When women begin to address a past abortion, many have similar questions. Ramah’s Founder, Sydna Massé, provides answers to many questions of the post-abortive woman:
I know God forgives us our sins. I know He has forgiven me. I’m full of anxiety and don’t know why. What is happening to me?
Spiritually sensitive post-abortive individuals often view their choice to abort as unforgivable in the eyes of God. Many also struggle in forgiving others who participated in their abortion choice. Post-abortive people are often the hardest on themselves for participating in their own child’s death. Few realize that regardless of the sin, it isn’t in God’s character to hold our sins against us. He wants to forgive and heal our hearts.
“There is no sin that God can’t forgive – even abortion,” Dr. James Dobson outlined during my first day working at Focus on the Family in October of 1991. “The problem may be you don’t forgive yourself, and you may need help.”
His simple point was amazingly accurate in my heart. No one had ever spoken to me directly as a post-abortive person. Dr. Dobson’s voice had deep compassion when he outlined the exact point of pain in my heart. He gave me an amazing gift of understanding. If I knew what was wrong, perhaps there was a path to recovering from the weight of my sin of abortion.
At that point, a decade had passed since my child’s death. I had worked through forgiving my former boyfriend who forced my abortion decision, the college that would have expelled me as a pregnant, un-wed student and others who thought abortion was a good idea in my situation. Forgiving myself seemed impossible and wrong. I felt that I deserved the worst in life because I had allowed my child to die.
While I certainly could blame others for encouraging my abortion choice, I had walked into that clinic out of my own free will. Therefore. I was ultimately responsible for my child’s death. In going against my female “genetic code” to protect my “young” at all costs, there was a huge fine to pay in regret. A decade was a long time to carry that weight.
Then I discovered a Focus booklet that outlined the symptoms Abortion PTSD (also called post-abortion syndrome or PAS). The list documented my regret perfectly – depression, suicidal tendencies, difficultly bonding with future children, anniversary syndrome, grief, anger, etc.
As God lifted the curtains from my eyes regarding this past choice, Scripture outlined His grace, mercy and forgiveness regarding ANY sin. My abortion seemed to not fit any biblical criteria, however. I felt like I was the worst of sinners, deserving any pain I encountered for sacrificing my child on the altar of “choice.”
Many post-abortive people pursue self-punishing behaviors like drugs and promiscuity as a result of the internal self-loathing that can result after abortion. It is easy to embrace a false belief that we deserve the worst in life for ending our child’s time on Earth. Post-abortive people are our own worst enemies.
When I gave birth seven years after my abortion, I had no concept of motherly love. Holding and caring for my tiny son ushered in the understanding of what I had lost in making that choice.
During my own abortion recovery program, God used the parable of the Unmerciful Servant found in Matthew 18:21-35 to help me forgive myself. After reading that passage aloud, my abortion recovery leader asked me to view myself in two distinct ways:
- As the richer servant whom the King forgave – the current Sydna whom God had just forgiven the debt of abortion
- As the second servant whom the richer servant would not forgive – the 19 year old Sydna, who had chosen abortion
If God had forgiven my sin of abortion, He was requiring that I personally forgive the younger version of myself to realize His peace. It helped to know that younger Sydna no longer existed. Everything the former Sydna had been was extinguished with each step of maturity God brought to my life.
The bitterness and anger I was holding against the younger version of myself had developed into a “bitter root” that prohibited any harmony in my life. Forgiveness was the only way to peace.
With a simple prayer, I asked God for help to forgive the woman I had been when I made that choice. Over several days, through Scripture, prayer and encouragement from others, I was able to end the war in my heart and release myself from that prison of regret.
With the depth of this sin removed from my heart, God gave me a deep peace and a job to help other women considering abortion. Since 1991, I believe I’ve spoken to more post-abortive individuals than anyone else on Earth, offering the same hope of God’s healing. Second generations of families are enjoying life because God helped me share my abortion regret with mothers considering abortion. Being involved in ending abortion helped my heart as well!
If you are discussing abortion, please offer the direct compassion to post-abortive listeners. Speak to us directly, offering us the hope of God’s healing, even after abortion. Always have a local pregnancy center’s information available so you can refer to their abortion recovery program
I’m glad God is in the business of forgiving each of us, no matter what the sin!
If I start crying about my past abortion, will I ever be able to stop?
“I can’t stop crying, Sydna,” the caller shared her grieving after abortion. “All I can think about is the child I lost 20 years ago. What’s happening to me? Am I going crazy?”
While abortion is a death experience, rarely do post-abortive people give themselves permission to grieve. Since we made the choice to reject parenthood, we often falsely believe we don’t need to grieve. Ignoring tears is often the first step on the typical American post-abortive journey.
The post-abortive can also be terrified that if they allow their tears to start, they may not be able to stop them! Fears of potential suicide idealization can shut off grief temporarily. Tears still come, often suddenly, in indirect moments like watching a heartbreaking movie or hearing about another tragic death.
Other wounded hearts may find that they are crying for no reason at all. They rarely connect their tears to their choice because they are working to “forget” their abortion experience.
Grieving after abortion is an important part of healing. Science has proven that shedding emotional tears are the body’s way of releasing stress and reduce pain. So there truly is such a thing as good grief!
Biochemist and “tear expert”, Dr. William H. Frey II, at the St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center in Minnesota, discovered that reflex tears are 98 percent water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. Dr. Frey found that emotional tears contained more of the protein-based hormones that act as a natural painkiller. Our body makes these proteins when under stress.
This research confirms that the body rids itself of these chemicals through tears, explaining why we often feels “better” after a good cry. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones.”
Grieving after abortion is often triggered by a subsequent death experience. When my friend and neighbor, Dianne, was murdered in 1990, I had to cry. Because she died through murder, I would jump back and forth from deep-seated anger against her killer to massive mourning spells. With each tear, I was reminded of my aborted child. God triggered my mourning for my aborted child, Jesse, with Dianne’s death. When my father and mother passed away, I cried for not only them, but for every person or pet missing from my life. Each death experience started renewed mourning for these past losses.
Human beings don’t get over grief, we get through it. I won’t ever “get over” my parent’s deaths and I don’t want to! Their birthdays, holidays, anniversaries will keep these loved ones close to my heart forever. The same is true for my Jesse.
Even at funerals, society is rarely comfortable around hearts that are in deep sorrow. Some mourners can become overwhelmed with emotion that they cannot speak. Mourning leads some to make some strange sounds like wailing. While this sound is welcomed in other nations, American society doesn’t respond well to these grief noises.
Grieving after abortion is often best accomplished in private so that these emotions don’t impact the peace of a household. Adult tears can be difficult for small children to understand as they may internalize the adult’s grief to the point where they believe they’ve done something wrong. Partners who cannot fix the pain can add anger to their comments hoping to stop the obvious sorrow from making them uncomfortable.
At some point, grieving after abortion can overcome an individual like a wave on a beach. It rolls in, knocks you off your feet, and rolls out leaving you breathless. There is rarely a schedule of when the next wave will hit. Many triggers can spawn tears and it is important to express these emotions when they arrive.
Crying reduces our defenses and initiates a deeper emotional strength afterwards. We often just need to give ourselves permission to grieve. Good grief needs to be encouraged as it enhances God’s comfort as well! As Isaiah 61:1-3 outlines, God wants to, Comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…
If you have experienced an abortion, or have a loved one struggling after this choice, an abortion recovery programs can help. Contact your local pregnancy center to learn more about their post-abortion support!
For more information on Dr. William Frey’s study of tears, visit this link – – http://www.scienceiq.com/facts/scienceoftears.cfm.
Does God punish the post-abortive us for aborting our children?
It is common for a post-abortive person to believe they deserve punishment from God for rejecting His gift of a child. Some people certainly do spout legalistic beliefs that misrepresent God’s forgiving nature towards women who have aborted. It’s important to learn more about God’s character by reading the Bible.
The post-abortive are often anxious about their ability to get pregnant after an abortion. A struggle with infertility can sure seem like Divine and deserved punishment!
Post-abortive people also punish themselves over these consequences. Maybe that is eating too much or too little, delving into promiscuity by having sex often, or even remaining in abusive relationships. In participating in dysfunctional behaviors, it often FEELS like it is God who is punishing.
Then there is the issue with infertility. It is impossible to explain why God allows one woman to have five abortions and five live children or another to have one abortion and no future children. That number of children was established before the foundations of the earth (Jeremiah 1:5).
When I was unable to get pregnant six years after my abortion, my doctor said, “The lining of the womb is extremely delicate. It doesn’t take much to ruin it. Surgical suction machines are likely the most destructive force in degrading the lining of the womb. But there are tests we can do to see if this is your situation.”
I had never considered that the abortion procedure could lead to the end of my ability to get pregnant. Learning the risks of abortion before making that choice is so critical but rate.
The deep need to nurture that is within every woman is impacted by abortion. God created us with a genetic blueprint to “defend our young” as well. Abortion short circuits the nurture and defend nature of our hearts.
It certainly feels like punishment when you cannot fulfill the God given desire to nurture a child. It feels like punishment when you desperately want to do things over or differently. Obviously there are no “do-overs” with abortion as it is a permanent choice.
For God to be true,
For God to have no shifting or variance within Him,
For God to be the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow,
Then God will not make exceptions for you or anyone else in this one sin (no matter how huge it feels today) to be punished differently than any other sin. This is outlined in Hebrews 13:8 – God is the same yesterday and today and forever.
God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness apply to the sin of abortion the same as any other sin. God forgives any sin completely when we ask Him to do so in prayer. Once it is forgiven, God does not go on punishing you for it. Typically, this is when the individual struggles with self-forgiveness.
When we sin against our own bodies in a sexual way, the consequences of the sin may be played out in our bodies. That does not mean God is punishing us. If that were the way that God punishes the sin of abortion (i.e., by not allowing you to have future children), then all women who have abortions would have the same type of punishment. That clearly is not the case!
The reality of the risks of abortion is that it could impact your body in a way that would make conceiving or carrying children difficult or may not happen at all. Even without abortion, women who get a sexual transmitted disease/infection risk losing their fertility also.
God’s mercy and grace is not a magic pill to erase those physical conditions that may have occurred during the abortion. What is experienced is the damaging reality of the risks of abortion, which may have traumatized your soul and your body in a deep way (abortion PTSD).
Our fertility is God’s gift to us. It is very hurtful when we realize that we brought this choice into our own lives and damaged this gift from God. We want God to turn back the clock and erase what we have done to ourselves.
God will erase the sin from your accounts but to be true to who He is, God does not erase the consequences of any other sins or this sin from our lives just because He has forgiven us. What God does is provide the peace and strength to cope with those consequences. It begins with forgiving yourself. It begins with being real with God about your feelings.
The enemy of God will repeatedly push thoughts into human hearts that God is punishing in nature. If the enemy of God succeeds in convincing you of this mistruth, then you will not have true freedom from your abortion or in your life.
An abortion recovery program, often offered through churches or local pregnancy centers, are designed to help you address all these forgiveness issues that may be haunting you. Reading Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion can also help begin the abortion recovery process.
Why didn’t God stop me from aborting when I asked Him to do so?
Many faith-based hearts prayed before they aborted, asking for God to intervene if it wasn’t His will for them to abort. One person outlined, “When I walked into the clinic, I prayed that God would send someone to stop me if aborting wasn’t His will for my life. When no one stopped me, I felt like God was saying it was okay. Why didn’t He stop me?”
As we discussed that day in her life, she was able to actually remember struggling to find a parking spot near the abortion clinic. She said, “I thought, God, is this you trying to stop me?” Sadly, as soon as she asked God that question, someone pulled out right in front of the clinic. This dear woman actually believed that was God saying, “I want you to abort.”
Playing these type of games with God can be quite confusing. Thankfully, God has communicated His perspective on abortion in a Scripture passage from Deuteronomy 30:19 – I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore chooselife, that both you and your descendants may live.
Anger towards God for not physically halting our drive to abort is common in the early days of understanding abortion’s impact on our lives. It is a natural, yet wrong, human tendency to hold God accountable for what we have done to ourselves. We mistakenly believe somehow it is God’s fault because He did not stop us in the first place. But by reading this passage, we understand that God does not support abortion in any situation.
It very well could be that God did send people into your life or cause situations to get your attention. Perhaps we simply didn’t recognize the help as coming from God.
God gave us the gift of having a free will. By His very nature He does not demand we do things His way, even though it is the best way. God lets us go our own way, make our own choices. If we choose to do things our way without consulting Him then the Bible tells us that way is death. This is outlined in Romans 6:23:For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God wants you to know that He loves and forgives you and is close to your heart. He often speaks to your heart but maybe you can’t recognize His voice. Begin with a humble prayer, asking for His help in understanding your pain. Then begin to read the Bible daily and you’ll discover Him in a much deeper way.
An abortion recovery program, over offered through churches or local pregnancy centers, are designed to help you understand and build a relationship with God. Reading Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion can also help begin a new relationship between you and the Creator of the Universe.
Will I ever laugh or smile again?
Absolutely! Right now it seems like you will never laugh again. Grief is often like that in that it robs us of the ability to laugh and smile. Thankfully, grief also changes over time and with God’s direct healing balm.
Many post-abortive people actually grieve without realizing it. Once the healing takes root in your life, you will laugh and smile without the underlying current of guilt and shame of your abortion that robbed you of true joy and happiness before. This is outlined in John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
When you have lived so long with the dark cloud of abortion over you, it may actually feel foreign or wrong to have fun and laugh without the memory of your abortion overshadowing that moment.
When you begin your recovery process, you may find yourself smiling and laughing more. That is a good thing. You’re no longer beating yourself up so you’re free to enjoy life again. Others may notice first that you are different. Give it time, it will happen gradually as you surrender to God your pain he will replace it with the abundance of Christ who is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, right thinking, lovely thoughts, virtue….
Whew! Who couldn’t smile about that? This is verified by Galatians 5:22, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness . . .
How do you/I know that God has REALLY forgiven you/me?
Sometimes we lack confidence in God that He has forgiven us for making a choice that feels worse than any other sin. We feel like we must somehow make it right before God will forgive us. That need is topped off with our feelings of guilt over our abortion which can make it very difficult to accept God’s forgiveness.
If you haven’t forgiven yourself then it can be very hard to know in your heart that God has forgiven you. There may be others we need to forgive that hinder us from knowing in our heart God’s forgiveness.
Colossians 2: 13-14 (NKJV) outlines, And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
If we have truly repented and asked God for forgiveness, it has been done! It is a fact. Facts don’t always give us good feelings they are just fact. Facts are something we can bank on in our heads. Receiving that truth into our hearts is more difficult and will take readjusting our thoughts by speaking the truth to ourselves, thinking the truth and living the truth of God’s forgiveness.
Often, we have not forgiven ourselves which will rob us of knowing we have God’s forgiveness. Working through the healing process will free you to experience God’s exoneration.
If we are still in denial about any areas of our abortion then you may not feel forgiven. God still has more work to do. Denial often divides the mind from the anguish of the heart. Your agony over abortion may be keeping something at bay that needs to be brought to the light. You will need to examine your heart and pray that if there is something that is preventing you from knowing and accepting God’s forgiveness that He will reveal it to you so that you can surrender that to Him.
Feeling forgiven is hard, especially if you think your relationship with God is beyond repair. The most essential task is to accept emotionally what you already know intellectually. Lean heavily on scripture promising unwavering forgiveness from God, such as outlined below:
- Romans 8:1 — Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
- 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
- Psalm 130:3-4 — If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness.
How do I forgive those that forced me to abort?
Mark 11:25b outlines, Forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you.”
Matthew 6:15 relays, If you do not forgive men their sins, your father in heaven will not forgive you.
Women whose parents forced them to abort had no real choice in the matter. By not wanting to be another disappointment to their parents they succumbed and allowed the abortion to happen. Each time they are with these parents, anger and resentment emotions may arise. The parents can become a reminder of their abortion pain as well so the adult child may avoid any contact with them.
Partners who insist upon abortion are often abusive in other ways. Out of fear, the woman agreed, despite the fact that she may not have felt she had any other choice. In these cases, the relationship typically ends after the abortion is complete. Abortion is not the glue that holds a relationship together but a knife that tears it apart.
If a parent forced the decision on their minor child, I believe the abortion is her parent’s sin. The woman’s sin may be fornication (or in the case of marriage — and a husband who forces his wife to abort another man’s child — it may be adultery). If her partner forced the decision, the woman may still feel like she sinned in not being able to stand up for the life of her child.
Once you receive God’s forgiveness for your role in the abortion, you can begin the process of forgiving others. Here is what the Bible says about offering forgiviness:
• Colossians 3: 13 — Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
• Matt 6: 14-15 — For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
How do we forgive someone who is not sorry for their actions? This could be a person who may still think it was the best thing for us or that the abortion was no big deal? It is important to look at what forgiveness is NOT:
- Forgiveness is not forgetting what they did to us.
- Forgiveness is not excusing them for their actions.
- Forgiveness is not understanding why they did what they did.
- Forgiveness is not trusting them again because trust must be earned.
Someone once said that holding bitterness and anger against another person is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies! Forgiving others is for US! Otherwise we are invisibly chained to them by the cables of bitterness, hatred or anger. God is clear what He wants us to do in this situation, as outlined in Ephesians 4:31: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Another part of forgiving is getting rid of a “vengeful” spirit. Forgiving others takes the chains off of our hearts and gives them to God. God will not let them off His hook. He will deal with their sin in the hearts, minds and souls. Rest assured that revenge belongs to God. He’s better at it than we are because He knows their hearts.
You will know that forgiveness has begun when you no longer want them to hurt or when you can think about them and wish them well. Forgiveness is a process.
It may take time to let go of bitterness and unforgiveness that has been held on to for many years. Beginning the process of forgiveness takes guts, but it will reap great benefits for you in your life.
Will I be able to live a “normal” life again after I go through recovery?
If “normal” means that somehow the clock will be turned back and then abortion is erased from your memory, then NO! Normal means living life in freedom or maybe learning for the first time what a normal life is really like and not returning to captivity again. This is outlined in Galatians 5:1: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. . .
As you surrender all of the abortion and the post-abortion behaviors to God, life will return to a normal pace again without the abortion clouding your every thought. There are thousands of us on the other side of that pain to attest to this truth.
The intense grief you have felt may be lessened but grieving a child will last through out your life. Grief and memories will come again but you will have a new outlook, new ways of coping with the reminders. God will help you life the rest of your life to the fullest!
There will always be reminders that arise. You will have to deal with those but the guilt, shame, and the old behaviors you used before will not be needed. You will find yourself not slipping back to the old way of living again. When grief or tears come then, you will see them for what they really are and be able to accept them in ways that will lead to victory instead of the pain you once harbored.
Will the abortion recovery class forced me to share my abortion truth with anyone?
Abortion recovery programs will not force you to do anything you don’t want to do. Many women arrive in class while sharing with loved ones that they are going to a “Bible study.” As they work through these emotions, God often begins to set their hearts at peace and leads them.
There is such a peace that comes over a heart when the skeletons in our closets are disposed. The enemy of God enjoys “blackmailing” minds with the lie that if anyone discovered this truth, they’d hate us. That is simply not the case.
Understand that discovering a past abortion may create harsh feelings within others that may take time to address. You have lived with your abortion for a long time but this is new for them. If they just learned of it you will need to be very patient with them as they work through their own feelings. Be sure to ask for their forgiveness and do not judge them if they are unable to do so at the present time.
If God leads you to share this truth, be short and concise about your abortion and tell them why you are doing this study and the benefits you hope to gain. Then give them permission to ask you questions later. Outline that this healing is a process and you may have times when you can’t talk about it. Then promise to talk with them later when you are ready if that happens.
Prepare to be truthful in your answers. If they had a part in your abortion decision, be honest about how that affected you. Do not be angry or overwhelm them. This is not a time to heap all of the negative outcomes you had because of their pressuring you to abort. Answer them with grace, the same grace that God has given you as outlined in Colossians 4:6: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
What happens after my abortion recovery class?
We are never done so to speak. Finishing an abortion recovery program does not mean you are completely healed. By working through the program, you will feel much better. We are continually learning and growing as outlined in Philippians 1:6: Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
God will continue to work in your life and bring new areas to mind that may need to be surrendered to Him. When the enemy of God accuses you in the future, and he will, determine to not let yourself fall back into old ways of coping/behaviors. Read Ephesians 6:10-18 for more information on protecting yourself from spiritual warfare.
When trials surrounding your abortion come, pull out your study and review what God showed you. Stay in God’s word and let it soak into your soul. God cannot comfort you with what you do not know. Knowing His word is your sword against the enemy.
You may find that you have a desire to do something that will make a difference in other women’s lives. There are lots of ways that God will use you if you’re open to His leading.
If you want to make a difference in other women’s lives so that they do not choose abortion, a local pregnancy center may be a good place to give your time. Get involved in your own church or find a church where you can fellowship and grow in Christ.
Sydna Massé compassionately leads you on the difficult journey through denial, anger, and grief, to forgiveness, redemption, and letting go. Her Choice to Heal offers a road map to healing – practical suggestions, resources for help, space to journal, with the encouragement and hope.
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