Finding Hope After Abortion
Fr. Frank Pavone
Priests for Life
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
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