Study: Post-abortion ministry yields spiritual renewal

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Nearly 20 percent of post-abortive women who sought help from a crisis pregnancy center say their experience led them to a "deepened spiritual life," with 7.5 percent saying abortion drove them to faith in Christ, according to a study published by the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

"You often hear about how pregnancy centers are saving babies," said Dean Inserra, a Florida pastor who serves on the board of A Women's Pregnancy Center in Tallahassee. "... But maybe the most underrated thing they're doing is the counseling of women who have had abortions."

For the study, researchers at Bowling Green State University surveyed 987 women ages 20-72 who had experienced at least one abortion and were "as a group ... generally psychologically healthy before their first abortion." Most respondents had contacted crisis pregnancy centers -- pro-life ministries offering a variety of services for women with unplanned pregnancies -- to inquire about post-abortion help.

Each woman surveyed was asked about the most significant positives and negatives that came from her decision to abort, according to a report in the winter 2017 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

More than half of the women did not list any positive consequences of their decision, with 31.6 percent stating there were no positives and another 22 percent offering no response when asked for positives.

The second most common positive listed was a "deepened spiritual life" (17.5%). One anonymous respondent stated, "It has brought me to my end and brought me to my knees before God."

Among other positives cited:

-- Commitment to crisis pregnancy center work (13.3%);

-- Sharing of the abortion experience in writing or orally (8.9%);

-- Commitment to helping other post-abortive women by sharing God's forgiveness and love (8.2%); and

-- Conversion to Christianity (7.5%).

The negative most commonly noted was that the decision to abort took a life (23.7%). The women also reported depression (14.4%), guilt (14%), self-hatred (12.4%), regret (9.3%), addiction (9%) and self-destructive behavior (7.7%).

Inserra, pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, told Baptist Press crisis pregnancy centers never celebrate abortion yet recognize that post-abortive women are "probably in the most receptive state they will ever be in" to hear the Gospel "because [of] the guilt and shame and heartache and regret and fear" they experience.

Diana Cahill, executive director of A Loving Choice pregnancy center in Shelbyville, Ky., said her experience corroborates the finding that post-abortive women often find healing through crisis pregnancy centers. But many women who have had abortions never seek help, she said.

Following an abortion, women tend to "live with guilt and shame," Cahill, herself a post-abortive woman, told BP, noting some women keep their abortion a secret 40 years.

However, when women seek help from a crisis pregnancy center or other caring Christian ministry, Cahill said, "they go through a healing process and in that understand the forgiveness of Jesus."

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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