She’s in front of you in the checkout line at the grocery store. She’s the treasurer of your son’s PTA. She teaches piano to your daughter. She and her family sit behind you at Mass. She’s your boss, your best friend, your sister, your mother. She’s you. And she’s had an abortion.
I’m not going to talk about statistics. Abortion isn’t about statistics, it’s about babies. I’ll let the other side talk numbers if they want to. Let’s just say that everyone in America is related to a baby who has been aborted. A baby you never got to hold or feed or play with or watch grow up. That little sister you didn’t have. That older cousin who never drove you to the mall. The uncle who didn’t teach you how to cheat at cards. The tapestry of our life loses another thread. Bit by bit, baby by baby, it comes unravelled. All of us are made less. We all lose. Think of your family at Thanksgiving, gathered around the table to share a meal and give thanks. Now imagine the empty chair (or chairs) of the family that was never born. How much fuller our hearts and lives would be with them in it.
Why a woman has an abortion is as personal as her own heartbeat. But surely only a very few made the choice without torment and despair. Did she see no way to support her baby? Did she have to hide her baby’s coming from her parents or boyfriend? Or did they pressure her into having an abortion? Was she too ashamed to find another way so her baby could live? Did her husband drive her to the clinic so she could abort their child? It’s never a simple medical procedure, no matter what she’s been told. She’ll never forget the smell of the disinfectant or that the nurses laughed at shared jokes. She’ll remember the sounds of the machines they used and how cold she was, trembling under the thin, blue sheet.
How many times over the rest of her life is she haunted by that day? Is there a single week that she doesn’t remember it and think of the life that once lived inside her? I don’t believe that most women “celebrate” their abortions, like some on the other side try to do. I believe they remember their babies. I believe they love the baby that wasn’t born. I believe that love is how they hold themselves together on those nights they can’t sleep and they try to imagine what their child would look like and what their baby would sound like when it laughed. I believe the wound of their abortion never fully heals.
But we can help. We can try and understand that there are situations leading up to every abortion that we don’t know about. We can’t know their struggle. So we’re called to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful (Luke 6:36). Being pro-life also means being pro-mercy. Listen to her story and show her the same acceptance and encouragement that you’d want to be shown. Honor her suffering. Offer her a chance to feel loved and not judged. Pray with her. Help her to find the help that she needs. Rachel’s Vineyard is a post-abortion healing outreach that offers women a path to recovery (1-877-HOPE-4-ME). These women are our daughters, our sisters, our cousins, our co-workers and our friends. They’re not statistics. Their tears are our tears.
“Thus says the Lord: In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping! Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more. Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, says the Lord. There is hope for your future!”