by Kevin Burke, MSS
As the Planned Parenthood scandal continues to unfold, new videos and news reports graphically reveal the practice of selling aborted baby body parts and the disturbing techniques used to obtain the organs and other parts of the fetus for biomedical research.
Viewing the images of the aftermath of an abortion procedure not only connects a mother or father with the reality of what abortion did to their unborn child, and their role in that child’s death, but it also connects in a powerful way with the wound that is deep inside a mother/fathers heart and soul.
Just as the images of fragmented and broken children are deeply disturbing, inside each women or man who has experienced this loss there is also a divided, fragmented heart and soul of a mother or father who is struggling to face the very painful feelings of aguish, anger and grief that flow from that abortion decision, the procedure and the aftermath.
Making Sense of the Pain
This information is naturally upsetting to anyone who has experienced abortion loss. This would be especially true for women who had more traumatic abortion experiences such as seeing parts of their baby during or after the vacuum type procedures and certainly with mid and later term D&C and Partial Birth abortions.
Anger: The graphic content of the videos and transcripts and the cavalier attitude of the Planned Parenthood physicians will naturally arouse powerful feelings of anger, outrage, disgust in those who have been abused at the hands of Planned Parenthood staff and physicians. It may be difficult to find a healthy outlet for this anger which can be deflected onto family members, friends or colleagues at work. This anger can also feed a preoccupation with the unfolding scandal and even in extreme cases an obsession with the reports.
Intense Emotions: The emotions can be intense, especially for those who are facing for the first time the reality of what abortion is about. A woman, or possibly a man, may struggle to concentrate at work, have sleep disturbance and nightmares, experience some anxiety and even full blown panic attacks and renewed feelings of sorrow and grief. Please be assured that you are not alone or going crazy. Many women and men discover that these images and the transcripts of the Planned Parenthood staff connect in a powerful way to what is often deeply repressed and painful emotion and memories.
Finding Healing and Wholeness
If you, or someone you love is hurting and in need of healing here are a few key points to consider:
The intense emotions such as anxiety, depression, a renewed sense of grief and loss, anger/rage that you may be experiencing are a normal human reaction to both the disturbing nature of the scandal and your own painful experience of loss. The powerful and shocking videos and transcripts of those videos can bring a dramatic re-connection to what your own child (or children) experienced during and after the procedure. The videos being released reveal how heartlessly and inhumanely Planned Parenthood attacked your child’s precious body.
You may develop anger and intimacy issues with those closest to you as you struggle to make sense and regulate your powerful emotions. Anger can serve as a shield to the more vulnerable feelings that are trying to surface such as grief and sorrow, guilt and regret.
If possible, avoid any tendency to isolate, and affirm the natural need to find an outlet for those feelings and memories. Without support and a healing of this loss you can be vulnerable to engage in self destructive ways to repress or cope with this pain such as the abuse of drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or work and other addictions. You can find yourself feeling anxious, having anxiety attacks, insomnia and depression. Again, these are all symptoms that are calling attention to your loss and to reconciliation and healing of your abortion experience.
Reach out to a counselor, minister/clergy, or friend who understands your loss and can help you take the steps to healing and wholeness that you long for. Visit www.abortionforgiveness.org where you can enter your zip code and find abortion healing programs in your community. If you are reaching out to a friend or family member suffering after abortion, make sure to initially receive their pain, listen patiently and then gently open the door to the blessing and hope that a healing program will provide them.
There is hope and healing of the fragmentation and brokenness that abortion inflicted on you and your unborn child (children). In that healing process you will discover that the horror and shock of what happened to you and your baby, will be replaced by a new relationship founded in loving reconciliation and peace with God and your unborn child. That can seem a distant and hard to trust possibility. Be assured that thousands of women and men just like you have found that healing. Take the next step and get the help you need. If you struggle to do it for yourself, do it for those you love; your spouse, family and friends who will be so blessed by your recovery from this loss.
Depending on what is appropriate for your age and health, as you begin to take steps to reclaim healing and wholeness, find an activity that can increase your heart rate and reach a level of exertion that will help your body releases toxins and at the same time release soothing and stress relieving chemicals into your body. Regular exercise is one of the most effective medications for stress, depression and anxiety.
If you are watching the videos and the news about these events, you are encountering a disturbing level of spiritual darkness. It is natural that this can attack our own spirit and cause some feeling of oppression as we encounter this evil. You may connect in a new way with the reality of what you and your child/children suffered. Let every step in your recovery be immersed in a very simple and heartfelt prayer to God:
Lord I open my mind, my heart and soul to you that has been so deeply wounded by abortion and the loss of my child (children). Lord let me experience, in a new and powerful way, your love and mercy in this time of anxiety and fear as I open up this dark area of my life to your light. Even though I am afraid, help me to trust in your love for me, in your infinite mercy and your love for my child (children.)
Prayerful reading of scripture, church sacraments, prayer with a friend or clergy/minister and spiritual fellowship and support are the medicine that will help to refresh us and lift that oppression and help us to continue the path to healing and wholeness. If you have been distant from God and a faith community since your abortion, you will find that as you recover from your abortion loss through an abortion healing program, this will open the door to healing your relationship with God and to finding a spiritual home where you can find the support and fellowship you need as you recover.
If you find yourself or a friend or colleague spending too much time being exposed to this information, reading and viewing accounts and stories about the scandal – and it is beginning to have a negative emotional, spiritual, relational impact – if you see an increase in alcohol use or other self destructive coping behaviors – you should make a firm decision to avoid any further reports or videos on this scandal until you have the opportunity to attend a healing program.
As you reach out for the help if possible do something fun that exposes you to the joy and beauty of life such as music, theater, sports, visiting some friends or family, a walk by a stream or woods, playing with a grandchild or niece/nephew…whatever can help you (or your friend/colleague etc.) regain some balance and perspective as you continue on the path to recovery and peace.
Kevin Burke is a Co-Founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries and a Pastoral Associate with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign – firstname.lastname@example.org