Father Frank Pavone was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1988. He is a priest of the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, and serves full-time in pro-life leadership with his bishop’s permission. He is national director of Priests for Life, which is the Church’s largest ministry focused on ending abortion. He serves as the chairman of and pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard, an organization that offers healing from the effects of abortion.
“Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child….While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.” —Justice Anthony Kennedy (Gonzales v. Carhart, April 18, 2007)
The abortion industry and its apologists have tried for decades to persuade us that the baby in the womb isn’t a baby. NARAL, for instance, took exception on Twitter to a Doritos ad that aired during the Super Bowl that, in their words, tried to “humanize” the child in a mother’s womb. A Twitter storm of derision for NARAL followed.
Science, common sense, and the ultrasound images of unborn sons and daughters posted on refrigerators across the country have refuted such nonsense for years.
Now, as more and more women come forward to share their emotional, psychological, and physical pain from abortion, the truth-deniers in the abortion lobby have come up with a new tactic. They are trying to tell us that women who suffer after an abortion don’t really exist.
At times, abortion promoters might grudgingly say that a few women here and there feel conflicted or even remorseful about their abortions. But they quickly try to convince us that those women’s feelings are not valid – that the real culprit making these women feel regret is not abortion itself, but the stigma attached to it.
After all, abortion supporters now assert, why would ending your own child’s life cause any consternation? Surely, they claim, any stigma attached to a procedure that rips the arms, legs, and head off of a baby in the womb must be a societal construct. It couldn’t be the result of any natural reaction to brutally ending the life of a baby.
The obvious truth, however, is that abortion is a momentous, life-changing event not only for the child whose life it ends, but also for the child’s mother. As Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in Gonzales v. Carhart, it “seems unexceptional to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.”
To assert, as many abortion supporters do, that there are no negative ramifications to abortion is nothing short of callous, uncaring, and cruel. It is to deny the real suffering of women who live with pain after abortion. It is to tell those women to sit down and shut up.
But it’s too late for that. Post-abortive women have been sharing their pain for years, and they are not about to stop. They do not want others to go through the torment they’ve experienced.
I interact with these women every day. As Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, in which thousands of women have expressed their abortion regret, and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry for healing after abortion, I have counseled those who wish they had never aborted their children. Their anguish is palpable.
At SilentNoMore.com you can read some of their stories –
- An Illinois woman writes of her life before healing, “Spiritually, I was dying inside; it was a tragic cancer of the soul. I could never look in the mirror again and see anything but ugliness."
- A New York woman writes, "You don’t really understand what you’re choosing. You can’t possibly know. You can’t imagine the deep spiritual pain of abortion.”
- A Florida woman writes, "Abortion kills more than just the growing life inside a woman. It kills some of the woman as well. You will not come out the same person that went in."
According to the abortion lobby, though, these women are only upset because of the stigma imposed on them by our culture. Great efforts are now being made by abortion promoters to counter the natural grief associated with the loss of a child by publicizing women who say how glad they are that they terminated their unborn babies.
One such effort is a legal brief recently filed with the Supreme Court by 113 lawyers who said they would not have the lives they have now had they not had abortions. Through our Silent No More Awareness Campaign, we have filed a Friend of the Court Brief with the Supreme Court sharing the testimonies of some of those who suffer terribly after their abortion. And many of them can point to a day when they, too, thought the abortion had helped them -- until they broke out of denial and realized how it had hurt them.
And therein lies the problem for this latest campaign to destigmatize abortion. Abortion stigma exists not because of what others say, but because abortion contradicts human nature, and ultimately, that human nature asserts itself and climbs out of the rubble of rationalization and denial we try to heap upon it. Public policy changes, and so do public relations campaigns, but human nature does not.