WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Ministering to women who have had an abortion

Sue Devereux

For some women the after-effects of abortion never seem to go away. Somen women can really relate to a cry for help expressed by one young woman.

Everything I read on abortion before I experienced it told me that women do not suffer from depression or regret afterwards.

I could expect to feel relieved.

Where did they get that from?

I will never be the same.

Trauma symptoms show up in many ways – depression, nightmares, deep sadness, anger, avoidance of friends and family, or an inability to move on with life.

Project Rachel is a ministry that reaches out to women who are suffering after an abortion. During time with a counsellor and a priest, a woman is led to see that she is loved by her God, her church and her community. She can explore what is happening in her life through the process and find healing.

Last month, 20 Catholic and Anglican priests and counsellors gathered for a day to explore the processes involved in Project Rachel. They acknowledged that their work involves meeting women who are searching for healing following an abortion and are keen to be able to help.

A recent report from the Christchurch longitudinal study led by Professor David Fergusson, found that the respondents’ evidence ‘raised the distinct possibility that exposure to abortion in young women was associated with increased risks of later mental health problems’.

It is expected therefore that many women will seek this ministry.

Mons John Carde and Ann Corcoran, who have been involved in Project Rachel for nearly 10 years, explained to the priests and counsellors how the process works and encouraged those present to be available to support women who ask for help.

A woman then shared her journey through the abortion experience and talked of the new beginning to her life that Project Rachel had given her.

Project Rachel offers the opportunity for psychological as well as spiritual healing. In a safe supportive environment, a woman can express her feelings, fears and concerns – or she can simply sit in the presence of one who cares about her. A gentle, ritual allows her to feel the love God has for her and encourages her to move forward with that love to live a fulfilling life.

Although Project Rachel mostly works with women who have had an abortion, it also works with men, grandparents, brothers and sisters. All who have been affected by an abortion are most welcome to contact this ministry. In the words of Pope Benedict:

Love is the light – and in the end, the only light – that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working.

(Deus Caritas Est n 39)

If you know of anyone who could use the services of Project Rachel, please call any of the following numbers:

Catholic Social Services

(04) 385-8642

Ann Corcoran (04) 479-5419 Sue Devereux (04) 496-1744 Kathy Egan (06) 835-9458