Help and Hope for the Post-Abortive

Yesterday on the True Woman blog, Mary May Larmoyeux shared four ways that you (or a loved one) can experience the healing of God after an abortion: 1) Accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness; 2) Remember that turning to alcohol or drugs is never the answer; 3) Allow God to remove your shame; 4) Allow yourself to grieve.

If you missed yesterday’s post, we hope you’ll go back and read it. Today, we finish our series, as Mary shares four more ways Jesus can enter into post-abortive pain and some resources to help you along the way.

—Hayley Mullins, True Woman Blog Manager

5. Go through a Bible study written for women who have had an abortion.

Author Tricia Goyer remembers sitting in church about ten years after her abortion. A woman who once had an abortion was talking about a post-abortion Bible study for women. While Tricia was shocked as the woman transparently revealed her past, she wanted to know the freedom the woman offered.

Tricia wrote about this in her blog post, How to Be Transparent: Telling Someone About My Abortion Freed My Soul. “The hardest thing I ever did was go to that Bible study,” Tricia says. “But I did, and I found healing. More healing than I ever imagined I could.”

Twenty-two years after her abortion, Melinda Chisum also found healing. Her friends in church assumed she had it all together because she was a Sunday school teacher and member of her church choir.

No one knew she had an abortion when she was sixteen years old. And few knew of her daily struggles with anxiety attacks, outbursts of anger, and deep depression that had devastating effects on her entire family. It took decades, but Melinda finally linked her emotional eruptions with buried guilt and shame from her abortion.

“I made that connection while a person was giving their testimony at a women's retreat,” she says. Later the woman helped Melinda understand her recurring anger and depression were related to not accepting God’s forgiveness for her abortion.

So Melinda went through an intense Bible study for post-abortive women, Forgiven and Set Free. It changed her life. While going through the study, she realized beneath all of her activities had been an underlying desire to somehow compensate for her lost child.

Yes, she had made a terrible mistake when she was a teenager. And it was true: She could never redo the past. But through the study, she realized she could enjoy the present and future. How? By giving all of her regrets and pain and self-condemnation to Jesus Christ.

Andrea had a similar experience. She says she despised herself after her abortion. But she found help when she went through a booklet her local crisis center gives to post-abortion women. “As the mound of Scriptures began to accumulate,” she says, “it grew bigger than my own pile of lies, thoughts, and wrong feelings.”

So like Melinda and Tricia, she exchanged her failures in life, including her sin of abortion, for Christ’s offer of total forgiveness. She chose to believe what Scripture said over her self-condemning thoughts and feelings.

Now the wife of a pastor, Andrea says God loves to take the broken places in our lives and transform them into something good. “The gospel has set me free,” she says, “knowing and believing my past is totally paid for, that Jesus is transforming me every day, and that is His specialty.”

6. Prayerfully consider if you should talk to significant people in your life about your abortion.

In her book Her Choice to Heal, Sydna Massé says most post-abortive women have significant people in their lives who do not know they had an abortion. While there may be good reasons for this, the reason may be fear.

Teri Reisser writes in her book A Solitary Sorrow that a woman should ask herself three questions before deciding to tell someone about her abortion:

  • What is my motive for telling this person?
  • What benefit will result from this person hearing what I have experienced?
  • What kind of response am I likely to receive from this person?

Several years ago, Laurie made the difficult decision to tell family members her secret.

She and her husband, Rob, had been interviewed on FamilyLife Today about the restoration of their marriage. On day three of the interview, Laurie told about her abortion. Knowing the radio interview would air nationally, she realized she had to tell her almost grown children about her deepest regret. The child she aborted was her oldest son’s only blood sibling.

She will always remember their difficult talk. Through tears, she asked her son if he could ever forgive her. “As he hugged me,” Laurie says, “I will never forget his precious, loving, healing words as he said ‘Always, Mom, always!’”

Next, Laurie told all of her children about her abortion. Then her siblings and mother. Once her secret was out, the healing process for Laurie began. She says, “The fact that my abortion is no longer a secret from my family lifted a heavy burden I had carried alone for many, many years.”

Renea also carried an unspoken burden for years. She did not tell her husband about her abortion until they began talking about having children. “I was terrified for him to know,” she says, “but he was very loving and forgiving.”

Years later, after having three children, she did not feel like her family was complete. She wanted more kids, but her husband did not. Angry with him about this, she took the matter to God in prayer. That’s when she realized she was missing the child she had aborted when she was twenty-five years old.

“I grieved all over again,” she says, “but was able to talk it through with my husband, seek his and God's forgiveness for my anger, and finally have peace.”

Twenty-two years after her abortion, Melinda decided it was time to reveal her own secret and told her mother. Fearing how she would receive the news, Melinda was surprised by her mother’s reaction. She had also had an abortion.

“We cried together for the loss of our babies,” she says, “knowing the devil had used us both to repeat a vicious cycle.”

If you find your secret of abortion is eroding some of your relationships, then it could be time to prayerfully consider whether you should talk about it. You may want to talk to your pastor or seek Christ-centered professional counsel to help you decide.

7. If needed, seek professional one-on-one counseling.

Janice Trice is married to the father of the child she aborted. “I was angry with him for twenty years,” she says, “until the underlying hostilities could no longer be contained.”

Finally, Janice told her husband, Bruce, she wanted him to leave. Fortunately, they sought professional help. And that was the first time Janice spoke about her abortion to someone besides her husband. Through counseling, she realized how much her abortion had affected Bruce, too. She had not been the only one suffering in silence.

Bruce says the counseling helped Janice and him deal with a long pattern of anger, resentment, and frustration that all began when he forced Janice to have an abortion. “We landed in the office of a Christian counselor for eighteen months,” he says, “which literally saved our marriage.”

Now married for more than thirty years, the Trices are not just surviving a mundane marriage. Instead, they are thriving together, enjoying life. They are grateful they took the time and effort to seek professional help.

8. Cling to the belief that you will see your lost child one day.

Although Christians have differing opinions about the eternal destiny of unborn babies, many believe they are in heaven. Laurie says part of her healing process came from the belief she will see “this child” one day.

“I hope I will be able to wrap my arms around this child, and ask for their forgiveness,” she says. “Then my healing will be complete.”

The words of 2 Samuel 12:15–23 seems to confirm what Laurie believes. Verse 15 begins, “The LORD afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick.” Although David fasted and prayed for the child, “on the seventh day the child died.”

David had been so distraught about his newborn child that his servants were afraid to tell him of the baby’s death. But when David saw his servants whispering, he asked, “Is the child dead?”

They answered, “He is dead.” Surprisingly, David washed and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.

Later his servants asked David how he could fast and weep for his child while the baby was alive but arise and eat food after his death.

Having confidence that he would see his child again, David said in 2 Samuel 12:22–23, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Just as David believed he would see his son one day, so do many other fathers and mothers whose unborn children never lived. Some refer to Psalm 139:15 and Jeremiah 1:5:

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”

Giving Hope and Encouragement

No matter when a parent loses a child, it is hard. And it is especially difficult for many men and women to talk about their children lost to abortions.

Then why do people like Janice and Bruce, Sydna, Renea, Melinda, and Laurie peel back deep hurt from their abortions? To encourage others that they are not alone.

Today the Trices are volunteer mentors for the interactive Bible study Surrendering the Secret.

And Sydna? From 1991–1998, she was the manager of Focus on the Family’s Crisis Pregnancy Ministries. Today she is the founder and president of Ramah International, a post-abortion outreach and training organization.

Because of her abortion, Renea has special empathy for those who suffer because of bad choices. “I can more easily share about God's love, grace, and forgiveness,” she says, “as someone who has received more of those things than I deserve!”

And Melinda has watched God use her life. In 2003, she completed the Bible study Forgiven and Set Free. Afterward, she longed to help hurting women. And so in 2007, she and Marilyn Crawford opened Abundant Life Pregnancy Resource Center in Morrilton, Arkansas.

Serving as the executive director of the center since its beginning, Melinda says through her inadequacies, God does amazing work there. “I always felt if I could help one person who had made that very devastating decision [abortion], or kept just one from doing it, it would be worth it.” Today, her once guilt-charred life is a mouthpiece of lasting hope.

For Pastors and Others

If you are a pastor or women’s ministry leader, prayerfully consider if the time has come for your church to teach not only on the value of pre-born life, but also on the value of post-abortive mothers and dads. When you talk about Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins, remind your congregation that “all sins” includes abortion.

And could it be time to ask one of the women in your church to begin a Bible study for post-abortive women? What about asking one of the men to begin a similar study for post-abortive men?

Or you may want to go by your local crisis pregnancy center and ask its director how your church could help with post-abortion outreach.

Regardless of our walks in life, it is time for us to come together and open our eyes. There are hurting post-abortive men and women all around us. May we point those who long for relief from years of silent pain to the hope of Jesus Christ.

We can all be encouraged that God’s specialty is using broken people. As Laurie says, “It seems He even searches them out.”

Some Helpful Resources Suggested by the Author:

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About the Author

Mary May Larmoyeux

Mary May Larmoyeux

Mary and her husband, Jim, live near Little Rock, Ark. She loves anything to do with the great outdoors or with her growing family—just ask about her grandchildren.

A former writer for FamilyLife, Mary never tires of telling true stories about how God changes lives and legacies.  She also enjoys leading workshops about faith and grandparenting. She has written several books and is the co-author of The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart. 

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