Those who experience spiritual healing after abortion become the biggest advocates for life, says Project Rachel founder Vicki Thorn.
"I believe that healed men and women are the cornerstones of the culture of life," the specialist in post-abortion healing told the annual Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) seminar in Ottawa recently.
However, if they remain unhealed, they continue to be the biggest advocates for abortion, said Thorn, who is also the executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing.
One in three women has had abortions in the United States, she said. The figure in Canada is one in four. "I believe there is not anyone in this room who does not know someone who has had an abortion," she said.
"We need to know the reason this is such an impassioned topic," she said. "It's not because it is a moral and philosophical discussion. It if was, it would be polite."
If I do not understand the reason for an abortion, I will say it is "a woman's right," because I would imagine that if my mother or sister had one, they would have good reasons, Thorn said.
"When you encounter angry people, don't argue with them," she said. "No one has been argued into the pro-life movement."
Thorn urged being a good listener instead of trying to have all the answers. You can thank them for helping you understand better, she said.
"These people are wounded," she said, adding she has yet to meet the cold, calculating woman who has abortions out of convenience or as a method of birth control. "When you hear their stories there is a hole in their souls as big as a truck." They saw abortion as a way to "get them out of a hopeless situation."
It is through post-abortion healing that "God is building a culture of life one soul at a time, one life at a time," she said.
A woman who has been healed will never have an abortion again, she said. A woman who is not healed "will go into traumatic re-enactment" and will have abortions over and over.
Women carry the cells from every child they conceive for their whole life. "They are everywhere in her body" and they seem to repair cells that become damaged, she said. Children carry the cells of their older siblings.
"The woman who has had an abortion cannot forget the child that she bore," she said. Sometimes old women have trouble dying because of an old abortion loss.
Children who have lost siblings to abortion or miscarriage will have a sense they should have had an older brother or a sister, she added. "The reality is they know biologically; they have the cells of that brother or sister."
This "biological knowing" is not conscious, she added.
Thorn said some of the biggest criticisms of Project Rachel came from pro-life Catholics. "Why do we need a program for a set group of sinners?" was the attitude. Sinners are one group whose human dignity is not respected, she said.
"This is front-line evangelization," she said. "This is front line meeting sinners and bringing them home."
Many women say abortion "is the worst thing that ever happened to them," said Thorn. "But without the abortion they would not know God."
"God takes the awful and the broken and makes something good about it," she said.
Those who suffer include the woman who has "lost her child in a traumatic and horrible fashion and thinks she has committed the unpardonable sin."
Then, there are men "who would have put their lives in front of a car to prevent" abortion but learn they were not told, or who find out their fiancée had an abortion after they broke up.
These people do not need high-tech psychotherapy but something both human and spiritual, Thorn said.
She rejected the words "post-abortion syndrome" which implies pathology.
"The wounds of a woman after an abortion are normal," she said. "This is a normal response of a mother to trauma."