The first of the Baby Boomers were in their early twenties when the Supreme Court passed the Roe V. Wade abortion decision to legalize abortion in 1973.
The Boomers, as they entered into their peak childbearing years, would go on to have the highest rates of abortion in the last 45 years.
Abortion crossed the 1.5 million a year mark for the first time in 1980 with 1,553,900 … and the high for the decade of 1,590,800 reported in 1988. … The U.S. abortion ratio reached its peak in 1984, with a figure of 364 abortions for every thousand live births.
Now, as Boomers are aging, Jocelyn Elise Crowley writes in The Week that “even though divorce rates across all age groups have stabilized, the number of gray divorces (i.e., divorce after age 50) has dramatically increased.
Currently, about one out of every four divorces is gray.
Crowley interviewed 40 men and 40 women and asked them why, at this point in their lives, they were divorcing.
The primary reasons that women shared for divorce were their partner’s infidelity, verbal abuse, and addictions to drugs, alcohol, and pornography.
Men’s reasons were different and focused on areas like their spouse’s money management (over-spending) and resentment over differences in parenting philosophy.
The Baby Elephant in the Room
There is one very important question that Jocelyn Crowley could have asked those women and men of the Boomer Generation facing gray divorce:
Have you experienced a pregnancy loss (abortions, miscarriages) either prior to or during your marriage? What was that experience like for you…for your partner?
The Impact of Abortion on Relationships
In my book, Tears of the Fisherman, I share an interview with Mary and Joe about an abortion they had when Mary was in college, prior to their marriage.
Here’s an excerpt:
Mary: I told Joe I was pregnant, and that I would have to get an abortion. I was waiting desperately for him to say something, to tell me we’d manage somehow. It never happened.
Joe: I knew it was wrong, but I was silent. I never stood up for the baby. I prejudged her, and decided that her mind was made up. I was angry with her for choosing an abortion.
Mary: My feeling of anger at Joe was pushed down for so many years that I didn’t even recognize it. But it was there all the time. I took my anger out on him without ever recognizing where it came from.
Joe: There was a lack of trust in our relationship. I blamed her for the loss of the baby. I did things that purposely hurt her. I drank a lot, I gambled, I did a lot of things to escape into a private world where I wouldn’t feel pain.
While there can be many factors that contribute to marital problems, you can see in Mary and Joe’s case how this complicated experience of loss led to problems in their relationship.
Fortunately, when the couple attended an abortion recovery program Rachel’s Vineyard, they were able to begin the process of emotional, spiritual and relational healing they so desperately needed:
Mary: My big breakthrough came when I was able to express my anger at Joe. He had never realized that the abortion had any connection to our behavior. We were able to forgive each other, and to have our baby forgive us.
Joe: I was able to express my anger toward myself at my total lack of courage. Once I released that, it’s easier to accept and take ownership for the acts that I did… I feel reborn. I’ve been accepted by God, my wife, and, most of all, by myself.
The Harvest is Plentiful
Each marriage and the individual and relationship history that couples share is unique. In some cases it will be better for individuals or spouses to attend separate Rachel’s Vineyard weekends or other abortion recovery program.
For others like Mary and Joe, making that journey together will be a powerful and rewarding option. When you contact your local site they can help you discern the best option.
Given the abortion rates among Baby Boomers, this is a vast mission field for the Church. Boomers are approaching a time in their lives when they become more aware of their own mortality.
They have experienced the loss of parents, the aging and separation of living children, and the challenge of careers. They are ripe for taking a step back and revisiting an area of their lives that, while buried for many years, has actually had a long-term, profound effect on their lives.
While there is pain in opening up this wound from the past, those that make the journey will tell you that the rewards that flow from the healing experience can bless all areas of your life.
This dark and often shame-filled place in your heart and soul can be the entryway for God to touch you intimately and powerfully.
It offers an opportunity to shed new light, awareness, and understanding of how abortion impacted your life, marriages, and parenting, as well as how it may have contributed to your relationship problems.
For churches, this is an abundant harvest just waiting to bear fruit.
The first step is in raising awareness.
If you are a clergy, pastor, or volunteer minister in your church, here are some ways you can reach out to the Boomers with abortion loss:
– Have a woman or man share their personal experience. He or she can give a brief presentation as part of your service or at a separate gathering. You can find a speaker in your area by contacting the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.
– Share videos and pamphlets with helpful information and resources about after abortion healing.
– Include some of our Inserts and short messages in your church bulletin
If you or someone you love is experiencing marriage and family challenges, and you suspect that abortion may be a part of their story, please have them visit our Shockwaves of Abortion website to learn more.