“Leah” was just 16 in the 1970s when she discovered she was pregnant. Her family pressured her to abort, so she did. “Barbara” has a similar story. The two women went through an abortion recovery program and now both volunteer at a pregnancy center in their community.
Like many women who resort to abortion today, instead of finding support and encouragement to carry her child to term, family members pressured Leah and Barbara into abortion. Forty years later, with a mixture of lingering brokenness and a desire to volunteer as patient advocates at their local pregnancy center, both women enrolled in an abortion recovery class that peeled back layers of hidden pain.
“It healed me,” Leah said, pointing out that her work included forgiving both her father and herself for her decision four decades ago. “I had been anorexic and felt depressed for a long time. I didn’t know why I felt that way—I didn’t understand abortion and the magnitude of it. I admitted I wanted the procedure and that sin was on me—I take full responsibility—but God healed me,” she said.
Facing a similar situation as a pregnant teen, Barbara wanted to keep her child, but yielded to the demands of those around her. It wasn’t until going through the abortion recovery program that she saw things in a new light and found the courage to acknowledge her own responsibility for the first time in her life.
“I feel God protected me from the depression and emotional devastation I’ve seen other women experience,” she said. “Many women kept their abortions secret, and that secret was eating them up. I didn’t realize the emotional devastation abortion caused. I took on my own responsibility and sin (through attending the program), and acknowledged them.”
After having benefited from the program themselves, Leah and Barbara were two of about 10 women who participated in the SaveOne abortion recovery training this month in Casper, the largest town in central Wyoming. Sheila Harper, the founder and president of SaveOne, facilitated the training, which was held at an area church.
Barbara, with a background in teaching, plans to take what she’s learned and—along with a fellow church member who attended the training—begin a SaveOne program at her church. Her pastor gave his blessing, and starting later this month, an announcement will go out in the church bulletin.
“I feel doubly equipped—taking the program and taking the training,” said Barbara. “I have a heart for women who suffer from abortion, and I feel God has given me the gift of teaching. But, leading a Bible study, well, that’s scary. But, I plan to do it. I love the idea of doing it.”
According to a 2015 report, as many as 70 percent of U.S. women who abort consider themselves Christians, with 40 percent reported frequently attending church at the time they had the abortion. Many post-abortive women and men in the church remain silent about their past decisions, hiding their pain for fear of judgment.
True Care Women’s Resource Center has partnered with some Casper-area churches to develop a confidential Abortion Concern Network, linking post-abortive women and men in the church who have gone through a healing process with other Christians who need to start that journey themselves.
Meanwhile, True Care—like most pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics—sponsors a post-abortion healing group at least once a year. In addition to helping women and men work through the fallout of a past abortion, the chance to heal also cuts off abortion at the root, with the Centers for Disease Control estimating that 44 percent of women getting an abortion have had at least one abortion in the past.
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“You have to find healing—you can’t just stuff those emotions,” Leah, who is exploring ways to serve post-abortive women near her, said. “If you do, you’re stuck. One of the most powerful things I took away from the program is that these children aren’t an abortion—they are children. That realization comes when you’re healed.
“It’s a hard, painful process. But when you get to the other side of it, there’s freedom, freedom because of Christ. He’s the only one that can truly heal.”