Many people are part of a church prayer ministry team and may come across those who seek prayer about a past abortion. However they may be unsure how to go about helping as they may not have an understanding of the issues involved. Abortion is very complex and no two cases are the same, but the vast majority of them are shrouded in secrecy and shame.

Abortion is the most common operation in the world. In the UK there are approximately 500 abortions each day, 3,500 each week and 180,000 each year. The figures worldwide are unknown, but approximately every time your heart beats a baby is aborted somewhere in the world. However, abortion is also the operation least spoken about. In many statistics it is completely ignored. Heart disease, cancer, AIDS, road accidents, or even accidents in the home, are often quoted as having vast numbers of victims where something must be done to prevent further casualties.

Before we can help others we must understand the conflict that is going on in the minds of those who have been through an abortion experience. For whatever reason, abortion was chosen. This is often seen as a ‘quick fix’ solution to a problem and can often be portrayed as ‘the same as having a tooth out’. Abortions are channelled through the health system, via GPs, hospitals, or clinics such as fpa (Family Planning Association) or BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service). All professionals. All (seemingly) with the woman’s best interests at heart. Sadly, abortion does not solve any problems, it only creates more.

But as human beings, created in the image of God, there is something inherent inside us that knows the difference between right and wrong. Whilst our head might say “It is legal”, our hearts know differently. Once in the system it is often very hard to stop the wheels turning. A decision has to be made quickly and many women do not have the support they desperately desire that says to them “You don’t have to do this. There is a better way”. Or, they may really believe that ‘it’ will not affect them. Terminology is very important.

If it is a ‘wanted’ or ‘planned’ pregnancy then ‘they are having a baby’. If it is an ‘unwanted’ or ‘crisis’ pregnancy then they have to choose what to do about ‘it’. ‘It’ becomes a ‘clump of cells’, or some other such description. The quicker ‘it’ (the abortion) is carried out the quicker they can get on with their lives. The abortion becomes something not to be spoken about. It never happened.

So why is it not spoken about? Subconsciously the person involved in the abortion experience decision (and it is not just the woman who has had the abortion – it may be the father of the baby, a friend, a teacher, a counsellor, etc) may wonder how anyone could ever like them as they have been party to the death of a child. When we consider the uproar of a child murder case, especially by its parents, the whole country seeks revenge. The person feels that they should be punished for their part in this death, but they are told abortion is legal – there is no punishment due. They are told there was no baby, only clumps of cells. Yet their whole being inside is crying out “No – it was MY BABY that died and you allowed/encouraged/forced me to kill my baby”.

If a born child dies, or a baby is stillborn or miscarries then mothers are encouraged to grieve the death of their baby. This is not so in the case of abortion. The baby’s existence is denied. There was no baby so there is nothing to grieve.

There are many symptoms of Post Abortion Syndrome. This is a recognised condition by many doctors, although denied by many pro-choice advocates. Depression is one of the most common symptoms, but others include; turning to alcohol, drugs, becoming promiscuous or frigid; having nightmares or flashbacks, becoming pregnant to replace the dead child, over protective of living children, or violent towards them; relationship break-ups, suicidal, anger, withdrawn, frequent crying outbursts, unable to be near babies or children or pregnant women; and denial that the abortion has affected them in any way.

When someone comes forward for prayer or counselling they may not even realise that their problems stem from an abortion that they may have had many, many years before. Many doctors would testify to this but they do not have the time to delve deep into the past as it may well open up a situation that they are unable to deal with and so they often just prescribe anti-depressants.

Alternatively, someone may come forward because something has triggered off the pain and they recognise the trigger. Again it may be many years since the abortion. Some women have confessed to an abortion that may have occurred 30, 40, 50 or more years ago and have carried the secret all those years. Despite the length of time that may have passed, the pain can still be very raw. The trigger could be the date the baby was aborted or should have been born. Most women will know when both these dates are and their behaviour may well change around these dates.

This may be the first time that someone has confessed or spoken about an abortion experience. It is not easy. There may be many tears and many silences. You may have no answers to their questions. It is not useful to say something to try to make them feel better. They do not want to hear that what they did was right in the circumstances. They know it was wrong. They do not want to hear that time will heal. They know that so far it hasn’t.

Abortion is seen as something to be ashamed of. Eye contact can be very hard to maintain when they are talking to you. If you are praying for them it is useful to keep your eyes open to watch their reaction.

It is possible they may ‘know’ that it was a boy or a girl. Naming the child is very important and makes the child more real so that the grieving process can proceed. They may need to talk about how the child might have looked, whether s/he would have been good at sport or music etc. These areas would probably be dealt with after a number of sessions with the person.

The Lord knows all about their situation and how best to deal with any particular issue at any set time. Although they do need peace in their lives, they do need to repent of the sin of killing a child. Pray that the Lord will reveal this to them at the right time with the right people around them. This is a spiritual battle. Anyone who has been involved in an abortion experience has opened themselves to demonic forces which could manifest themselves at any time. Ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse them of all influences that would seek to destroy them.

Healing after abortion can take many years, and will only happen as the Lord allows. At all times we must seek Him – for ourselves to ensure that our motives are within His will, and for others that He will uphold them in the times of their trials.

As we reach out to others, so the silence about the pain of abortion can be broken and the truth will set us all free to speak out and help others come to the point of healing and forgiveness which can only be found in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ and by the cleansing blood that flowed at Calvary.

Lastly, remember to be gentle on yourself. Don’t take other people’s problems home as your burdens. Give each situation to the Lord. We are all responsible for our own actions and we cannot solve the world’s problems but we can care for one person at a time, and often that person needs to be ourselves.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew Chapter 11: verses 28-30