Addressing Post-Abortion Pain, Woman Extending Care to Church Family

By Gayle Irwin

girlstalkingtablePregnant at 17 years old and again at 19, Macie had undergone two abortions by the time she entered her 20’s.

It seemed the natural course of life to Macie, as a teenager enmeshed in a culture of sexual license where abortion is the go-to answer when the unintended “consequence” of sexual activity show up on a pregnancy test, but can be done away in an afternoon with a “simple” procedure.

In fact, that’s how young Macie understood abortion: “One day you’re pregnant, the next day you’re not.” As the years went on, Macie grappled with guilt and shame, the source of which she couldn’t quite place. Wasn’t abortion an exit route from a difficult situation—a “parachute”?

Pregnant with her third child in following years, Macie again considered abortion. This time, however, she realized it wasn’t her only option. Deep in her heart, Macie knew she didn’t want to go through the experience again, so she sought help at a life-affirming pregnancy center.

“They educated me on my options. The pregnancy center, they rescued me when I was at my lowest,” Macie said. “[I didn’t want] to go through an abortion experience again. I was kind of looking for someone to save me, to say ‘Hey, you’re going to be okay.’”

Now a married mother of two, Macie took advantage of a post-abortion recovery group offered at her local pregnancy center, starting early in 2016. Nearly eight in 10 pregnancy help centers across the U.S. offer post-abortive help for women like Macie—many of whom only seek help years after experiencing abortion.

Working through the Forgiven and Set Free Bible study curriculum at the local pregnancy center, Macie became aware over the course of the study that she wasn’t alone in dealing with the fallout of an abortion. Responding to the need around her, Macie is looking to start a similar group at her South Carolina church.

Though the process of addressing the pain of her past abortions was difficult and painful to go through, what Macie gained from the study was worth the struggle.

“When you first consider going through a post-abortion healing process, it can be scary, but in the end it’s worth it. It’s really life-changing,” she said. Everything I was going through I could relate it to my past, my abortions. I would just cry. It seemed like I cried forever.

“It makes you go through all those feelings that you’ve put off for so long. You have to re-live each emotion, each feeling, and each part of your abortion. That was hard for me because I never really dealt with it. I wouldn’t have traded that time. You’re so vulnerable at that point—the only person you have to fall back on is God.”

A 2011 study by Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists found women who have had abortions are 81 percent more likely to experience mental health issues. According to studies cited by AfterAbortion.org, post-abortive women are likely to have a higher rate of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder than women who don’t abort.

The topic of post-abortive effects on the physical and mental health of women was also addressed in “Hush,” a documentary released this summer that was directed and produced by a team of mixed perspectives on abortion, with the director of the film identifying as pro-choice and the producer as pro-life.

The people, like Macie, behind the studies, statistics and rhetoric, have a lifelong road of healing open to them that often starts in post-abortion ministries like the one that benefited Macie—and the one she hopes to implement this fall at her local church.

“It’s okay to not be okay, but you need to find healing,” she said. “Be open to really feeling those feelings and get all that you can out of the study. If you give it your all, you come out so much stronger in the end.

“I’m going to try to use what the devil tried to destroy me with to help others.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Pregnancy Help News and is reposted with permission.