1/17/12

Post-Abortion Syndrome Makes Sense

As I spoke with a woman about the consequences of sin, she acknowledged that she had been extremely promiscuous in her youth. As a young woman, when she discovered she was pregnant ~ and she didn't know who the father of her unborn child was ~ she decided to abort the baby. Then she told me about the years of pain and guilt that followed.

The guilt and consequences of sin can come knocking on our heart's door years later.

As we head toward the celebration of "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday" (January 22, 2012), and the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973), I'm thinking about the women over the years since this court decision who decided for abortion, only to deal with deep regret in the aftermath of their choice. In light of scriptures about sin and its consequences, the experience of Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS), a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, makes perfect sense.

Post-Abortion Syndrome has a number of symptoms: guilt, anxiety, depression, etc. Revive Our Hearts, a ministry that cares about women and their relationship with God, spells out some of these symptoms in their article, "Post-Abortion Syndrome."

"The process of making an abortion choice, experiencing the procedure and living with the grief, pain, and regret is certainly, at its very core, traumatic," the article states. "As with any trauma, individuals often try to 'forget' the ordeal and deny or ignore any pain that may result. Many simply don't relate their distress to the abortion experience."

But somewhere along the line, "memories resurface and the truth of this loss can no longer be denied."

That is when the symptoms of PAS break through, and ~ while every symptom may not be experienced by every woman who has aborted ~ the pain and bondage can be as devastating as the initial trauma.

In the article, information is derived from a book by Dr. Paul and Teri Reisser, Help for the Post-Abortive Woman (now titled A Solitary Sorrow). The first PAS symptom on their list is guilt.

"Guilt is what an individual feels when she has violated her own moral code," they write. "For the woman who has come to believe, at some point either before or after the abortion, that she consented to the killing of her unborn child, the burden of guilt is relentless."

As I've reflected on this statement, I believe that some, if not all of the other symptoms arise from this main one. God gives us a "guilty conscience" when we violate His moral code, and the scriptures tell us that God's moral law is written on our hearts (Romans 2:14-15). The Old Testament's Ten Commandments are the foundation of God's moral law, encompassed by the New Testament commandments to love God and our neighbors (Matthew 22:37-40).

This moral law was written on our hearts to show us our sin and teach us how much we need a redeemer. "The first duty of the Gospel preacher," Martin Luther said, "is to declare God's law and show the nature of sin." The moral law of God shows us the holiness and perfection of God, and it is a "schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:21-26).

Unlike the changing laws of man, God's moral law comes from His unchanging authority. God's standards do not change, regardless of the whims ~ or even legislation ~ of various cultures. Jesus kept this moral law ~ tempted in all points as we are to violate it, He chose to keep the law and remained sinless, making Him both our perfect Savior (Hebrews 4:15) and our model for righteous living.

Every person who has ever been born manifests an innate knowledge of good and evil. We see this even in babies; it does not take long for a child's selfishness to come through. God's moral law is sometimes seen as restrictive, yet it comes from His loving, protective heart. He desires to protect us and give us true freedom within His safe boundaries; and His commands are "holy and just and good" (Romans 7:12; 1 Timothy 1:7-9).

That is why women who have had abortions cannot escape the consequence of their action. They have killed an innocent human being ~ violating the moral law of God in their hearts which says we are not to kill (meaning murder) according to Exodus 20:13. The law of God is written on the post-abortive woman's heart, and she cannot erase it, as Post-Abortion Syndrome clearly shows.

It is only through forgiveness in Christ that a woman can ever hope to come to a place of freedom and peace. It is not a matter of a woman forgiving herself, but of finding complete forgiveness in Jesus and His complete sacrifice for our sin. Only Christ can break the bonds that tie us up in guilt.

We can be thankful for the moral law of God that reveals our sin, and the power of the Gospel, God's answer to dealing with sin's guilt and pain.

Some resources that can help in dealing with the consequences of abortion are available at Revive Our Hearts, including a CD titled "From Abortion to Redemption" by Lisa Dudley. Also, a series titled "Finding True Life after Abortion" with Jennifer Smith is airing on Revive Our Hearts radio (running January 16-20).

For more information on Post-Abortion Syndrome, see Ramah International. For stories from women who regret their abortions, see the Silent No More awareness website.

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