March Event-in-a-Box: Healing After Abortion:On January 19, 2018, I participated in my first March for Life. For as many times as I have shared my story publicly, spoken to post-abortive and abortion-determined women privately, and vocally professed my pro-life stance; I woke up on January 19 with a very heavy heart. It was a gut feeling that I can’t really describe. I’ve participated in a breast cancer walk, Alzheimer’s walk, and Autism Awareness 5Ks, because they have held some type of significant meaning to me. The March for Life not only held a significant meaning to me, but also a reminder. A reminder of the worst day of my life.
October 5, 2011, I walked into an abortion facility and took the life of my first child. This sentence, even 6 ½ years later, still stings. I have shared the circumstances surrounding that day many times. I walked into that facility thinking that “choice” was my only answer, but I walked out broken, hurt, and misguided. Not only did my unborn child die that day, but a part of myself died that day too.
Years of heartache went by filled with more broken relationships. A need to have alcohol in my hand, a man paying attention to me, and a busy social calendar were what controlled my life. That’s where I found my identity in the years following my abortion. My friends just thought I was doing what any mid-twenty-year-old woman would do in Dallas. However, no one around me knew the grief that I still held onto that I was trying to suppress with my nights out. The flashbacks that would still find their way into my head, the memories of that October day that would randomly resurface at any given moment. And the number of times I would fight back tears at the slightest thought of the “what-ifs.” After all, society had told me that I didn’t need to grieve my abortion. Nurses told me that it wasn’t a baby. My boyfriend convinced me that “it just wasn’t a good time right now.” So why was I hurting?
One morning, after another night out, I found myself sobbing alone in my apartment. I couldn’t live this way anymore. I couldn’t live with the pain of never feeling good enough, of feeling broken and lost. I was tired of hurting and knew that I needed to return to the one thing that I had given up on. I began attending a church in Dallas, TX, that advertised post-abortive recovery for women. I fought to convince myself I didn’t need it and I walked into the first session very half-heartedly.
Post-abortive recovery changed my life. It began the process of healing a wound that that never would have healed on its own. It was the hardest 12 weeks I’ve had to endure, but I would do it all over again. That piece of me that I felt had died was restored. My mom has even said that post-abortive recovery “brought her girl back.” And now, two years after completing recovery, I’ve been called to work in the pro-life movement. I’ve been purposed for this mission to rescue the preborn and help women from the devastation that I faced.
To post-abortive women:
I get it. I know the circumstances you were facing. I understand the thoughts that may have been going through your head that day. I understand the fear of the unknown you faced as you walked through the doors that day. And I also understand your hurt, even the hurt that you don’t think you have.
I hope that I can be a beacon of hope to you. I hope that my story shows you that even though society is telling you to keep quiet and not to worry about that day, I hope I can show you that you don’t need to keep quiet. I want you to see that it is okay to grieve the child you lost and there is hope beyond that grief. I want to show you that you are worthy of healing. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of freedom from regret and those memories. There’s grace waiting for you beyond your regret. I will hold your hand as you take that first step, and there are so many other women I have met that are ready to help and love you.
I’ve met women that have suffered multiple abortions, including women that didn’t seek healing until they were in their 60’s from an abortion that happened in their teens. You are not alone in this, you have a sisterhood standing behind you and will walk with you the whole way.
Helping the post-abortive woman
The post-abortive woman needs just as much love as the woman who chose life. The post-abortive woman is fighting psychological battles that she may not know how to communicate. Just like a woman facing a crisis pregnancy needs compassion and a team to stand up for her, a post-abortive woman needs to feel love and support, not shame. Society tells post-abortive women to keep quiet, so she is forced to fight the battles alone.
Read this for more information on mental and emotional side effects of abortion
3 points in communicating:
Avoid sharing statistics. Statistics are not going to give her the compassion she is yearning for. What she wants from you is a listening ear and possibly a shoulder to cry on. This woman is wanting you to listen to her story and meet her where she’s at mentally and emotionally without a shade of shame or judgement.
Build her trust. I’ve met women that sought abortion after some heart-breaking circumstances. I’m friends with women who have had multiple abortions and their stories are very traumatic. She doesn’t want you to act shocked by her story or surprised. She might confuse that with judgement. Communicate to her how sorry you for her loss. This will build the bridge to referring her to healing.
Finally, compassionately and delicately offer her resources for healing. Whether that is a healing program, or someone like myself that has been there and can just go have coffee with her. I have had the joy of mentoring girls through the same recovery program that I went through, and it all began over coffee (or Chinese food-I will accept either).
On January 19, 2018, I Marched for Life. I marched with my head held high. I marched for my child, I marched for the many children that have been lost to the devastation of abortion. I marched for the post-abortive women that still carry their grief. I marched to end abortion.
At the end of the day, I believe Grace wins. I believe in the power of forgiveness. I believe that we all have a story to tell and a cross to bear. I take up my cross daily with my platform in the pro-life movement. If you or someone you know would like to talk about their post-abortive regret or have questions on where to go for help, please feel free to contact me- I will sit and be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. I’ve been there too. If my story can save one woman, one child, one life- that one woman or one child, can save others. That is my purpose.
See the full video of my story and more information on post-abortive recovery.
March 2018 Event in a Box
If you can’t tell, we are focusing on the topic of Post-Abortive Healing and Recovery for the month of March.
We have included several types of outreach material that you can use on your campus.
Campus and Group Activities:
Speaker flyer- host a speaker on your campus for your group meetings or have a speaking event
Ally is the National Programs Coordinator for SFLA and has spoken at many events and churches
Tina, Executive Vice President of Students for Life of America, has volunteered with Rachel’s Vineyard for 7 years and uses her experience there to speak on post-abortive healing
Use the brochures included to reach out to the organizations for speakers
Brochures and postcards-make copies if needed
Use these as resources to give to women on your campus
Ask if you can leave some in the campus clinic
Leave some in your campus counseling office
Leave some in your campus ministry office
Reach out to local post-abortive organizations for speakers and materials
**DRAFT Students for Life of America National Conference Agenda**
6:30am Registration Opens
8:00 to 9:00 Religious Services
8:00 to 9:30 Breakfast
9:30 to 12:00 Morning General Session
Welcome by Students for Life –Kristan Hawkins, SFLA
Defending Your Beliefs –Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute
Knowing Your Rights – David French, Alliance Defense Fund (ADF)
Real Life Juno: Promoting Adoption on Campus – Ryan Bomberger, Radiance Foundation, and Amanda Lord, SFLA
12:30 to 1:45 Boxed Lunch (provided) and Networking Time
1:45 to 2:45 Workshop Session 1
2:50 to 3:50 Workshop Session II
3:55 to 4:55 Workshop Session III
4:55 to 6:00 Networking Break & Dinner
6:00 to 9:00 Evening General Session
The Real Meaning of Social Justice –Kristan Hawkins, SFLA, and Jason Jones
Students for Life of America National Student Awards
Defender of Life Award Presentation and Speech: Inside Planned Parenthood – Abby Johnson, intro given by David Bereit, 40 Days for Life
**Special Guest Speaker**
Session I Workshops
The Question: Do Graphic Images Work? Where and How Should They be Used: Fletcher Armstrong, CBR, Mary Kominsky, Silent No More, Kelley Stauffer, Silent No More
Having a Pro-Life World View– Jeff Ventrella, ADF
How Abortion Hurts Women and Men: Hear Their Stories – Silent No More and Operation Outcry
Save Lives on Campus: How to Get Started and Simple Steps You Can Take Everyday –SFLA Team
Especially for Teens: Motivating and Educating Your Peers to Stand Against Abortion – Bryan Kemper, Stand True, and Erik Whittington, Rock for Life
Especially for Law Students: History of the Pro-Life Movement and Strategy for Moving Forward – Mike Schwartz, Chief of Staff for Senator Tom Coburn
Especially for Medical Students: End of Life Issues and How Students Can Be Involved with the Battle –Bobby Schindler, Terri’s Foundation.
Session II Workshops
Knowing our “Goliath”: Planned Parenthood Panel –Steve Aden, ADF, Jeanne Monahan, Family Research Council Action, Kristan Hawkins, SFLA
Defending Life Abroad – Jeanne Head, NRLC, and Austin Ruse, C-FAM, Marie Smith, PNCI
Breaking the Apathy on Your Campus (New Events You Use to End Abortion) –Kortney Blythe, SFLA, Bryan Kemper, Stand True, and Kelsey Hazzard, SecularProLife.org
Reaching out and Expanding the Pro-Life Movement to Blacks –Alveda King, Priests for Life, and Ryan Bomberger, Radiance Foundation
Especially for Teens: Save Lives Today: Sidewalk Counsel –Pro-Life Action League and Franciscan University Students for Life Representative
Especially for Law Students: The Genocidal Attack on Embryonic Persons –Dr. Jennifer Lahl, Center for Bioethics and Culture Network
Especially for Medical Students: Health Care Rights of Conscience Issues for Current and Future Med Students –Steve Aden, ADF, and Dominique Monlezun, Med Students for Life, Dr. Sandy Christiansen M.D., CareNet
Session III Workshops
Using Movies to Share the Pro-Life Message– Jason Jones, IamwholeLife.com
How Abortion Affects Our Society and Environment – Steven Mosher, Population Research Institute
Finding the Funding for Your Pro-Life Work – David French, ADF, Kortney Blythe, SFLA, and John Paul Deddens, SFLI
Beating the Frustrations of Student Leadership – Pete Mockitias
Especially for Teens: Helping Women on Campus and in Your Community –Peggy Hartshorn, Heartbeart International, Serrin Foster, Feminists for Life, and Saint Louis University Students for Life Representative
Especially for Law Students: Law in Post-Roe America: Pro-Life Litigation State by State –Steve Aden, ADF, and Dan McConchie, AUL
Especially for Medical Students: The Contraception Connection? – Dr. Donna Harrison, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Jenifer Giroux, Human Life America, Dr. Angela LanFranchi, Breast Cancer Prevention Institute