Even when freely chosen, abortion can be a devastating and traumatic experience for both men and women. Many are plagued by remorse, guilt, and a sense of despair because of their choice. That was the case for an anonymous listener who wrote in to The Patrick Madrid Show asking Patrick for advice in the aftermath of an abortion. He wrote:
Me and my girlfriend are both college students. I’m really tormented. We got pregnant and, sadly, we fell into sin and went through with an abortion. I’m heartbroken. I knew it was wrong and I still went through with it.
The thoughts continue to plague my mind, and I’ve had nightmares, even though it has been almost a month now. It’s the same for my girlfriend. She has been crying every day and she is taking it worse than I am.
I am torn. Because of wanting to pursue our careers we deprived a soul’s God-given right to life. We didn’t make the right judgement and now I’m terrified. Please give us some advice, Patrick. I know we need to go to Confession, but personally it hurts my heart so much, and I’m worried God won’t forgive us for killing the most innocent of His creatures.
Please, Patrick, this is tearing my soul apart and it continues to torment my mind. Will this haunt me for the rest of my life?
Patrick responded with advice on how to find forgiveness, hope, and healing. He said:
“A few things. First of all, there is no sin that you can commit that is beyond God’s grace to forgive. In fact, think about this passage – I hope it is helpful to you as you consider your next steps in the aftermath of your abortion. This is from John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and save us from all unrighteousness.
So perhaps if you jot that verse down, and every time you start feeling those feelings just remember this promise. Now, the next step, which is alluded to in this passage is to go to Confession. Maybe you’ve already done that, and I understand that in life, even though you may know intellectually that you have been forgiven, emotionally that may not be the case. You may not feel forgiven, or you may not feel that you can forgive yourself. That’s a normal, human reaction to something this grave. But you can heal from this.
So if you haven’t gone to Confession be sure to go. I strongly encourage your girlfriend, if she is Catholic, to go to Confession as well. That is going to be the beginning of the healing process, where Jesus will be able to pour the balm of His grace onto your lacerated soul, your lacerated conscience and begin the process of healing.
Now, the next step after going to Confession would be that I would encourage you to get in touch with any number of organizations that help both men and women in post-abortion healing.
There is a big organization in Columbus, Ohio called Bethesda Healing Ministry. They have affiliates in various states across the country. I don’t know where you live, but there might be an affiliate of Bethesda Healing Ministry in your area. They help men and women who are post-abortive to heal from the wounds afflicted by the abortion. Rachel’s Vineyard and Project Rachel are two other organizations.
Make contact with them, and if you can get into some of their meetings, talking it through, and getting ahead of this, this is a really successful way for many people (men and women) to get over these debilitating and often paralyzing feelings of remorse and guilt.
Now, the guilt is well-placed because taking the life of an innocent child is a serious issue. But again, God wants to forgive you, and He will forgive you, as it says in John 1:9.
Lastly, I’d like to recommend a book to you. The book is called Arise from Darkness. You are in a great state of emotional darkness right now. The book is written by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, and I would encourage you to read that book carefully, prayerfully, and follow the advice he gives in that book for how to emerge from this dark place that you are in right now in the aftermath of the abortion.
Taking stock of the gravity of what happened is important, but living in that darkness is not good, as you already know. I hope that you find that encouraging, and I will certainly pray for you and for your girlfriend, that you will find the healing and the forgiveness that you so desperately are seeking.”
Listen to the letter and Patrick’s response below: