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The Decision Of Life

The Decision Of Life
Gary Bergel

Part One

When You Were Formed in Secret

Men and women have always wanted to know about life before birth. Countless myths, theories and superstitions surrounded the mysterious first nine months of existence, which every human being spends in the shadowy, warm, watery world of the mother’s womb.

Four centuries ago, all that man knew about developing babies could have been printed on one or two pages. Today, science and medicine have provided us with incredible insights into this formative process, and we now know more about human life before birth than ever before in history. Today, you can know in exquisite detail what you were like when you were so marvelously and majestically formed in the secret of your mother’s womb. This is an account about you and your life before birth.

Day 1: You began when the sperm cell from your father met and united with the ovum (egg) cell from your mother. During this act of conception, or fertilization, the two cells became a single living cell. You began. A unique individual, you never existed before in the history of the world, and you are not entirely like either of your parents nor are you entirely like any of your ancestors. When conceived, you were so tiny that you could not be seen with the naked eye. You were but the size of a pin prick, smaller than a grain of sand, smaller even than a period typed at the end of a sentence.

Week 1: You continued to grow at a rapid rate and began looking like a cluster of cells. You actually looked a bit like a variety of berry. so at this stage of your growth you were termed a “morula,” which is Latin for mulberry. Your mother had no idea you had “nested” into her womb, and she had not yet missed a menstrual period.

Week 2: Having now firmly situated yourself in the supplying goodness of your mother’s womb, at about 10 days you begin to send her signals that you are there. Through placental chemicals and hormones you begin to influence virtually all of your mother’s organs and tissues. She will soon miss a menstrual period, experience some “morning sickness” or tenderness in her breasts, and she might suspect that you have been conceived. Even though you exert this absolute influence, you and the balloon-like sac of waters which surrounds and protects you are still smaller than the seed of an apple.

Weeks 3 and 4: As you completed the first month of your life you were now about the size of an apple seed or one-sixth to one-fourth of an inch in length. Your heart began beating at three weeks and has set the “rhythm of life” for all your days. Your brain began to form, and soon you would send out impulses throughout your body. On your 24th day you had no arms or legs. Then suddenly, two days later, tiny buds for your arms appeared and then your legs budded in only two more days! In a mere four weeks you looked every bit like a tiny baby and even began to react and respond like one.

Month 2: During this period you were able to move with delightful grace in your buoyant world. By the end of the month you could swim. Unborn children your age have been recorded doing flips in less than two seconds! With your head “resting on your chest,” the tip of your nose showed up on your 37th day, and you could pull away if it was tickled. As your inner ear formed, you began to hear the rushing sounds of your watery world. By the end of the month your mother had missed two menstrual periods and probably had confirmed you were there. When she checked in with her doctor he probably pointed out that at this stage you were “a splendidly functioning baby.”

Month 3: In your third month of life you grew to be more than two inches in length and you now weighed one ounce, just a little less than this booklet. Your movements became more energetic, less mechanical and more graceful and fluid, very much like an astronaut floating and enjoying his gravity-free space capsule. Your arms grew to be as long as printed exclamation marks and your fingers and toes quickly formed, complete with fingerprints which gave you a separate legal identity that would never change, except for size.

As your eyelids closed-as thin as butterfly wings-and as translucent skin covered you-looking like a frosted glass jacket slipped on-you assumed an ethereal, transcendent beauty. Special grace seemed to envelop and permeate you as you moved into your second trimester of life.

Month 4: Your face took on facial features similar to, yet distinct from, those of your parents and grandparents. Fine hair began to grow on your head, and eyebrows and eyelashes appeared to enhance your unique beauty. As you squirmed and fluttered about, it is possible that your hand found your mouth and that you sucked your thumb for the first time. You grew and grew until you became half as tall as you would be at birth.

Months 5 and 6: Sometime before the end of this second trimester you had a very wonderful experience-you heard and recognized your mother’s voice. Perhaps this is why you had such peace upon your countenance during this period. One observer said you looked as if you might be awaiting eternity. Your eyes once again opened, and this time you could perceive the shadowy outlines and dimly lighted forms in your environment.

Months 7-9: During the last three months before your birth, your mother, with her womb stretched to its limits, probably felt like she had been pregnant forever. As you tripled in weight to more than seven pounds and grew to 20 inches during these same months, you began to find your quarters becoming very cramped. As you settled into waiting, you found your favorite positions when possible, or sometimes you just pulled your knees up to your nose . . . and waited.

Birth Day: As you quietly waited, “locked” in position for birth, a time came when you heard a loving whisper from afar saying, “It is time.” And with all the strength of your being you responded with a resounding “Yes!” And then the sounds around you began to change as you felt the first squeezes from the uterine muscles which you triggered into action.

Within hours, the noble labor of birth transported you from your warm, watery world out into an environment which was a chilly 20 degrees colder. Not having the buoyancy of water around you, it was harder for you to hold your head upright and five times as hard for you to breathe. You experienced pangs of hunger as you adjusted from a constant flow of nourishment to some six meals a day. Though you nursed clumsily at first, you soon caught on. After a good meal you would snuggle, drawing up your arms and legs as you had in the womb.

You soon began communicating your discomforts and needs to your mom and you again found solace in her shared warmth. If she held your head to her beating heart you heard it and fell asleep.

As your mother looked down upon you, she spotted your fingernails which needed trimming, and as she continued to study you in your sleep, her heart would often fill with joy, realizing that you would now know grace in the light of life. Her hope had become a certain, living love.

Part Two

A Moral Crisis

Dr. James Dobson

It is interesting to note that the woman who plans to terminate her pregnancy usually refers to the life within her as the “fetus.” But if she intends to deliver and love and care for the little child, she affectionately calls him “my baby.” The need for this distinction is obvious: If we are going to kill a human being without experiencing guilt, we must first strip it of worth and dignity. We must give it a clinical name that denies its personhood. That has been so effectively accomplished in our society that an unborn child during his first six months in gestation can now be sacrificed with no sense of loss on anyone’s part. There would be a far greater public outcry if we were destroying puppies or kittens than there is for the million abortions that occur in America each year. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz reflects the casualness with which we have accepted these deaths by writing, “[Abortions] should be available in the same way as, say, an operation for beautification of the nose.”

I agree with Francis Schaeffer that the changing legal attitudes toward abortions carry major implications for human life at all levels. If the rights of the unborn child can be sacrificed by reinterpretation by the Supreme Court, why could not other unnecessary people be legislated out of existence? For example, the expense and inconvenience of caring for the severely retarded could easily lead to the same social justification that has encouraged us to kill the unborn (i.e., they will be an expensive nuisance if permitted to live). And how about getting rid of the very old members of our population who contribute nothing to society? And why should we allow deformed infants to live, etc.? Perhaps the reader feels those chilling possibilities would never materialize, but I’m not so sure. We already live in a society where some parents will kill an unborn child if they determine through amniocentesis that its sex is not the one they desired.

There are many other aspects of the abortion issue that underscore its inherent evil, but the most important evidence for me comes from the Scriptures. Of course, the Bible does not address itself directly to the practice of abortions. However, I was amazed to observe how many references are made in both the Old and New Testaments to God’s personal acquaintance with children prior to birth. Not only is He aware of their gestations but He is specifically knowledgeable of them as unique individuals and personalities.

Consider the following examples:

1. The angel Gabriel said to John the Baptist, “and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).

2. The prophet Jeremiah wrote about himself, “The Lord said to me, ‘I knew you before you were formed within your mother’s womb; before you were born I sanctified you and appointed you as my spokesman to the world'” (Jeremiah 1:4, 5 TLB).

These two individuals were hardly inhuman embryos before their birth. They were already known to the Creator, who had assigned their life’s work by divine decree.

3. In the book of Genesis we are told that Isaac “pleaded with Jehovah to give Rebekah a child, for even after many years of marriage she had no children. Then at last she became pregnant. And it seemed as though children were fighting each other inside her. ‘I can’t endure this,’ she exclaimed. So she asked the Lord about it. And He told her, ‘The sons in your womb shall become two rival nations. One will be stronger than the other; and the older shall be the servant of the younger!”‘ (Genesis 25:21-23, TLB).

Again, God was aware of the developing personalities in these unborn twins and foretold their future conflicts. The mutual hatred of their descendants is still evident in the Middle East today.

4. Jesus Himself was conceived by the Holy Spirit, which fixes God’s involvement with Christ from the time He was a single cell inside Mary’s uterus (Matthew 1:18).

5. The most dramatic example, however, is found in the 139th Psalm. King David describes his own prenatal relationship with God, which is stunning in its impact.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” (Psalm 139:13-16, TLB).

That passage is thrilling to me, because it implies that God not only scheduled each day of David’s life, but He did the same for me. He was there when I was being formed in utter seclusion, and He personally made all the delicate inner parts of my body. Imagine that! The Great Creator of the universe lovingly supervised my development during those pre-conscious days in utero, as He did for every human being on earth. Surely, anyone who can grasp that concept without sensing exhilaration is stone-cold dead!

From my point of view, these scriptural references absolutely refute the notion that unborn children do not have a soul or personhood until they are born at full term. I can’t believe it! No rationalization can justify detaching a healthy little human being from his place of safety and leaving him to suffocate on a porcelain table. No social or financial considerations can counterbalance our collective guilt for destroying those lives which were being fashioned in the image of God Himself. Throughout the gospels,

Jesus revealed a tenderness toward boys and girls (“Suffer the little children to come unto Me”), and some of the most frightening warnings were addressed to those who would hurt them. It is my deepest conviction that He will not hold us blameless for our wanton infanticide. As He said to Cain, who had killed Abel, “Your brother’s blood calls to me from the ground!”

Surely, other Christians have drawn the same conclusion. I must ask, where are those moral leaders who agree with me? Why have pastors and ministers been so timid and mute on this vital matter? It is time that the Christian church found its tongue and spoke in defense of the unborn children who are unable to plead for their own lives.

Part Three

Dialogue on Abortion

Dr. James Dobson

A gynecologist recently wrote to me, inquiring about my views on abortion. Here is the letter and my reply.

Dear Dr. Dobson: I have always admired your ability to speak in a very logical, practical and positive way about most issues. But your position on the abortion issue is an abuse of women in general and a misuse of your God-given talent to inspire and persuade.

As an obstetrician/gynecologist, I would ask you to limit yourself to subjects on which you are an authority. You repeatedly make the point that human life begins at conception, and that abortion involves the murder of an innocent human being. But only God can decide that issue. I believe that first-term abortions are permissable because in its early stages of development, the fetus is merely a symbol of human life, and does not possess full humanness.

Furthermore, to condemn the woman who chooses abortion is to deny her the right to protect her physical, mental and emotional health-and therefore to jeopardize her own humanness.

As a Christian, I believe that Exodus 21:22-25 gives biblical evidence that the mother’s life takes precedence over the potential life in her womb. This portion of Mosaic law states that if a pregnant woman is struck unintentionally and miscarries, the penalty is a fine. But if she dies as a result of the incident, the one who struck her is to be put to death. Clearly, the mother’s life is more valuable than that of the fetus.

And finally, as a United States citizen, I remind you that we live in a pluralistic society where no one has the right to impose his religious beliefs on another person. We must not deny a woman the right to choose abortion if she sincerely believes it to be the most responsible and moral decision for her situation.

I look forward to your response.

Reply: I appreciate your letter regarding my pro-life comments, although I find myself in sharp disagreement with you. The killing of unborn children is an evil which I will oppose as long as I have breath within my body.

I was especially struck by your suggestion that I should limit myself to subjects on which I am an “authority.” I guess that means only obstetricians are qualified to speak on behalf of the unborn child. Following that logic, your foray into biblical exegesis took you unabashedly into the domain of the theologian. No, I do not believe this issue can be yielded exclusively to those who earn a portion of their living from the administration of abortions.

You raised several points to which I would like to respond. First, your assessment of when life begins (with which I disagree) fails to address the reality of late-term abortions in every state in the nation. Here in California, more than 2,000 infants are aborted every year at greater than five months’ gestation, some just days before full-term delivery. No rationalization can justify this wretched practice. When you identify personally with the pro-choice position without issuing any disclaimers or qualifications, you are endorsing every dimension of the movement, which in my view includes the murder of the viable infant.

In fact, you stated that the mother has a right to terminate her pregnancy if the developing fetus jeopardizes the mother’s physical, mental or emotional health-thus threatening her “humanness.” Could you really mean what you wrote? If the mother’s welfare is the primary consideration, then why should we stop with the inconvenience of an unwanted pregnancy? Why not kill a 1-year-old cancer patient if his continued existence is a threat to his mother’s physical, mental or emotional health?

Why is a woman who has to care for a terminally ill or mentally retarded or handicapped child considered less deprived of humanness than the mother who carries an unplanned baby? Honestly! Jeopardize her humanness?! Being required by circumstances to sacrifice and care for a helpless child, you say, deprives one of humanness? That twisted logic leads to its own warped conclusion . . . that the inconvenienced mother has the moral right to “terminate” the one who causes her discomfort. May God help us! Can infanticide be far behind?

May I ask what practical difference is there between the neonate and the unborn “symbol” (your dehumanizing term) at full term? What magic is there in a brief journey down a birth canal? At what point in the descent does the symbol become one of us? If it occurs when the child becomes viable outside the uterus, then does the mantle of human status arrive earlier as medical science learns new techniques in neonatology? Is God that whimsical in His establishment of an eternal soul? Where would you draw the line? If not at conception, then where?

Are you willing to put yourself in God’s place and indicate a time-frame somewhere during gestation when the symbol has become human? Are you prepared to gamble that you are not killing babies whom the Creator has ordained as human? If you feel that the responsibility of selecting a critical moment is too heavy to bear, then would you permit the killing of the symbol five minutes before a normal delivery?

Don’t you see what a philosophical hole you have dug by denying the dignity of humanness to every unborn child? If you withhold that status at conception, you have an impossible assignment of deciding where to grant it later on. And, of course, to err is to commit murder in the eyes of God.

In another statement you indicated that the United States is a pluralistic society wherein no one has the right to impose his religious beliefs on another person. That is correct. It is also a country where no one is granted the right to deprive the weaker individual of life and liberty. To do so is not the imposition of a religious belief, but the violation of a moral principle that is basic in every culture in the world: Thou shalt not kill! As such, the pro-choice movement poses the greatest assault on human rights in the history of this great land. And someday,
someday, the truth of that statement will be as obvious to moral men everywhere as is our hindsight today on the injustice of slavery, or the German perspective on Jewish extermination.

Finally, let me comment on the passage of Scripture in Exodus 21:22-25 and the strained analysis you offered. If you are going to resort to Mosaic law to illuminate this issue, then it is illogical to pick and choose from the passages. Do you as a gynecologist recommend that a menstruous woman must not be touched . . . that anything she lies on or sits on is defiled . . . and that a man who has sexual intercourse with her during this time is ceremonially defiled for seven days (Leviticus 15)? Do you agree that if a man beats his slave to death, he is to be considered guilty only if the individual dies instantly? If the slave lives a few days, the owner is considered not guilty (Exodus 21:20-21). Do you believe that we should stone to death rebellious children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)? Do you really believe we can draw subtle meaning about complex issues from Mosaic law, when even the obvious interpretation makes no sense to us today? We can hardly select what we will and will not apply now. If we accept the verses you cited, we are obligated to deal with every last jot and tittle.

I’ve said more than I intended and may have accomplished nothing. The matter which divides us will never be settled by logic and argumentation. I am as committed to my views as you are to yours; and nothing will dislodge either of us from our deeply held positions. What frustrates me is your assertion that I should not be permitted to make my case . . . that I should allow you and your medical colleagues to terminate the lives of 55 million unborn children (worldwide) without uttering a word of protest . . . that only the obstetricians are qualified to deal with this issue. I could never accept a decree of silence. Nor will I. If I am the last voice of protest on the face of this earth and am hated and hounded by the bloody industry which profits from the destruction of human life, I will continue to speak on this evil.

So what is left for us, interpersonally? We must simply agree to disagree and respond to one another with love and compassion. I hereby extend that friendship to you, despite our differences.

Until we are granted His infinite wisdom on the other side, that’s about the best we can do. Thanks again for writing me.

The above article, “The Decision of Life” is written by Dr. James Dobson and Gary Bergel. The article was excerpted from a pamphlet published by Focus on the Family in 1991.

The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

Posted in IS - Current/Social Issues, ISAB - Abortion0 Comments

Help For The Postabortion Woman

Help For The Postabortion Woman
Teri K. Reisser & Paul C. Reisser

One Woman’s Story

Seventeen-year-old Linda had always considered her life to be pretty average. Like most of her friends’ parents, her mom and dad were divorced. After they first split up, when she was 13, she had gone to her dad’s place every other weekend, but for the last year or so she had made the trip only about every other month. Her relationship with her mom had been OK-until she started dating.

It seemed to Linda that her mom had a “guilty until-proven-innocent” attitude toward any member of the opposite sex. Not surprisingly, communication between the two of them became somewhat strained when Linda had started seeing Steven on a steady basis in her senior year. Even if Steven wasn’t exactly what every mother dreams of for her daughter, he certainly knew how to make Linda feel special, and she hadn’t felt that way for a long time. She found herself compromising on her list of “dos and don’ts” in exchange for the dream of married life with Steven after graduation.

Four months later, Linda discovered that she was pregnant. She was, to say the least, in a state of shock. How could this have happened when they had been so careful each time? Steven was supportive and reassuring, but he also was certain that an abortion would be the only sensible solution. He would even pay for it. Linda had always believed that abortion was wrong and said so. Thus began their very first serious fight.

Unfortunately, the alternatives to abortion were discouraging. Linda couldn’t tell her mom she was pregnant-things were already pretty tense at home. She’d probably be grounded for the rest of her life, and the possibility of not being able to see Steven was unthinkable. How about her dad? No, he was now wrapped up with his new wife and her three kids. All he wanted from her during their monthly phone calls was the reassurance that his precious little girl was doing just fine. In addition, the friends who knew she was pregnant said she was crazy even for hesitating. What was she supposed to do with a baby at 18? She would have to scrap all of the plans she and Steven had made, and all of her girlfriends were predicting that he would look for greener pastures when she lost her bikini-perfect figure. So, in the end, Steven scheduled the abortion.

The receptionist at the clinic was friendly, brisk and efficient, assuring her that the procedure was no worse than having a wisdom tooth removed. Linda tried to express her doubts to the woman, but she was cut off with a polite, “Now, dear, don’t worry about it. Everyone feels a little nervous the first time. You’ll be just fine.” And as she returned to the waiting room, she listened with amazement to the loud chatter. The receptionist must be right. Nobody else seemed very upset. But when Linda came out of the anesthetic, she wept inconsolably, grieving a loss she didn’t quite understand.

Steven drove her home and was extremely attentive for a few days. After that, a coolness crept into their relationship, and his suggestion several weeks later that they break up was met with indifference on Linda’s part. By that time, a combination of numbness and toughness protected her, like a scar, against feeling anything too deeply.

Four years of college came and went, and Linda dated a lot, being careful not to become too involved with anyone in particular. And she never forgot to take her birth control pills. Two years after graduation she met John, who was the embodiment of her girlhood dreams of Prince Charming. Against her better judgement, she allowed herself to be carried back to the feelings of happiness she had abandoned years ago. As the chill in her heart thawed she could once again make wedding plans.

Several months into their marriage, John began talking about the possibility of starting a family. Unexplainably, a sense of panic welled up inside of Linda. As they discontinued using birth control, a growing depression crowded in on her like a gathering storm cloud. She started avoiding sexual intimacy with John. Increasingly, she found herself waking in the middle of the night in an anxious, cold sweat. She couldn’t quite remember the details of her nightmares, except that they had something to do with babies.

When John’s sister and husband came for a weekend visit to show off their newborn daughter, Linda could hardly function. After they were gone, she began thinking about the baby she had aborted and found herself crying uncontrollably at odd times of the day. For the first time, she started wondering if she was losing her mind.

John, who had been so patient and understanding in the beginning, grew frustrated with her inability to shake the growing moodiness, which now dominated her life. He suggested that she seek professional help. A counselor encouraged Linda to ventilate her feelings toward those involved in the abortion experience, and she was surprised at the depth of anger she expressed toward her mother, her father and her old boyfriend. The counselor said she had done some good work, and it was indeed very cathartic. She went home feeling better than she had in months. But then, halfway through the week, she plummeted to a new level of depression.

Again she spoke to the therapist, and he suggested that she needed to leave the abortion episode behind and focus on her present relationships. When she tried to return to the subject of the abortion again the following week, the counselor told Linda that a past abortion alone could not cause her serious emotional problems. She would need to stop dwelling on that episode as an excuse for her present condition. Confused and discouraged, she discontinued therapy after two more sessions and began wondering how it would feel to slip away on an overdose of her antidepressants.

Am I All Alone in This?

Though the names and identifying elements have been changed (as they will be in other stories in this booklet), the above account is true, and by no means unique. This year, thousands of “Lindas” will enter into therapy with counselors who are likely to gloss over or trivialize the connection between abortion(s) in the past and a woman’s present emotional pain. Perhaps you have even experienced some of what the woman in this story felt, but have been afraid to seek out professional help. You may have scanned through the multitudes of self-help books in your
local bookstores, hoping to find even one that would help explain why you can’t seem to stop thinking about your abortion.

Perhaps you’ve never told your “secret” to anyone because you were so afraid of what the reaction might be. Actually, with one out of every four pregnancies now ending in abortion in America, probably one or more women in your circle of friends share the same secret. After all, most women don’t enjoy talking about their abortions, even if they believe in the personal right to make that choice. It’s not likely to be a topic on the agenda for discussion during lunch with friends, or even in a women’s support group.

A Gap in the Literature

Before the Supreme Court swept away most abortion laws in its landmark Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973, those who fought to legalize abortion argued that the only trauma associated with ending a pregnancy was the humiliation and horror of an illegal procedure. Deal with a problem pregnancy painlessly and safely, and a woman could get on with her life without the destruction caused by a back-alley butcher. Any emotional suffering experienced after a safe, legal abortion could be explained as transient “bad feelings” caused by hormonal fluctuations.

The notion that abortion normally produces few, if any, emotional aftereffects prevails among doctors and psychologists to this day. This probably stems from the fact that most of the limited research about postabortion trauma has, until very recently, been based on questionnaire data. Unfortunately, the results of questionnaires completed by women soon after an abortion are likely to be unreliable because of the psychological “numbing” that often occurs in reaction to a highly stressful event. In order to protect their mental stability, many women must rationalize the need for an abortion and therefore repress any initial feelings of guilt. As a result, most emotional reactions to abortion are delayed, sometimes for as long as five to 10 years.

It is not surprising, then, that women who take the time and effort to fill out and return questionnaires would report few negative emotional reactions to their recent abortions. As these results have been compiled and published in the professional literature, counselors have developed a widespread attitude that the need for postabortion counseling is minimal except in a small number of women who are already “unbalanced” emotionally.

It is interesting that one survey of more than 1,000 women who were on their way into a clinic for an abortion indicated that 24 percent of the women were having “deep emotional conflicts” about the impending procedure (Medical World News, March 9, 1987). This would imply that more than 350,000 women a year, in this country alone, may well be hurting over a previous abortion. And yet, on a recent radio talk show in the Los Angeles area, a Planned Parenthood representative claimed that no more than “a couple of hundred women at the most” per year are negatively affected by abortion in the United States.

Post Abortion Syndrome

More recent research, however, is beginning to demonstrate that abortion can, in fact, be responsible for a profound array of long-term emotional disturbances in a woman’s life.

Investigators are beginning to use the term “post abortion syndrome” (PAS) to describe a woman’s inability to: (1) process the fear, anger, sadness and guilt surrounding her abortion experience, (2) grieve the loss of her baby, and (3) come to peace with God, herself and others involved in the abortion decision.

How does PAS develop? A woman faced with a crisis pregnancy experiences a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety about her situation, and she seeks a fast solution to her dilemma. Since abortion is legally and socially sanctioned, it is the choice she is likely to make, even though she may be violating her own moral code in doing so. Immediately after the procedure, she will usually feel profound relief that the crisis is over, for better or worse. But any moral struggle she felt prior to the abortion will resurface eventually, at which point she will question her decision. In many cases, she may learn more about fetal development, or undergo a change in moral perspective, which will also lead to uncertainty about her past choice.

Common Defense Mechanisms

Since she cannot go back and “undo” the abortion, she will employ one or more of the following defense mechanisms to protect her from uncomfortable or frightening thoughts and feelings.

1. Rationalization: This involves finding logical reasons or plausible explanations or excuses for having had the abortion. (Example: “It wouldn’t have been fair to bring my baby into the world because I wasn’t ready to be a mother-I probably wouldn’t have been able to be a good mother at this point in my life.”)

2. Repression: A way of preventing unconscious information from reaching the conscious mind-blocking out memories of the painful emotions surrounding the abortion. (Example: “I did just fine with my abortion. Sure, I may have been upset a little at the time, but it doesn’t bother me at all now.”) Sometimes a woman can push down not only the painful emotions but the actual details of the experience, as well. Some have even “forgotten” that they had a second or third abortion.

3. Compensation: An effort to make up for the abortion by “doing good things.” (Example: being overly involved in church activities, working in the pro-life movement, becoming a “super-mom,” having an “atonement baby” soon after the abortion.) It can also mean working very hard to prove that the abortion was really necessary. (Example: If a woman sacrificed her baby for a promising career, she might be heavily invested in making that career a great success.)

4. Reaction formation: The pushing down of frightening feelings and thoughts connected with a past abortion by vehemently professing the exact opposite of those feelings-as if by expressing the contrary thought enough times, one can begin to believe it. (Example: becoming militantly vocal in the pro-choice movement.)

Symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome

These defense mechanisms are very effective in keeping the painful memories away, but they consume a lot of mental energy as a woman works to ignore powerful emotions. Eventually, if enough stress enters her life, she may find that she lacks the stamina both to cone with current stresses and continue repressing “forgotten” memories. A variety of experiences (such as pictures of prenatal development, a subsequent pregnancy, or even the whine of a dentist’s drill that resembles the sound of the abortionist’s equipment) may trigger symptoms associated with PAS.

These symptoms will not necessarily appear at the same time, nor is any woman likely to experience the entire list. Some may occur immediately after an abortion, and others much later. However, if three or more of the symptoms listed below describe what you have been going through recently, chances are you are experiencing PAS.

1. Guilt: Guilt is what an individual feels when she has violated her own moral code. For the woman who has come to believe, at some point after the abortion, that she consented to the killing of her preborn child, the burden of guilt is relentless. There is little consolation to offer the woman who has transgressed one of nature’s strongest instincts: the protection a mother extends to her young.

This inner voice of self-condemnation begins playing a repeating tape in the mind that accuses, “You are defective. How could you have done this thing? You are a desperately wicked person.” It is also normal for many postabortion women entering therapy to verbalize their belief that any unhappy events that have ocurred since the abortion were inevitable because they “deserve it.” Most of the remaining symptoms listed below result from listening to that mental tape day in and day out.

2. Anxiety: Anxiety is defined as an unpleasant emotional and physical state of apprehension. Postabortion women with anxiety may experience any of the following: tension (inability to relax, irritability, etc.), physical responses (dizziness, pounding heart, upset stomach, headaches, etc.), worry about the future, difficulty concentrating and disturbed sleep.

The conflict between a woman’s moral standards and her decision to abort generates much of this anxiety. Very often, she will not relate her anxiety to a past abortion, and yet she will unconsciously begin to avoid anything having to do with babies. She may make excuses for not attending a baby shower, skip the baby aisle at the grocery store, and so forth. This unrecognized “baby phobia” may eventually lead to a full-blown agoraphobia, where the mere act of leaving home creates great distress.

One such woman entered therapy a year after her abortion, profoundly shocked at the levels of pain and anxiety she was experiencing. Every day she was taking eight to 10 Xanax (a tranquilizer related to Valium), prescribed by a psychiatrist who had discounted her description of the pain surrounding the abortion. She had developed agoraphobia and was in imminent danger of losing her job because of the panic attacks that occurred frequently before leaving for work. Only when she had come to realize that her present behavior was somehow connected to her abortion could she force herself to drive on the freeway, at night, to attend a postabortion therapy group.

3. Psychological “numbing”: A person who has experienced a highly painful loss will develop an instinct to avoid future situations that might lead to serious pain again. Many postabortion women maintain a secret vow that they will never again allow themselves to be put in such a vulnerable position. As a result, without consciously thinking about what they are doing, they may work hard to keep their emotions on a flat level, experiencing neither highs nor lows. Not only does this flatness of emotional experience affect their own outlook, but it greatly hampers their ability to form and maintain close interpersonal relationships.

It is not uncommon during therapy to hear a postabortion woman talk about her life as if it were happening to another person whom she watches go through all the motions of living.

Beth expressed it this way: “I remember when I was younger I would wake up in the morning excited just to be alive in such a wonderful world. When we first got married things that happened to me either made me really happy or really sad. But after the abortion two years ago, it seemed like something turned off inside me. Nothing touches me anymore-good or bad. I can’t get excited about things that used to put me in orbit, and now when I read about sad things that happen in the newspaper, I just think, ‘Oh well, life comes and goes. They’ll get over it.’ I wish I could go back to the way I used to be. What’s the use of going through life cold and indifferent to things that happen to you and around you?”

4. Depression and thoughts of suicide: All of us are acquainted with depression. It is a mood filled with sadness, guilt and feelings of hopelessness. A more severe and prolonged depression is characterized by a sense of utter futility, and a complete inability to experience pleasure from any source. It may lead to suicidal ideas, as a person blames and hates herself so much that she simply wishes she were dead.

Few postabortion women reach the point of an overt clinical depression. Most continue to function and perform the duties of life, while still experiencing many of the following:
* Sad mood-ranging from feelings of melancholy to total hopelessness.
* Sudden and uncontrollable crying episodes-the source of which may be a total mystery to the woman, if she hasn’t yet connected her present sad mood to memories of the abortion. The unpredictability and intensity of these crying spells may give rise to a sense of panic over being so out of control. A more severely depressed woman may feel like crying but lack the energy to do so.
* Deterioration of self-concept-because she feels wholly deficient in her ability to function as a “normal” woman. These feelings of unworthiness are profound because she sees herself as unredeemablea lost cause. She does not believe she can help herself nor can anyone else help her.
* Sleep, appetite and sexual disturbances-usually in a pattern of insomnia, loss of appetite, and/or reduced sex drive. Oftentimes, sleeping and eating behaviors can go into the excess-oversleeping and overeating. It is unusual, however, for a woman to experience an increased sex drive during a depression. In fact, many postabortion women report pain with intercourse.
* Reduced motivation-for the normal activities of life. The things that occupied her life before the depression (working, hobbies, reading, child care, relationships and so on) no longer seem worth doing.
* Disruption in interpersonal relationships-because of the general lack of enthusiasm for all activities. This is especially evidenced in her relationship with her husband or boyfriend, and particularly so if he was involved in the abortion decision. Anger can be stored against him even if he was supportive of whatever she decided. A woman is often likely to resent his neutral stand when, in retrospect, she believes he should have been more protective of their child during a time when she herself wasn’t thinking clearly. A host of psychosexual disorders crop up in the aftermath of a couple’s abortion, and such a couple is far more likely to break up rather than stay together more than one year after the abortion.
* Thoughts of suicide-or preoccupation with death. Not surprisingly, some postabortion women are so depressed that they have come to the point of believing they would be better off dead. If such a woman is able to verbalize the desire to end her life, and especially if she actually has a plan to do so, she is experiencing the severest form of clinical depression and needs immediate professional attention.

Emily described herself, during the first session of postabortion group therapy, as being normally a very disciplined person. She was very surprised by her emotional instability over the past several weeks. She said that she was avoiding meals, tossing and turning at night for the first time in her life, and crying in the middle of the day for no reason at all. She had become increasingly irritable with her two children, and was easily distracted. For instance, she described one incident where she went into the kitchen to prepare her son’s lunch, then found herself standing in the middle of the kitchen, staring off into space, unable to remember what she started to do. Most of all, Emily was terribly frightened because she had never experienced anything like this following seemingly more traumatic events before.

Her husband was becoming angry about her prolonged agitation over the abortion and began to insinuate that maybe she was mentally unbalanced. After many weeks of fighting, Emily had come to feel that it was all quite hopeless and had given up trying to salvage the relationship. She admitted in the first therapy that she was toying with the idea of taking her own life, but didn’t think she could overcome her strong sense of responsibility toward her children. She began to cry profusely as she confessed that even this sense of loyalty to her own children was beginning to crumble. After all, she sobbed, she wasn’t a fit mother. Perhaps they would be better raised by someone else.

It is important to remember that the symptoms listed above may be seen in anyone who is depressed. Post abortion syndrome may be the primary cause of the depression, or it may be but one of several contributing problems. Some work with an experienced counselor (hopefully one who understands PAS) may be necessary to put all of the components of a depression into perspective.

5. Anniversary syndrome: There tends to be an increase of PAS symptoms around the time of the anniversary of the abortion and/or the due date of the aborted child. This phenomenon is reported with some consistency by women who are experiencing PAS.

6. Re-experiencing the abortion: A very common event described by postabortion women is the sudden distressing, recurring flashbacks of the abortion episode. Sometimes this happens in situations that resemble some aspect of the abortion. A routine gynecological exam is an obvious example, but even the suction sound of a household vacuum cleaner, for example, has reportedly triggered troubling flashbacks.

Often, women re-experience the abortion in the form of recurring nightmares about babies in general or her aborted baby in particular. These dreams usually involve themes of lost, dismembered or crying babies. One woman described a recurrent nightmare in which the bloodied upper torso of her aborted child was clinging to the outside of her bedroom window at night, repeatedly calling out to her mournfully, “Mommy, help me!” Another woman talked about a nightmare in which she was frantically trying to gather up all the pieces of her aborted baby and put them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. As gruesome as these dreams sound, they are not unrepresentative of the experiences shared in a postabortion therapy group.

7. Preoccupation with becoming pregnant again: A significant percentage of all women who abort become pregnant within one year of their abortion. The desire to quickly become pregnant again-as soon as possible-is verbalized often in the counseling room. This may represent an unconscious hope that a new pregnancy, often called the “atonement baby,” will serve as a replacement for the one that was aborted.

8. Anxiety over fertility and childbearing issues: Some postabortion women maintain a fear that they will never become pregnant again or never be able to carry a pregnancy to term. Some expect to have handicapped children because they have “disqualified themselves as good mothers.” Those women whose worldview includes a belief in God and divine accountability will actually verbalize these fears in terms of God punishing them.

9. Interruption of the bonding process with present and/or future children: The postabortion woman may not allow herself to become properly bonded to another pregnancy because of a fear of loss, as explained above. Or she may begin another pregnancy intending to be the world’s most perfect mother, in order to make up for aborting the last pregnancy.

Likewise, the woman who already had children at the time of her abortion may discover that she is beginning to look at her existing children in a different light. At one extreme, she may unconsciously devalue them. One woman sadly commented, “I always thought my children were the most prized possessions we had; now I catch myself looking at them while they are playing and thinking bizarre things like, ‘You were the lucky ones. You were allowed to live.’ ” She may go in the opposite direction and become overly protective. Another woman confessed that, since her abortion experience, she had become obsessively involved with her children, wanting to prove to the world and to herself that she was not a bad mother.

10. Survival guilt: Most women do not abort for trivial reasons. They find themselves in the midst of a heartbreaking situation whereby they stand to lose much if they choose to carry their pregnancies to term. In the end, the decision boils down to a sorrowful “it’s me or you, and I choose me.” In an attempt to assuage the guilt of being the survivor, some women will enter a heightened and unrealistic compensation mode whereby they attempt to atone for their selfish choice.

She may keep herself very busy doing unselfish volunteer work. Indeed, she may become overly zealous in the pro-life movement. And this, unfortunately, may be the worst possible place for her to be. If she has not found forgiveness for her own abortion, she will not likely to be able to extend compassion and forgiveness to anyone else who has aborted a child. All too often, “talking someone out of having an abortion” becomes her way of making payments on the debt she feels she owes. Any seasoned director of a crisis pregnancy center has learned to screen out and refer for counseling the well-intentioned volunteer who hasn’t worked through a past abortion. While postabortion women who have experienced healing and forgiveness are usually highly effective counselors, those who lack this experience of healing can turn a conversation with an abortion-minded woman into a disaster.

11. Development of eating disorders: Some women seeking postabortion counseling have developed eating disorders. While this phenomenon remains largely unexplored at this time, several factors may contribute to it. First, a substantial weight gain or severe weight loss is associated with unattractiveness, which reduces the odds of becoming pregnant again. Secondly, becoming unattractive serves as a form of self-punishment and helps perpetuate the belief that she is unworthy of anyone’s attention. Thirdly, extremes in eating behavior (such as bulimia or anorexia) represent a form of control for the woman who feels her life is totally out of control. And finally, a drastic weight loss can shut down the menstrual cycle, thus preventing any future pregnancies.

12. Alcohol and drug abuse: Alcohol and drug use often serve initially as a form of self-medication – way of coping with the pain of the abortion memories. Sadly, the woman who resorts to alcohol and/or drugs eventually finds herself having not only more problems but also fewer resources with which to solve them. The mental and physical consequences of alcohol or drug abuse only amplify most of the symptoms the woman is already experiencing.

13. Other self-punishing or self-degrading behaviors: In addition to weight loss and substance abuse, the postabortion woman may also enter into abusive relationships, become promiscuous, fail to take care of herself medically, or deliberately hurt herself emotionally and/or physically.

14. Brief reactive psychosis: Rarely, a postabortion woman will experience a brief psychotic episode for two weeks or less after her abortion. The break with reality and subsequent recovery are both extremely rapid, and in most cases the person returns completely to normal when it is over. While this is an unusual reaction to abortion, it bears mentioning only because it is possible for a person to have a brief psychotic reaction to a stressful event without being . labeled a psychotic individual. During such an episode, the individual’s perception of reality is drastically distorted.

One woman, a respected professional who lived by herself in a small town, passed a very large piece of bloody material only hours after returning home from her abortion. She examined it and decided that it had to be her eight-week fetus. (She later reported that the clinic had been extremely busy the Friday she had gone in; presumably, the physician neglected to make sure the fetus had passed through the suction tube, or perhaps she had been carrying twins.) Because she had, until then, believed that an eight-week fetus is an unidentifiable mass, the unmistakable human characteristics of the fetus sent waves of horror through her.

Using a soft kitchen towel, she carefully wrapped it up, decided it was a girl, gave her a name, and proceeded to rock her and talk to her during the next two days as if she were a live baby. By late Sunday afternoon, she began to acknowledge that her baby had died. She drove out to the seaside, because she wanted to bury her baby in the ocean. A few hours later, she felt as though she were waking from a long dream. The fetus she passed had been real, but then she had experienced a total break from reality for nearly two days. Needless to say, she was badly shaken by the experience. Having heard that a local crisis pregnancy center offered postabortion counseling, she went there for help soon thereafter. She has not experienced any recurrences of psychotic episodes, brief or prolonged, since that time.

The Tasks of Healing

In the experience of many therapists who are now working with postabortion women, it has yet to be found that time alone will bring real, lasting healing. The old adage “time heals all” becomes “time represses all.” While a postabortion woman may have acquired enough coping skills in her life to be a well-functioning member of society, the potential for deterioration because of the repressed pain always remains. When a woman comes to a point in her life where she recognizes the need to deal with a past abortion, a skilled professional or lay counselor can be of great help in leading her through the tasks of healing.

1. Working through the denial (re-experiencing the abortion): The very first task of healing is for the woman to access the negative feelings that surrounded the abortion experience. Most women, even those currently experiencing a great deal of postabortion stress, have utilized repression for so long as a coping strategy that they have long forgotten the fear, anger, guilt and grief associated with the abortion. Until these powerful emotions are fresh in the woman’s mind again, there is literally not much with which to work.

The simplest way to access the feelings is to provide a safe, supportive environment in which the woman can tell about her abortion experience. The more she is allowed to verbalize, the more she will remember. Since a woman will naturally feel resistant toward deliberately doing something that will make her feel badly, a sensitive counselor can help her re-experience the abortion with very gentle prompting (“What were you thinking as you drove to the abortion clinic?” “What did the operating room smell like?” “What did the machine sound like?”).

2. Dealing with issues of guilt and forgiveness from God: The Christian woman is very likely to begin, at some point after her abortion, feeling like a second-class citizen in God’s economy, even though she may know this to be incompatible with Scripture. She usually will either turn away from the church completely, or enter into an intense compensation mode, with the rationale that if she is only good long enough, if she can only prove herself, God will surely forgive her someday. Of course, this is not a conscious thought process on her part. During therapy, however, she might startle herself by realizing that she even has a specific number of years in mind for a period of penance. If feelings of closeness to the Lord were previously enjoyed before the abortion, no such feelings now exist, and she probably believes the relationship to be irreparable in view of her atrocious sin. How dare she presume to sit at His feet like an innocent child after what she has done? Working her way back into the periphery of His kingdom, in the lowest rank of privilege, may be the highest spiritual goal she can imagine.

Norma was married at age 25. When she and her husband returned from their one-week honeymoon, she discovered that she was already seven weeks pregnant. In less than 24 hours, she, her husband and her doctor had calmly decided on and carried through with an abortion, because they felt it would be a most inopportune time to have a baby. Norma later would have liked to say that she had been bullied into the decision. But, in fact, the decision was made rationally, and in retrospect, she took full responsibility for the choice. This was hard for her to live with during the next 10 years because she had been raised in a Christian home where there was a high regard for life, even though she was not a committed Christian at the time of her abortion. She worked night and day in her church for five years after recommitting her life to Christ, and still could not begin to consider the idea that she might already be forgiven for the abortion.

One night, during a postabortion group therapy session, as Norma was struggling with the idea of God’s forgiveness, the leader asked her to think about what she expected from her young son whenever he did something wrong. “I want him to see the wrong action through my eyes-without denying that he did it or making lame excuses for why he did it,” she replied, “and I want to know that he is really and truly sorry for what he did.”

She was perplexed when the counselor asked if she ever remained cold and punishing toward her son once he had reached the point of true repentance. “Why on earth would I do that?” she asked. “He is my child-I love him!” Then she slowly began to realize that God, as her loving parent, had been patiently waiting five years for her to simply turn around and ACCEPT His forgiveness. She then wept tears of joyous healing.

The most essential task for the Christian postabortion woman, then, is to accept on an emotional level what she probably already knows on an intellectual level: that God’s forgiveness is already complete and that she must reach out and take a firm grasp of that forgiveness. It is extremely helpful to use the loving parent/repentant child analogy if a woman can relate to it. (If she never had a loving parent, this might be a difficult concept for her to grasp.)

The parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 is illustrative of the predicament of the postabortion woman seeking to work off her sin. The servant, rather than begging the master to forgive his debt outright, asked for time to pay back the debt, which was impossible because the debt equaled far more than the servant’s entire lifelong earning potential! Likewise, the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is poignantly like the Christian postabortion woman who has settled for being the least among her Father’s servants because she cannot bear living away from His household completely. Such a woman needs to put herself at the end of the story, where the waiting father is so elated to have his broken child back that, despite the past sin, he welcomes his child with a great embrace and with tears of joyful reunion. The son expected minimal acceptance but received maximum (and unwarranted) forgiveness. There was no talk of punishment; the father only wanted his son to return home.

Many women, even though they come to understand the loving, forgiving nature of God, are seemingly unable to move through this important second task. To trust fully is a very frightening proposition for someone who has never learned how to trust. Additionally, some women may unconsciously choose not to accept God’s forgiveness. Holding on to one’s “defectiveness” can become a rationalization for failing to move forward as a new, whole, functioning, ministering person in Christ.

It is interesting that women who come into group therapy with no particular previous religious affiliation will often express, to varying degrees, an awareness of God. Sometimes, as they observe Christians in the group individually experiencing God’s forgiveness, there arises a yearning for that same reconciliation with our Creator. A Christian counselor needs to be prepared to explain, in the simplest of terms, how to grasp hold of this forgiveness.

3. Anger and forgiveness toward herself and others involved in the abortion decision: Most women experiencing PAS have repressed (or “stuffed down”) a tremendous amount of anger since the time of the abortion. At the same time, there is usually a serious resistance to getting in touch with this anger and identifying it for what it is. Sometimes, this is caused by a fear that the expressed rage will lead to a total loss of control. The Christian woman is often especially hampered in working through this task area because she has sat through a great many sermons in which she was exhorted to forgive others as she has been forgiven by Christ, and not to harbor resentment toward another human being.

The biblical command to forgive others as we have been forgiven demonstrates a deep and beautiful truth, indeed. Unfortunately, until we can identify precisely what needs to be forgiven, it lays beneath the surface like a pool of toxic waste material, ever threatening to bubble up and poison our efforts to reach emotional wholeness. The postabortion woman must stop denying the pain and anger she once felt (and possibly still feels) before, during and after her abortion. Helping her to clarify her anger clears a path to true and final forgiveness.

Elisa’s mother and father had coerced her into getting an abortion when she was only 15 years old. In the postabortion therapy group, she denied, sweetly, any traces of bitterness against her parents, even though they had refused to discuss the episode with her over the years. As an adult, she knew that what they had done to her was wrong, but she believed that, as a Christian, she had no grounds for harboring any resentment toward them.

She shocked herself when she was asked to write a pretend letter to her parents telling them how she felt about their part in the abortion decision. The rage she expressed in written form distressed her greatly because she honestly didn’t know where it came from. As she began talking about the contents of the letter in the group one night, she slowly realized that the anger she unconsciously held against her parents all these years had created a tremendous barrier in her ability to trust them or to feel close to them. That night she made a conscious decision to stop blaming them for the abortion, and the path to true forgiveness was now wide open.

It is interesting that sometimes a postabortion woman who is extremely hard on herself can easily extend compassion toward other members of the therapy group. Pointing out the inconsistency between her behavior and her thinking, coupled with the understanding and compassion felt from the rest of the group, will often help a woman relinquish her entrenched self-recrimination.

Liza met her husband while he was still in the midst of divorce proceedings. She became pregnant but did not tell him for fear of putting too much pressure on him during a time in his life that was already too stressful. Because it was 1956, Liza performed an illegal abortion on herself by inserting a sharp instrument through her cervix. She almost bled to death before finally getting to a hospital, where a physician angrily completed the botched abortion, verbally abusing her during the procedure for attempting such a stupid thing. Being a staunch Catholic, Liza was deeply ashamed of what she had done, and never told another human being about it until she entered a postabortion therapy group 31 years later.

She put off telling her story to the group as long as possible, and when she finally did start talking, she just could not bring herself to tell the other members of the group how she had actually tried to abort the child herself. After much gentle urging from the counselor, she finally blurted out her confession and put her hands over her face, waiting for the condemnation she knew would come. To her great surprise, the other women silently wept in sorrow for the turmoil she must have felt to be driven to such a desperate act, and for the burden she had carried alone for so many years. For Liza, the fact that these women were readily able to love her, no matter what she had done in the past, was a major turning point in her being able to forgive herself.

4. Grieving the loss of the aborted child: Many women experiencing PAS have never recognized the need to grieve the loss of their aborted baby. Hindering them in this important task of healing are: (1) the belief that, as the “executioner,” it would now be hypocritical to mourn, (2) the fact that she has no memories of a whole child to facilitate a healthy grieving process, and (3) societal denial of the need to grieve what was, after all, only a “lump of pregnancy tissue.” It is crucial for a postabortion woman to come to a point of understanding that she aborted a real human baby. Unlike the mother who has lost a 2-year-old, the postabortion woman has no memories upon which to draw. And since a healthy grieving process requires those warm memories, it is often necessary to help a woman “recreate” her baby by pretending she knows his or her physical characteristics in order to get a mental and emotional picture of the child firmly fixed in her mind. Naming the child also seems to be an important task because it gives her child individuality.

With a portrait now indelibly etched on her heart, she can begin the difficult task of asking her child’s forgiveness for the abortion. This can be a very frightening experience for the Christian woman who pictures her child now standing next to God, stretching an accusing finger down toward earth. This picture, of course, adds to her feelings of alienation from God. This woman must come to a realization that nobody in God’s presence could reflect anything but His love, compassion and forgiveness. After an emotional and tender reconciliation with the child she never knew, after she feels that her child has already forgiven her, she will finally be in a position to say goodbye to her baby-for now.

A wonderful technique to help her facilitate this step is to encourage her to write a pretend letter to her aborted child, pouring out her heart and explaining (but not excusing) the circumstances under which the abortion was obtained. She might tell the child how much he or she is missed, how sorry she is, how she longs to see him or her someday, and so forth. Here is an edited version of an actual letter:

“Dearest Baby: I don’t know how to begin writing this letter to you. I hope it’s OK to think of you as a girl, because I always believed in my heart you were. You know, I only had your two brothers after I was pregnant with you, and I always wanted a daughter. I would have named you Dawn, and when I picture you, I see you with blue eyes, just like mine . . .Baby Dawn, what can I say to tell you how sorry I am that I don’t have you to hug or to dress or to put ribbons in your hair? I was so young and frightened when I found out you were growing inside of me. I allowed some foolish people to talk me into killing the only daughter I ever had, and I have to live with that for the rest of my life . . .I’m so happy you’re with Jesus now. For a long time now Heaven has seemed like a really scary place to me because I was afraid of seeing you again, but lately I’ve begun to understand that you understand and have forgiven me. I can’t wait to hold you one day. Goodbye, my precious daughter . . . ”

It should be stressed, at this point, that the women working through this postabortion healing task must have a clear understanding that they are not, in actuality, contacting their children in any way. Rather, this is an exercise in the imagination for the purpose of gaining a clear understanding of where their children are, and what their future relationship will be one day when they are reunited.

Having successfully worked through these major task areas, will the postabortion woman ever feel pain over her past abortion again? Most likely. It is unrealistic to expect that someone who has grieved deeply will never come up against painful reminders of her loss. The goal, rather, is that she will become a whole, functioning person who is able to cope with those ongoing reminders as they arise, rather than feeling overwhelmed by them.

How can a postabortion woman know that she has truly experienced healing? She can be confident that healing has occurred when she is able to accept responsibility for her part of the abortion decision; she can speak openly about her abortion (not in a compulsive way) when it is appropriate to do so; she has accepted God’s total and unconditional forgiveness; she has forgiven herself and will allow herself to lead a fulfilling life, despite her past sinful choices; she has extended forgiveness and understanding to others involved in the decision; and she feels reconciled to her aborted child, eagerly looking forward to someday being reunited with him or her.

A Happy Ending . . . and Beginning

Before concluding, we would like to add a postscript to Linda’s story, which we told at the beginning of this booklet.

After two more months of depression, Linda called a crisis pregnancy center located in her community. A concerned friend had told her that one of the services offered by the center was postabortion counseling. She attended the initial session of a therapy group one night against John’s wishes. Although the first meeting had been previously defined as primarily informational, Linda cried several times during the two-hour session.

Four sessions into therapy, Linda became a Christian through the efforts of the friend who had recommended her to the center. Between her deepening commitment to Jesus Christ and time spent in the group, she began pulling together the pieces of her life and looking at them to figure out how she had arrived at her present situation. Her depression and late-night outbursts had decreased. When the group ended several weeks later, Linda had managed to stabilize her daily mood swings. She began looking forward to her second pregnancy and improving her communication with her husband, who had finally agreed to seek marriage counseling with her.

An Important Note to the Reader:

If the message of this booklet has touched you because you have had a past abortion or know of someone who has, we encourage you to not delay in seeking the help you need in order to deal with this episode in your past. Listed below are two possible resources to get you started:
– The Christian Action Council (101 W. Broad Street, Suite 500, Falls Church, VA 22046 (703) 237-2100) can assist you in finding the crisis pregnancy center closest to you. The Christian Action Council also publishes a wonderful paperback workbook entitled Women in Ramah:A Postabortion Bible Study, by Linda Cochran. This resource helps apply the truths of Scripture to the hurt, anger and guilt that many women feel after an abortion. The questions and exercises can be completed individually or in a group setting. To obtain a copy, write to the Christian Action Council at the address above.
– Open Arms (P.O. Box 1056, Columbia, MO 65205; 314-449-7672) offers a post-abortion Bible study, entitled “In His Image,” that can be used to bring hope and healing, both to women and men. Training seminars and additional ministry resources are also available to anyone wishing to reach out to those recovering from the post-abortion period.

The above article, “Help for the Post Abortion Woman” is written by Teri K. and Paul C. Reisser. The article was excerpted from a pamphlet published by Focus on the Family in 1991.

The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.

Posted in IS - Current/Social Issues, ISAB - Abortion0 Comments

Abortion: A Moral Outrage

Abortion: A Moral Outrage
Dr. James Dobson

My viewpoint regarding abortion on demand has been in a state of evolution during the past ten years. When the controversy initially surfaced, I deliberately withheld judgment until I could consider the issues objectively from every vantage point. I have now completed that examination and find myself absolutely and unequivocably opposed to ” abortion on demand, ” referring to the concept that a woman has the legal authority to kill her unborn child.

There were many considerations which led to this position, including the impact of abortion on our perception of human life. It is interesting to note, for example, that a woman who plans to terminate her pregnancy usually refers to the life within her as “the fetus.” But if she intends to deliver and love and care for the little child, she affectionately calls him “my baby.” The need for this distinction is obvious: If we are going to kill a human being without experiencing guilt, we must first strip it of worth and dignity. We must give it a clinical name that denies its personhood. That has been so effectively accomplished in our society that an unborn child during his first six months in gestation can now be sacrificed with no sense of loss on anyone’s part.

There would be a far greater public outcry if we were destroying puppies or kittens than there is for the million abortions that occur in America each year. Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz reflects the casualness with which we have accepted these deaths by writing, “[abortions] should be available in the same way as, say, an operation for beautification of the nose.”

I agree with Francis Schaeffer that the changing legal attitudes toward abortions carry major implications for human life at all levels. If the rights of the unborn child can be sacrificed by reinterpretation by the Supreme Court, why could not other unnecessary people be legislated out of existence? For example, the expense and inconvenience of caring for the severely retarded could easily lead to the same social justification that has encouraged us to kill the unborn (i.e., they will be an expensive nuisance if permitted to live). And how about getting rid of the very old members of our population who contribute nothing to society? And why should we allow deformed infants to live, etc. Perhaps the reader feels those chilling possibilities would never materialize, but I’m not so sure. We already live in a society where some parents will kill an unborn child if they determine through amniocentesis that its sex is not the one they desired.

There are many other aspects of the abortion issue that underscore its inherent evil, but the most important evidence for me comes from the Scripture. Of course, the Bible does not address itself directly to the practice of abortion. However, I was amazed to observe how many references are made in both the Old and New Testaments to God’s personal acquaintance with children prior to birth. Not only was He aware of their gestations, but He was specifically knowledgeable of them as unique individuals and personalities.

Consider the following examples:

1. The angel Gabriel said of John the Baptist, “and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb” Luke 1:15.

2. The prophet Jeremiah wrote about himself, “The Lord said to me, ‘I knew you before you were formed within your mother’s womb; before you were born I sanctified you and appointed you as my spokesman to the world'” Jeremiah 1:4,5. TLB

These two individuals were hardly inhuman embryos before their birth. They were already known to the Creator, who had assigned them a life’s work by divine decree.

3. In the book of Genesis we are told that Issac “pleaded with Jehovah to give Rebekah a child, for even after many years of marriage she had no children. Then at last she became pregnant. And it seemed as though children were fighting each other inside her.” ‘I can’t endure this.’ she exclaimed. So she asked the Lord about it.

“And He told her, ‘The sons in your womb shall become two rival nations. One will be stronger than the other: and the older shall be the servant of the younger!’ ” Genesis 25:21-23, TLB.

Again, God was aware of the developing personalities in these unborn twins and foretold their future conflicts. The mutual hatred of their descendants is still evident in the Middle East today.

4. Jesus Himself was conceived by the Holy Spirit, which fixes God’s involvement with Christ from the time He was a single cell inside Mary’s uterus (Matthew 1:18).

The most dramatic example, however, is found in the 139th Psalm. King David describes his own prenatal relationship with God, which is stunning in its impact.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! (Psalm 139:13-16, TLB).

That passage is thrilling to me, because it implies that God not only scheduled each day of David’s life, but He did the same for me. He was there when I was being formed in utter seclusion, and He personally made all the delicate inner parts of my body. Imagine that! The Great Creator of the universe lovingly supervised my development during those preconscious days in utero, as He did for every human being on earth. Surely, anyone who can grasp that concept without sensing an exhilaration is stone-cold dead!

From my point of view, these scriptural references absolutely refute the notion that unborn children do not have a soul or personhood until they are born at full term. I can’t believe it! No rationalization can justify detaching a healthy little human being from his place of safety and leaving him to suffocate on a porcelain table. No social or financial considerations can counter-balance our collective guilt for destroying those lives which were being fashioned in the image of God Himself. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus revealed a tenderness toward boys and girls (“suffer little children to come unto me”), and some of his most frightening warnings were addressed to those who would hurt them. It is my deepest conviction that He will not hold us blameless for our wanton infanticide. As he said to Cain, who had killed Abel, “Your brother’s blood calls to me from the ground!”

Surely, other Christians have drawn the same conclusion. I must ask, where are those moral leaders who agree with me? Why have pastors and ministers been so timid and mute on this vital matter? It is time that the Christian church found its tongue and spoke in defense of the unborn children who are unable to plead for their own lives.

The above article, “Abortion: A Moral Outrage” is written by Dr. James Dobson. The article was excerpted from a pamphlet published by Focus on the Family in 1991.

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No Where to Hide: A Pro-Life Article

No Where to Hide: A Pro-Life Article
Anthony Q. McCool

“And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have their nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” According to Barnes Commentary, “the very foxes and birds, says he, have places of repose and shelter, but the Son of man has no home and no pillow. He is a stranger in his own world-a wanderer and an outcast from the homes of people.” In comparison to Jesus, sadly many children today are being cast out of this world and never given a home. In fact, these children never or barely make it out of their mother’s womb. Are these children ill? Are they unable to survive through the birthing process? No, these children are being aborted (murdered, executed, slaughtered) at a frightening rate. According to the United States Abortion Statistics, from 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions have occurred in the United States.

Jesus’ sinless life is often compared to the innocence of little children. Jesus considered children to be the most precious and prized possession in this world. This is evident in Matthew 19:4 When Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” It is also evident in Psalms 127:3, “Children are a gift from God, they are his reward.” What will be the punishment for this modern day massacre of Jesus’ most valued treasure? Jesus does not give an exact punishment for offending one of these little ones, but his wrath will declare in Matthew 18:6, “that it would be better for a millstone to be hung around your neck and cast into the sea.”

Joyce Arthur, pro choice activist, stated in a column that “Mandatory motherhood is a unique kind of slavery that specifically victimizes women and children.” This is the view many pro-choice campaigners attest. The irrational reasoning of this statement is that the decision of becoming a mother is made after becoming pregnant. The “choice” of becoming a mother is made before becoming pregnant. In addition, there is a fallacy in the very term of being “pro-choice.” The oxymoronic statement of being “pro-choice” is a very flowery term compared to what the term should be. The antonym of “pro-life” would not be “pro-choice” but rather “pro-death.” The reasoning is extremely simple, if one is not for the life of something, one is apparently for the death of it. If the process was in fact “pro-choice,” then one could assume that 45 million children from 1973 to 2005 chose to die. According to the National Right to Life Organization, “the vast majority of all abortions performed today are done for social, not medical reasons — because a woman doesn’t feel ready for a baby at the time, because her partner wants her to have an abortion, etc. Approximately 93% of all induced abortions are done for elective, non-medical reasons such as these.” This skewed thought process allows defenseless, innocent, gifts from God to be taken and never given a choice at all. Mothers and doctors should not be able to have the legal ground to impersonate God by determining the life and death of a human being. 1 Corinthians 6:20 states, “we are bought with a price” to discard God’s previously purchased merchandise would be a wicked deed.

There are vocal factions within our country that constantly pressure our government to withdraw our troops from around the world which are simply protecting our way of life. They say these brave men and women who stand in harms way to protect our freedom should not be put at such great risk. These same groups regularly support the pro-abortion movement. The following data according to HTML Bible might shine some light on the inconsistency in their values concerning all human life:

* Revolutionary War – 4,435 deaths
* Civil War (both sides) – 489,332 deaths
* World War I – 116,708 deaths
* World War II – 407,316 deaths
* Korea – 25, 604 deaths
* Vietnam – 58,168 deaths
* Total – 1,101,563
* Total number of abortions since 1973 – more than 45,000,000

In comparison to Matthew 8:20, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, reported in March 2004 four species of Island Fox in California became federally listed as endangered species and the (IUCN) lists the entire species as a critically endangered species. In addition, according to the U.S. and Wildlife Service, felony charges for possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, (including any part, nest, or egg) of an eagle under the “Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act” can carry a fine up to $250,000 or two years of imprisonment. It is evident that our nation’s laws are making every effort and attempt they can to provide birds with a nest and foxes with a hole but making it legal for more than 45 million children to have no where to lay their head.

The choice was already determined in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation.” If we are a chosen generation, then rational reasoning would deduce that God chooses life which would make him “pro-life.” According to Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” One cannot help but wonder if America continues to condone and legislate the “pro-death” agenda, what the millstone will be that God places around our nation’s neck? The Revelation firmly declares in chapter 6, verses 15-17: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” The question is, will we be the ones with no place to hide?

Anthony McCool is the grandson of Bishop Billy McCool and the son of Pastor Mark McCool in Knoxville, TN. He is a senior at the University of Tennessee, seeking a degree in political science.

This article “No Where to Hide: A Pro-Life Article” by Anthony McCool is written by him personally and submitted with author’s permission to post online. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

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The Abortion That Was Aborted

The Abortion That Was Aborted
Lillian Gilbert

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee” (Jeremiah 1:5).

“You’ll have to get an abortion or you can’t stay here.” Those were the words spoken by my sister’s guardian. Ironically, she was a professing Christian who went to church often, gave in the offerings, and helped those in need. She was also the one who brought my sister, Eva, to my home looking for help to get an abortion.

Evidently, although a professing Christian, the guardian simply did not know the horrible truth about abortion. Perhaps she did but, like so many others, just wanted to feel like her own hands were “washed clean” of the deed.

When Eva called and asked for help, I wanted to help her. How could I not help her? She was my sister. I told her that I would help her. Thus, I began my own journey to the truth about abortion.

I had gone to church some while growing up just as my sister had. Looking back, nobody in church ever really discussed abortion. Neither of us realized that from conception the child growing in her womb was a person full of life. Without that knowledge we began looking for abortion clinics.

This came about just as I had begun my life as a Christian. After years of merely attending church, I had finally surrendered to God’s will and was now a part of the body of Christ. I had received the Holy Ghost only a few months earlier so, having never been taught, I was not sure where I stood on abortion. Unfortunately, because she was not in church, my sister knew even less than I did.

My sister and I believed that what was growing in her womb was not yet a person. I suppose I thought that until you could feel it move there was no life to be concerned about.

Even though I was trying to help my sister get an abortion, I began to have doubts. We had gone to one abortion clinic but were turned away because of the length of the pregnancy. We were told to try another clinic but, miraculously, we never made it. That is when I decided to talk to Tom Trimble, our assistant pastor, and his wife.

The Lord used the Trimble’s to bring me to the truth that abortion is murder! Equipped with this knowledge (knowledge that matched the sudden misgivings in my spirit), I persuaded my sister not to have the abortion. God had a magnificent plan all of His own. The psalmist said, “Thou art my God from my mother’s belly” (Psalm 22:10). That verse of Scripture would become personal for us.

It was decided that, although I had a child of my own at the time, I would keep the baby while Eva finished college. Complicating matters was the fact that my husband was not working due to an injury, and I held a minimum-wage job. Amazingly, God provided for us every time there was a need.

I wanted to have a family photo taken, and I wanted a new dress for the baby. God provided both. I also wanted a ribbon for her hair, so I searched until I found a piece of scrap material that matched the dress perfectly. Every time I look at that picture, I remember God’s help through it all.

We were so strapped for money that we lacked basics such as toilet tissue. Now, when I look back at those years, I realize that they were some of the best years of my life. My husband was not in church yet, but God softened his heart to allow me to help and also did whatever he could to help. To this day we still feel that Kendra is our child, as well as the child of her biological mother.

As long as Kendra lived with us we took her to church. After she went to live with her mother, she went to church every time she visited us. Kendra began to grow, and at the age of seven she gave her life to the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Soon after Kendra gave her life to God, her mother started attending every service.

Eva received the Holy Ghost and, in time, other children born to her received God’s Spirit as well! Today the entire family serves God under the ministry of Pastor Douglas White in Silsbee, Texas. In any given service, you will find them involved in various aspects of working for the Lord such as being actively involved in sign teams, playing the drums, testifying, and worshiping God with a passion for this wonderful apostolic truth.

My sister now feels that had it not been for God’s intervention she would still be living a wild lifestyle without God. Kendra helped Eva learn to love unconditionally. She also led the entire family to God. Probably, none of these people would be serving God today if it had not been for that baby who escaped abortion.

“But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts” (Psalm 22:9).

Article “The Abortion That Was Aborted” written by Lillian Gilbert excerpted from The Pentecostal Herald, Special Issue 2007.

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Women – Victims of Abortion?

Women – Victims of Abortion?
Lynda Allison Doty Ph.D

There was a day when abortions, like drugs, were illegal, expensive, and certainly not government funded. This discouraged most women from having them. There was so much cloak-and-dagger stuff, they gave up the idea and went on to have their babies and worked at being good mothers.

Hold on now while I open a vein. A long time ago, I had an abortion. Deep down, I really didn’t want it. But I didn’t think of it as murder. Fetal development is not something the typical person goes around thinking about, and I guess you could call me typical at that time in my life.

It was 29 years ago, funny that I haven’t forgotten it. No back-alley stuff for me. Ninety percent of illegal abortions were performed by doctors, and the man who performed mine was a highly reputable physician. In a safe and sterile office.

But a few hours later, the realization of what I had done overwhelmed me. The little “non-person fetus” (current terminology) I held in my hand had fingers and toes and a complete little male body, and–I’ve learned since then–a heart that had been beating and a brain that had been functioning. I also learned that my little son could feel pain and that he had suffered mercilessly.

When I turned and walked away from my abortion, I buried it deep within me. There had been no problems, no complications, so I expected that was the end of it. Actually, it was only the beginning, but I couldn’t know that then. My experience, along with counseling other women, has led me to this conclusion: if we have abortions, we are killing our own flesh and blood offspring. And if we kill our own flesh and blood offspring, we will one day come face to face with it. It does not matter one iota whether the abortion is legal or illegal.

So where are all these women like me, experiencing this devastation? We don’t know; we simply do not hear about them. And God forbid, we don’t want to hear about them. It breaks my heart to watch as “liberated” women are herded off like mindless cattle, thinking they are in charge–believing they are in control of their lives, their destinies, their decisions, when, in reality, they are victims of a paternalistic, oppressive society.

The so-called feminist leaders led us down this path once before, into La La Land. Too late, American women are coming to the shocking realization that we have been duped. Then, as now, it was easy to fall prey to feminist propaganda because we had been brainwashed all our lives into letting the authorities do our thinking for us. And so we over-reacted. We rose up and banged on our chests and shouted rah rah! We’re independent now! I am reminded of the little bumpersticker passing me up on the freeway. It said, simply, “Are we having fun yet?…”

Are we really independent when we follow so blindly? Seduced, coerced, intimidated into abortion when actually we might prefer to explore other options. Made to feel foolish and selfish, we let others take the reins of control. We permit them to determine what is “best for us,” all the while thinking we have a choice. What kind of choice? Between what, and what? Because after all is said and done, the choice is simply this: to have a dead baby or a live baby.

Some choice. In spite of pro-abortion propaganda, even the official Senate report of our 97th Congress (1981), concedes that physicians, biologists and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of human life. The abortion industry has had to invent its own terminology. You can’t tell a woman she’s going to be chopping up her baby, she’ll likely change her mind. So a baby becomes a “fetus;” kill becomes “termination of pregnancy;” abortion becomes “procedure;” and so on ad nauseam. Doublespeak.

Our country was founded on faith in God and on moral, biblical principles. These have been tossed by the wayside one by one, until America is rapidly losing her love for the sanctity for life. The ends are justifying the means. Where are we headed? Financially, abortion is a cheap way for society to sweep troubled women under the rug. Abortion is a women’s issue–not of rights, though, but of oppression. The fight to stop abortion is not an attempt to deny pregnant women their free choice, but rather it is a promise to care enough, and to take time enough to help them find better alternatives. It is a promise, it is a gem of hope that sparkles along an otherwise dark and dreary path. It is the way to integrity and feeling good about ourselves as women in relation to the world around us. That’s what it’s all about.

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ABORTION

ABORTION
BY UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH INTERNATIONAL

(1) Adopted by the General Conference in 1974

Be it resolved that the United Pentecostal Church International go on record as being opposed to legalized abortion.

(2) Adopted by the General Conference in 1988

Whereas our world has been wracked for a number of years by the corporate sin of abortion, and

Whereas the United Pentecostal Church must confront this moral and ethical challenge to our [North] American society, and

Whereas the Holy Bible does provide insight into this climate of sexual permissiveness prevalent in our generation, and

Whereas the Bible acknowledges God as totally involved in the creation of new life (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13-16; Isaiah 44:24), and

Whereas the Bible further acknowledges that a woman is with child at conception (Luke 1:31-36), and

Whereas the church of the living God has a responsibility in protecting the rights of the unborn,

Be it therefore resolved that the United Pentecostal Church go on record as opposing abortion on demand.

Be it further resolved that we voice our opposition to any legislation at provincial, state, or national levels which would bring about a climate designed to undermine the sanctity of human life, further destroying the moral fiber of our society.

Be it further resolved that we give ourselves to earnest prayer during the time of [the revival endeavor called Global] Conquest to earnest prayer for an awakening in our North American society of moral consciousness concerning this issue.

Be it further resolved that we encourage and help provide for proper biblical solutions to this problem and that we continue to reach out to those who have been caught or blighted in any way by the effect or contemplation of abortion.

Be it further resolved that we encourage our ministers and churches to assist and counsel those with unwanted pregnancies concerning Bible alternatives.

Be it further resolved that we again reaffirm that we want to minister with compassion to those who may presently suffer the trauma of having had an abortion.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY UNITED PENTECOSTAL INTERNATIONAL, 2003. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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ABORTION: NOT THE UNPARDONABLE SIN

ABORTION: NOT THE UNPARDONABLE SIN
BY DR. RICHARD D. DOBBINS

Christians today; it may be the ultimate challenge for Christians seeking to love the sinner but hate the sin.

Chrissy Betourney had an abortion many years ago and since has accepted Christ. Sadly, she knows firsthand that, even though the baby has been aborted, the guilt and difficulties have not. Today, she leads a recovery group for women who have had abortions. “Fourteen years ago, between my freshman and sophomore years at college, I had a steady boyfriend and I was sexually active with him,” Chrissy explained. “I found myself pregnant, and at the time I didn’t really feel I had anyone I could speak with about it and I couldn’t admit it to my parents.”

The Personal Crisis for the Woman

Chrissy said she was in Houston, her boyfriend was in New York  and so, “without any real consideration” she decided to get rid of what she thought of as “the evidence of my sin.” She quickly scheduled an appointment at an abortion clinic and was rushed through the procedure the next day–without any presentation of the “pros” and “cons” or any examination of options.

She said that at the time she felt a sense of relief at having it over–“I would have totally pushed it out of my mind if I could have, but my conscience wouldn’t allow that.”

So many young women experience the fear and loneliness Chrissy felt. They want to go to their parents, but they don’t want to hurt or embarrass them–or to face their parents’ judgment in many cases. At times, they may be able to go to the baby’s father, but in many instances he is angry and doesn’t want to accept the pregnancy.

A woman is in a terribly lonely position when she discovers that she is pregnant and does not want to be pregnant. Consider her options:

1. She can keep the baby, and in fact in two-thirds of the cases that is happening today.

2. She can put the baby up for adoption.

3: She can marry the father and they can raise the baby together.

As far as the Bible is concerned, those are the only options — [and many say these options are] not good or fair to mother and child. So, many women become easy prey for abortion clinics. Many times, unethical clinics do not let her know what her options are, they do not let her know what the procedure is, and they do not let her know what the post-abortion impact will be on her. They just want the business.

In reality, adopting the child out is the option that needs a lot more emphasis than it gets. There is a whole chain of Christian child placement agencies across America that are waiting to serve both the pregnant mother and the childless couple. I encourage any pregnant woman who does not want to keep her baby to seek out a Christian child placement agency.

Chrissy Betourney’s ongoing guilt from her abortion caused her to suffer greatly over the years. Through circumstances in a church service in answer to prayer, she began to find healing. After God
revealed to her the impact the abortion had in her life, she began trying to help other women who had been through the experience. “The most important thing was having a church that was willing to sponsor these types of workshops,” she said. One key teaching from Scripture that she says brought her healing and helps many is a deep understanding of the Atonement. “Our conscience can be cleansed when we come to Him.’ Knowing that Scripture and really understanding and applying it is one of the things that helped set me free,” Chrissy said.

We serve a redemptive God. He was right there with Chrissy and will be with every woman in post-abortion crisis who turns to Him. The Male Dilemma of Abortion

In Chrissy’s experience, her steady boyfriend at the time who fathered her baby had failed to take responsibility and help with the decision. Such behavior not only hurt her and him, it affects the way all women see men. It gets in the way of healthy marriages, strong families, and all healthy relationships.

Unfortunately, in the case of most women who find themselves in an unwanted pregnancy, that is usually the case–the men abandon them, abandon the child, and leave the whole situation with the woman. Following such an experience, many women are left with a permanent distrust of men and are reluctant to enter into any marriage relationship later.

A man in this situation has a clear choice: He can be responsible and step forward and support the woman he has put in this position. He can marry and provide a home and support for his wife and child. He can be responsible for his actions. Unfortunately, most men are not going to do that. And in making that decision they not only damage the woman’s trust, they desensitize themselves to the value of life.

Fortunately, there is a growing number of men who make the right choices and take responsibility–men who want their babies. It means turning to the Lord and trusting Him for strength to do the right thing.

Forgiveness After Abortion

Chrissy Betourney discovered the wonderful freedom that comes with forgiveness of sin, even sin as difficult as the trauma of abortion. One of the things Satan tries to do in the Christian’s life
is to build strongholds in the secrets of our lives. He reinforces those strongholds with silence. Chrissy discovered how to break through the silence by sharing her experiences and helping other women struggling with guilt and bondage over abortion.

Following the trauma of abortion, Chrissy married a man she met in college. They are happily married, with three children. She was “in denial” about the abortion when her first two children were born, she said, and did not think consciously about the experience during those pregnancies. By the time her third child was coming along, “it was very special to me and it really did give me moments to pause and think about what had happened,” she said.

Part of Chrissy’s crisis was telling her then-future husband about the abortion. “I was pretty up front about it,” she said. He ”was very gracious about it, accepted it and didn’t judge me on it.”
She said he is a great “prayer warrior” behind the scenes and very supportive of her ministry to other women who have gone through abortion.

There is a point at which a woman needs to break out of the silence and risk trusting someone. She should go to the father of the child and let him know her situation. She should find one or two people she can trust for their prayers and their help. By breaking through the silence, she breaks Satan’s stronghold on her life.

God loves us and is very pleased when we are honest about sin. He forgives and restores us as we confess.

The evil of abortion flourishes in our world because we have put God out of our knowledge. The Jewish and Christian people have always placed a high value on life. But in the pagan world, human life is never given that sacred dimension and eternal value.

Even the devil has a way of making the church focus more on the soul and the spirit than the body. Paul says in Scripture, “I beseech you . . . that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,” and he
prays, “My earnest expectation and hope . . . [is that] Christ will be magnified in my body.” Salvation is about a body, not just a soul. If the body were not sacred, why will it be raised from the dead?

We can never do anything more miraculous or wonderful than when we bring a human being into this world–we present God with a body in whom He can express himself! Children are a heritage of the Lord.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY GUIDELINES FOR GOOD LIVING, A PUBLICATION OF THE MEDIA MINISTRIES OF THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD, VOL. III, NO. 39. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

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WHY WE ARE PRO-LIFE

WHY WE ARE PRO-LIFE
BY T.F. TENNEY
LOUISIANA DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT

I do not believe that the human fetus is nothing but a conglomerate tissue mass in the womb of a woman. No, I do not believe that at the will and wisp of the mother-to-be that pregnancy should be terminated. Abortion should never be used as a measure of birth control. The church through the ages has stood united against abortion. It is tragic to think that one of the most dangerous places a child can be in America today is in its mother’s womb. I’m not here to give a bunch of statistics as to how many are aborted and what the socio-economic status of the mother or father might have been. I’m just here to state facts.

Recently a man by the name of James Bynum authored an article entitled, “Key Facts In the Pro-Life, Pro-Choice Debate.” In this article he traces the development of the child in its mother’s womb. With some editing, I reproduce what he said. Let God’s Word as well as your conscience be the guide before you ever think of the abortion alternative.

Month One – Brain, heart, eyes, mouth, inner ears, digestive system, arms, and legs develop. The heart start beating by the 25th day. The baby is 1/2-inch in length and weighs less than an ounce.

Month Two – Facial features, elbows, knees, fingers, and toes develop. The baby has all major body organs, and brain wave activity can be recorded. The placenta attaches to the baby and allows for nutrient and waste transport. This is done by diffusion across two sets of capillaries, the mother’s and the baby’s. The blood never crosses the placenta. Blood type and Rh factors are often different, and contact of mother’s to baby’s blood could cause a reaction that would initiate an immune response from the mother which would cause a miscarriage. Muscles begin gentle kicking exercises, and baby has permanent fingerprints. Baby begins to respond to touch and move away from painful contact. Baby sucks its thumb. Baby is now 1-1/8 inches in length and weighs less than an ounce.

Month Three – Baby is completely formed. It begins kicking, can turn its head, squint, and frown. Teeth, lips, and genitals have begun to develop. Kidneys develop and begin to produce urine.

Month Four – The baby has a strong heartbeat, moves, kicks, sleeps, wakes, swallows, and can pass urine. Baby has eyebrows and hair on its head. Skin is pink and transparent. Vocal cords and taste buds are present. Baby weighs 5 ounces and is 7 inches in length.

Month Five – Baby is kicking, turning from side to side, moves head over heels. Fingernails have grown, sleeps and wakes at regular intervals. Weighs 1 pound and is 812 inches in length.

Months Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine – Baby exercises, opens and closes eyes. Bones are hardening, systems are continuing to develop, and baby can hear sounds outside the body.

There are four rather common pro-choice arguments:

1. We can’t really know when life begins. Scripturally, the beginning of life is easy to prove. (See Jeremiah 1:5). Biologically, the answer is slightly more complex. When the egg and sperm join, they begin dividing and growing. They use nutrients, energy, and give off wastes. Even before conception, the sperm and egg require nutrients to go through day-to-day life functions and they give off waste. In essence, life exists before conception.

At conception 23 chromosomes come from the man and 23 from the woman. When they combine, the new cell is everything genetically it will ever be. It has all the physical potential it will ever have to be a thriving, growing human being.

Some would say, “But it’s not viable in the woman so it isn’t consistent with life.” We could take that argument further and say that until 16-18 months after birth the child is not viable. If a mother breast feeds, or bottle feeds, the baby relies completely on its caretaker for food and protection. The prenatal baby is no different It also requires from its mother (dine primary caregiver) nutrients and protection. They only difference is in how these things are provided. In the womb, nutrients are transported across the two blood supplies and the mother protects the baby by providing a safe place for it to develop, and by watching what she puts into her body. After the baby is born, the mother provides nutrients through breast milk or (by any caregiver) a bottle. Protection is accomplished by the parents’ constant vigil to keep the child out of harm’s way.

2. I’m pro-choice, not Labor country where freedom has a premium value, that sound really good, even to most Christians. So, what’s wrong with this? The problem is the choice we are protecting. Upon closer examination, we see that it isn’t the choice that’s being protected but the consequences. We’ve found a way to do whatever feels good and not have to be held accountable.

Choosing to have sex is like choosing to speed. It’s between responsible and irresponsible behavior. The ticket is the consequence; it’s bang held accountable to a standard. And isn’t life more important and precious than a traffic ticket? Abortion is a means to fulfill selfish desires without paying the price.

3. It’s my body and you can’t tell me what to do with it on the surface that even has a ring of sensibility Remember 23 chromosomes come from the father. This makes the baby genetically different than either the mother or the father. To elaborate, the mother’s immune system doesn’t recognize the developing baby as the mother’s cells and begins to attack it. It is only by a special defense mechanism that is built into women that keeps all new pregnancies from spontaneously aborting.

The blood supply of the baby is not the same as the mother. Many times it is a totally different blood type and the two blood supplies don’t mix.

4. It’s just a blob of flesh. The DNA in the new cells gives specific directions how to make new cells. By the fifth day the cells are already starting to specialize to make different organs and tissues That’s very organized, not the blob that the enemy would like us to believe.

From conception to death, each moment of life is genetically directed. There is no happenstance in how we grow, develop, and function.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE LOUISIANA CHALLENGER, JANUARY 1999, PAGES 3,5. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

Posted in AIS File Library, IS - Current/Social Issues, ISAB - Abortion0 Comments

THE TINY FOOT

THE TINY FOOT
BY DR. JAMES DOBSON

Two years after I came to California, there came to my office one-day, a fragile young woman, expecting her first baby. Her history was not good from an emotional standpoint, though she came from a fine family.

I built her up as well as I could and found her increasingly wholesome and interesting as time went on, partly because of the effort she was making to be calm and patient and to keep her emotional and nervous reactions under control.

One month before her baby was due, her routine examination showed that her baby was in a breech position. As a rule, the baby’s head is in the lower part of the uterus for months before delivery, not because it is heavier and “sinks” in the surrounding fluid, but simply because it fits more comfortably in that position. There is no routine spontaneous “turning” of all babies at the seventh or eighth month, as is so generally supposed, but the occasional baby found in a breech position in the last month not infrequently changes to the normal vertex position with the head down by the time it is ready to be born, so that only about one baby in 25 is born in the breech position.

This is fortunate, as the death rate of breech babies is comparatively high because of the difficulty in delivering the after-coming head, and the imperative need of delivering it rather quickly after the body is born. At that moment the cord becomes compressed between the baby’s hard little head and the mother’s bony pelvis. When no oxygen reaches the baby’s bloodstream, it inevitably dies in a few short minutes. Everyone in the delivery room is tense, except the mother herself, in a breech delivery, especially if it is a first baby, when the difficulty is greater. The mother is usually quietly asleep or almost so.

The case I was speaking of was a “complete” breech–the baby’s legs and feet being folded under it, tailor-fashion–in contrast to the “frank” breech, in which the thighs and legs are folded back on a baby’s body like a jackknife, the little rear end backing its way into the world first of all.

The hardest thing for the attending doctor to do with any breech delivery is to keep his hands away from it until the natural forces of expulsion have thoroughly dilated the firm maternal structures that delay its progress. I waited as patiently as I could, sending frequent messages to the excited family in the corridor outside.

At last the time had come, and I gently drew down one little foot. I grasped the other, but for some reason I could not understand, it would not come down beside the first one. I pulled again, gently enough but with a little force, with light pressure on the abdomen from above by my assisting nurse, and the baby’s body moved down just enough for me to see that it was a little girl–and then, to my consternation, I saw that the other foot would never be beside the first one. The entire thigh from the hip to the knee was missing and that one foot never could reach below the opposite knee. And a baby girl was to suffer this, a curious defect that I had never seen before, nor have I since!

There followed the hardest struggle I have ever had with myself. I knew what a dreadful effect it would have upon the unstable nervous system of the mother. I felt sure that the family would almost certainly impoverish itself in taking the child to every famous orthopedist in the world whose achievements might offer a ray of hope.

Most of all, I saw this little girl sitting sadly by herself while other girls laughed and danced and ran and played–and then I suddenly realized that there was something that would save every pang but one, and that one thing was in my power.

One breech baby in 10 dies in delivery because it is not delivered rapidly enough, and now–if only I did not hurry! If I could slow my hand, if I could make myself delay those few short moments. It would not be an easy delivery, anyway. No one in all this world would ever know. The mother, after the first shock of grief, would probably be glad she had lost a child so sadly handicapped. In a year or two she would try again and this tragic fate would never be repeated.

“Don’t bring this suffering upon them,” the small voice within me said. “This baby has never taken a breath–don’t let her ever take one. You probably can’t get it out in time, anyway. Don ‘t hurry. Don’t be a fool and bring this terrible thing upon them. Suppose your conscience does hurt a little; can’t you stand it better than they can? Maybe your conscience will hurt worse if you do get it out in time.”

I motioned to the nurse for the warm sterile towel that is always ready for me in a breech delivery to wrap around the baby’s body so that the stimulation of the cold air of the outside world may not induce a sudden expansion of the baby’s chest, causing the aspiration of fluid or mucus that might bring death.

But this time the towel was only to conceal from the attending nurses that which my eyes alone had seen. With the touch of that pitiful little foot in my hand, a pang of sorrow for the baby’s future swept through me, and my decision was made.

I glanced at the clock. Three of the allotted seven or eight minutes had already gone. Every eye in the room was upon me and I could feel the tension in their eagerness to do instantly what I asked, totally unaware of what I was feeling. I hoped they could not possibly detect the tension of my own struggle at that moment.

These nurses had seen me deliver dozens of breech babies successfully–yes, and they had seen me fail, too. Now they were going to see me fail again. For the first time in my medical life I was deliberately discarding what I had been taught was right for something that I felt sure was better.

I slipped my hand beneath the towel to feel the pulsations of the baby’s cord, a certain index of its condition.

Two to three minutes more would be enough. So that I might seem to be doing something, I drew the baby down a little lower to “split out” the arms, the usual next step, and as I did so the little pink foot on the good side bobbed out from its protecting towel and pressed firmly against my slowly moving hand, the hand into whose keeping the safety of the mother and the baby had been entrusted. There was a sudden convulsive movement of the baby’s body, an actual feeling of strength and life and vigor.

It was too much. I couldn’t do it. I delivered the baby with her pitiful little leg. I told the family the next day, and with a catch in my voice, I told the mother.

Every foreboding came true. The mother was in a hospital for months. I saw her once or twice and she looked like a wraith of her former self. I heard of them indirectly from time to time. They had been to Rochester, Minn. They had been to Chicago and to Boston. Finally I lost track of them altogether.

As the years went on, I blamed myself bitterly for not having had the strength to yield to my temptation.

Through the many years that I have been here, there has developed in our hospital a pretty custom of staging an elaborate Christmas party each year for the employees, the nurses and the doctors of the staff.

There is always a beautifully decorated tree on the stage of our little auditorium. The girls spend weeks in preparation. We have so many difficult things to do during the year, so much discipline and so many of the stem realities of life, that we have set aside this one day to touch upon the emotional and spiritual side. It is almost like going to an impressive church service, as each year we dedicate ourselves anew to the year ahead.

This past year the arrangement was somewhat changed. The tree, on one side of the stage, had been sprayed with silver paint and was hung with scores of gleaming silver and tinsel ornaments, without a trace of color anywhere and with no lights hung upon the tree itself. It shown, but faintly in the dimly lighted auditorium.

Every doctor of the staff who could possibly be there was in his seat.

The first rows were reserved for the nurses and in a moment the procession entered, each girl in uniform, each one crowned by her nurse’s cap, her badge of office. Around their shoulders were their blue Red Cross capes, one end tossed back to show the deep red lining.

We rose as one man to do them honor, and as the last one reached her seat and we settled in our places again, the organ began the opening notes of one of the oldest of our carols.

Slowly down the middle aisle, marching from the back of the auditorium, came 20 other girls singing softly, our own nurses, in full uniform, each holding high a lighted candle, while through the auditorium floated the familiar strains of “Silent Night.” We were on our feet again instantly. I could have killed anyone who spoke to me then, because I couldn’t have answered, and by the time they reached their seats I couldn’t see.

And then a great blue floodlight at the back was turned on very slowly, gradually covering the tree with increasing splendor: brighter and brighter, until every ornament was almost a flame. On the opposite side of the stage a curtain was slowly drawn, and we saw three lovely young musicians, all in shimmering white evening gowns. They played very softly in unison with the organ–a harp, a cello and a violin. I am quite sure I was not the only old sissy there whose eyes were filled with tears.

I have always liked the harp, and I love to watch the grace of a skillful player. I was especially fascinated by this young harpist. She played extraordinarily well, as if she loved it. Her slender fingers flickered across the strings, and as the nurses sang, her face, made beautiful by a mass of auburn hair, was upturned as if the world that moment were a wonderful and holy place.

I waited, when the short program was over, to congratulate the chief nurse on the unusual effects she had arranged. And as I sat alone, there came running down the aisle a woman whom I did not know. She came to me with arms outstretched.

“Oh, you saw her,” she cried. “You must have recognized your baby. That was my daughter who played the harp–and I saw you watching her. Don’t you remember the little girl who was born with only one good leg 17 years ago? We tried everything else first, but now she has a whole artificial leg on that side-but you would never know it would you? She can walk she can swim, and she can almost dance.

“But, best of all, through all those years when she couldn’t do those things, she learned to use her hands so wonderfully. She is going to be one of the world’s great harpists. She enters the university this year at 17. She is my whole life, and now she is so happy . . . and here she is!”

As we spoke, this sweet young girl had quietly approached us, her eyes glowing, and now she stood beside me. “This is your first doctor, my dear–our doctor,” her mother said. Her voice trembled. I could see her literally swept back, as I was, through all the years of heartache to the day I told her what she had to face. “He was the first one to tell me about you. He brought you to me.”

Impulsively I took the child in my arms. Across her warm young shoulder 1 saw the creeping clock of the delivery room 17 years before. I lived again those awful moments when her life was in my hand, when I had decided on deliberate infanticide.

I held her away from me and looked at her.

“You never will know, my dear,” I said, “you never will know, nor will anyone else in all the world, just what tonight has meant to me. Go back to your harp for a moment, please–and play ‘Silent Night’ for me alone. I have a load on my shoulders that no one has ever seen, a load that only you can take away.”

Her mother sat beside me and quietly took my hand as her daughter played. Perhaps she knew what was in my mind. And as the last strains of “Silent Night, Holy Night” faded again, I think I found the answer, and the comfort, I had waited for so long.

THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, DECEMBER 1997. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.

Posted in AIS File Library, IS - Current/Social Issues, ISAB - Abortion0 Comments

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