With what seems like constant advocacy from pro-abortion groups who push the lie that abortion is a “right” for women’s “reproductive health,” gradually abortion is seeing wider acceptance even in Tanzania, though for now it remains strongly restricted in law. Instead of offering health benefits, however, abortion causes women to suffer physically and psychologically. Although we have been able to share this message and reach many people in Tanzania, for some our message of hope arrives late.
Joanne (not her real name) is a fourth-year university student specializing in land planning. She was brought to me by her boyfriend, Joseph, who is working as a consultant in a government ministry. Joseph (also not his real name) came to me with the couple’s difficulties after he remembered a talk I gave to his group some years ago in which we discussed post-abortion syndrome, among other topics.
The symptoms were familiar – Joanne at times seemed genuinely to desire the relationship, but she was clearly dealing with demons and had doubts about their future together.
When I spoke to Joanne, she confided in me that she had had multiple sexual partners beginning in high school and continuing into her university years. From those encounters she twice got pregnant and had abortions. The painful experience of having multiple sexual partners and the two abortions left Joanne with deep psychological scars. She felt used and exploited. She was always anxious and was often unable to focus on necessary tasks. She easily got angry when provoked.
From those experiences, Joanne lost trust in men, let alone men who said they loved her. She considered every man who approached her as an aggressor. That is why when Joseph sincerely expressed his loving desire to marry her, she did not trust him, thinking on some level that he was another exploiter.
After several weeks of conversations, Joanne has begun to heal, and expresses her joy that she has recovered quiet considerably. She can laugh when teased, something that was not possible even a short time ago. When we first began to talk, Joanne doubted she could ever truly love Joseph given her past experience. Her nascent feelings for him have become clearer, and she feels drawn to him in a deeper way. She is now open and can share even her deepest secrets.
Most importantly, Joanne trusts Jesus’ healing power for her broken heart. It is very gratifying to witness miracles happening due to deep trust in Jesus Christ, the Author of life. We keep Joanne and Joseph in our prayers as they continue to discern their possible vocation together, even as we pray that the Gospel of Life is spread far and wide, preventing well-meaning young people from making life-ending and life-damaging decisions.
At the same time, we renew our efforts to stop the spread of the great lie of abortion. Victims like Joanne and her two children are far too many, and even if healing is possible for survivors, there is incredible urgency to prevent as many as possible from choosing death over life.