Podcast helps pro-lifers learn to listen

By  Grattan Brown, OSV News
  • May 16, 2024

Abortion for any reason at any time has become radically normalized. One need look no further than abortion groups’ distribution of abortifacients at pop star Olivia Rodrigo’s concerts to see how much it pervades our culture. As a father of three daughters within the average ages of Rodrigo’s fans, my heart breaks for all women who have been sold the false promises of abortion. Thankfully, the distribution of these drugs has since stopped after widespread media backlash. Nevertheless, scenarios like this show that the lies of abortion are constantly bombarding vulnerable women and girls.

Abortion tells women that if they want to reach their dreams; are too young, weak or poor; or do not want children at this time, it’s okay to end their child’s life. It is sold as a failsafe, burdenless solution to an unexpected pregnancy.

The truth is abortion hurts women. It has always been clear to me a human life begins at conception and abortion unjustly kills a human being. As I have become a father, I have seen the way an abortion-shaped culture can impact society.

This realization led me, a year ago, to start listening to a podcast that lets women tell their abortion stories. While I do not agree with the pro-choice goals of the show, I respect the women who tell their stories with such detail and honesty. It was the first time I heard women’s expressions of grief and loss, descriptions of the uncomfortable silence inside abortion clinics and honesty about difficulties along the road to recovery.

Their stories highlight the humanity of the women who have had abortions and offer valuable lessons for those of us who hope to reach women with real alternatives to abortion. Here is what stood out to me.

First, becoming pregnant unexpectedly and having an abortion changes a woman for the rest of her life. Becoming pregnant is often a pivot from girlhood toward womanhood. For younger women, having an abortion is one of the first hard and adult decisions she ever had to make. She seeks people to talk to and often learns who her real friends are, and aren’t. The abortion experience is a surprising blast of reality.

Second, the experience inside the abortion clinic is often painful, sad and lonely, and one they never want to repeat. Many speak about a strange silence in the waiting room, where the women all know why they are there and do not make eye contact or speak to each other. Sometimes the clinic staff even instruct them not to have conversations, which becomes especially difficult when one woman becomes upset and another wants to comfort her. They are disappointed when their partner, if he accompanies her, has to stay in the waiting room.

Third, most women who get abortions recognize they have ended the life of a child, and many feel that they have lost something of themselves too. They know an embryo is not a blob of cells but a human being. They feel embarrassed that they let themselves get pregnant. They feel the pressure that our society places on women to abort when the circumstances are not right, and then they feel the guilt of having aborted. It can take years to process the grief.

Finally, having an abortion often makes a woman reexamine her assumptions about fundamental human questions regarding suffering, love, fertility, loss, death, grief, shame and failure. Many regret the circumstances that led them to become pregnant and confront that choice. Some say the experience “showed me I needed to grow up and get my act together.” Women arrive at a more mature vision of permanent loving relationships, recognize the problems of the men they had been involved with, change relationship habits and end up married with children.

Pro-lifers and pro-choicers both can miss the full experience of unexpected pregnancy and abortion and fail to see that post-abortive women are so much more than their singular decision to have an abortion.

The stories I’ve heard make it ever more clear in my mind that abortion offers a woman pain, trauma and loneliness when what she really needs is support and love. Women should never feel alone, and that became personal to me when my wife and I had my three daughters. Human dignity ought to be honoured and loved at all stages of life, whether someone is unborn, unexpectedly pregnant, port-abortive or living with grief and trauma. Women deserve better than abortion.

(Grattan Brown is a Catholic theologian, medical ethicist, and founder of the Pro-Life Professional Insight project.)

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.