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HERALD ARTICLES
Linda Oppelt

Abortion is Violence Against Women

By Rhonda Miller

Abortion has become one of the primary means of perpetrating violence against women, however, most of society does not see it this way. We need to begin reframing abortion for what it really is — domestic violence.

There are many in the pro-choice camp who assert that not having access to abortion services is abuse toward women. In current-day society, this mindset is widely held as truth. The litmus test for this pro-choice belief is abortion experience, not theory or opinion. Ask a woman who has had an abortion if she felt like it was for her benefit, or instead, if the abortion felt like abuse. Ask me, because I know it was abuse. During my abortion, a part of my soul was scraped away with my baby and sucked into waste. I experienced the worst form of spiritual and domestic abuse, and my baby was killed. I carried the trauma, guilt and shame for years.

It wasn’t that long ago that neighbors whispered and gossiped about the timid lady down the street. She was a clumsy woman, always tripping down the stairs or running into things, which was how she explained her frequent bruises and broken bones. Even though the neighbors knew the timid lady’s husband was taking his nasty temper out on her, there was no one who could or would do anything to stop it. After all, she was his wife, and “Maybe she deserved it.” Or, “She should stand up to him.” And better yet, “I wouldn’t let my husband treat me like that!” Victim shaming and blaming kept domestic violence in the shadows.

Slowly, women became stronger and more aware. They began shouting out loud what the generation before was willing to hopelessly accept: Domestic violence against women is wrong. In 1994, Congress passed a groundbreaking law called the Violence Against Women Act. The bill put the force of the federal government into efforts to stop domestic violence and help victims. The new laws changed our criminal justice system, initiated training for judges and law enforcement, and provided funds for a national network of shelters, services and supports. Since its passage, domestic violence against adult women has declined 64%. The Violence Against Women Act provided the timid lady down the street with the things that had kept her trapped in an abusive situation, such as a safe home, job training and counseling. 

The timid lady’s generation was convinced by society, that even though they didn’t agree with it, women had to endure the abuse. Today we find ourselves in a society that has convinced the majority that abortion is the right and responsible option for women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy. A woman in a crisis pregnancy is the current-day timid lady; still unseen by society, coerced and bullied into believing the right thing is to endure the ultimate act of violence — abortion. Once again, the battered souls of women are ignored and subjected to abuse. The Domestic Violence Against Women Act acknowledges domestic and sexual violence, rape, spousal rape, stalking, and civil protection orders, but no where does it address the mistreatment and exploitation of women through the act of abortion.

Abortion is violence against women. Whether it is a medical procedure in an office or chemical abortion pills taken at home, the woman who has to experience abortion is going to suffer trauma. Choosing abortion is an act of despair and a feeling of being trapped and helpless. As a result of a woman’s inability to deal with the trauma of an abortion, she feels rejected, unloved, alone and unable to forgive herself. Thirty-three percent of post-abortive women suffer from suicide and suicide ideation, 61% have flashbacks and nightmares and 49% begin or increase drug and alcohol use. These symptoms and statistics are reflective of the trauma from abuse.

In retrospect, we are able to understand that the timid lady of years past needed a community to rally around her, stand with her while she was being intimidated into thinking she had no choices, and pull her out of the abusive situation with their laws and resources. Women of today deserve no less. We are on the threshold of being able to recognize, reframe, and stop the violence of abortion against women.

Stop disparaging women for “becoming pregnant.” Love them. Help them. Lift them up. Encircle them and pull them into the community to be protected and honored for carrying life. A woman experiencing a crisis or unplanned pregnancy is unable to clearly see a way to carry her child to term. In one study, over 80% of post-abortion women reported if they had just one person to help them through their crisis, they would not have chosen abortion. Another statistic shows that 87% of pregnant, abortion-minded women chose to carry their baby to term after seeing their baby through an ultrasound.

Women shouldn’t have to make critical, life-altering decisions during a crisis without the loving support of their community. Too often, the only people surrounding her are the ones coercing her into abortion. There are ministries in our diocese pulling together to protect and serve women in need. Consider learning more and getting involved. Gabriel Project and Walking with Moms in Need are two excellent places to start. In Colorado Springs call 719-208-0288 and in the northern deanery and Douglas County call 720-819-6735.

Each of us needs to reframe our thinking to clearly see that abortion is violence against women and do our part to stop this abuse. The gift that women have been given to bring new life into the world should be respected, appreciated, and held in the highest regard. The USCCB Committee on Pro Life Activities recently called us to create a new mindset of radical solidarity. St. John Paul II first defined “radical solidarity” in this way: “In firmly rejecting ‘pro-choice’ it is necessary to become courageously ‘pro woman,’ promoting a choice that is truly in favor of women. …The only honest stance, in these cases, is that of radical solidarity with the woman. It is not right to leave her alone.” (Pope John Paul II, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” p. 207)

If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, you can receive help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline:  800-799-7233.

If you have had an abortion and are still grieving, there is free, confidential help available through Project Rachel Abortion Healing Ministry. Call or text the local helpline: 719-203-8112.

(Rhonda Miller is Director of the Project Rachel Ministry of the Diocese of Colorado Springs.)

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