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The Stacy Zallie Foundation helps post-abortive women heal — and avoid making the same mistake twice.
BY Marybeth T. Hagan
towering businessman knows the value of offering choices.
like having lots of those as they wheel through the aisles of the 10 Zallie
Supermarkets that he co-owns in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
other “choice” — as in whether to have an abortion — “is not that simple,”
George Zallie says flatly in between bites of lunch at the Point Diner in
Somers Point, N.J. “Nobody ever talks about what happens afterwards.”
fact that many women find themselves in varying degrees of trouble after having
abortions will become common knowledge if this father of three has his way.
Zallie and his wife, Linda, want women with post-abortion related problems to
know that they are not alone and that there are places where they can find
why he and Linda co-founded The Stacy
Zallie Foundation and the Post-Abortion Comfort Portal, a nonprofit organization where women find
compassion and sources of assistance after abortion.
successful businessman seems an unlikely spokesman for women who experience
life-altering sadness, guilt or depression after having abortions. Zallie never
planned to assume this advocacy role. His firm commitment to publicize and
prevent post-abortion problems is personal.
this was talked about, I’d still have a daughter,” Zallie explains.
year after her graduation from New Jersey’s Cherry Hill High School East, where
she was homecoming queen and a member of the soccer team, Stacy Zallie asked
her parents if she could see a psychiatrist. Stacy, then a student at Camden
County Community College, began therapy in September 2001.
Stacy was a 16-year-old, we would have gone with her to see the psychiatrist,”
Zallie says. Instead, the Zallies tried to give their 20-year-old only daughter
some space and privacy.
stopped seeing the therapist by January 2002. Instead, the young woman, whom
one high school acquaintance described as “a girl who seemed to have everything
… so beautiful, so popular, so talented,” spent most of her time at home behind
her closed bedroom door. There, the secret of Stacy’s abortion on July 6, 2001,
kept her company.
ended her own life at age 21 in the autumn of 2002.
her death, says her dad, “I knew something extraordinary had happened to
much as he tried, the executive who knows what it takes to keep a family business
running could not pinpoint the “something” that led to his strikingly lovely
daughter’s out-of-character behavior and death.
went from being the girl whose favorite song had long been “The Sun Will Come
Out Tomorrow” to one whose heart was filled with darkness. Her moderation in
alcohol consumption morphed into heavy drinking. She could no longer be counted
upon to arrive home on time.
father learned the nature of the beast with which his daughter wrestled several
weeks after her funeral. A friend of Stacy’s told her brother Michael about the
abortion. Michael revealed his late sister’s buried secret to the family.
months later, George Zallie stumbled upon an enlightening article in the The Philadelphia Inquirer headlined “Going Beyond the Politics of Abortion.” It told the stories
of several women who had suffered after having an abortion.
dialed 411 and tracked down the lead source in the article, a woman named
Leslie Graves. She confirmed Zallie’s suspicion that the “something
extraordinary” that tragically affected Stacy was abortion.
helping the grieving father to understand his deceased daughter’s post-abortive
desperation, Graves put Zallie in touch with the psychotherapist Theresa Burke.
Burke is the founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, an international post-abortion
healing program, which she co-directs with her husband, Kevin Burke. (See “Ripe
for the Healing Harvest” in the Sept. 28 Register.)
Zallie was a father in deep grief when I met him,” Burke recalls. “Rachel’s
Vineyard opened the window into understanding his daughter’s feelings. At
Rachel’s Vineyard, George learned that he was not alone, that his daughter’s
situation was not some freak thing which Stacy did to herself. He really
represents a lot of parents. Stacy’s story is many a girl’s story and many a
Susceptibility to post-abortion
syndrome affects women in all walks of life, according to Burke. “It is a
natural human grief reaction to feel this pain,” she adds. “Suffering after the
death of a child due to a violent, unnatural act is universal. It transcends
all races, religions and nationalities.”
father wishes that more in the mental-health community would dare to address
abortion’s side effects so openly. In 2007, Zallie encouraged the American
Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association to provide
better information about the risk of abortions via advertisements he placed on
the pages of USA Today, The Washington
Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“The politics of abortion are
getting in the way of post-abortive healing,” says Zallie, who adds that he
does not wish to be “pigeonholed as a pro-lifer.” He simply wants to help those
negatively affected by abortion so that they do not suffer as Stacy did.
People adversely affected by
abortion from across the United States, Canada and England contact the Zallies
via the website StacyZallie.org. Like the Zallies, they know that even legal
abortion can have unanticipated consequences.
Stacy’s abortion permanently changed
her plans for life. One choice led to another. What her parents did not know
about their daughter’s abortion transformed their lives. This mother and father
bear permanent pain. Their family life with two sons, a daughter-in-law and
three grandchildren — plus knowing that they help women through The Stacy
Zallie Foundation — eases the hurt. But
it never goes away.
“By the time I’m 25, I’ll probably
be married with two kids,” Stacy told her father on more than one occasion.
Stacy would have turned 27 last
August. “If only she had used her Stacy logic and come to us about the
pregnancy,” Zallie says. “In my heart, I know what Stacy would have done.”
Marybeth T. Hagan is
the author of Abortion: A Mother’s Plea for Maternity and the Unborn (Liguori,
ONLINE The Stacy Zallie Foundation StacyZallie.org