Hurting After Abortion?
Have you had an abortion(s)? If so, you are not alone. Millions of women in the United States- some estimates say 1 in 4- have been through the same experience, whether out of choice or coercion. These women are abortion's secondary victims.
In addition to the myriad physical risks of abortion, the link between abortion and mental health problems is well-documented.
These include depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, suicide, and Post-Abortion Syndrome, a variant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While post-abortive women suffer the greatest, men involved in an abortion can also suffer intense grief, guilt, and symptoms of trauma.
But the harm of abortion goes beyond the physical or psychological realm; it is also spiritually destructive.
Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, when asked about God's forgiveness of women who have had multiple abortions, said:
"A woman who destroys the fruit of her womb commits a great sin. She is destroying life itself, for God alone is the Giver of life and He makes possible the conception of a human being in the womb. He gives life and a woman destroys it. Great repentance is necessary, from the depths of her soul. She must change and never commit this sin again . . . There is no sin that cannot be forgiven but the sin of unrepentance. True and sincere repentance is required for such a sin, and it must never be repeated again."
In the Orthodox Church, we have the incredibly precious opportunity for forgiveness and restoration to communion with God and the Church through the Sacrament of Holy Confession. We read in 1 John that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
St. John Chrysostom reminds us: “God loves us more than a father, mother, friend, or anyone else could, and even more than we are able to love ourselves.”
God is a fountain overflowing: His mercy is a deep well, His forgiveness is a healing balm, His redemption is plenteous. If you have not done so already, bring your abortion before God in Confession. Your spiritual father will be able to help you begin the process of healing. It may be helpful for you to pray the Akathist of Repentence for One Who Has Aborted a Child.
In addition, if you think you would benefit from further support, your priest may bless your participation in a post-abortion recovery program or post-abortion counseling. While there is no Orthodox-based post-abortion healing program in existence at this time, hundreds of such opportunities are offered by Catholic and Protestant groups around the country.