Overview: Plan to Understand the Impact of Abortion
Written by: Fr. Frank Pavone, Janet Morana, Kevin Burke, Georgette Forney
Silent No More Awareness Campaign
Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion
Multifaceted Wounds - Multifaceted Healing
When an abortion takes place, many people are impacted. Therefore, healing after abortion also has to be directed at many people. Nobody is wounded in isolation and nobody heals in isolation. The effects of abortion on the baby are clear, and we are becoming more aware of how the mother is wounded by this loss. However, both the pro-life movement and the wider society would benefit from a deeper awareness of the multifaceted wounds experienced by many groups of people within and beyond the family of the aborted child. It is no exaggeration to say that we are all affected and we all need healing. To raise that awareness, and to bring about that healing, is the purpose of this initiative.
The Impact of Personal Autonomy
From the beginning pro abortion propaganda developed a mystique of an intimate privacy and secrecy around the abortion issue with an emphasis on woman’s private personal decisions about her bodily autonomy. They speak of abortion as a personal and confidential healthcare decision and whether to accept or reject a pregnancy. The enlightened, empowered woman facing an unplanned pregnancy steps away from the fray, looks calmly at her life situation, her goals for the future…and decides if a child can fit into that scenario.
As you can see by the language and concepts, this has the desired effect of establishing an impenetrable boundary around the woman who is discerning an abortion, or has experienced the procedure. This has proven to be a clever and very effective messaging campaign, which unconsciously has been absorbed by the majority of our fellow citizens. Even those who would not identify as "pro abortion" are uncomfortable interfering in what they see as a private personal decision.
But in the real world, far from the pro abortion spin, abortion is not experienced as an isolated autonomous decision of female empowerment - as if a pregnant woman is some sort of robot or isolated island. In fact a host of people are often intimately involved and quite influential in a woman’s decision to abort. Though often disconnected from each other, all those involved in the abortion decision and procedure remain deeply connected; emotionally and spiritually to the child that dies in the womb.
Proponents of abortion often complain about the stigma that surrounds abortion, and they believe a greater affirmation and acceptance of abortion will remove the stigma. But the reality is that as we acknowledge and heal the impact abortion has on all those involved, we will finally dismantle the source of the stigma – silent shame and invalidated grief.
The Shockwaves of Abortion - Running Away from the Blast
Abortion is like the detonation of an explosive device. All those involved in the decision are affected by the explosion, and want to get away from the blast as soon as possible; they want to quickly forget about the event and return to their normal lives. There is a strong desire to avoid and get far away from the abortion experience with its painful memories and conflicted and complex feelings. This avoidance can feed the illusion (continually fostered by the pro abortion apologists) that abortion is no big deal….a temporary blip on the radar screen of life.
This isolation of women and men after the procedure and the repression, denial and silence about the feelings and memories surrounding the event are keys to understanding emotional complications experienced after the abortion.
This silence and denial leads to three toxic and potentially deadly side-effects:
Women and men with immediate and debilitating after-abortion reactions such as depression, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, and other symptoms are left isolated and silenced by shame, grief and guilt. But they are also silenced by the pro abortion propaganda that emphasizes this was their "autonomous choice." They were told it would be no big deal…and now they have to work out the memories, conflicted feelings, and grief about the procedure and the lost child on their own. At times this isolation can be inadvertently fostered
if pro-life advocates fail to welcome, in word and deed, those who have had abortions - or fail to make it clear to them that opposing abortion does not mean opposing those who have abortions. But rather this means embracing them with compassion and forgiveness.
For the grandparents, family and friends, health care professionals, counselors and others closely involved in the child’s death, there is the strong need to deny or quickly dismiss the mother's and father's pain after an abortion and have life return to normal.
Because abortion is a traumatic procedure the tendency of the traumatized women is to repeat elements of their unresolved trauma, and therefore without healing they are likely to find themselves on the abortion table again. Forty-six percent of abortions in the United States are repeat procedures. Attending an effective healing program after an initial abortion drastically reduces the number of repeat procedures.1
Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion
Over the last 12 years, Priests for Life has helped build the two largest international ministries that reach out to those who have suffered abortion loss:
- Rachel’s Vineyard provides a weekend program of emotional and spiritual healing after abortion, with over 800 weekend retreats held yearly around the world.
- The Silent No More Awareness Campaign offers education, resources, and training, empowering thousands of women and men (after healing of their abortion loss) to share their testimonies in our communities, to public officials and in the media. (Anglicans for Life is also a sponsoring organization of Silent No More.)
In July of 2014 Silent No More Awareness Campaign founders Georgette Forney, Janet Morana along with Pastoral Director, Fr Frank Pavone gathered for their yearly planning meeting in Western Pennsylvania. They prayed and reflected upon their many years in abortion after-care and the healing journeys of thousands of women and men from around the world.
From this very fertile soil, Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion, a new year-long program of education, advocacy and healing of abortion loss was conceived.
Collateral Damage from the Abortion Blast
The diagnostic manual used by psychologists and psychiatrists (DSM IV) lists two key features of psychological trauma:
The person has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.
The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
A key goal of the Healing Shockwaves of Abortion initiative is to expand our understanding of the number of people impacted by abortion loss and in need of reconciliation and healing. Certainly we must include the mother of the child who suffers the immediate physical, emotional and spiritual trauma from this loss.
But given the psychological definition of trauma above, and our years of experience in helping those suffering after abortion loss, we have learned that anyone who participated in an unborn child’s death as an accessory may experience symptoms of complicated grief and even trauma after abortion:
- Fathers and Grandparents
- Siblings, survivors
- Friends and extended family
- Health care/counseling professionals and abortion business employees
Lifting the Veil of Silence
With almost 60 million abortions in our nation since 1973 and an expanded understanding of those directly impacted by the child’s death, consider how far the Shockwaves of Abortion extend out into our families and communities.
However in our doctors' and counseling offices, in our prayer groups and Bible studies…there is silence about abortion loss. In our workplaces, living rooms and bedrooms…silence.
Not even our clergy and ministers, let alone family and friends feel comfortable talking about the subject. There is a general sense that by introducing this issue, even if in a non-condemning way, we are causing pain to those who have suffered this loss, shaming and judging them. We fear opening some kind of Abortion Pandora’s Box, unable to control the powerful forces unleashed. It’s best to leave it alone as a private, personal decision in the past.
But the personal, family, and religious silence about abortion loss feeds the isolation of those who suffer. The person experiencing symptoms of complicated grief following abortion (without education) may not realize how these symptoms are connected to a past abortion procedure. This leads to considerable suffering not only for inpiduals, but it also affects marriages and family life, and directly impacts our schools and health-care systems.
This silence also feeds the ambivalence and uncomfortable tolerance of one of the most commonly performed medical procedure in the United States – a procedure that claims the lives of more than 3,000 unborn children a day.
We have seen how abortion is viewed as a very sensitive and private area of loss. While it certainly is sensitive, that doesn't mean it should be ignored. We know that other sensitive issues in our society (sexual abuse, breast cancer, spousal abuse, suicide) have been the subject of greater education of the public, and encouragement to reach out for help. And this has benefited the public.
Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion will provide a year-long campaign featuring:
Education, resources and testimonies on the web and in print/radio/social media that will focus each month on a specific group of people that are impacted in a special way by abortion loss.
A nationwide call to accountability, repentance and reconciliation
A hope-filled invitation to healing.
Web pages will have materials relevant to each month’s topic, such as media talking points, press releases, position papers, and preaching aids and bulletin inserts for clergy/ministers.
Interviews and testimonies with a message of education and healing will be spread though radio, television and print - all promoted widely in various social media outlets to get the widest exposure possible.
Shockwaves: A Month to Month Breakdown
We will now examine the themes chosen for each of the twelve months. As we focus on different groups of people in each month, it should be kept in mind that the message of the initiative is that all these groups are interrelated. Therefore, the educational and pastoral efforts for each month are not meant to treat that month's theme in isolation from the others. Instead, each month's efforts bring a particular group of people to the forefront and simultaneously remind us that their wound is related to the wounds of all the other groups. It is abortion that pides and isolates; healing unites and reconciles and builds community. Abortion scatters; healing gathers.
January: Overview of the Campaign: Partners in Healing.
In January, Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion will be launched at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court with a visible and dramatic representation of the founders’ vision for this year-long initiative. Representatives of the various kinds of people who are wounded will gather together to share their testimonies.
In the first month of Shockwaves we will invite churches, health care and mental health/counseling professionals, pro-life organizations and abortion healing ministries to partner with us. Shockwaves will provide a national forum of media outreach, online education, and resources to equip our partners in responding to this year-long education, healing, and awareness initiative.
Because January is also when many churches observe Sanctity of Life Sunday and bring some attention to abortion, January will focus on churches and pastors, and point out that healing is needed there. Silence from our churches and silence from our pulpits has sent a clear and powerful message to those with abortion loss in their history: "Be Silent. Do not talk about abortion."
What does this silence from our pulpits and from our churches communicate to those with abortion loss in their history and anyone who has been involved in an abortion decision?
The falsehood that this is not an area of concern of the church and it’s best to just move on from that abortion experience, leave it in the past and never talk about it.
The falsehood that abortion healing is not an important part of church ministry…like feeding the hungry. The church doesn’t care or want to get involved.
The falsehood that the only message of the church (if they actually ever hear a pro-life message) is one of condemnation of abortion (and hence, in their mind, a condemnation of all who have abortions.)
This silence of the churches enables the denial, the isolation and suffering of those with abortion loss.
This allows the symptoms to continue to extend out from the wounded heart of the mother and father. This has a powerful impact on personal, emotional, and physical health, as well as marriage and family life…and the mission of the Church.
Silence is Deadly!
For those who will be tempted to abort; the youth, couples with a fetal anomaly diagnosis, etc. they need to hear the truth of the lifelong effects of abortion. Abortion is sold as a quick fix to resolve a crisis and get on with your life. But it is a life-changing event with serious spiritual, emotional and relational consequences that have lifelong and eternal consequences. Hearing about abortion suffering and testimonies from those who have experienced abortion loss will help those who are tempted to abort in a crisis and to choose life.
Almost half (46 percent) of all abortions are repeat procedures. This is related to the repression of complicated grief and emotional pain and memories of that loss. This repression can lead a woman to express that pain in self-destructive patterns in her relationships and abuse of drugs and alcohol and other self-destructive behaviors. This results in another unplanned pregnancy – and another abortion..
This repetition not only takes the life of her unborn children, but is a form of physical and emotional abuse of the mother, even if she appears detached and unfazed by the trauma. This is likely a type of psychic numbing to avoid the deeper pain and conflict from each procedure. This numbing in time leads to an increase in self-destructive behaviors and a type of nihilism takes hold of her mind, heart and soul.
Education about the dynamic of repeat abortions can help save unborn babies and their mother’s emotional and physical health. It also protects families from a wounded acting out parent with multiple abortions and the damage that can do to marriage and family life. Women who have multiple procedures are at greater risk for physical complications in future pregnancies. There is also an increase in emotional and relationship dysfunction and abuse of drugs and alcohol. This deeply impacts their ability to have healthy relationships with partners and husbands, leading to family crisis and problems bonding and parenting with any current or future children.
Finally, this silence also leaves the grandparents, who may have been intimately involved with the abortion decision as well as siblings, friends, counselors and medical staff from hearing the truth that abortion wounds all who participate in the death of an unborn child. But they also are denied the opportunity to learn about the spiritual and emotional impact of this loss in their own lives, to receive the encouragement to repent of their role in the child’s death, and to attend a healing program.
Be Not Afraid! Break the Silence!
The church is greatly diminished in its mission by this silence…and greatly empowered in its mission when proclaiming the Gospel of repentance, healing and restoration in Christ.
Abortion has gravely wounded the Body of Christ. When we expand our understanding of those impacted by this loss, and consider the number of people…a large part of our church communities have been directly impacted by abortion
All those impacted would benefit from hearing the truth proclaimed with love and compassion.
It is important that people learn of the common symptoms and issues people struggle with after this loss and the personal, marriage and family impact.
God’s people desperately need to hear the good news of abortion healing in the Lord. A testimony at an appropriate time in your church service is a personal and powerful way to reveal the suffering after abortion and the effective healing programs that are available. We will feature an excellent internet-based healing resource, www.Abortionforgiveness.org, that generates trusted abortion healing programs in one’s area by entering a zip code.
The month of January is a perfect time to share a message of hope and healing. The Shockwaves website will offer Sample Sermons, Bulletin Inserts and a downloadable brochure.
The Fruit of Healing – Blessing the Churches
When a spiritual and emotional healing program safely opens the abortion wound to the light of Christ, there are miraculous encounters with the Lord. One of the fruits of this healing is the number of alumni that become involved in church ministry and service.
One of the wonderful fruits of abortion healing that I have seen is the large number of our alumni who respond to a call to serve in their churches as catechists, pro-life volunteers, lectors, homeless shelters etc. - Emma Boe, Project Rachel Director, Diocese of St. Petersburg
There is a vast mission field of the mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, abortion providers who have participated in, or have been deeply affected by the death of an unborn child, and are desperately in need of the forgiveness and healing of Christ and His church. From this act of mercy, forgiveness and healing will emerge men and women on fire with the Gospel and ready to serve God’s people according to their gifts and calling.
Abortion Healing – The Family - Evangelization
- The family is the primary place for evangelization, for passing on the faith, for helping young people to appreciate the importance of religious practice and Sunday observance. How can we not be dismayed as we observe the sharp decline of the family as a basic element of Church and society?4 Benedict XVI
Abortion is a relational wound that takes place in the context of the most intimate of human encounters, regardless of the circumstances and length of the relationship that led to conception.5 Therefore the wound is very deep in the heart and soul of the parents and all who participate in or are impacted by the death of an unborn child. Because of the symptoms that arise when this loss is repressed and denied, marriage and family relationships inevitably suffer.
There can be difficulties in bonding with living children and having a healthy communication and trust with partners and spouses leading to addictions, affairs, family dysfunction and porce. Often there is not a conscious awareness of the relationship of those symptoms to an abortion loss in their past. If there is previous sexual or other abuse, neglect, and addictions in one’s history there is an even greater likelihood of serious reactions6 after abortion.
If the family, as Pope Emeritus Benedict shares, is the "primary place for evangelization," then recovery from this loss is essential for the health of the U.S. Catholic Church and the mission of all Christian churches and faith communities to bring forgiveness, healing and strengthen families in an often hostile secular culture…because family is, as Benedict shared, the "basic element of the Church and society."
Relationship with God and the Church
Abortion not only damages us personally, and our personal relationships, but the relationship of each person to their Heavenly Father and Creator.
- Sometimes this is expressed in a distance from God and the church because of fear of judgment…some feel their sin is unforgiveable and fear a vengeful God’s wrath.
- Others direct outward the denial of their post-abortion pain, displacing this grief, shame and anger from their abortion loss onto what they see as an unresponsive or out-of-touch church or hostile and dangerous pro-life movement. (You see this often with pro- abortion activists.) Reinforced by the secular messages hostile to the faith and pro-abortion, they can easily drift away from Sunday services and regular practice of their faith.
- Look at Catholic Church attendance rates since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973…Mass attendance rates in the United States were cut in half and continue to decline. There are other reasons, of course, but abortion is surely a contributing factor.
- Staying on the Sidelines of Faith - Participation in the death of an unborn child causes a rupture in one’s relationship with God after their abortion. This loss keeps men and women on the sidelines, watching the game but keeping their distance.
- This spiritual suffering and distance from God/church is also found among all those who is some way participated in the death of the child. A brother who lent his sister money for the procedure; the grandparent of the baby who could not prevent or encouraged/pressured for abortion; the friend who drove her to the clinic; the counselor who advised that abortion was the only rational choice, the Catholic or Christian physician/nurse/counselor who recommends abortion to the couple with an unborn child with a poor prenatal diagnosis or chromosomal abnormality.
February: Black History Month
February will provide an opportunity, early in this effort, to focus on a population devastated by abortion loss. African-American women constitute only about 13 percent of the female population (age 15-44) in the United States, but they underwent approximately 36 percent of the abortions in 2012. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion. On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.7
We will focus in a special way on how this epidemic impacts minority communities and, far from saving young black women from poverty, actually makes them more vulnerable to the problems that plague poor minority communities; addiction, violence, family dysfunction and abuse.
The healing of this community is more than a matter of pointing out the statistical preponderance of abortion among blacks. Healing in this context involves facing directly some very disturbing truths about how the abortion industry is rooted in eugenics. Many African-Americans, upon seeing the documentary Maafa21 are astonished and angry that they never knew how their community was being targeted. This awareness increases the felt need for healing as well.
Moreover, digging deeply into the psychological side of the history of the African-American community, we will call for the healing of the despair that can echo down the centuries in a community that has been enslaved and mistreated in so many other ways, to the point that sometimes mothers would be tempted to abort in order to spare their children that cruel mistreatment.
Shockwaves will share the life experiences and testimonies from black women and men, grandparents and others involved in abortion decisions. They will share the truth of how abortion affected them and an inspirational message of how healing blessed their lives and relationships. We will call all black families wounded by abortion loss to reconciliation, restoration and healing in the Lord.
Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King shares the following about the Shockwaves Initiative:
* We embrace the plight of African-American babies, women, men and families who are direct targets of the genocidal agenda of abortion
* We affirm the healing of the African-American community, victims of targeted genocide by abortion
* We welcome African-American women and men who by their testimonies of healing and restoration from their abortion loss are now Silent No More
March: Healing the Grandparents
Grandparents are often directly impacted by an abortion loss, but rarely given consideration when we look at the complicated grief after abortion.
- They may have convinced their son or daughter that this was the best course of action and/or threatened rejection and abandonment if their daughter continued with the pregnancy.
- They may have tried but were unable to prevent the death of their grandchild (a traumatic loss) or only learned of the abortion after the event.
Grandparents need to hear a confirmation that they suffered the loss of a grandchild and, depending on their role in the event, may have some unresolved feelings of grief, guilt, and anger from this loss. Family secrets and these unspoken and powerful emotions can wreak havoc on family life. If the abortion of their grandchild(ren) was experienced as a traumatic loss they may suffer depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, addiction and other common symptoms of trauma.
While this is an event in the past, sometimes the distant past, it can be very much impacting their lives, their health and family relationships in the present as well as their relationship with God and the church. In the Shockwaves Campaign grandparents of aborted children will learn about healing programs like Rachel’s Vineyard where they are welcome to come and grieve and heal of this loss, as a family if possible, and resolve the conflicts that still exist in their relationships with their daughter or son who had the abortion.
Dr. Philip Ney is a child psychiatrist and has done extensive work in the area of child abuse and pregnancy loss. Dr. Ney also has focused on another phenomenon that impacts millions of people…they are siblings of aborted children.
Sibling survivors constitute one of ten distinct groups of "abortion survivors." We focus in this month specifically on the siblings because of all the dynamics that arise in that relationship with a brother or sister who was aborted. That relationship brings a profound sense of emptiness, anxiety, and guilt to the surviving sibling, and also complicates his or her relationship to his or her parents. One specific category within the sibling survivors are the twin survivors.
Sibling survivors struggle to understand their value as a human being in light of their siblings' lives discarded through abortion. This is an extremely important and rarely discussed example of the collateral damage from the abortion blast. In this month we will rely heavily on the expert testimony and research from Dr. Ney to draw attention to this issue.
Dr. Ney reflects on his experience with his patients who have experienced voluntary pregnancy loss:
Observations of psychiatric patients led me [PGN] to believe that some people were deeply affected by surviving when someone near and dear to them, usually a sibling, died from a pregnancy loss. The symptoms appeared to be most pronounced if the loss was as a result of abortion. Statistically analyzed data showed the most frequent and intense symptom was a feeling they did not deserve to be alive. That was closely correlated to: a sense of impending doom, guilt about surviving, pessimism about the future, not trusting caregivers and other existential symptoms all of which form a fairly closely circumscribed syndrome. These were significantly associated with: recurrent depression, intense obsessions, suicidal risk taking, and frequent hospitalizations. – Dr Philip Ney, MD
May and June: Motherhood/Fatherhood Forever
Mothers in particular, but also Fathers (depending on their role in the abortion) suffer the immediate impact of the abortion. Mother’s and Father’s Days allow us to focus in a special way on the unique experience of abortion loss suffered by the parents of unborn children, and the personal costs and effects on marriage and family life. Mother’s and Father’s Daycan be a painful and confusing time for many because it touches on a core issue of denial and repression of this loss…the rejection of the unique motherhood/fatherhood of that unborn child who is missing from the family celebration.
In order to put the abortion event behind them, parents shut down their feelings and repress them deep into the unconscious. Some women and many men have the capacity for a time to successfully dissociate from this painful violation of the heart, soul and body and on the surface function quite well.
Others are less well-defended against the onslaught of emotions and memories from the procedure. This is especially true of men powerless to stop an unwanted abortion and women who feel ambivalent or felt great pressure to abort. These mothers and fathers experience the immediate symptoms of complicated grief and trauma…often in isolation. Depression and anxiety/ sleep disturbance/ suicidal thoughts/ relationship instability/ promiscuity/ sexual dysfunction/ addictions of all kinds and psychosomatic and auto immune disorders all are ways that the abortion wound is calling attention to the lost child and the pain and grief that is being repressed and denied. This is also related to the unfolding traumatic fallout after the procedure.
The repression and disconnection from the abortion event establishes a very powerful psychological pision within the mother but also the father as well. Psychological survival after participating in the death of an unborn baby requires a parent to rationalize that we made the right decision…for ourselves and the child. Friends and family often confirm this denial and the dismissal of any feelings of regret or pain with comments such as: Now you can get on with your life. One day you can welcome a baby into this world when you are ready to start a family.
However without an integrated emotional and spiritual healing of an abortion loss, denial after abortion means you will never be a whole and integrated person. You may be a decent, caring, loving inpidual with many wonderful gifts and qualities…but you will remain in the deepest recesses of your heart and soul…deeply wounded.
Another way to understand this: If you remain disconnected in your heart and soul from the emotional and biological truth of what has been lost and your intimate and eternal connection to that child, it is natural that there will be a negative impact on emotional and medical health and one’s personal relationships.
July: Survivors and Friends
In July we take time to acknowledge that many abortion decisions involve a wide number of people. Think of the friend or family member who drives the woman to the abortion clinic and/or offers her money for the procedure. Some may wonder whether this loss really impacts those who are not directly involved in the abortion.
Instead of an abortion decision, imagine if it were a bank robbery:
Your close friends are planning a bank robbery. You agree to help them escape by driving the get-away car. During the robbery an innocent victim was shot. Would this death impact you emotionally and spiritually? Would you have any sense of responsibility?
When family and friends are aware of the abortion decision, but fail to help the mother find alternatives, voice their objection or if they simply express ambivalence or silence in response to her decision…such reactions are deadly for the unborn. The mother experiences a growing chorus of support, silent or vocal that confirms for her that abortion is the only rational solution to her unplanned pregnancy. Shockwaves will sound a loving call of reconciliation and healing for all involved in abortion decisions.
This month also touches on a number of different subgroups within the survivor population and the unique issues of each group, including but not limited to the disabled; children threatened with comments such as I should have aborted you; those who survived an actual abortion procedure performed on them; and those whose parents thought about aborting them, or actually scheduled an abortion, that was later not carried out either because of a change of heart or because of chance circumstances. A number of categories touch on parental ambivalence about their pregnancy. This is an extremely important and rarely discussed example of the collateral damage from the abortion blast. In this month we will again rely heavily on the expert testimony and research from Dr. Ney to draw attention to this issue.
August - Abortion Providers and Advocates: Traumatized by Death
Apart from the mother who experiences the abortion, this is the population most intimately involved in the abortion decision and procedure.
- The clerical and administrative workers who process the patient’s abortion and accept payment.
- Counselors/social workers who are at the very least value-neutral and often pro-abortion as the mother discerns having the abortion procedure.
- Medical staff who analyze and dispose of the unborn child’s body; the nurse who provides medication, the abortion doctors who performs the procedure…all have a direct hand in the death of that child.
This population fits the textbook definition of those that we would expect to experience symptoms of trauma. Once again we will enlist the expert testimony of psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney. Dr. Ney has written extensively on how those involved in the abortion industry, and his experience developing the Society of Centurions to help those who escape from this deadly work to recover emotionally and spiritually. We will feature former abortionists, clinic owners, and abortion technicians who found the courage to leave the abortion industry and find healing.
But we will also remember those ministers, social workers, counselors and nurses who counseled a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy to consider abortion as the best solution. Even if their response was one of maintaining professional neutrality in helping the mother make a decision, this in effect places them as silent accomplices in the death of the unborn child. In August we will declare a loving invitation to recognize their responsibility in this national tragedy, and come to repentance and reconciliation with God.
Moreover, we will actually offer, from August 8 - 15, 2015, a healing and rehabilitation session for former abortionists and former abortion clinic workers. This rehabilitation will be held at Mount Joy, the location of Dr. Ney's center for healing in Victoria, Canada. People may sign up for this at www.SocietyOfCenturions.com.
September: It’s a Family Affair
September provides an excellent opportunity to build ecumenical partnerships with the Catholic Church as it celebrates the World Meeting of Families in September with special events in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia including a visit from Pope Francis. The Campaign thus far has focused on abortion’s impact on the parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, and others who were intimately involved in many abortion decisions and procedures. September provides an opportunity to pull it all together and take a closer look at abortion’s impact on family life:
- Secrets surrounding the abortion are damaging, foster mistrust between family members, and prevent those hurting from seeking healing.
- Abortion can fracture family relationships and at the very least it is that very large elephant in the room no one can acknowledge. Yet the symptoms continue to be expressed by a grandmother’s sleep disturbance; a grandfather’s need for anxiety medication; a daughter struggling with addiction; or a son with anger issues and affairs plaguing his marriage. Education and testimonies this month will have a special emphasis on how abortion contributes to dysfunctional and unhealthy patterns of communication and difficulty with trust and intimacy – key components in any healthy marriage and family life.
- When parents are weakened emotionally, spiritually and relationally, how are the children impacted? When we look across our nation and see the epidemic of single- parent families, failed marriages and over-medicated children in problem schools…we have to factor in the abortion connection as a contributor.
- Just as healing can restore the emotional and spiritual health of the inpidual, so it can be an important factor in developing more intimate and satisfying marriage and family relationships. We know that the welfare of children and a stable healthy parental presence in the home are closely connected. The month of September will feature testimonies and interviews with families impacted by abortion who found reconciliation and healing.
Acknowledging abortion loss can provide an avenue for deep emotional and spiritual healing that can serve as the framework to build on and address other important issues that will strengthen families. Encouraging family healing benefits both society and the Church.
October: Healing in the Hispanic Community
In October we center on the Hispanic population in the U.S. that will triple by the year 2050. Given their growing influence in the nation’s culture, politics and religious practice Hispanics will have a powerful opportunity to turn the tide on the expansion of abortion and challenge the prevailing pro-abortion policies of the many of our politicians. But this will require a renewed effort at reaching this population with the truth about abortion and abortion loss. Hispanics and blacks are targeted
by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providersand have a disproportionate share of all abortions.8 Given the numbers impacted there is a desperate need for Spanish-language education, awareness and healing resources for their communities.
October will target Hispanic churches and provide educational resources, media outreach, and testimonies in Spanish to reach this population.
November: The Wounded Warriors of the Pro-Life Wars
We cannot forget those on the front lines of the abortion battle since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. Pro-life advocates try, in countless ways, to save lives. They often succeed, and they often fail. They too are wounded by abortion.
Sadly, it is inevitable that there will be times when they find themselves powerless to stop a woman or man from going through with an abortion (keep in mind the psychological definition of trauma above.) Every time a baby they tried to save is killed, they are wounded by that abortion and must grieve that loss. Moreover, anyone who has come to realize the profound violence of abortion carries a daily grief that this tragedy continues.
Pro-life advocates must learn how to carry that grief in a way that enables them to feel the weight and yet not be crushed by it; in a way that helps them experience the sorrow but not despair.
These pro-life advocates span the entirety of the pro-life movement and all its efforts. They include:
- Sidewalk counselors, participants in prayer vigils outside abortion facilities, pregnancy resource center staff, and ultrasound techs.
- Those who speak about abortion in educational or church settings, including preachers, and who do media work to persuade the public.
- Men and women who try to save lives by passing pro-life laws, whether they are the lawmakers themselves, their staff, or the pro-life activists who lobby them. We are talking about those who do pro-life political work, trying to elect candidates who will save lives by enacting pro-life policies and pro-life fundraisers and donors, who give in sacrificial ways hoping to see lives saved as a result.
These efforts will often enough fail to save the lives they seek to save. This will have a particularly profound effect when the pro-life advocate such as an ultrasound technician has actually seen the child who was killed, or has seen or talked to the mother who went ahead with the abortion, such as the sidewalk counselors, prayer vigil participants, and pregnancy counselors will do.
In the arena of legislative and political activity, the awareness of the numbers of lives lost by failing in attempts to pass pro-life laws and elect pro-life candidates is also very measurable, and can be overwhelming because the lives are in the millions. Studies by researchers like Dr. Michael New demonstrate how pro-life state laws save lives. And the ways in which elections influence the courts, including the Supreme Court, make the loss of lives very tangible to those working in these arenas.
All of these inpiduals need ongoing healing. Pro-life advocates endure a lot of hard work, frustration and self-sacrifice, whether their efforts succeed or fail. And in the process of trying to save lives, they also endure ridicule and rejection from others who do not understand, appreciate, or agree with their efforts. That kind of rejection hurts too, and must be healed.
If the pro-life advocates do not know how to properly grieve the children that were lost despite their efforts to save them, they run the risk of drifting away from doing pro-life work, or of becoming bitter and angry while doing it. Neither of those alternatives is productive, and neither solves the underlying problem of a wound that has not been healed.
November gives us the opportunity to focus exclusively on the sacrifice and cost of our front line pro-lifers and promote healing and restoration with the goal of helping to reinvigorate their pro-life and abortion-healing commitment.
December: Our Savior Comes to Heal
The month of December is a time when Christians observe the season of Advent and cry out, along with Scripture, "Come Lord Jesus!" The theme for December, therefore, is the coming of Jesus, to heal all the Shockwaves of Abortion. After eleven months of the Shockwaves initiative, and after the churches, the pro-life movement, and hopefully the nation have gained a much greater awareness of the multifaceted wounds of abortion, they will (and should) feel overwhelmed and more in need of help and salvation than ever before. This felt need for the Savior, for the Healer, leads the heart and mind to cry out, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
That cry, the theme for December, expresses not only the need but also the hope: we have the certainty that there is One who can heal us. He has come to earth, and will come again, "with healing in his wings." Between his first and second comings, he comes in multiple ways through grace, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and through the multiple healing programs which those who have been made aware of their wounds are urged to embrace.
We therefore end the year in December with a nationwide call to heal our nation much like we began in January.
The importance of this December theme reveals a key aspect and imperative of the entire Shockwaves initiative: to raise awareness of a wound requires developing resources to treat it. When one becomes aware of how wounded he or she is -- in any of the groups that the initiative focuses on month after month -- there is a fork in the road, a "crisis" in the classic sense of the word. At that point, one can either sink into despair, unconvinced that any healing is possible, or one can stand up, slowly and painfully, and with determination decide to begin the journey of healing.
When one decides to do the hard work necessary to heal, there is another fork in the road. One might think that this healing is just a human achievement: brute strength of will-power, or the power of the psychological sciences. Certainly we do need to utilize these human, natural elements. But it would be a fatal mistake to trust only in human beings, including ourselves, for healing. The proper road for the healing journey is marked by the awareness that we cannot do it without God and his grace. This leads to the cry of faith, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
 Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion. Theresa Burke. Acorn Press.
Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion. Acorn Press.
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC. April 16, 2008.
 Sharing the Heart of Christ. https://www.priestsforlife.org/store/c-51-rachels-vineyard.aspx
Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion.