Love and Acceptance or Rejection and Condemnation:
Our Response to the Postabortive Man or Woman
By Sheila L. Harper
I greeted the pastor who approached our exhibit booth with a friendly hello and handshake. I handed him our brochure and began my 20-second version of the SaveOne ministry. As he listened his smile faded and his eyes narrowed. This was a look I had seen only a handful of times. I finished my advertisement and braced myself for what I knew was coming. His gaze slowly went to my feet and back to my eyes as he said with much disgust. “We don’t have women like that in our church.” He tossed the brochure on our table, turned, and walked. My heart was broken, not for myself and the judgment I had just received, but for the women and men who were sitting in his congregation week after week unable to turn to their pastor or their church for help after their abortion.
With 47 million abortions in America since 1973,1 no church is exempt from the effects of abortion. One in six women who have had abortions are evangelical Christians. This means 5.6 million women in our churches today have chosen abortion. In addition, 40 percent of women ages 15 to 44 have had at least one abortion.2
Many of these women suffer from what is known in pro-life circles as Post Abortion Syndrome. They not only have varying degrees of guilt and shame, but they also are dealing with a deep-rooted issue of unforgiveness. They cannot accept forgiveness from God because they do not feel worthy to ask, or they refuse to forgive themselves.
Most women who experience abortion are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, suffer from depression, have deep feelings of unshakable guilt, disrupt the bonding process with their children, develop eating disorders, have uncontrolled outbursts of emotion, suffer from thoughts of suicide,3 have an increased risk of breast cancer, and have ongoing problems with sleep disturbances.4 This is not an exhaustive list, but the most typical symptoms.
Furthermore, PAS is not limited to women. Men also suffer from many of these same symptoms. Pastors can no longer exclude men from the help they give to those who have had an abortion.
Concerning men and PAS, Brad Mattes, president of Life Issues Institute, says, “When the conscience kicks in, symptoms appear. The most common symptom is anger, and he will act on that anger.” Men do not feel there is anyone available who understands their pain. They are unfairly stereotyped and pushed to the side as though their grief and feelings of loss do not matter. Take into account the 47 million abortions mentioned earlier. Imagine the hurting women who experienced those abortions; now add as many hurting men to that equation — the numbers are astonishing.
This is why we can no longer sweep the abortion issue under the rug. Our churches are dealing with the rampant divorce rate, starting to address the problem with pornography, and even helping victims of childhood sexual abuse. But for some reason, abortion is being ignored. Abortion is an ugly issue to deal with; but even though it is difficult to address, we must not tolerate it.
To read the rest of this article by obtaining a downloadable PDF of the entire summer 07 issue of Enrichment journal, click here.