Mercy for Abortion Victims

Blessing of the Memorial to the Unborn

Deacon Larry Brockman

As we gather together to bless our memorial to the unborn,  let us recall some very insightful words from our newest canonized saint- St. Theresa of Calcutta.  St. Theresa said, and I quote:  “Abortion kills twice.  It kills the body of the baby and it kills the conscience of the mother.  Abortion is profoundly anti-women.  Three quarters of its victims are women: half the babies and all the mothers.” End quote.

St. Theresa was always keen in her understanding of the poor.  And the poorest of the poor are those whose spirits are broken.  Truly, St. Theresa understood the long term implications of abortion- that the women who have abortions are wounded, broken, and suffering- they are victims, poor in spirit.

Studies have shown that in the first weeks after an abortion, the majority of women are emotionally paralyzed by the event, some 80 percent.  They don’t want to talk about it; they can’t talk about it.  By the 8th week, some begin to open up.  Those that do, express negative feelings and emotions-  55% express guilt; 44 percent experience nervous disorders; and 31 percent regret their decision.  More than one in ten required psychotropic medication from their doctors just to cope.

And, it doesn’t seem to get better with time.  In a Canadian study done over 5 years,  25 percent of post abortive women made visits to psychiatrists, some 6 times higher than the control group.  Other studies over multiple populations have shown that post abortive women are from 4 to 6 times more suicidal.  Post abortive women are indeed victims, they are poor in spirit.  St. Theresa understood this.  And as with other victims, St. Theresa understood the need for the Church to be merciful to such victims and minister to them.

All of us gathered here are sickened by the blight of abortion.  It has taken over 40 million American lives in less than 50 years; and almost 25% of American women have had abortions sometime in their lifetime.  There are avowed “Catholics” at the highest levels of our government defending a woman’s “right” to abortion.  The clinics are unhealthy and data shows it’s all about the money for the providers.  Despite having fought the problem for decades, we don’t seem to be winning.  And so, we project anger and disgust at this major problem.  This anger and disgust is certainly justified.  It’s easy to be angry at the system; it’s easy to be angry that people make the wrong decision.

But we need to understand something very profound about our anger.  Our attitudes can be misunderstood by the surviving victims of abortion- the post abortive women.  Our anger and frustration can be interpreted as a lack of willingness to extend mercy to them.  At a time when these women feel guilty and abandoned,  when they have recognized that they have made a mistake, and that they need to take a step to make a change in their lives;  it is at exactly that time, they may feel shut out by those who can help the most because they sense the anger we have over abortion, and they interpret that anger as being directed at them.

St. Theresa understood that; and she was always there to open the fount of mercy that God has for his people.  All of us are sinners in one way or another.  All of us need the mercy that God is willing to extend to us.  One of the things that is special about Christianity is the fact that God is a God of Love; and that God is love.  God loves all of us.  And there is much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents.  All of us have an obligation to make that love apparent to our brothers and sisters who need it the most.

Pope Francis has commissioned all of us to extend mercy during this year of Mercy.  His papal message made it clear that the Church needs to go out where the people are rather than wait for them to come to us.  That is a challenge.  But chances are, every one of us knows someone who has had an abortion.  They are likely hurting in the ways I indicated earlier.  But they have separated themselves from the Church.

I go to Health Central Hospital twice a week to help the chaplain.  The Chaplain sends me to all those who indicated they are Catholic on the incoming census.   Last Ash Wednesday I distributed ashes there.  As I entered one patient’s room, and asked the lady if she would like ashes.  She told me she no longer goes to Church because, because…  She just knew that she was not worthy of receiving ashes.  I told her that God loves all his creation, and that He is constantly looking for his lost ones.  I told her that she was precisely the kind of person who needed that Ash Wednesday blessing the most.

But there simply are not enough Deacons and Priests to go around to minister to all of these women like that.  That’s where all of you come in.  These post abortive women are all around us.  They may be defensive about their situation; they may be tight lipped about it; or they may be openly distraught and in despair.  But with our eyes and ears, we need to be Christian witnesses and bring them back to the fold.  Through our help, we can turn these victims into strong soldiers for Christ.

At the end of every Mass, it is my privilege to say these words.  Hopefully, you will take them to heart because that is what we need to bring post-abortive women back into the fold.  “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”.

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