During the month of October, the Church celebrates Respect Life Month. Beginning this week, The Pilot will present several reflections offered by women who have found healing from the pain of abortion through the post-abortion ministry, Project Rachel.
These women have offered to write about their experiences in the hope that other women and men who have suffered in the aftermath of an abortion will come to know the same peace and healing of God's divine and tender mercy. Due to the nature of the subject, the names of the authors have been withheld.
Our priest gave me the announcement about Project Rachel retreats from an issue of The Pilot last winter. Attending the retreat and subsequent support groups has made it possible for me to discuss the years of silent grief I endured. It has been helpful to reflect on events that led to that sad choice.
My husband and I had four sons. I yielded to pressure from doctors I consulted, who strongly encouraged me to terminate my fifth pregnancy. One of our sons was autistic; another had delayed development and, following diagnosis of his brother, my husband and I were told we carried a genetic risk for having another child with autism. In fact, both of our first two sons suffered head injury and oxygen insufficiency during birth.
We have two younger sons who fared better. Both are exceptionally intelligent, and highly sociable. Both are now adults, well educated, and self-supporting. One is married, but I am afraid he and his wife do not want children, because they fear having a disabled child.
My husband regretted loss of our fifth child to abortion. Within a few months he suggested we should have another child. But I was not able to become pregnant again. I have learned that this has been the experience of other women. This is especially tragic for women who terminated their first pregnancy.
I did fear that we might have another autistic child. The doctors I saw reinforced that idea. I have now spent many years learning everything I can about injuries that can occur with complications at birth, and things that might be done to make childbirth safer. I have become part of a grass-roots movement questioning whether some procedures used during labor and birth may have been adopted more for convenience than safety.
Our focus in Project Rachel on Scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments have been most helpful for me to better understand the nature of human error, sin, regret, and forgiveness. Project Rachel has been a healing experience for me. I have gained a new sense of hope and the courage to speak out on the sanctity of life.
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