“The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.”
~ Saint Faustina’s Diary
Abortion is one of the foremost causes of suffering in the world, and one of the least acknowledged. The child in the womb suffers in silence, and the mother carries grief, shame, and guilt. A cruel irony of abortion is that the number of people involved is at least two, but enduring silence often follows. A human life ceases to exist where mere minutes and seconds before a distinct person was forming in the womb.
Yet this darkest and most senseless of crimes is always forgiven by God for those seeking mercy.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
~ Jeremiah 1:5
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
Abortion sows confusion and agony, inflicting indelible scars on women. It is a direct violation of the fifth commandment, “thou shall not kill.” The particular cruelty of abortion towards innocent children and mothers surpasses all other infringements on the dignity of human life. It is an act of defilement, deformation, and tearing apart, literally and figuratively. And the consequences of abortion are felt in the mother’s womb and in the farthest fringes of society. No one remains untouched by abortion.
“Is not God more ready to pardon than we to offend?”
Saint Catherine of Siena
The path to healing and forgiveness begins differently for many women. Many struggle to accept God’s forgiveness and mercy. Acknowledging the reality of abortion is a fundamental step on the path to healing. Feelings of guilt, frustration, and anger are expected in the face of immeasurable loss. Yet humility and gentleness are required to overcome these stumbling blocks on the path to forgiveness. A sincere acknowledgement of God’s love and mercy will – over time – overcome feelings of unworthiness.
In 1995, Pope Saint John Paul II offered words of comfort, understanding, and hope in Evangelium Vitae. He spoke directly to women who have had an abortion: “But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope….The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.”
When becoming discouraged, turn to God who offers peace and forgiveness.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
The heavy burden of abortion cannot be set aside; it must be recognized and brought before God. His forgiveness offers the opportunity to transform suffering into a commitment to life, which bears fruit over time. Mothers who have experienced the loss of a child to abortion will value life all the more. These women have the opportunity to be steadfast pro-life advocates in their daily lives.
Pope St. John Paul II was acutely aware of the unique role women recovering from abortion have in the world: “You can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.”3 Defending life looks different for each person. We are all called to carry out this task, but post-abortive women have a particularly great capacity to value and promote life in ways unique to their experiences and circumstances.
The path towards experiencing forgiveness is unique to each woman. Yet the role of God is indispensable. Acknowledging the reality of abortion and experiencing profound and enduring peace in God are inextricably linked. Picking up the cross after abortion allows women to transform a source of profound sorrow and regret into a means of gratitude, service towards others, and lasting peace.
Recovering from Abortion: Resources
The path to recovery does not have to be taken alone. There are several organizations helping women confront and move past the trauma of abortion: