Not illegal ones in “back alleys”—which is more propaganda than reality—but legal ones in federally protected “clinics.” These women do not consider themselves freed, empowered, or ennobled because of their abortion. Rather, they testify that they were enslaved, weakened, and wounded. They were, in short, given a false promise, which is the essence of all temptation. They were told that this “procedure” would solve their problems. Instead, it brought more problems than they care to think about, namely, the whole range of physical and psychological wounds often described by the term “post-abortion syndrome.”
What are these women doing this year that is different from what they have done over the past 30 years? In our nation’s Capitol and in cities across the country, they will gather publicly at rallies and prayer events and hold signs that say, “I Regret My Abortion.” The Washington, DC gathering will, in fact, be at the steps of the Supreme Court, on the very date, January 22, that abortion was legalized 30 years ago. This campaign is being sponsored by NOEL (the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life), the Justice Foundation, and Priests for Life.
But why do this? If abortion is so painful, some will ask, why make a public display out of one’s experience? The answer is understood only if one knows how shameful and painful the silence of abortion is. The grief that follows abortion is, in the words of Dr. Theresa Burke, “forbidden grief.” The grief is not acknowledged; it is not validated. People don’t send sympathy cards or talk about it openly. In fact, those who grieve their child killed by abortion are often made to feel silly for feeling sad. After all, they are told by society that they exercised a choice that solved a problem. Why grieve over that?
Such questions, of course, reveal a complete blindness to the fact that killing one’s child hurts, and leaves a wound that Mom does not ever forget. These women are tired of having pro-choice advocates pretend to speak for them. They want to tell the world, in their own words, that what is too easily celebrated as a “choice” and a “right” is in fact a painful burden.
Not every post-abortive woman has found enough healing to be able to participate in these public rallies or hold these signs. But the participants in Silent No More pray that their presence will assist their sisters on the road to healing, and give them some measure of comfort to know that their grief is no longer forbidden.
Fr. Pavone is the Founding Director of Priests for Life. You may contact Priests for Life at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314; Tel: 888-PFL-3448 or 718-980-4400; Fax: 718-980-6515; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.priestsforlife.org.