Jewels Green

23 years after the abortion that nearly cost me my life, I sought healing

Jewels Green
By Jewels Green
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Note: Jewels Green is a former abortion clinic worker who also had an abortion herself. Last year she spoke out about her experiences as an abortion clinic worker for the first time. You can read that article here.

April 30, 2012 (LiveActionNews.org) - I had been looking forward to my post-abortion healing retreat weekend for months. Years, in fact. The grief and crushing guilt after my abortion 23 years ago nearly cost me my life. My check for the nominal fee was cashed, and the Herculean logistics of childcare and shuttling my three sons to and from activities while mommy was away was complete. As a firm non-believer in GPS, I wrote out my driving directions using the markers from the kids’ art table and set off on my 40-mile journey to closure.

Located atop a hill, surrounded by fields and trees, the retreat house was perfectly bucolic and remote. Including me, there were eight retreatants, seven staff members (including the lead facilitator, a nurse, and a certified counselor), and – although it was conducted as an interdenominational Christian retreat – a priest.

I checked into my room and found a welcome packet filled with inspirational pamphlets and a gift arrangement that included a journal, a coffee mug filled with candy, and prayer cards. Then I headed back downstairs to sup on the homemade minestrone soup that was waiting for us in a crock pot upon arrival and enjoyed small talk with the others about how far we’d each traveled to get there, the traffic, and the beautiful weather.

The formal “work” of the retreat was to take place in a large, carpeted room with big comfy chairs arranged in a circle. Each chair had a lovingly handmade donated afghan on it, a box of tissues, and a tiny trash can. It looked eerily like the recovery room of the abortion clinic where I had worked. One of our first spiritual exercises after briefly introducing ourselves was to pick a rock to carry around with us throughout the weekend as a physical reminder of the weight of our own personal burdens of guilt, grief, regret, anger, shame, and sadness associated with our abortions.

The first “grief stone” I chose was the only rectangular one among the circle of rocks around the low table in the center of the room. I thought that that was somehow appropriate, given my additional guilt and shame of working in an abortion clinic for years piled on top of the devastation of my own abortion.

A few unexpected surprises of the retreat led me to see that first stone as a weapon, not as a physical manifestation and representation of the heavy psychic burden I carried. I was almost immediately plunged into a vivid daydream of using the sharpest edge (which admittedly, wasn’t very sharp at all) to scrape at my forearms. The same way I used to when I would cut myself for release to ease the maelstrom of emotional fury so many, many years ago.

I hadn’t tried to deliberately hurt myself in decades. Something was wrong. I approached the retreat’s counselor and confessed that I could not be trusted with a pointy rock, so I traded it in for a smooth stone. I held my new smooth gray grief stone in the palm of my hand and felt its heft. He was very dusty, so I took him to the sink in the bathroom and scrubbed him off. There, on the surface, I noticed a crack…in the shape of a cross. I had the right stone now.

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Part of the retreat rules are that participants are to carry their grief stone with us at all times – to the bathroom, the shower, the breakfast table – until we are ready to lay down our burden. Each retreatant chooses the time to relieve oneself of the burden, sets the stone down somewhere at the retreat house, and then shares with the assembled mourners and staff why it was time to stop carrying the weight around.

The intended purpose of the relinquishing of one’s heavy rock of grief is meant to symbolize relief from the burden of grief, anger, and guilt. I’d thought this was not all that dissimilar from the Jewish tradition of leaving a “stone of remembrance” upon the grave marker of a loved one. But those grieving Jews have a cemetery to visit, a physical place to leave their tangible representation of memorial and grief. We who mourn children lost to abortion have no such monument to our dead.

After a morning prayer service and breakfast, it was time to divide the group in half to share our own personal abortion stories. Although I’ve written about my abortion and working in an abortion clinic, spoken publicly about it, and even been interviewed for radio broadcasts, I simply did not feel safe enough in this place to share my history in mixed-gender company. Admittedly, I was still harboring anger and resentment about not knowing that men would be present at the retreat. I fully acknowledge the very real grief of post-abortive men and agree that they too deserve assistance on the road to forgiveness, spiritual healing, and reconciliation – I just wrongly assumed that this retreat was for women only (with the exception of the priest, of course) and that men were provided a separate therapeutic experience tailored to their role in the abortion decision. Clearly, his experience is fundamentally different from that of the pregnant woman who physically endures the pregnancy and the violence that ends it.

So I left the retreat early = with my smooth cross-stone. During my hour-long drive home, I felt warmer and calmer and more at peace the more distance I put between me and my failed attempt at scripted healing. I drove under an overpass with a large street sign bearing the name I’d chosen for my child while he was still alive, still growing inside me. I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t leaving my dead child behind, but I was bringing home a memorial to him as I kept driving – away from the retreat and toward my three living children, my home, my husband, and my future.

I lifted my stone out of the car but hesitated at the door to my home. I would not bring him inside. His stone has a place in the garden, a part of my family’s surroundings. My stone is no longer a burden – it is a memorial. Now I have a place to visit. Now he has a place to be remembered.

Ministries that provide counseling and spiritual healing services provide invaluable assistance to the thousands of women and men grieving after abortion. The dedicated staff, volunteers, pastors, and priests provide comfort and solace to help so many bridge the chasm of unspoken sorrow in their souls with a forgiveness that helps them reach the stability of the shore where true healing happens, and the future can unfold unencumbered by the weight of the past.

My own journey was (and still is) intensely personal and could not have happened any other way.

There is no such thing as one-size-fits all healing.

Author’s Note: If you or someone you love is suffering from unresolved emotions stemming from a past abortion, please contact any (or all) of the following remarkable organizations dedicated to helping heal those wounded by the violence of abortion. Find what works for you – don’t give up. You’re worth it.

- Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries (Be sure to inquire about whether or not the retreat time and location you choose is co-ed or women-only.)

- AfterAbortion.com

- The National Office for Post Abortion Reconciliation & Healing

- Project Rachel

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org


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Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

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Abortion group targets pro-life doctors, nurses with new website: New Zealand

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Pro-life health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres in New Zealand are the target of a new website designed to intimidate those who choose not to refer for abortion or prescribe contraception.

The website, My Decision, is created by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ). 

The site lists health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres which they believe women should avoid.  The incomplete list includes the names of individuals or organisations, the region and town, and whether they are a doctor, nurse or other provider. 

Women are asked to submit their stories of “hostile or unhelpful health professionals.”  The stories are non-identifying and can be edited for length or clarity.  At the time of writing only two stories had been posted.

In an earlier blog post, ALRANZ mentioned that the new website, which was still under construction at the time, is “aimed at shining the light on ‘conscientious objectors’… who deny people the reproductive healthcare they want or need.”

Right to Life NZ says they believe the site is “denigrating the good name and reputations of health professionals who believe that abortion is a harmful choice.”

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Under New Zealand law, health practitioners can object to providing reproductive health services according to their conscience.  However, there is one caveat – they “must inform the person who requests the service that he or she can obtain the service from another health practitioner or from a family planning clinic.”

 “Sonscientious objection is a fundamental right and one that must be preserved if we are to continue to live in a free and civil society,” said Chris O’Brien, Vice President of Right to Life NZ. “We risk tyranny if this right is taken away.”

“There are very good doctors that appear on that website” said Dame Colleen Bayer, whose Dunedin Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centre is also named.  “These doctors speak truthfully and have real care and concern for their patients.  Women do themselves a disservice to discount them based on this information.”

The resource section on the My Decision website links to ALRANZ, Family Planning (an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation and an abortion provider), and the website Abortion Services in New Zealand. 

The Abortion Services website is sponsored by ISTAR Ltd, a registered Charitable Trust which is the sole importer of mifepristone into New Zealand.  ISTAR also provides Manual Vacuum Aspiration equipment for early surgical abortions.

ALRANZ, was instrumental in the writing of the Greens abortion policy, which was unveiled earlier this year.  That policy aims to take abortion out of the Crimes Act making it more accessible.  The policy also targets health professionals who may conscientiously object to ensure they refer patients on to a “neutral practitioner”.

More information about freedom of conscience in healthcare 


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The government is proposing allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.
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Northern Ireland considers allowing killing disabled unborn babies: pro-lifers condemn

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Precious Life, has condemned this week's announcement by Justice Minister David Ford that a consultation on changing the abortion law will be "ready by autumn." The government is considering allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.

“Abortion is a serious criminal offence in Northern Ireland,” said the director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth. “The law here protects unborn babies, and David Ford as Minister for Justice must ensure that all children are legally protected."

Last December, Ford revealed he would be undertaking a consultation to consider changes to the law after he heard the stories of two women, who complained that they had not been allowed to abort their babies who had been diagnosed with anencephaly. Instead, they said, they had traveled to Britain for abortions.

Abortion was refused under Northern Ireland’s laws because the diagnosis of anencephaly for the child poses no medical threat to the mother.

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On Monday Ford told the BBC that the Department of Justice would bring forward its consultation paper on changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws by the fall.

However, Smyth warned that “the core ethical principle which must underpin this discussion is that every child deserves the right to life regardless of how short their life may be, and regardless of the circumstances of their conception."

She vowed that Precious Life will launch a public campaign in support of the life of all unborn babies.

“We all feel enormous sympathy for parents in these traumatic and distressing cases," Precious Life stressed in a statement. "But parents in these difficult situations deserve much more than our sympathy – they need a professional support system in place, which will provide them with help, support and resources.

"Precious Life are resolved to work towards a solution that loves and protects both mother and baby. Once again we call on the Health Minister to immediately establish perinatal hospice services for parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis for their baby,” said Smyth.

 

Contact:

Justice Minister David Ford
Department of Justice
Stormont Estate
Belfast, Northern Ireland
BT4 3SG
Phone:(028) 9076 3000
Email: via website (http://www.dojni.gov.uk/contact-us.htm)


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80% of parents who have an unborn child with spina bifida choose abortion. But Chad Judice (pictured with Eli) knows that life is worth it.
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Abortion? No way. Dad says son with spina bifida is a ‘gift’ to the family.

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By Dustin Siggins

What is the most pro-life, pro-God influence in your life? According to Catholic author and speaker Chad Judice, his five-year old, disabled son has been a tremendous source of happiness and faith for even the hardest of hearts.

In an op-ed published in The New York Post, Judice writes that when he and his wife found out their unborn son Elijah had spina bifida, they were offered the option of abortion. While they chose life, it didn't stop them from fearing the worst for their careers, eldest child, and Eli.

"That evening...Ashley cried as she read to me from the literature we’d been given," writes Judice. "It said 80 percent of parents who receive a spina bifida diagnosis choose abortion."

"And it told us that our son might have learning disabilities and be paralyzed from the waist down, unable to ever walk."

According to WemMD.com, the two most common forms of spina bifida have few, if any effects, on those who have them. However, the most rare and most aggressive form of the disability can result in significant problems for life:

  • Little or no feeling in their legs, feet, or arms, so they may not be able to move those parts of the body.
  • Bladder or bowel problems, such as leaking urine or having a hard time passing stools.
  • Fluid buildup in the brain (hydrocephalus). Even when it is treated, this may cause seizures, learning problems, or vision problems.
  • A curve in their spine, such as scoliosis.

Eli's form of spina bifida was severe, but -- as it turned out -- manageable, writes Judice. Despite surgeries and "medical challenges," he was out of the hospital within thirty days, though seizures and surgeries would continue to challenge the family. At five-and-a-half, he is entering kindergarten, learning to walk with modern technology, and "his intelligence is at or above average, and he's very talkative."

But perhaps the greatest miracle of all, Judice says, is the effect Eli has had on those who are outside of the family. His story has helped "some pregnant mothers...to reject abortion," and "rekindle the dormant faith of some...drawing them into a life with more room for God and family."

One of those rekindled Christians was a man who, after years in prison, prayed for Eli "as he recited The Lord's Prayer." According to Judice, "it was the first time he’d prayed in 30 years."

Since Eli's birth, Judice has written two books about his son and their family. "Waiting for Eli: A Father's Journey from Fear to Faith" was the first, and has received praise from Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. According to Pavone, it is "an inspiring story of faith, hope, love, and the power of prayer."

"The world judges the value of human life by physical perfection, but God sees things differently. To Him, we are perfectly lovable in our imperfection. Uplifting in its reverence for human life in its most fragile stages, WAITING FOR ELI will encourage pro-life activists everywhere, from the most seasoned to the newly initiated."

Also unstinting in praise was the Chair of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Daniel Cardinal Dinardo, who writes for Judice's website that the book "chronicles [Judice's] spiritual journey from fear of one’s personal limitations to self-abandonment to the divine mercy of God’s providence."

The second book, "Eli's Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer," received the "Best Book by Small Publisher" award in 2013 by the Catholic Press Association.

"I think of Eli as God’s special gift to my family," Judice wrote in the Post. "And as I share about him, Eli’s story softens hearts and brings people to a greater appreciation of the beauty and sacredness of life."


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