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In the abortion debates that have gone on for over four decades in America, there are an awful lot of assumptions that are made. The first one being that a woman has a right to choose abortion to avoid ruining her life by having an unplanned child. Without critical thought, such an argument seems to make sense…but only with the false assumption that an abortion helps the woman in the long run. Mounds of evidence refute this. Interestingly, a woman who had an abortion in the past is as much as six times more likely to join a pro-life group in the future.

Reality bears out what those promoting abortion refuse to admit…abortion hurts the woman who chooses it, or more accurately in so many cases, feels no other choice.

But we’re hearing more and more stories about how abortion affects many people who themselves never had one. Siblings of aborted children are coming forward in ever-increasing numbers expressing the grief and hurt associated with the abortions their parents had in the past. Even without firsthand knowledge, many simply sensed that someone was missing and something had gone wrong. Survivor guilt is not uncommon, along with anxiety, in knowing how tenuous their own right to live really was. Some suffered from the fallout of their mother’s grief, guilt, and depression that compromised her ability to bond with them.

I remember someone who experienced many symptoms of post-abortion syndrome after learning that her grandmother had had five abortions back during the depression:

“It was like a kick in the stomach. Grandma? My grandmother?” This information came out after the death of an elderly aunt who had never had her own children. “There was practically no one at the wake except my aunt and uncle, my mother and I, and a couple of cousins from my dad’s side of the family. There was a palpable sense that someone was missing…that there was something very wrong with this picture. But I had no idea. A few days later, my aunt saw a book I was reading, Aborted Women: Silent No More and began discussing it. I expressed how much pain these women suffer and how much prayer they need. And that’s when she dropped the bomb: ‘Oh I know. You know, our mother [my grandmother] had five abortions.”

“Stunned cannot adequately describe what I felt. For weeks I experienced grief, anger, and bewilderment. How many more cousins I would have had? How life would have been so different. My heart broke for my poor grandmother. I felt angry at my grandfather. Five abortions?! Why would they keep having sex?! But they were so poor during the depression that the prospect of another mouth to feed must have been too much for them. My grandmother carried the weight of guilt for over 50 years before confessing to my aunt and coming to Christ in her 80’s. And there I was, 70 years after the fact, blindsided by a grief I could never have imagined I would experience.”

This story is not uncommon. Over the years, grandparents, siblings, friends and forgotten fathers have poured out their pain in my office – often years after the abortion took place. We underestimate the effect that abortion has had on so many of us. During the depression abortion was illegal. For the past 42 years it’s been legal. The results are the same. Being hit by a licensed vs. an unlicensed driver doesn’t lessen the impact.

If you or someone you know has been affected by someone else’s abortion there’s help for you. Talking to someone can help you to sort through the painful and confusing feelings you may be having. There are online resources as well. A retreat for siblings of aborted children is taking place in Maryland in March.

Start the conversation. Jesus came to save us from our sins…and those of others. In Him there is freedom, healing and peace. It’s time to let go of the pain.

Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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