Pro-life advocates have a new tool for reaching out to women after abortion. Thanks to the Elliot Institute, an inexpensive 12-page newspaper supplement is now available to crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life advocates, and those who simply want to offer hope to women suffering the effects of abortion or to educate others on abortion's consequences.
The supplement, entitled Hope and Healing, features a variety of information presented by psychiatrists and physicians documenting the harmful physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of abortion. Complete with modern graphics and type styles, the supplement also includes the testimonies of women and family members who have experienced abortion. One of the testimonies is that of Judith Evans, who describes her childhood marred by incest and her three abortions.
“When finally I stopped crying on the outside, I kept crying on the inside. I felt so dirty and alone,” Evans writes in the supplement. “My abortions were supposed to be a ‘quick fix’ for my problems, but they didn't tell me there is no ‘quick fix’ for regrets.”
Evans, who now uses her story to counsel women facing unplanned pregnancies, believes her experience can save others from making the same mistake.
“Healing doesn't mean forgetting,” she writes. “I will always regret what I did, and I will always miss my babies until the day I am with them in heaven. But I know now that God can use every part of our lives, even the worst parts, to allow us to help others.”
Dr. David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, said that after 25 years of legalized abortion many Americans are struggling to deal with the consequences of an abortion decision.
“Since 1973 at least 25 million women have had one or more abortions,” said Reardon. “Millions of fathers, grandparents, and siblings also know about or were involved in an abortion decision. Many of these people carry around a lot of pain.”
Reardon said the Hope and Healing newspaper supplement is designed to reach the woman or other affected individual who feels they are alone in their struggle.
“This publication says to people, ‘You're not alone,’” he said. “It lets them know that there are other people who have gone through the same thing and found healing, forgiveness, and peace. It conveys a sense of hope that they can find healing too.”
Amy Sobie, spokeswoman for the Elliot Institute, told the Register that several thousand of the supplements rolled off the press last month and were mailed to crisis pregnancy centers and pro-life groups across the nation just a few weeks ago. While she said similar pro-life newspaper supplements detail the humanity of the preborn baby and specific facts about abortion (such as the She's a Child, Not a Choice supplement produced by Human Life Alliance of Minnesota), there was a need for something specifically geared to those suffering after an abortion.
“There just isn't anything out there like this to address the millions of people who have already had abortions,” said Sobie, a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville who has served as a sidewalk counselor at abortion clinics. “We've produced something that is low-cost and can reach many people.”
Sobie said one particular target of the Elliott Institute's supplement will be college campuses. The group has launched The College Distribution Project to provide funds to groups interested in placing the Hope and Healing supplement as a paid advertising insert in college and community newspapers.
“You've got a lot of students who have had abortions,” she said. “Women who have abortions as teens are more likely to suffer the emotional and psychological effects of abortion and not know where to turn for help.”
The supplement also includes a list of phone numbers to post-abortion counseling organizations and referral centers across the nation.
Sobie said the often hostile atmosphere on many college campuses makes it difficult for women who have had abortions to come forward and admit how they're feeling. The supplement, she said, will help those women know that they are not alone and hopefully encourage them to contact a postabortion organization for assistance.
“We want them to know it's okay to feel this way,” said Sobie. “You're not alone. Other women have gone through this and there's help available.”
College pro-life leaders are enthusiastic about the Hope and Healing supplement. Kneale Ewing, a recent psychology graduate from Creighton University who now serves as the network director of Collegians Activated to Liberate Life (CALL), said the supplement fills a vital gap in the pro-life educational message.
“There's definitely a need for postabortion literature on college campuses,” said Ewing. “Women in college represent the age group that is most likely to have an abortion. Many times women who have aborted are too afraid to ask for help because they may fear rejection or condemnation from others.”
Ewing said the supplement's tone and style will be effective in reaching college-aged women. He said his organization will be encouraging its college groups to utilize this new educational tool.
“The insert will be effective because it offers helpful information in a non-threatening, loving, and genuine manner,” he said. “The information is well-presented with a good mixture of facts and personal testimonies.”
While the supplement discusses the negative consequences of abortion, it's not necessarily geared toward pro-life readers.
“We invite people to look beyond the politics of abortion,” said Reardon. “You don't have to be against abortion to understand that some people might suffer from it. But hopefully people will also start asking, ‘If abortion is hurting women instead of helping them, why are we doing this?’”
Sobie agrees that discussion of abortion's effects on women will eventually lead to a decrease in the number of abortions, whether laws are changed or not.
“Speaking out about the effects of abortion and holding abortionists to a higher standard of care will in itself eliminate a lot of abortions,” said Sobie.
Education, says Sobie, is the key.
“If people are educated enough, women won't even consider having an abortion because it is such a terrible decision,” she said.
Greg Chesmore writes from Bloomington, Indiana.
The Elliot Institute is offering a discounted rate on the Hope and Healing newspaper supplements to churches, pro-life groups, and other non-profit organizations for distribution in their communities. For more information or to order copies of the supplement, contact the Elliot Institute at 217-525-8202.