When Julia* walked through the doors of her local Pregnancy Care Centre five years ago, she had no idea that her decision to confront her emotional anguish and spiritual misery would affect so many lives.

The 25-year-old had spent seven years battling the guilt and shame caused by an abortion she had at 18. At the time, it had been a quick-fix to a problem she didn’t know would consume her for years to come.

Not long after her abortion, Julia committed her life to Christ. She put her trust in the young adult pastor at her new church, who encouraged her to visit the PCC in their town to sort out some of her lingering feelings. Knowing it was a Christian organization, she was reluctant at first, fearing judgment.

Instead, she found a place of love and compassion.

The grief of abortion

"Abortion is a loss and grief is a natural and appropriate response to that loss," says Lola French, CEO of the Alberta-based Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services. "Whether a person has a choice in regard to a loss has no impact on the need to grieve the loss. Because it is a ‘choice,’ many women do not address their grief; [they] deny it and may therefore find other ways to cope with that loss."

CAPSS is a national organization that invites Pregnancy Care Centres, adoption agencies and maternity homes to apply for affiliation. Lola spent 30 years in mental health nursing and has seen numerous women treated for depression in psychiatry who had a history of abortion without closure to their grief issues.

Freedom from pain

Through the post-abortion Bible study, Forgiven and Set Free, Julia realized she was allowed to grieve for the child she never knew. She discovered she didn’t have to live with the pain forever.

But in the midst of dealing with her loneliness and grief, Julia went out with some old friends to a bar one night. That decision put a new twist in her story: a second unplanned pregnancy.

Devastated, she knew how much abortion hurt and yet considered another one. Instead, she returned to the Centre to see her counsellor.

"Julia continued to come weekly to work through her new situation and her post-abortion issues," recounts Lola. "And she decided to carry this baby to term. After months of hard work and the healing touch of the Lord . . . she was ready to move on and put her abortion experience behind her."

When the PCC held a memorial service in a tiny chapel out by a lake to help bring closure, Julia released a pink helium balloon with a little girl’s name written on it and watched it float up to the sky.

The value of love and support

Eventually, Julia became a volunteer at her PCC as a receptionist. With God’s healing evident in her life, she was asked to give her testimony at an upcoming banquet there. Her father, who had rededicated his life to Christ after seeing her receive such unconditional love, hope and healing from the folks at the PCC, joined her at the podium.

"The night of the banquet, there was not a dry eye in the audience," Lola remembers. "Julia’s mom came up to join her husband and daughter at the end and they showed off their new grandson who was just a few months old at the time." The love and joy this baby brought to their lives was clear.

Soon after, Julia and her dad were baptized by her young adult pastor and Lola, who attended their church.

"It is the joy of participating in stories like this one that keep us pressing on in the work of this ministry," explains Lola. "It is close to the Father’s heart."

Julia has since married and her little boy is now in kindergarten. Her father took on a leadership role on the Board of Directors at their local PCC and her mother has also dedicated her life to Christ.

*name changed to protect privacy

How can you help?

CAPSS-affiliated PCCs need dedicated volunteers for a variety of tasks.

The national CAPSS office requires committed donors to support the ongoing work of Encouraging Leadership Excellence: assisting the development of CAPSS-affiliated PCCs across Canada and ensuring affiliates are operating with support and integrity.

For more information, visit Capss.com.

© 2007 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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