In a previous article, I presented an interview with Renee, whose mother had an abortion, about what it is like being the sibling of an aborted baby. In this followup piece, she gives suggestions to the pro-life movement on how to help people like her and also reaches out to other post-abortion siblings.
How can the pro-life movement reach out to people who have lost a sibling to abortion?
For several years after finding out about the abortion, I purposely tried to avoid the whole pro life movement. Mostly due to not wanting to dwell on the topic at all ( how he [my brother, the aborted baby] died, how mom felt, etc). In addition though, I felt it was more about shaming the post abortive, bashing the abortion minded, and using those graphic images. It’s tricky being a pro life sibling, because it feels like if we agree with abortion being murder and such, that we are betraying our parents who we still deeply love. And we don’t want to express our pain in front of them, for fear that we will only add to theirs. ( obviously this does not describe the feelings of ALL siblings, but myself and plenty I have spoken to/heard of).
The two main things that made me become involved a few years back are the fact that I realized that there were many genuinely caring people reaching out to help and that even the ones whose tactics I didn’t agree with were usually trying to help. Plus, there was SO little awareness of the pain that we siblings go through, that I knew I had to do my part to try to change it. I started a blog two facebook pages (‘Abortion Hurts Siblings And Others‘ and ‘Siblings Against Abortion’), a secret group on facebook just for siblings and have been sharing my reflections with pregnancy centers and the like. Many places that offer post abortive counseling do not actually include siblings or other family members, frustratingly.
I want to thank those who have already started trying to raise awareness. There is definitely more than when I first started looking. Still, here are some of the things that I hope to see in the future:
- Siblings being ministered to, just as the parents are at many CPCs and such.
- Bible studies specifically for siblings, who desire them
- Secular versions of the above
- Retreats (secular, Christian, interdenominational), etc. Day long, weekend long, week long, etc Exclusively for siblings (like Lumina) or mixed like Rachel’s Vineyard.
- Sibling meet and greets, at the very least once a year. Multiple places worldwide, and open to siblings of all backgrounds.
- More sibling testimonies being heard at the March For Life, and such.
- More studies and articles about our pain
- Hotlines for siblings, run by siblings or those trained to deal with our specific pain
- Siblings being able to freely share their pain, without fear of our parents being bashed, our pain being diminished, etc.
- Memorial services on national siblings day and such.
- We also need special outreach for those post abortive siblings, who have also lost their mothers due to a botched abortion. I have yet to meet one, but I know they are out there, and as a person who knows both the pain of parental loss and the loss of a sibling to abortion, my heart goes out to them! That is also why we must be careful with our comments toward the abortion seeking, especially those who’ve died during one, legal or illegal.
As someone who loves a postabortion family member, how should the pro-life movement reach out postabortion women, as well as women considering abortion?
While I think it’s great that there are already a high number of resources available for the post abortive and abortion minded, I definitely think more can be done. The main suggestions:
- We need to do away with the: ‘I would never abort’, ‘I would put my child’s life before my own’ (in cases of expectant mothers with health issues, or even those who’ve been raped), etc. I know of quite a few post abortives and even the abortion minded who said the same thing. I used to have that attitude as well (regarding abortion and other situations). But I changed when I realized just how many times I did something I never expected to (good or bad). And truly, even if you’ve proven you wouldn’t abort or whatever, it’s not entirely polite to throw that in someone’s face.
- We need more diversity! Conservatives, liberals, Christians, Non Christians, etc all working together. Now, I am aware that this already happens to an extent, but not nearly enough. I’m involved with a number of groups and pages on facebook, and see a sickening amount of discord among pro lifers, for being a different religion, etc. As a post abortive sibling wanting to work with all pro lifers to help see the end of abortion, this can be rather discouraging and annoying. I’d like for there to me more options available for the non Christian parents, or pro lifers who want to volunteer, etc. I’d also love to see gays and straights, conservatives and liberals, etc putting aside their differences and focusing on the common goal of ending abortion and ministering to those hurt by it. We need to remember that not all are going to be helped by ‘God says abortion is wrong,’ etc. and make sure we also have enough sidewalk counselors and such reaching out to them as well.
- As I’ve mentioned before, I think we need to be gentler in some ways with the abortion minded. In part because I believe in the ‘catching more flies with honey, than vinegar’ approach but also because I believe that harsh comments towards the abortion minded/post abortive, are going to make those who are on the fence about aborting, or regret their decisions and want to share their stories to spare others, more reluctant to do so.
- We need more programs for the fathers, abortion minded and post abortive. Truly, I believe if we did more to reach out to them, like with a hotline where they could talk to others who have been through the same, etc there could be less abortion, especially those forced or coerced. And those who have lost a child (whether or not their fault) will be more likely to find the courage and desire to share their stories.
- PLEASE do not minimize our grief! I have seen from multiple people, comments along the lines of ‘they killed their baby, they have no right to grieve’ ‘mine was wanted,’ etc. Those comments can be so damaging, and discourage people from sharing, ultimately keeping them from proper healing.
- It may seem repetitive, but again I think we need to do away with the bashing. But this time I am referring to people who are pro choice, and even the abortionists/clinic workers. I feel for them in part because for a long time I avoided this movement and likely appeared pro choice. I was mostly just defensive of my mom. As I am sure many children of the pro choicers and even the abortionists/clinic workers feel. I don’t believe it’s wrong to share our view, as long as it is done respectfully and we are able to listen to their side, without criticism.
- Last I will mention for now: We need to do more to include the grieving extended family members. As frustrated I am at how little is available for us siblings, I feel for the grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, etc. There is significantly less for them :( Although I do not know that particular loss in person, I do know how much pain I feel over the loss of many cousins/second cousins to miscarriage and such, so my heart goes out to other grieving cousins, no matter how they lost them.
Can you give any advice to mothers who may want to tell their surviving children that they aborted their sibling?
I want to link to an open letter I wrote a few years ago, for the post abortive/abortion minded: They are all in my thoughts and prayers, most especially those who are contemplating telling their children or others. There are groups like Silent No More and Lumina with more info on when and how might be good a way to do it. From my own experience, I can tell you it helped that mom was very open to questions and comments. Also, while at the time I was somewhat jealous that we siblings all learned of the abortion at the same time, it ended up being a huge blessing. Especially in the first years we joined mom in keeping the secret (really, I still am not comfortable telling everyone the whole story) it was good to at least have them to share my feelings with. When I felt I needed it. It brought healing to her to open up, which was a blessing for us all to see. While this does not help all, for us it was so helpful that she had given the baby a name (Joey ) by the time she told us. I know some who have never been told, and it can be a source of confusion and difficulty. Perhaps if and when you share your story, you can, as a family, memorialize the lost one(s). One of the first ways we did that shortly after finding out came on the anniversary of Joey’s death. Mom baked and decorated a cake. On it was one large heart and FIVE small ones. A mama and ALL her babies! Such a touching and powerful image/moment! I guess lastly, it would be helpful if after sharing your story, you provide your kids with resources (like Lumina, or my pages on facebook, etc ) and encourage them to seek out healing if they feel they need it. I know parents who have pushed for silence and it has been damaging in some ways. Know that you and your families are all in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs! I admire you for even thinking about this and hope and pray it goes well.
What ministries are there out there that can help postabortion siblings? Are there any blogs or websites?
While there are different CPCs and such around the country that include siblings in their ministries, the one that stands out most is Lumina. They have the only sibling retreat in the country that I know of. I was blessed to go a few years back. It’s only once a year in New York, for a day, but they are hoping in the future to expand it.
Also, while the sibling only group I run on facebook does not have a direct link, anyone interested can message me at one of my pages (see above). Also, they can check out my blog which has a variety of posts. Last, I want to share an episode of Facing Life Head On that deals with our pain. It was a great honor to be involved.