Are Late-Term Abortions Safe for Women?
On our life’s journey, we often encounter moments of profound pain and grief that can leave us feeling lost and alone. The afflicted carry this trauma with them throughout their lives, many unaware of what is causing their chronic struggles while others doubt any hope of relief. The loss of a child through abortion is one such instance that many women and men quietly carry in their hearts. Amid this silent suffering, a beacon of hope and healing exists in Project Rachel.
Abortion does more than kill a child
The grim reality of abortion contradicts popular political opinions. Abortion not only tortures and cuts short the life of an innocent, vulnerable child, it also permanently changes the mother and father. Post-abortion, parents struggle through life with a profound inner shame and turmoil that prevents them from living the lives of joy they were made for.
One family’s experience
Sarah was 19-years-old when she found out she was pregnant. Afraid of disappointing her parents, Sarah and her boyfriend decided to abort their child. “We were in quick and then the baby was gone,” she said, “and it was something I never talked about.”
Sarah and her boyfriend later married and had two more children. “I realized I had done something wrong. I took my first baby away,” Sarah said. The reality brought a heavy burden to her heart and relationships. “Having an abortion is not a crime, but I imprisoned myself without bars,” she explained. Realizing the gravity of her abortion made her heart harden. She separated herself from friends and her merciful Father.
“I was functioning and doing all the right things; raising a Catholic family, working. I became very busy and didn’t have time to feel the shame and guilt,” but life was like a flatline, Sarah said. She felt no highs or lows. “I just existed.”
Sarah’s experience of pregnancy, abortion and pain stayed buried for 22 years. “I had never told anyone. I never discussed it with my husband,” she admitted.
A reason for hope
Founded in Wisconsin in 1984, Project Rachel has developed into a nationwide ministry with a network of specially trained laypersons, religious counselors and priests dedicated to providing pastoral care, support groups and referrals to licensed mental health professionals. Above all, Project Rachel offers the assurance of God’s unfailing mercy and love, reminding everyone that forgiveness and renewal are always within grasp.
“(They) loved me until I could love myself.”
A relative of Sarah’s worked with Project Rachel, but it wasn’t until after his passing that she felt compelled to attend a support group. Sarah immediately felt the peace of being received and understood. “I felt a hundred-pound weight lifted from my shoulders. It was God saying, ‘I’ve been waiting 22 years for you.’”
Kara Ross, the former associate director of Respect Life Ministries for the archdiocese, has seen the powerful impact Project Rachel has had on post-abortive women and also fathers who are often left unconsidered by society. “The ladies can look back on their whole life and see where God was taking care of them. Nothing a woman does makes her undeserving of God’s love, and these women show each other that so well,” said Ross. For the fathers, “it’s a different loss,” Ross explained. “They feel they had little control or maybe they didn’t know it happened. They come from a place of powerlessness and feel they lost the chance to be a dad for selfish reasons.” These men often seek the counsel of the Project Rachel priests. “They need to hear they can still be good men.”
Project Rachel in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has many priests involved who come to retreats and the ministry’s days of reflection. “They tell the men and women who come, ‘You are welcome, you are wanted and forgiven.’” The clergy who help with Project Rachel received special training from licensed counselors to help handle the trauma of abortion. “They are human and honest,” Ross said. “Every single one has been an instrument of mercy and love to these people hurting.”
Ultimately, Project Rachel is a means for suffering souls to be restored in love. “Their stories include a scar and God shows them how to live with the pain,” Ross said. She described the suffering as a chance for transformation, allowing everyone affected by abortion to become better people.
Such is and was the case with Sarah. In addition to attending a Project Rachel support group, Sarah went on one of the ministry’s bi-annual retreats. “I went in broken on Friday and came out loved on Sunday,” she said, smiling. “The Project Rachel women loved me until I could love myself.” Sarah was able to move forward in her life, embracing her past, and asking forgiveness from family and God. After years of silence, she and her husband were able to process together their experiences from decades ago.
How can we help?
More prayers are needed to open women’s hearts to Project Rachel, Ross said. “Pray for the mothers and fathers affected by abortion. We’re in a culture of such deep, hidden hurts. Sharing your story of abortion in Project Rachel can bring intense healing.”
Sarah said she would like every woman “to understand that having an abortion isn’t solving a problem. No one told me that I would have bigger problems when I walked out the door. No one told me it was a baby. I want people to know that they’re still loved by God. It’s so important to know that you can reconcile and accept forgiveness. If you know someone who is post-abortive, be present and listen. Love them and help them to get healing.”