At the age of 18 I became pregnant I was scared confused I didn’t want to tell my parents I was brought up Catholic so I felt like I had disappointed them so instead of going to my parents I went to a a local Planned Parenthood that was just a little bit outside of our town. I was 19 years old full of insecurities low self-esteem. For me the appreciation that I have for myself it was nothing. When I was in my early 20s in graduate school, I had a long-term relationship and found myself pregnant and I was not Christian I didn’t consider myself Christian or or Catholic very far away from anything like that. I was a pretty angry sort of troubled woman I’d had a pretty rocky upbringing. My mom had committed suicide Shortly after I went into depression, I started using drugs and alcohol. And through a
period of time, I would get pregnant two more times and I would have two more
abortions. It wasn’t until I really contemplated suicide and I knew if I
didn’t seek help that you know that would be it. I didn’t really have any
emotional connection to my pregnancy probably because I had lost my mom at
such a young age so I just did not feel that maternal tie.
Something inside of me… I wasn’t the same. I was not the same.
All I wanted is to have my child back. Women who have abortions…it’s a complicated grief. Many of them have symptoms of depression, anxiety, some problems in relationships.
There’s an empty emptiness about them. Humans have an amazing ability, too, to put things, you know, in the background, push it down, don’t talk about it, and
continue on with their lives. And when we do that, then there’s other things that
pop up in our lives and problems and issues.
Sooner or later sometimes they start realizing that something is not right
and that’s when they seek help. You know, it takes a lot of courage to even make
that first phone call. Project Rachel was founded in 1984, and it’s an outreach of
the Catholic Church that helps anyone who’s been affected by
abortion, whether that’s mothers or fathers, grandparents or siblings. I
think, ultimately, what Project Rachel hopes to achieve is to be a door that
begins the process and walks with particularly a woman through the process of post-abortive healing. They do it in a number of ways. It really is a program that seeks
to meet the needs of the individual person, and that means there’s a
commitment, through Project Rachel, of ongoing work. In other words, that that
initial contact, those initial programs, whether it is going to a weekend program
or a day of recollection or retreat, that that’s really just the beginning and
launching point to a real journey that the Church is
taking with that person, that woman, to healing in Christ. People feel the remorse and
regret and the guilt behind abortion at different times.
Sometimes it’s right after, sometimes it’s when they’re young, sometimes it’s when they’re old. It takes real courage and a strength for a woman to come in and
admit to someone that they have committed this sin in the past or that
they have they have the secret that they’re hiding and that they’re holding.
For me, it’s a powerful moment of walking with someone, accompanying them, even, in bringing the mercy and the goodness of God into a situation and into a moment, a past experience, that’s been so difficult and so trying for them. It took me almost 30 years…29 years to figure out or to understand what was going on with me. I knew then that there is nothing that
God cannot forgive. I had my first confession, and I was
terrified. When I went in, I put my head down, and I wouldn’t look at him, and I
told him: ‘Father, I had an abortion.’ And he asked me to look up at him, and he was
crying. And he told me that he was not only crying for the loss of my little
one, but he was crying for me, as well. I just saw Jesus’ face. Just Jesus’
face was right there: His hands, His healing touch, His words…and I just knew in an instant that I had found, you know, my true home. So it was just a wonderful,
wonderful, it was just a wonderful, amazing thing. This is a time God is giving them
the opportunity to share their burden, either in the form of sharing that with
a friend, or with a priest in a kind of pastoral counseling, or especially, I
think in the most powerful way, when women who have had an abortion come to seek the mercy of God, the forgiveness and the freedom that comes in the
Sacrament of Penance. It’s a real blessing to work with women
who reach out for help. We’re there just to listen and to walk with them through their healing journey. God does amazing things. When someone is open to His grace, there’s definitely a transformation that happens. Don’t be afraid. You’ll just find love and healing, tremendous healing, and it’s the beginning of a wonderful journey from darkness into the light and
into healing. God is loving and merciful, and He assures us that there is no sin greater than His mercy. What we have to do is to acknowledge our need to be
forgiven, to resolve our lives to do what God is asking of us, and then simply to
embrace, to celebrate, the precious gift of mercy, forgiveness, that will allow us
to begin anew. Not because we deserve it, not because we earned it, but because we
have a loving and a generous God who never ever gives up on us. And so we must never give up on ourselves.