When Jackie sent an email to her church asking about its post-abortion recovery group, she used an alias and created a new account to hide her identity. Even now, 11 years after her abortion, and after sharing her story to dozens of other women, Jackie asked me not to use her real name. She still hasn’t told her daughter or many people at church that she’s had an abortion. “It’s just such a shameful secret,” she said.
Abortion is difficult for almost any post-abortive woman to discuss. Pro-choice activists attribute this reluctance to a pervasive stigma that stems from society’s “shame-based message that abortion is wrong.” They try to remove this shame by defending abortion, saying unborn babies are not persons or convincing women that abortion actually did them, or society, a favor.
However, in the church, we face the challenge of upholding the sanctity of life, while simultaneously ministering to women who feel overwhelming shame about their abortions. Our response is not to deny the sin and death inherent in abortion. Instead, we point women to the healing found in a community centered around the One who redeems us from all sin.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, one in every five women who gets an abortion identifies as a born-again, evangelical, charismatic, or fundamentalist Christian. Given that more than a million women abort each year in the US, this means a staggering 200,000 Bible-believing Christians annually. And according to Christian ministries working with this population, a vast majority of them will never reveal their secret.
In interviews with about a dozen post-abortive Christian women, I heard each say they deeply regret their abortions and experienced profound emotional and spiritual trauma as a result. Without a place to confess and seek recovery, women who’ve had abortions remain shackled by fear, grief, and guilt.
“These women have no idea how this is affecting every facet of their lives – their relationships with their husbands, their children,” said Kathy Rutledge, who leads a study called Surrendering the Secret at a non-denominational church in Kentucky. Rutledge said her shame kept her from volunteering at church and made her fear God’s punishment for her choice in the past. “I was… convinced that God was going to take my children from me,” she said.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today