Painful Consequences

One of the ways we love our children best is by teaching them to avoid painful consequences. It is the reason we run across the kitchen to snatch the hand of a child reaching toward a hot burner. "No! Hot! Don't touch!" we say with urgent intensity (usually with a raised voice) and then in a slightly calmer tone. "Hot! Mommy doesn't want you to burn your fingers. Mommy loves you!"

Our desire to protect our children from painful natural consequences is the reason we emphasize "Look both ways before crossing the street!" It is the reason we teach careful handling of knives and needles, and washing hands, and bandaging of scratches & wounds. As our sons and daughters approach their teens we issues warnings about the negative results of smoking, of drinking, of sexual activity outside of marriage, of careless driving, and of using drugs.

My father gave us countless (and long) lectures about the dangers of guns. Unlike other boys in my rural community, my brothers did not receive BB guns when they turned 10, and my father did not take them hunting. I 'got it' that guns were dangerous, but I was an adult before I peered into my Father's past and truly understood.

My dad was with his father when Grandpa pushed some rifles backward on a wagon. The trigger caught on something in the wagon causing the gun to fire directly into my grandfather's chest. Hours later, my Dad, the oldest son, lay next to his father on a gurney in the hospital, donating his own blood in a direct transfusion in a frantic effort to save his dad's life. Blood-type matching was not used then and sadly their blood types were not a match. Grandpa died that day, leaving my 40 year old Grandma the single parent of 8 children (including two with special needs).

I was never privileged to meet my itinerant pastor Grandpa. My father carried the burden of that experience in silence for many years. I only learned of it in the last year before Dad went to be with the Lord at the age of 83. My dad loved his children. He did not want us to suffer a similar painful consequence and he taught us how to be safe in our use of guns, or (his preference) by not using them at all.

If the church is to truly love women, we must break the silence about the painful consequences of abortion. We ought to stop presenting abortion as a choice that is morally neutral. We ought to admit the numbers of men and women who suffer guilt, depression and grief following abortion. We need to cry out and warn women that this is an irreversible choice that ends the life of a child and there are painful and spiritual consequences for such a choice!

Abigail Hughes gets it. She is 13. Disturbed by abortion, she wrote this poem for an English assignment:

Invisible Pain, Silent Cry
January 22, 1973
It became legal
The murder of a child
Medically or surgically
Invisible pain silent cry
Fear that she couldn't provide
The doctor shows her a picture
She looks away
She doesn't want to feel ashamed
Invisible pain silent cry
The pressure is gone
People applaud her
but deep inside she knows
she just killed her own daughter
Invisible pain silent cry.

Much more could be said about the consequences to the child who dies as the result of abortion and about what the loss of that individual means to society. Much more needs to be said about the spiritual damage to the women and men who make abortion decisions and the consequences to their relationship with God. Those topics will have to wait for future articles. My point here is this: My dad loved us well by his warnings and his teaching. None of his 8 children have suffered a gun related accident. The church ought to do more to warn women and men of abortion's painful consequences. Love teaches moral guidelines for decision-making. Love is not silent where there is danger of painful consequences. Where abortion is concerned the silence of the church is not love. It is abandonment.


  1. Marie, thanks for this great post! Warning people is not mean--it's the loving thing to do!

    Your story of your father and grandfather was very touching.

    The current movie "Last Chance Harvey" has an unexpected scene where a woman shows that she is still sad about the memory of a long-ago abortion. She still wonders what her child would have been life. It wasn't just "tissue" that she had removed. She knew it was her child. She suffers painful consequences from that abortion.

    You are right that people need to be warned.

  2. Marie, Thank you for this message, it is so loving yet powerful.

    Our minister recently started a bolg and one question was how we could vote for Mr Obama who is pro-abortion. An interesting discussion has followed:

    Thank you for your letter which told of PPL blog.

  3. Thanks Debbie & George for your kind comments. I encourage my readers to visit the blog George mentions for a stimulating discussion on abortion and our current President.
    Also be sure to visit Debbie's blog series of reflections on Cops ( Although we did not plan these blogs together the themes intertwine beautifully.

  4. Thank you Marie,
    I so wish our denomination thought more deeply and carefully about this issue.God bless your work for the sake of tiny babies and moms and dads who are now missing their children.

  5. I don't think there has ever been any "silence" about the effects of abortion on women. It has been raised perpetually by the pro-life advocates for years, and was raised by pro-choice advocated prior to Roe. I t is well-recognized by everyone that many women suffer emotionally after having an abortion. But that does therefore mean that the government should have the right to compel a woman to have a child against her will. Are we to think that government forced childbirth is not going to traumatize women? Some will die, some will be crippled for life, some will be beaten by husbands, boyfriends and parents. One can't raise the issue of consequences for women on one side of the issue and be naive about the other side of the argument, which is frequently the cause behind a woman seeking an abortion in the first place.

    Rev. Timothy F. Simpson
    Presbytery of St. Augustine

  6. Thanks Timothy for your comments. You claim that there has not been any silence on the harm abortion does to women. You make a good point in saying that those who stand for the protection of the unborn have also stood for the protection of women from the harm of abortion. So you are correct that the silence has not been complete.

    My comments are directed specifically to the PC(USA)and there the silence from the pro-choice side about the harm abortion does women is pretty complete. I know of one exception which occurred in a private conversation a few months ago when someone defines herself as 'pro-choice' made the statement that "we need to admit that abortion harms women." Although the difficult circumstances that may surround a pregnancy are addressed in PC(USA) social witness policy on abortion, there is no warning about the trauma that may result following an abortion.

    Your comment about "government forced childbearing" seems pretty over-the-top. No one is talking about forcing women to bear children. Every woman (and man), who becomes sexually active, ought to understand that she & he are making a decision that could result in pregnancy. Both ought to be ready to accept the responsibility of childbearing before committing themselves to a sexual relationship. That is simple common sense and something we used to teach our children. Birth control reduces likelihood of pregnancy but it is not a guarantee.

    Theoretically, I suppose you could apply the term "forced childbearing" in the less than 1% of pregnancies that result from rape or incest. In these the woman has certainly been violated. In the rare event that she becomes pregnant, a subsequent abortion is a second violent act---this time with her taking the role of perpetrator---and does nothing to resolve the trauma that she has experienced. Contrary to what many believe, most women who become pregnant by rape or incest and carry the child to term, find that child to be a channel of forgiveness and healing of the violence they have experienced. Our God is in the business of redemption!

    It is true that women are sometimes forced or coerced to have abortions and that is a terrible wrong. Our denomination policy speaks against forced abortion. Still it is important to remember that the primary victim in an abortion is the unborn child who dies. The woman's suffering results from her participation in that act of violence against a defenseless child---her child.

  7. Marie, thanks for the post.
    While I agree that it has been proven that abortion not only physically endangers women's lives, and emotionally shatters their lives, in the recent past that information has been recended or squelched.

    If we look at studies coming out of Great Britian, New Zealand, and Sweden that shows that abortion emotionally damages women, it is attacked in the US media as being biased, or unscientific. Yet when Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW or Alan Guttmacher Institute puts a study out that abortion is not harmful, that is what is accepted.

    At least in Europe they are honest about abortion and it's effects. They don't try to hide the evidence. I wish we could say that here in the US.

    How many people in the US know that girls/women have a 7% higher suicide rate after an abortion then those, who carry their babies to term and either keep theie babies or give them up for adoption?

    How many people in the US know that drug and alcohol use rise by 25%, that 60% of women have nighmares after abortion, that over 50% seek therapy after abortion because of guilt.
    Not to mention the millions who suffer silently.

    But groups like PP and NARAL say that these women had severe emotional problems before they had the abortion. Well my question is if they were already having problems, why would any person in their "right" mind counsel her to have an abortion. Unfortuately very few are asking these questions.

    Our denomination has failed our girls and women. We have made choice God. We all make mistakes and are sinners. No one sin is greater then another. How is supporting the killing of a unborn child, who is created in God's image, showing Jesus's grace and mercy? Why doesn't our denomination have a ministry that supports unweb mothers? Why doesn't our churches have child care for single parents so they can work or go to school? Why doesn't our churches have mentoring groups for teenage mothers? Why doesn't our churches have shepharding homes? These are all ways to show Jesus to girls and women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant.

    For those who are in abusive relationships, why isn't the church a refuge for her? Where she can get help, and protection?

    Isn't this how we respond to Jesus's statement, that whatever you do to the least you do to me?

  8. Tara, thank you for bringing important statistical detail to this discussion. You ask probing questions about the PC(USA)'s failure to provide practical ministry that would encourage women to choose life affirming options. We are overdue as a denomination for a season of repentance about our complicity in encouraging the huge numbers of abortion in our society. There are things the church can do to give women tangible assistance that will encourage them to choose parenting or adoption plans that allow their child to live. Many pro-life congregations are extending real help and partnering with pregnancy care ministries in their community. We ought to be encouraging that at the General Assembly level and developing ministry at the presbyery level that enables life choices. Until we make life options accessible for every woman, we are not 'pro-choice' at all.


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