November 11, 2013
Christian or atheist, religious or apathetic, no one can deny that abortion is an issue in our society. Last year 185,122 abortions were carried out in England and Wales alone. 97 per cent of these were signed-off by doctors under the law declaring that “[continuing] the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.” The health issues involved in giving birth therefore often justify having an abortion. But that’s not the whole story. The reality of abortion is never as black and white as the physical hazards suggest. What about the dangers of long-lasting emotional and psychological scarring?
Education for Choice says: “The vast majority of women are able to incorporate a decision to end a pregnancy into their lives well and to move on.” The abortion clinic Marie Stopes International states: “After an abortion it is quite normal to feel a bit low for a few days. Most women feel a sense of relief, but others may experience difficult emotions.” However, the long waiting list at the Options post-abortion counselling centre in Wimbledon, Surrey, proves otherwise.
“The reason we have post-abortion counselling is because pretty much every woman who has an abortion suffers from some sort of post-abortion stress syndrome,” says Lucy, Options Counsellor. “It varies in degrees, but sometimes a woman will think she’s fine and suddenly it can come out 40 years later.”
Some have tried to link this to pre-existing mental vulnerability; how the woman made her decision; how sure she was. But Lucy says, “It’s very rare that someone is 100 per cent sure they should have an abortion. Women have maternal instincts which are telling you that you should have the baby. And then you have all these outside things telling you that you’re too young, you’re not married, that you can’t afford it and all these things. There’s always a niggling doubt.”
In fact, neutral help for women who are trying to make an educated choice in this matter is pretty hard to come by. You only need to do a Google search to find the subtle (and sometimes blindingly obvious), bias. Options is a Christian charity, but that doesn’t seem to put people off. Lucy explains, “It’s different from those who are pro-choice and those who are anti-abortion. Neither of those have any love in them. They just say ‘do whatever you want’ or ‘don’t do that, that’s really bad’ without looking at the situations the women are in.”
The counsellors at Options work through deep issues of guilt, shame, depression, anxiety and anger. “We tell them that we’re Christians, but we don’t ever force what we believe on them,” says Lucy. “We’re just trying to show these women love and that we care. We give them space to talk really difficult things out. Sometimes it can be appropriate to ask a client if they would like to know what the Bible says, and therefore what I believe, about something.”
And it’s here that Lucy gets her answers. Because in the Bible we find the message of God’s unconditional love and complete forgiveness for all those who trust in Jesus. It’s a hope that promises to remove all guilt and shame. To fill you with new joy. To trade your worries for peace with God. This is the liberating power of the Gospel, not just for those struggling with the effects of an abortion. For all those who will “call on the name of the Lord” and be saved, (Romans 10:13).
By the Cornerstone Team
N.B. Names used in this post have been changed to ensure confidentiality