This past weekend I had opportunity to speak to a couple of hundred college students in a workshop at the National Students for Life Conference near Washington D.C. I was the one inspired, as I witnessed the passion of this generation of pro-lifers, for protecting the unborn, and for helping those harmed by abortion. The workshop was about speaking courageously to women in crisis. My topic was “How to talk to a Post-abortive Woman”. Perhaps you, too, have desired to reach out to these women, or to men affected by abortion, but did not know what to say.
Here are some thoughts that might prompt you to be courageous!
- Educate yourself on the physical and psychological consequences of abortion – Our “getting help” tab on this website has resources listed that can help educate you. Also, our new DVD, “ Restoring the Value of Life ” is an excellent educational tool.
- Understand the grieving process as it affects post-abortive women. Remember that these women have never had opportunity for closure with the loss of their child. There was no funeral; there are no happy memories of their child.
- Pray for wisdom and discernment to determine the help that is needed.
- Do they simply need a listening ear? Maybe they need a counselor or pastor.
- Pray for boldness and the appropriate words to say. God will give you the words if you depend on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
- Consider her state of emotions, as each woman is unique in her response to her abortion:
- Those in denial that their choice was wrong or that their choice caused them harm. These women are not ready to talk, nor do they feel the need.
- Those suffering from their choice, but not connecting the dots of their pain with the abortion. They may mention nightmares or depression, but deny that these new experiences are connected to the affects of abortion.
- Those who are spiritually broken over their choice and seeking guidance for healing and restoration. They are most open for biblical counseling and the good news of forgiveness and healing through Christ.
- Those who were coerced or forced to abort, and are devastated. These women may need professional counseling, but you can assure them that they are not to blame and that God will use their pain for something beautiful in their lives.
- What not to do:
- Don’t assume that every woman who has had an abortion needs and/or wants your help. Again, if she is in denial, she is not ready to talk or to seek help. Ask the Lord to lead you to those women seeking help.
- Every woman’s response to abortion is unique to her design – she may or may not have any, or all, of the textbook symptoms that are common. Don’t assume she has particular symptoms.
- Don’t assume she chose to abort – 64% of abortions are coerced or forced – most often by parents or a boyfriend.
- It is not your job to convict her of wrongdoing – she needs a friend, not a judge and jury
- Don’t tell her she can always have other children – the sad truth is that she may not be able to have other children; or, or she may attempt to get pregnant in order to “replace” her lost child, which of course, can never be done.
- Don’t minimize her pain, i.e., “you just need to move on”.
- What to do and what to say:
- Remember the old cliché “They won’t care what you know, unless they know that you care.” Every word must be spoken in love, with grace.
- Listen more than you talk! Ask questions that allow her to verbalize what she is experiencing without you telling her. “What changes, if any, have you experienced since your abortion”?
- Acknowledge her pain – “that must have been difficult”
- Speak of hope, healing, restoration – affirm God’s love, mercy and grace
- Assure her of your friendship and availability through the healing process
- Offer helpful resources – offer to accompany them to recovery classes or retreats.
- Offer to pray with her and for her
- Follow-up regularly
Though I have referenced women in these guidelines, most could be applied to counseling a man suffering the aftermath of abortion.
I hope you will pray with me that God would bring men and women our way who are ready to hear truth, and to receive the forgiveness, healing and restoration that Christ alone can give. Ask God to prepare you and speak through you. There are hurting people, whom God loves, waiting to receive God’s touch through you.