Compassion and understanding go a long way when it comes to helping people who have had abortions.
David C. Reardon, known as an expert in the after-effects of abortion, told more than 150 people at Holy Angels Parish center in Meriden Conn. that advocates for life must reach out with love to women and men who are suffering after an abortion.
Dr. Reardon was the keynote speaker at the seventh annual St. Gerard’s Center for Life Mothers’ Banquet. He is the director of the Elliot Institute, based in Springfield, Ill., which describes its mission as postabortion research, education and advocacy.
Dr. Reardon, who has a doctorate in biomedical ethics from Pacific Western University, has written books and articles about the mental health effects associated with abortion.
He said that in one survey, 78 percent of women say they "would rather have their baby if they had loved ones who were supportive." He cited another survey saying that 68 percent of women are pushed toward abortion by other people. He called the pressure "social abortion."
After having an abortion, he said, women hear such comments as "that life didn’t matter; your grief isn’t real," he said, which makes them experience what he called "forbidden grief." For such a woman, he added, advocates for life should "wear compassion on our sleeve [and] not throw stones at her for having had an abortion."
After having an abortion, women who want to begin to heal feel trapped, he said, and afraid of condemnation.
Men also can suffer negative effects, he said, which can manifest themselves as self-destructive behavior, failed relationships, addictions to cover past pain, depression and suicide.
"We want to give them a hug and cry with them," he said. "We need to recognize that shame is a dangerous weapon. It closes doors on people who need help. Messages of hope counteract messages of despair."
Advocates for life should deal with the minds, hearts and hope of men and women dealing with the pain of abortion, he said.
Dr. Theresa Krankowski, director of St. Gerard’s Center for Life in Hartford, introduced a few of the mothers whose babies were saved through the intervention of the people at St. Gerard’s.
Dr. Krankowski said that the work at St. Gerard’s now is aided by a new ultrasound machine, which is operated by volunteer nurses. The machine was acquired through funds from the Knights of Columbus.
She said that St. Gerard’s has served 3,000 mothers and their children in the seven years of the center’s existence. In addition, she said, "400 babies were saved who otherwise would’ve died from abortion."
She outlined other programs as well. Dr. Krankowski noted, "We’re committed to the truth. We have 116 women in our chastity program. Every week, those girls are there for the message [that] your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit." St. Gerard’s also provides post-abortion healing and baptism preparation programs, she said.
"We are committed to helping mothers with all they need," said Dr. Krankowski. "This is the message of true love."
Printed with permission from the Catholic Transcript, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn.