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February 2003 - Volume 2, Number 2

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. "Why I’m not allowed to experience healing"
2. Rachel’s Vineyard leadership training in 2003
3. Two new weblogs address the emotional aftermath of abortion
4. Society for the Psychology of Women takes political position
5. Upcoming speaking / training engagements
6. Upcoming Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for healing after abortion



by Theresa Burke and Leslie Graves

"And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and shall come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isaiah 35

When men and women who are in pain following an abortion experience hear about the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, an initial reaction is to think of all the many reasons why they couldn’t possibly come to one.

"How could I explain to everyone where I’ll be that weekend?"

"I hate groups."

"I’ll meet someone I know there and then everyone will find out."

"I’ve already done some healing and what if that retreat just re-opens those wounds and leaves them exposed? I’d be worse off than I am now."

"Got to lose 30 pounds before going to something like that (or 10 or 50 or 250)."

"I could never get a babysitter."

"I’ll be the only one there who had more than one abortion or a late term abortion or an abortion when I was married or ... or ... or ...."

"It’ll be too religious."

"It won’t be religious enough."

"I’m too shy."

"I’m different from everyone else who will be there."

"Nothing else worked and neither will this, so what’s the point?"

"I’ve healed a lot already. It would be tempting God to ask for more."

"It’ll be run by church ladies who will try to get me to say the rosary."

"They won’t like me."

"If I call the person whose name is listed, I’ll start crying as soon as she answers."

These are very common reactions. Many people who now serve with retreat teams once had these reactions. As people start to talk to their local retreat team, or communicate with a Rachel’s Vineyard email contact located here:, obstacles are overcome and anxieties fade.

In this article, we’d like to explore some more painful and paradoxical reasons for feeling unable to attend a retreat.

To read the remainder of this article, please click here:, "Why I Can’t Experience Healing" or point your browser to


"Let us be brave then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it."—Hebrews 4:16



Unique, practical, dynamic and interactive workshops to equip you for cutting edge post-abortion ministry

The Rachel’s Vineyard process is a vital cornerstone of thriving post-abortion ministries. It provides an outstanding model for evangelization and effective healing. In just a few short years it has spread to 45 states, and parts of Canada, Portugal, Africa, France, South America, New Zealand and Australia.

This year, we decided to break down into regional conferences to accommodate those who seek thorough, quality training. Our ministry is very personal and challenging, and we felt it would be better to break down into smaller regional groups to facilitate that training and develop intimate community among our leaders.

Dates and places to remember:

June 23-26 in Oklahoma City: Advanced Leadership Training Retreat (National)
hosted by the Family Life Office of Oklahoma City, the Knights of Columbus, and Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran, DD

June 26-29 in Oklahoma City: Clinical and Introductory Training (Regional)

July 11,12,13 in North Palm Beach, Florida: Clinical and Introductory Training (Regional)
hosted by the Diocese of Palm Beach and Bishop Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap

October 15, 16th, 2003 in Portland, Oregon: Clinical and Introductory Training (Regional)

The June 26-29 event in Oklahoma City, the July 10-13 event in North Palm Beach are designed for those who want to know how to build a post-abortion ministry from the ground up. The training content at each location will be similar. Each will include thorough training in the practicalities of developing a post-abortion ministry and thorough training in understanding and responding to abortion as a traumatic wound.

The June 23-26 Advanced Leadership Training Retreat in Oklahoma City is something we have never done before. It is only open to Rachel’s Vineyard leaders and team members who have served on retreat teams for at least one year.

This advanced retreat will focus on personal and spiritual renewal, and challenge us to grow deeper in an intimate and trusting relationship not only with each other but also with Christ. The Advanced Leadership Retreat will help each individual discern his or her own unique spiritual gifts. It will include times during which we are challenged and inspired to grow in our clinical skills as part of our spiritual gifts and mission. Although the individuals attending this retreat will certainly grow in knowledge, this event is primarily a spiritual retreat built around scripture exercises that are being newly developed just for this occasion.

All who attend this Advanced Leadership Retreat are invited to also stay for the June 26-29 Clinical and Introductory training.

Next month’s Vine and Branches newsletter will include all the details, prices, course selections and faculty for our upcoming conferences.



BY: Catherine McHugh, DFC

What is a weblog or "blog"?

According to the Dictionary of Internet Lingo, a blog is "A frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links. A blog is often a mixture of what is happening in a person’s life and what is happening on the Web, a kind of hybrid diary/guide site, although there are as many unique types of blogs as there are people."

In the last month, two very interesting new blogs have started that focus on post-abortion issues.

The first one is called "The S.I.C.L.E. Cell" and you can click through to it here: or point your browser to S.I.C.L.E. is an acronym invented by Ashli, the author of that blog. It means "Self-Imposed Child Loss Experience." This moving and often poetic daily journal allows the reader to see inside the mind of a woman suffering from post-abortion pain and loss. (Warning: Ashli doesn’t shy away from graphic descriptions of abortion.)

The second blog is the work of a young woman named Emily. Her well-written and often witty blog is called simply "After abortion" (click here: Her daily entries deal with post-abortion issues in many different ways. She discusses newspaper articles that deal with emotions after abortion, post-abortion research and short entries each day from an internet message board that deals with post-abortion stress. She includes links to each source to make it easier for the reader to research and discern their own thoughts. The blog’s main focus appears to be how abortion negatively affects women, both pro-life and pro-choice. One particularly interesting recent entry on that blog was about how Kate Michelman, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, reacted to her abortion.

For anyone seeking to gain a better understanding of the emotional aftermath of abortion, these blogs are highly recommended. Because their content changes daily, you might want to "bookmark" them in your browser.

Both of these blogs reinforce the need for the work we do in Rachel’s Vineyard.

[Editor: Rachel’s Vineyard is not responsible for the content of pages linked to. Readers should exercise their own best judgment.]



by: Leslie Graves

The February 2003 issue of "Monitor," a monthly magazine published by the American Psychological Association (APA), carried an announcement that the Society for the Psychology of Women has launched a web site section that "seeks to correct inaccurate information about reproductive health—abortion, in particular—by featuring research-based literature and scholarly opinions."

The Society for the Psychology of Women is an official division (Division 35) of the APA. The web site it has launched, however, is a subsection of the politicized web site The Pro-Choice Forum.

A January 2003 article on that web site was written by Linda Beckman. She is a professor of psychology at Alliant International University in California. She also chairs the Task Force on Reproductive Issues for the Society for the Psychology of Women. In her article, she criticizes Georgette Forney, one of the founders of "Silent No More," a group of women who have experienced pain, regret and sorrow after abortion.

Beckman writes, "It is regrettable that Ms. Forney may have suffered as a result of her abortion. Still she needs to read the reputable research literature on the psychological effects of abortion before she makes incorrect statements about such effects for most women."

I wrote to Prof. Beckman in early February and asked her to comment on recent research in this area that she may not have been familiar with. I wrote:

Dear Prof. Beckman:

I was directed by the February "Monitor" to your article, "We Cannot Be Silent about the Misleading "Silent No More" Campaign," which was posted in the "Psychological Issues" section of the Pro-Choice Forum web page.

In that article you write:

"Still [Georgette Forney] needs to read the reputable research literature on the psychological effects of abortion before she makes incorrect statements about such effects for most women. A relatively large body of research on the psychological effects of abortions strongly supports the conclusion that abortion has positive or neutral rather than negative psychological outcomes for the majority of women (For reviews see Adler et al. 1990, 1992, Russo & Denious, 2000)."

I wasn’t sure when I read this whether you were unfamiliar with more recent published research. I’d direct your attention to:

"Depression and unintended pregnancy in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth: a cohort study," British Medical Journal, 324: 151-152. This study from December 2001 indicates that women who abort a first pregnancy are at greater risk of subsequent long-term clinical depression compared to women who carry an unintended first pregnancy to term. An average of eight years after abortion, married women were 138 percent more likely to be at high risk of clinical depression compared to similar women who carried their unintended first pregnancies to term.

"State-funded abortions vs. deliveries: A comparison of outpatient mental health claims over five years." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2002, Vol. 72, No. 1, 141-152. In this record-based study of 173,000 California women, women were 63 percent more likely to receive mental 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.

"History of induced abortion in relation to substance use during pregnancies carried to term." American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. December 2002; 187(5). This study indicates that women with a prior history of abortion are twice as likely to use alcohol, five times more likely to use illicit drugs, and ten times more likely to use marijuana during the first pregnancy they carry to term compared to other women delivering their first pregnancies.

"Deaths associated with pregnancy outcome: a record linkage study of low income women." Southern Medical Journal, August 2002, 95(8):834-841. This study reveals that women who have abortions versus those who carry to term are almost twice as likely to die in the two years following the pregnancy outcome. Over the full eight year period studied, women who aborted had a 154 percent higher risk of death from suicide and an 82 percent higher risk of death from accidents.

"The quality of care giving environment and child development outcomes associated with maternal history of abortion using the NLSY data." Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2002; 43(6):743-757. "The results of our study showed that among first-born children, maternal history of abortion was associated with lower emotional support in the home among children ages one to four, and more behavioral problems among five- to nine-year-olds," said Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor at Bowling Green State University and the lead author of the study. "This held true even after controlling for maternal age, education, family income, the number of children in the home and maternal depression."

I am not aware of any reason to disregard this research when considering the question of whether empirical evidence exists that indicates that abortion may be a risk factor for several types of significant emotional distress. Are you?

[To date, Prof. Beckman has not responded.]



March 21, 2003 New York City, New York

Seminar for mental health professionals on post abortion trauma. Sponsored by Lumina/Hope & Healing After Abortion, the Pregnancy Services Network and Sisters of Life.

Keynote speaker David Reardon, Ph.D. will present on post abortion research.

Other topics include Men and Abortion and Clinical Issues, presented by Dr. Joanne D’Angelo. Theresa Burke, Ph.D., will speak on Post Abortion and Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse following abortion with clinical implications for treatment.

Calvary Baptist Church - 57th Street (between 6-7), NY, NY

For more information contact 212-750-3967

April 9, 2003 in Wheeling, West Virginia

"Pregnancy Loss and Unresolved Grief - The Healing Journey After Abortion"

Presented by Theresa Burke, MA, Ph.D.

Sponsored by the Office of Family Life and the Pregnancy and Parenting Program of the Diocese of Wheeling - Charleston

9:00 - 4:00 Paul VI Pastoral Center

Form more information contact: Jackie Hamilton 304-233-0880 ext. 320

April 26, 2003 Siler, North Carolina

"Pregnancy Loss and Unresolved Grief: The Healing Journey After Abortion" Presented by Theresa Burke, MA, Ph.D.

9:00-4:00 St. Julia’s 210 Harold Hart Rd, Siler, NC

To be presented in English with simultaneous translation into Spanish

May 3, 2003, Hudson Valley, New York

Duchess Vicariate Respect Life Dinner

Contact: Rich Van Slambrouck 845-297-7930



February 21-23, 2003-Richmond, Virginia
Contact: Kay Marie Geiger 804-330-3137

February 21-23, 2003-Prescott, Arizona
Contact: Diane 928-775-4500
Contact: Mary 928-759-0846

February 21-23, 2003-Wichita, Kansas
Contact: Janice 316-269-4673 or 800-456-HOPE
Contact: John at

February 21-23, 2003-Auburn, Washington
Valerie Jacobs 800-822-HOPE

February 21-23, 2003-San Angelo, Texas
Contact: Nan Goodwin 915-550-9040

March 7-9, 2003-Edmonton, Alberta
Contact: Mary Laurene 780-424-4538

March 7-9, 2003-Knoxville, Tennessee
Contact: Catherine McHugh 865-694-4971

March 14-16, 2003-Linden, New Jersey
Contact: Michelle Krystofik 732-388-8211

March 14-16, 2003-Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Contact: Mary Alice 877-HOPE-4-ME

March 14-16, 2003-Hays, Kansas
Contact: Donetta Robben 785-623-7531

March 21-23, 2003-Oregon, Illinois
Contact: Catherine Rennert 815-968-1157

March 21-23, 2003-Rochester, New York
Contact: Sr. Betsy MacKinnon 585-258-3514 or 585-328-0648

March 28-30, 2003-Providence, Rhode Island
Contact: Donna Warner 401-331-4463/days 401-785-9625/evenings

March 28-30, 2003-Temecula, California
Contact: Jeanette Kristensen 909-693-9477

March 28-30, 2003-Chicago, Illinois
Contact: Kathleen Pluth 847-359-4967

March 28-30, 2003-Madison, Wisconsin
Contact: Leslie Graves 608-218-1264
Contact: Beverly Hartberg 608-821-3177

March 28-30, 2003-Youngstown, Ohio
Contact: Brenda Dama 330-797-8951
Contact: Br. Vit Fiala 330-799-1888

March 28-30, 2003-Lubbock, Texas
Contact: Cynthia Wynn 806-793-1235


Comments about Vine & Branches may be directed to the Editor, Leslie Graves, at


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