Think the personal pain from abortion is nothing to do with you? Think again. Posted on December 14, 2018December 14, 2018 by Jenny Baines One in 3 UK women will have had an abortion by the time they are 45 – experiencing the emotional impact that can go with it. But why should this concern those in their after-work years? After all, doesn’t abortion mainly impact those much younger? If that’s in your mind, please think again. The 1967 Abortion Act is now 50 years old. This means many now in their later years will have made this choice – and some will be in our churches, possibly including your church. And they may well still be carrying a deep sense of guilt, failure, grief. Even worse, due to a fear of rejection and being judged, they may never have felt able to tell anyone and so receive the loving care they need. It’s because of this I have a longing for every church. It’s that they should be where those who’ve faced an abortion or other baby loss, can receive grace and compassionate understanding. This is why OPEN exists, as an initiative of CARE. It’s also why your own prayerful wisdom could have such a part to play. Is the post-abortion experience something to mention in church? Over the years, Christians have spoken out to protect unborn human life and challenge efforts to make abortion law ever more liberal. But this doesn’t mean we should not whole-heartedly support women who’ve had abortions. Keeping the two in balance is not easy. But, for Christians, both baby and mother matter. In our churches, some may have come to terms with their abortion experience. They have no need or desire to open up about it. But there may well be others still feeling deeply affected, and who resist being open for fear of the reaction of others. This means they’re left dealing with the hurt and pain on their own. This can also be the painful experience of women who’ve had a miscarriage or still birth. I know this to be true. Almost without fail, when I’m speaking for OPEN in churches, people confide in me of experiences which often have taken place years before. And they tell me how they’ve never spoken about their abortions, especially not in the setting of their church – and how the pain was still very real. I’ve learned that being open, non-judgemental, and truly caring can have an amazing and transforming impact on those living with the experience of abortion. For example I think of the woman who said she was ‘free’ for the first time in 30 years. For all that time she’d carried silent grief and pain, and a sense of unworthiness. This burden was lifted when she heard God understood this grief, and he forgives. Here’s what you can do With some extra time on your hands and years of wisdom at your disposal, here’s 6 simple but valuable things you can do to support those who have experienced abortion. Be aware: Start with an understanding that there may well be those in your circle of friends and contacts who are carrying pain from a past experience of either abortion or miscarriage. Be open: Sensitively include this reality in conversations or in the context of preaching and teaching. Be alert: Look for signals and be open to caring and affirming conversations with those who might find it helpful. Be praying: Pray for good conversations with those for whom this might be an issue. Be proactive: Get the issue on the agenda of your church by having a speaker share how a compassionate response can be made in your church and community. Be practical: One of the most helpful things you can do is recommend one of the OPEN Healing Retreats. To learn more, do visit the We Are Open website. It’s a rich resource for you and your church. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Jenny Baines Jenny’s background as the mother of a large family, her own miscarriages and being a Pastor’s wife, drew her to respond to the needs of those impacted by pregnancy loss. She’s now a consultant for OPEN, an initiative of CARE, helping churches create an environment where these sensitive issues can be shared with grace and compassionate understanding.