Go to an abortion facility during its business hours, and you will sometimes see "escorts" who lead the girls in to get their abortion, and "protect" them from the information that pro-life people outside want to give them about alternatives. I often challenge these escorts, "Who is going to escort these girls through the grief, pain, and despair that follow their abortion?"
The answer is, "the Church."
Some have the mistaken impression that to oppose abortion means to oppose those who have them. Just the opposite is true, however. To be pro-life is to be pro-woman, and is to reach out and embrace with healing, compassionate love the person who has gone through the abortion experience, whether that be the mother, the father, the abortion practitioner, or anyone else involved.
One of my greatest joys as a priest and as a pro-life leader is to be able to say to one who has had an abortion, "Your sins are forgiven, go in peace." I recently worked with one who had ten abortions; I know of another who had 24. Even she can be forgiven when she repents of her sins. Even to her, our message is, "The doors of the Church are open!"
Particular emphasis is given to those open doors in this Jubilee Year 2000. It is a year marked by the theme of Reconciliation, and for this reason the US bishops have put the ministry of post-abortion healing at the forefront of their Respect Life Activities this year.
In one sense, post-abortion healing is one form of ministry to those who grieve a death in the family. At the same time, however, it involves a unique form of grief-counseling, in the sense that the cause of the grief is widely denied. Nobody would deny a parent's need to grieve the loss of a five-year old child. But many deny the need to grieve the loss of a child who was aborted. After all, how can the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right bring grief?
This is precisely where pro-choice advocates lose touch with reality. They have rallies, make speeches, and cheer on candidates who sing the praises of a "woman's right to choose," scarcely realizing that by doing this, they insult those who grieve after that choice. Hardly do they see that the defense of the abortion-choice makes the post-abortive parent feel silly for feeling sad. This makes it more difficult to grieve, to express that grief, and to find healing.
Churches which take a pro-choice position are, for the same reason, especially incapable of offering the kind of healing and peace which so many seek after abortion.
During this Jubilee Year, we each have an opportunity to "Open Wide the Doors to Christ" for those who grieve after abortion. Gently tell them that hope and healing are available. Publicize the number of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing (Project Rachel), 800-5-WE-CARE. Let us together show the true face of the Church and the pro-life movement as beacons of hope!