Billy Graham’s wise counsel on post-abortion guilt

By Dave Andrusko

Dr. Billy Graham

Dr. Billy Graham

One of my wonderful daughters works at a crisis pregnancy center. Years ago, I did so briefly but (as they say) never found my voice. I could sympathize and emphasize but never seemed to have the right words. Now I participate in fundraising walks and contribute to their wonderful work.

But even in those few weeks, I encountered teenage girls who’d already had an abortion. Thankfully, they were now choosing life but it took no interpersonal skills to appreciate they were struggling with unresolved guilt.

Even among those who professed no faith, it was clear they believed what they had done was beyond forgiveness. And that most decidedly included beyond being forgiven by God.

As a Protestant who came of age in 60s, I followed the great evangelist Billy Graham closely. I thought of both experiences–having attended one of his legendary crusades decades ago and working at a CPC–when I read a letter about abortion that Dr. Graham responded to in his column.

It read

QUESTION: Maybe some women can go through an abortion and never feel guilty, but I’m not one of them. I feel terrible over what I did, and every time I drive by a school playground I’m almost consumed with grief. Will I ever get over this? — J.N.

In his answer, Graham begins by reminding her and his readers that “One of abortion’s unseen (and unacknowledged) consequences is exactly what you have experienced: deep regret and guilt over what happened.” The irony, for me, was I had just read a pro-abortion post that talked about “The myth of abortion grief.” To justify the killing, not only does the pro-abortionist have to obliterate the unborn’s humanity, she or he must also “prove” there is no post-abortion aftermath.

But the larger problem in which the individual problem of regret and guilt resides is “spiritual and emotional insensitivity to what happened.” Why? According to Dr. Graham because we have “become centered only on ourselves and what we want, rather than on God and His will for our lives (and the lives of our children, both born and unborn).”

Having said that, he immediately turns to God’s forgiveness, the promise that He will continue to walk with her even though she did something that was wrong in His eyes: “He has not rejected you or abandoned you. He loves you, just as He loved the child that was growing in your womb (and is now, I am confident, safely in His presence).”

As a Christian, Dr. Graham advises the woman to “Accept God’s gift of forgiveness today, by turning to Christ and by faith inviting Him to come into your life.” But–and this is pivotal–“Then believe that His promise of forgiveness is true.”

Often the woman will resist this forgiveness because she has not forgiven herself. Which is to get matters backwards. Accept God’s forgiveness, know in your heart it is true, and then she can more readily begin to forgive herself.

Dr. Graham ends with very, very important closing counsel: “In addition, ask Him to help you reach out to others whose hearts and minds have been scarred, as yours has been.”

Helping other women is great balm for a broken heart.

Thank you, Dr. Graham.