” I have a son. His name is Christopher. He would be nearly thirty-three years old, if I hadn’t made that fateful choice when I was nineteen. . . . On July 2, 1973, I walked into the hospital pregnant, and walked out without an infant in my arms.”
So begins the story of Marie’s motherhooda story tragically pierced by her decision, as a terrified college freshman from a nice and average family, to undergo an abortion. But that is not the end of Marie’s story, nor the end of her motherhood.
Motherhood Interrupted: Stories of Healing and Hope after Abortion poignantly details sixteen journeyssixteen children lost, and mothers foundin the women’s own words. “It is my hope that after reading my story and the stories of the other women in this book,” says editor Jane Brennan, “many women who have had abortions will not be afraid to tell their own secrets. We all need to let other women know that abortion is not just a clinical procedure or fundamental right, but tragedy. In and beyond this tragedy, there is forgiveness, but if we don’t speak out, other women will have to endure the pain.”
Looking back thirty-three years, Christopher’s mother describes how she sat in a movie theater shortly after her abortion, and found herself staring at the mother and child in front of her: ” My baby. I was completely undone.” Marie’s tears turned to depression, but she couldn’t yet pinpoint the root cause of her heartbreak. She eventually married and threw her battered heart into her work at an abortion clinic. “It was a very sad place to work,” she recalls, “they had counseling sessions weekly for the staff.” But God’s gentle grace can penetrate even the most hostile circumstances, in Marie’s case through the birth of a healthy baby girl”a miracle.” In time she found her way back to the Church and was touched by its post-abortive ministries, learning to accept the forgiveness of God and the compassion of his children; learning to ask forgiveness from the son she never met, and to hope for their meeting in heaven.
Hers is a tragic story, butfor herself and for othersit is a story that needs to be told. As Pope John Paul the Great wrote in Evangelium Vitae :
The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.
Christians hope in the Gospel’s promise, the mystery of love at the heart of Salvation: In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A collection of accounts of post-abortive suffering and healing is more than a string of emotional anecdotes. It is a glimpse into the reality of the culture of deathand the reality of its conquest. Moreover, it is a glimpse into our call to participate in Redemption.
Story after story reveals that compassionliterally, the willingness to suffer with the sufferingexpressed by church communities and family members, is priceless balm for the women who have been wounded by abortion. It necessarily draws from, and crucially points to, the most precious gift of all, God’s forgiveness and grace. As one woman says, echoing the words of St. Paul: “He is the source of all comfort. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all out troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (1 Cor. 3-4). His Word is the final Word.”
It is the hope of the cross and the hope of Easter, the hope that never dies:
Death with life contended: Combat strangely ended!
Life’s own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign.