On Sunday, January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court found Texas criminal abortion laws to be unconstitutional in a little court case called Roe v. Wade. I rarely write or speak on Pro-Life issues because I find it impossible to address these unbelievably weighty topics with aplomb. In everyday life I tend to be very rational, logical, even-keeled, sometimes even funny–but when it comes to the suffering I have witnessed from friends who have made this choice for themselves, or their families, or their careers… when I think of the regret and the pain and the horror they suffered–I am out of words. My heart is too broken, too angry at the wasted tears, suicide attempts, PTSD, and the paralyzing regret.
It is hard to speak so I stay silent.
This silence is a mistake.
But silence isn’t resolved by just sharing the latest article enumerating the horrors of abortion… the statistics after statistics.
How do I love and speak truth to so many women struggling with the decision to abort?
Will they even listen to me, knowing how committed I am to the Church’s teaching on life?
How do I even build enough trust that a woman in the impossible situation of considering abortion would speak to me?
How am I an ambassador of God’s Mercy?
An evangelizer of not just good news but the Best News?
How do I share Hope?
About 10 years ago I learned of an incredible apostolate within the Catholic Church called Project Rachel for those who have been involved with abortion. I have found that this resource has words when I have none. The USCCB describes the mission of Project Rachel as a diocesan-based network of specially trained priests, religious, counselors, and laypersons who provide a team response of care for those suffering in the aftermath of abortion. In addition to referring for Sacramental Reconciliation, the ministry provides an integrated network of services, including pastoral counseling, support groups, retreats and referrals to licensed mental health professionals.
The retreats referred to in this description for those who have suffered as the result of having an abortion are part of a program called Rachel’s Vineyard. According to the Rachel Vineyard’s website, the name “Rachel” refers to an old testament figure who was written about in the book of Jeremiah:
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!
We have so many Rachels in our lives. Some that we know about and others who have not yet shared their story with us. I encourage you to take some time to familiarize yourself with these resources so that you can have words when there are none. As often as we share information about Pro-Life advocacy (as we should!) we should also be sharing resources for those who have been affected by abortion… sharing opportunities for mercy, counseling, and healing. Here are a few more resources to share:
National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing
Rachel’s Vineyard: 877 HOPE 4 ME (877-467-3463)
National Hotline for Abortion Recovery: 866-482-LIFE (866-482-5433)
I have never been pregnant. I have never been scared, alone, and seemingly out of options. I have never found myself in a situation where I will be forever linked to a partner who is an addict, or violent, or broke. I have never been pressured by family or my career or my bank account or a man who claimed to love me to make a choice I never thought I would have to make. I have not ever seriously considered suicide. I do not know that level of paralyzing fear. I have not made life-altering decisions that would haunt me the rest of my life.
I’m sorry if I wasn’t there for you. If I said the wrong thing. If I was unapproachable. I’m sorry you were hurt. I’m sorry you were lied to. I’m sorry you were alone.
I cannot imagine what that is like… to feel so alone. So full of fear and regret. So stuck. But I have sinned. I have made serious choices that led to serious regret. And I have experienced God’s mercy. I have experienced the soul-shaking knowledge that God is my Father and I am His little girl. And you are His little girl. And He loves you. He didn’t stop loving you. He never stopped loving you. And wanting you back. Run back to Him. Let Him begin to heal your heart. You are my sister. You are loved. The Father’s mercy is there waiting for you. Don’t know how to get there? I will help you. Don’t want to ask for my help? Ask for my prayers. I am praying for you. I love you. Come home.
Mother Mary, watch over our sisters. Place baby Jesus in their arms. Teach them to laugh again, to live again, to hope again. Walk them to the foot of the Cross. Show them what True Love is.
Confession times from across the country can be found on www.MassTimes.org.
This post was originally published on TheCatholicOutpost.com January 23, 2017.