Opinion | Sexuality

The Secret Shame of Abortion in the Church

A more public discussion of abortion stories can lead the way to healing.
The Secret Shame of Abortion in the Church
Image: bekassine / Flickr

When Jackie sent an email to her church asking about its post-abortion recovery group, she used an alias and created a new account to hide her identity. Even now, 11 years after her abortion, and after sharing her story to dozens of other women, Jackie asked me not to use her real name. She still hasn’t told her daughter or many people at church that she’s had an abortion. “It’s just such a shameful secret,” she said.

Abortion is difficult for almost any post-abortive woman to discuss. Pro-choice activists attribute this reluctance to a pervasive stigma that stems from society’s “shame-based message that abortion is wrong.” They try to remove this shame by defending abortion, saying unborn babies are not persons or convincing women that abortion actually did them, or society, a favor.

However, in the church, we face the challenge of upholding the sanctity of life, while simultaneously ministering to women who feel overwhelming shame ...

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