moving and beautiful Living Scripture exercise for retreat team formation based on the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes in Matthew 14:13-21.

Whether you are on a Rachel's Vineyard team or volunteer in some other ministry position that involves teamwork, you will really enjoy this Living Scripture! Ann will send it to you as a Word file attachment if you email her at adepne@ccpghEorg.


Jane Lichtenberg, editorial page editor of the Indianapolis Star Tribune, published an op-ed column with that headline in the Friday, October 4 edition of the Indianapolis Star-Tribune. Here is a short excerpt:

"Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, most abortion counselors will tell women that psychological reactions to abortion are rare or even non-existent," explains Dr. Theresa Burke, a psychotherapist and founder of Rachel's Vineyard, a post-abortion training and healing ministry funded by the American Life League. She directs the program from her King of Prussia, Pa., home.

"It's all too easy to imagine that abortion is a 'quick fix' that will . . . allow a woman's life to go back and be the same as it was before," Burke points out in "Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion," co-authored by David C

2E Reardon (Acorn Press). But once a woman is pregnant, the choice is not simply between having a baby or not having a baby. It's between having a baby and having the experience of an abortion. "Both are life-changing experiences."

Here is a link to the full article:


Thanks to David Brandao, DFC, who edits "Celebrate Life" for American Life League, Rachel's Vineyard has a revamped and redesigned webpage, which you can access here: http:/ . David can be reached with commentsat

One feature that has been added to the webpage to make it more user-friendly is a list of retreat team contacts by state, in addition to the list of retreat team contacts by when retreats are scheduled. Is your retreat listed? If not, please send an email to Kevin Burke at


By Catherine McHugh, Associate Editor

The bum with diamonds in his pocket, Tim McGraw, has found his new hit single, "Red Ragtop", in the middle of a brouhaha with country music stations around the country, especially those in southern states.

His new song is only playing on radio stations and won't be released until his album "Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors" is released in November. The song's lyrics deal with an abortion and the emotional fallout afterwards.

McGraw's manager Scott Simon was quoted in saying, "Tim, when he heard the song, recognized it was a real song about real issues and things people have to deal with. He views it as truly a slice of life."

Program directors around the country though have been hesitant to play it. Some, like Kevin O'Neal, program director of Nashville's WSM-FM pulled the song after some listeners complained, mainly mothers who were worried they would have to talk aboutit with their daughters. He has since put it back on the air without any more complaints.

Ron Brooks, operations manager of WCOS Columbia, SC, flat out refuses to play the song because he believes it would alienate 40% of his audience. He claims it's not a political correctness issue. He just doesn't think it would be a good business decision.

And then there's Cory Calhoun from Louisville who's playing it reluctantly but just "wishes it would go away". (Does that sound familiar?)

Songs about abortion are not often heard or played in mainstream music. They bring up feelings that are taboo in our society. Red Ragtop is about three things: pain, loss and regret. According to Theresa Burke, PhD, "We hope and believe that songs like Red Ragtop will make it easier for those who are struggling with the emotional aftermath of abortion to seek healing," Burke said. "And we hope that controversy over this song will be an occasion for our society to allow people to express and heal their feelings over past abortions, instead of to suppress and reject the tender feelings that people may be experiencing."

On an internet PASS support board, a post about Red Ragtop is still getting hits on it from post-abortive women six weeks after the initial post. Most posts talk about how the song has touched them and validated what they had been feeling: pain, loss & regret. A big slice of life.

So what does this all mean for Rachel's Vineyard? A reporter from the Cleveland Plain Dealer was looking into the controversy over the song because the songwriter, Jason White, hails from Cleveland. When researching it on the internet, the archived Rachel's Vineyard September newsletter kept coming up since the lyrics were posted in that issue. The reporter contacted Leslie Graves, RV media director, to interview her about Rachel's Vineyard, how we viewed the song and comment on why people might beupset over the song.

Another outreach suggestion for those retreat teams in areas where the song is being played despite the controversy or is not being played because of the controversy to contact their local radio or news stations. Let them know if you have a retreat coming up, and suggest playing a PSA about your retreat whenever they play the song.


If you've ever sent a note to a television show encouraging them to do a show about post-abortion trauma, you may have thought, " wonder if this'll even get read." Whether your note was read by one person or whether it starts a chain that eventually leads to just the show you envision, who you are and what you say does matter.

Here's a note that one woman received from a producer at the Donahue show:

"Greetings Kathleen,

Thank you for taking the time to write. And thank you for sharing your story, you have a wonderful spirit. I will pass your suggestions along.

Again, thank you for your letter and thank you for watching "Donahue".


Maureen and the "Donahue" Staff


Theresa will be the special guest at two online chat appearances hosted by Christian Women Today.

On Wednesday, October 16 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, the topic of Theresa's chat is "Healing Life's Hurts". To participate, go to about five minutes before the chat is scheduled to make sure that you can get in. There is often a waiting list. A free, simple and anonymous registration process is required. Chat veterans recommend that you go to the chat site and complete the registration steps well in advance so that you don't have to cope with any possible glitches when the chat is about to start.

The same chat topic will be the topic of another chat on Monday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m.

Another page on the internet that regularly holds online chats about post-abortion healing is Kala's Group. See their webpage at:


An article about post-abortion trauma was published in the Maine Press Herald on October 1. "Effects of Abortion: studies and experience show the hazards" was written by Jeanne Bull, who coordinates the Rachel's Vineyard retreat in Maineunder the auspices of Project Rachel and Catholic Charities."

A paragraph from the article reads: "A common remark we hear is how abortion was presented as a solution with little consideration of the negative impact it could have on their lives. One woman wrote to us, "I was totally unprepared for what I went through after the abortion." Another wrote, after a retreat with us, "Everyone felt each other's pain. What a huge eye-opener to know we are not alone."

The full article is available at this link:


For contact information for each retreat, go to

Or call our national hotline at 1 877 HOPE 4 ME.

  • October 18-20 - Portland, Maine
  • October 18-20 - Youngstown, Ohio
  • October 18-20 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • October 18-20 - Temple, Texas
  • October 25-27 - Kelowna, British Columbia
  • October 25-27 - Denver, Colorado
  • October 25-27 - Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
  • October 25-27 - Oregon, Illinois
  • October 25-27 - Asheville, North Carolina
  • October 25-27 - Providence, Rhode Island
  • October 25-27 - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • November 1-3 - Mesa, Arizona
  • November 1-3 - Clark Summit/Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • November 8-10 - Wilmington, Delaware
  • November 8-10 - Rome City, Indiana
  • November 8-10 - Linden, New Jersey
  • November 8-10 - Camden, New Jersey
  • November 8-10 - Smithfield, North Carolina
  • November 8-10 - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • November 8-10 - Medford, Oregon
  • November 8-10 - Dallas, Texas
  • November 8-10 - Madison, Wisconsin
  • November 15-17 - Juneau, Alaska
  • November 15-17 - St. Petersburg, Florida
  • November 15-17 - Hammond, Indiana
  • November 15-17 - Rochester, New York
  • November 15-17 - Rapid City, South Dakota
  • November 15-17 - Knoxville, Tennessee
  • November 15-17 - Seattle, Washington
  • November 22-24 - Romeoville, Illinois
  • November 22-24 - Las Vegas, Nevada
  • November 22-24 - London, Ontario
  • November 22-24 - Columbia/Harrisburg, Pennsylvania


The Sav ~ A ~ Life 20th annual Affiliate Conference of crisis pregnancy centers is November 7-9, 2002 at the Embassy Suites in Birmingham, Alabama. Theresa Burke, Ph.D. will be presenting several workshops for the conference which include the following topics:

Rachel' s Vineyard

Looking for new resources for your post abortion ministry? Rachel's Vineyard is a unique combination of psychological and spiritual techniques, which provide a powerful model for assisting groups to find closure and spiritual healing after abortion. This workshop will present a descriptive overview of the Rachel's Vineyard Retreat including content and process. An in-depth explanation will be offered for the Living Scripture technique, the specific purpose of each exercise, and psychological and spiritual constructs as catharsis for memory and emotion. We will also examine the retreat structure as a means to provide an opportunity for dialogue of the soul and opening traumatic wounds to the grace of God. We will explore how the retreat functions as a journey through the paschal mystery for the suffering body of Christ.

Fact or Fiction: An in depth look at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Part I

Part I: We have heard that Post Abortion Syndrome is a variation of post traumatic stress disorder. In this workshop, you will receive in depth training on what post traumatic stress disorder actually is. This two-part seminar will present a trauma-sensitive perspective on how women cope with pregnancy loss after induced abortion. Symptoms of PTSD as they relate to abortion will be described. An examination of how trauma may impact memory will be explored including amnesia, hypermnesia and dissociation. Examples of avoidance, preoccupation, sleep disturbances, panic and anxiety, obsessive compulsive rituals, and numbing behaviors will be included.

Finding Freedom from Traumatic Re-enactment Part II

Part II: One of the biggest struggles of post aborted women is re-living their experience, as well as consequential behaviors of that experience. Since repetition is one of the greatest indicators of trauma, a knowledge of traumatic reenactment will be a valuable tool for helping understand behaviors, which recreate aspects of the original trauma such as powerlessness, destruction, fear, and shame. Examples of posttraumatic reenactment will be given within the framework of eating disorders, multiple abortions, anxiety over fertility and maternal identity and sexuality. Until the trauma is fully acknowledged and worked through in an intensive way, individuals will continue to re-create the conflict again and again. This can be particularly painful for those who have accepted Christ, but continue in compulsive self-destructive and shaming behaviors rooted in trauma. Understand how the trauma can be grounded in safety so that an individual can reconnect, integrate, and mourn the traumatic event so that it can be released and healed.

The theme for this year's Sav-A-Life conference is "Follow As You Lead." Scripture shows us that Jesus was committed to leadership. He poured his life into eleven men who would in turn lead others, and reach the world with the Gospel. Other workshops include: How to start a medical clinic; Medical Basics for the Counseling Room; Fatherlessness: It Affects Us All; Reaching The Hispanic Client; Teen Culture and Abstinence Education; Creative Fundraising Techniques; How to motivate your Board; Grantwriting; How to adapt your curriculum to meet the needs of your center; and others.

Speakers include Carol Everett, Anne Pierson, Anne Boyd, Vicki Botsford, Dr. Nate Rose, Kirk Walden, Gerry Wallace, Debbie Calhoun, Mike Reid and many others.

For information regarding this conference contact Sav-A-Life, Inc at (205) 979-0302. You can also e-mail them at

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

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