when she’s had an abortion {how to make her feel safe}

Last week, all across our Nation, people celebrated Sanctity of Human Life Week culminating on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Many of you heard sermons on Psalm 139. You learned how God lovingly knit you together in your mother’s womb, how He has a plan for your life—a GOOD plan.

But you didn’t see the woman sitting next to you who was grieving her abortion that day.

You didn’t see her because you don’t know about her past—she doesn’t talk about it.


Because she doesn’t know how you’ll react. She doesn’t know if she can trust you. She doesn’t know if you’re safe.

The latest statistics show that as many as four in ten women have experienced one or more abortions. The next time you’re in a large group of women look around and let that statistic wash over you. Our churches, women’s organizations, PTA’s, salons and spas, and gyms are FULL of women who are hurting from an abortion, suffering in silence because they’re afraid if they tell you, you won’t understand.

Do we understand?

There was a time when I really didn’t. I said things like, “I don’t get how a woman could ever have an abortion.” Or, “It’s a child, not a choice.” What I didn’t understand was that in all our efforts as a society to make sure women have a choice, what we’ve done is make them feel they don’t have another choice. Most women faced with an unplanned pregnancy don’t want to have an abortion. They just don’t feel there’s another option.

A woman’s choice to have an abortion affects every part of her being, but the good news is that the choice to abort is not outside of God’s ability to forgive and heal.The bad news is that many times our “christianese” makes the woman sitting next to us in the pew who’s had two feel we’re unworthy of her trust.

If these precious women don’t trust us, how can we help them heal?

Do the post-abortive women in your community see you as safe? Are you someone they could talk to? Here's how to make sure you are.

Here are a few ways you can help her feel safe.

1. Lay down stereotypes

Go through the counselor training at your local crisis pregnancy center and learn more about who she really is. You might be surprised to know that the stereotypes don’t always fit. Your child’s PTA President is just as likely to have chosen abortion as the mom on welfare in the inner city.

2. Don’t use loaded words.

Murder is a word that gets thrown around all too often when we talk about abortion. And while it might be true, saying it in mixed company might be all the post-abortive woman in your group needs to hear to know you’re not safe. Always look at the crowd you’re in and think, “she could be here. How can I help her know I care?”

3. Get rid of black and white thinking.

I freely admit that I’m a black and white thinker by nature. I have to work hard to see the grey in the world. But after working with women in unplanned pregnancy for over 15 years of my life now, I can truly say that I DO understand why a woman would choose abortion. I’m not saying I think it’s the right or even the best choice for her, but I get it. I’ve heard stories that would curl your toes. I’ve counseled women who would’ve been murdered for being pregnant outside of marriage, others who arrived at our doorstep black and blue—a friendly reminder from the father of the baby about what her choice had better be. Until you hear her story, you simply can’t know why she made the decision she did. Be open, and welcome her story.

4. Love.

Remember that left to yourself, apart from the work of God in your life, you could just as easily be the one with a story of abortion to tell. If you caught yourself saying, “I would NEVER have an abortion” as you read that last sentence, consider spending some time reflecting on the nature and definition of sin. The sin of abortion is no worse than the sin of gossip in the eyes of God. And the truth of the matter is that you can’t possibly know what you might’ve chosen if you were walking in her shoes.

So many women in our world today need to know freedom and forgiveness from their choice to abort. And there’s no better place for them to come find it than in the body of Christ.

Brooke McGlothlin is the co-author of Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess, and helps boy moms navigate the testosterone-filled life at the MOB Society.

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  1. says

    It has taken years and years for me to see the grey in the world and develop some objectivity in certain areas. This is a wonderful piece and one that should be read over and over again. Thank you!

  2. keltrinswife says

    Thank you so much for this piece. I think that we need to show more love and forgiveness than what has been offered and I am telling this to myself. I think that we need to remember sin is sin and we all need forgiveness, grace, love, and a safe place to land–church. This is an awesome article! Be blessed:)

    • says

      I just see such a look down your nose mentality in the way we even talk about abortion. Yes, it’s very ugly, but God brings beauty from ashes…even the worst ones. There’s still grace. Thanks friend!

  3. Addison Cooper says

    This is a really good piece. I resonated with point # 1, too. It says something about us that our stereotypes associate abortion with lower socioeconomic status. It’s almost like we’re saying “Abortion is something that’s done by people who are, in many senses, lower than us.” Point 4 reminds me, maybe, of the religious leader who stood up, and prayed “God, thanks that I’m not like that sinner over there.” Maybe we still have tendencies to be that way. But we can work against our tendencies… Know God’s mercy, rely on God’s mercy, extend God’s mercy.

  4. Anonymous says

    I would prefer to stay anonymous. I have had an abortion. Would you be able to tell? I am married now with a beautiful preschooler. I have a college degree. I have held the top volunteer position for a mother’s group and am active in MOPs. I attend church weekly. I sit and listen to the Sanctity of Life sermons made by my pastor. I also listen to the harsh words of other mothers that throw around terms you discussed. I watch my Facebook feed fill with graphics showing the medical tools used and images of tiny embryos from Pro Life friends. It’s harder than ever to “escape” my past. It’s in my face more and more because I actually chose to move into the path of God. I want Christians to speak with kindness and true concern for women instead of acting like political activists. It’s not helping the hurting ones. Thank you for your article. You speak with honesty and love.

    • says

      I’m so grateful for your words friend. I decided long ago that even though I haven’t had an abortion, I will gladly stand with the post-abortive woman any day. I’m with you, cheering you on, and asking the Lord to continue bringing more and more healing to your heart. Thank you.

  5. Anonymous says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I had a miscarriage when I was young, a pregnancy resulting from rape. I thought that having chosen pregnancy after that, and knowing the pain of losing my baby there was nothing in the world that would ever make me have an abortion. Fast forward a few years, and I found myself in a circumstance that led me to choose abortion.

    I rarely tell either story because the pain of each is so great. I grieve for the child I aborted as much as I grieve for the child I miscarried. If only people would have grace, if only people would realize there is pain and grief in abortion too.

    Thank you for speaking out grace and encouraging others to do the same. You have added to my healing and given me hope today.

  6. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much for this loving article. I am one of those women you are speaking about. I am not of low socioeconomic status, I am married, my pregnancy was planned and I desperately wanted a baby. Unfortunately at 15 weeks, testing showed that our baby most likely had Down’s syndrome. We went to the level 2 ultrasound appointment to gather information to better understand what was going on and how to accommodate this special child. We went through genetic counseling beforehand even. But, as it turned out, our baby had hydrops fetalis and ascites (fluid filled sac around the abdomen and her head). Her hands were all crinkled up under her chin. The perinatologist (?) said this was all so severe that it was incompatible with life. The “fetus” would likely die in utero causing me to have a D & C (an acceptable form of abortion). Or if it was born alive it would die very very quickly. Basically, what I’m saying is they made me feel like an abortion would be the most humane thing to do for all of us involved. Really, it was more hurtful to me to have an abortion than the sadness and pain of a stillbirth or a death in utero. The worst thing I feel is that I denied God from having a chance to perform a miracle. I strongly dislike all the generalizations that people say about women who have chosen to abort. I am a Christian. I made a mistake but I am forgiven.

  7. Vicki says

    Thank you for this. I had an abortion when I was 18. I didn’t tell a single soul. The guilt and grief drove me to drug addiction. When I was 29, addicted to drugs, a complete mess, I got pregnant again. This time, I kept my baby. I had told myself I’d never have another abortion. When my son was about 1, I was pregnant again and still addicted to drugs. I was overwhelmed, lost, scared and thought it wasn’t fair to my son to have another baby. I did it again.

    It took me 2 more years to get clean and to accept Gods forgiveness. But He had given me such freedom and although I still grieve my babies, I know they are with Him and I will see them one day. But it took Gods grace for me to face my decisions. Today I am blessed to have people in my life who understand grace and love and that we are ALL sinners desperate for Him.

  8. Anonymous fellow mom says

    To those that have had an abortion and are struggling with the aftermath, I want you to know that God’s mercies are new EVERY morning. I want to apologize on behalf of all Christians who have made callous statements surrounding this matter, without knowing your circumstances. (I say this after reading a heartless statement made by someone a few days ago, which it brought me to tears.) Please know that no matter what, Jesus Christ offers forgiveness through His wonderful gift of grace. Thank you, Brooke, for sharing this!

  9. Kristin says

    I appreciate your thoughtful and thought-provoking words…such an important message! To God be the glory for giving you the words so many need to hear!
    I just saw this for the first time today, through Pinterest…just fyi that it has been listed as linking to spam (I clicked through anyways because I am familiar with your site). I don’t know if anything can be done…would hate for someone who needs these words of love to miss out because it has a spam warning.
    God bless you!

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