Millions of U.S. women have had an abortion, and many grapple with grief, shame, guilt, or anger afterwards. How can you help? Post-abortion healing activist Teresa Bonopartis offers expert tips.
Editor’s Note: Theresa Bonopartis is the co-developer with the Sisters of Life of “Entering Canaan — a Sacramental Journey to an Inheritance of Mercy,” a post-abortion ministry resource originally published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Read the author’s bio below to learn more about Bonopartis and this ministry of post-abortion healing.
by Theresa Bonopartis
In working in post-abortion healing, we often get calls from family members or friends of those who have experienced abortion. Since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, more than 60 million abortions have taken place in our country. We all know someone who has had an abortion.
These calls usually come in two types:
Those who know the person they love is suffering and they want to help but don’t know how.
Those who do not think the abortion is impacting the person and want them to realize what they have done. They cannot believe it would not bother someone.
Let’s try to address both, in the hope that it will help those looking for answers.
Suffering After Abortion
It is difficult to see someone we love suffering from the heart-wrenching pain of abortion. So often those who have participated in abortion have bought into the lie that if they terminate their pregnancy, life will go back to the way it was before they became pregnant. Sadly, they find out too late that this is not true.
Often the person experiencing this pain will feel alone and isolated. It can seem that those closest just don’t care. Once the abortion is over, it appears that there is an expectation to move on with life. After all, this was supposed to solve the “problem” right?
Words like “you have to move on with your life” or “it’s over now, you will have other children” are often said in good faith, but are just not helpful. They leave the person feeling even worse. What often seems like the right thing for family and friends to say does anything but relieve the pain.
The problem is not that they don’t care, but that they have no idea what to say! Most often, they too have bought into the lies of abortion, believing it was the solution or going along with it because they truly thought the person wanted the abortion and wanted to support them in their decision.
Help Her Heal
So, what to do? There is no one answer, but here are some suggestions that may help those you love:
Yes, it can get tiring and you can feel helpless, but it is so important to be there and allow someone who has had an abortion to process her experience and all the emotions that go along with it. Abortion can leave guilt, shame, grief, and anger at oneself and others. There is a tendency to replay the experience over and over, and torture oneself with “would of, could of, should of” scenarios. It is important to point out that it is easy to see in retrospect, and there is no way to go back. But they can move forward for healing with the right help.
Research materials from Lumina, a hope and healing after abortion ministry, or educational sites that acknowledge feelings and support healing. Pass the information on to her. There are some great pamphlets and books out there that will validate her feelings, help her to not feel crazy or alone, and aide her on her journey.