Few actions are rejected in Christian circles as the admittance of having had an abortion. While women can weep in a prayer line regarding the loss or miscarriage of a child, it is rare to see a woman weeping openly due to her having had an abortion. Miscarriage or the loss of a child is a loss where she had no choice while the woman’s grief who aborted a child is mostly silent due to the fact that she had a choice. Whether due to rape, high risk pregnancy or consensual sex she still deals with the fact that she had a choice.
Abortion is a quietly kept and shameful secret carried by many Christian women today. For the gentler and weaker sex, women carry the knowledge of finishing a life that never had an opportunity to live and that was fragile and reliant upon them to live.
While not condoning this decision, none of us are able to live in the shoes that another does and so I write hoping to shed some light on this deeply kept grief that it is held within the hearts of many women today that sit in our churches and we are mainly oblivious to their pain.
Many ask why. These women look like others. They are nice and helpful individuals who often are married with families. However generally speaking these pregnancies were something with which they couldn’t cope. This sounds simplistic but there are numerous reasons within this simplicity.
There is self shame and family shame. There is the fear of what others will think and how this pregnancy will change their lives and future opportunities. And so to never birth a child, but rather abort, helps one feel that this whole event never occurred.
Some women actually use the abortion process as a form of contraception. Some girls will claim that they will refrain from intercourse after abortion, but to starve sexual urges into submission is difficult and many find themselves pregnant and aborting again.
There are also the feelings of being hugely overwhelmed and incapable of going through a pregnancy or raising a child.
For the woman that has had an abortion, particularly as a young girl, she often carries her secret alone, not even telling her family, including her husband or parents. However she never forgets this deed as it can present pain like no other pain. She may reach the understanding that she is forgiven but to speak with God is not like speaking to people regarding this topic. God’s grace is immeasurable while man struggles to move beyond his own standards. For some women the sharing of their secret with others, means the risking of friendships.
And so how should believers cope when learning of this deed? We must understand that we likely have deep friendships with women that have had an abortion.
While some make it to the marriage altar with virginity in tact, not all do. Of those that don’t, some will get pregnant while others will not. How many women have counted and sweated the days concerning a late period when not wanting to be pregnant. Even if you haven’t, you do know someone who has been through this dilemma.
Judgment is never on our terms and acceptance is vital in these situations. Quoting Scripture and announcing rights and wrongs is not helpful in any way. She often knows that she has failed in some way and that there are many women that cannot have children while she chose to abort. This adds to her grief and fear of rejection.
Allowing a woman to talk and cry in a safe arena is comforting as years later these women are often still trying to come to terms with what they have done. God’s forgiveness is immediate but consequences and man’s mode of forgiveness often are not. These women may believe that God will punish them through the lives of their other children or perhaps God will not admit these women to heaven when the time comes. This may sound ridiculous but pain and grief warp perception.
Often women who have had an abortion find it comforting to talk of their aborted child and how they imagine them today. For this woman, she is a mother no matter what. Today she may have two living children but somewhere within her there is the loss of the third. And yet it remains the shameful secret that is rarely spoken of.
Photo by mrhayata via Flickr