Kathryn Lopez

"It took great courage for Julia Holcomb to share her abortion experience and road to recovery from post-abortion stress," says Jenny Mohler, a social worker and board member and former director of the Northwest Crisis Pregnancy Center (which includes a maternity home) in Washington, D.C. "Working at the pregnancy center, we see many women, men and families who suffer in silence expressing many similar symptoms of post-abortion trauma. Countless times I have heard women state through their own words and unique experiences, as Julia reports: 'Everyone around me seemed to be moving on with life, but I was carrying a wound that would not go away.'"

For Theresa Bonopartis, director of Lumina/Hope and Healing After Abortion, who, like Holcomb, had a coerced saline abortion when she was a teenager, the story hit close to home.  When she read, "Jesus, what have I done," she "totally related. No one can ever imagine the horror. It is so hard to even believe what you have just experienced is legal," she tells me.

"I don't think people comprehend the hidden trauma of abortion -- even those who are suffering from it," Theresa Burke, who with her husband, Kevin, co-founded Rachel's Vineyard, an organization that provides outreach and counseling to families that have undergone the trauma of abortion, says. "Furthermore, if they need help, they are scared to death to look at any feelings of remorse. They project their guilt and shame onto everyone who might prick the human blood of conscience."

Mrs. Burke's comments gel with many online comments to the Tyler-Holcomb story. And like Holcomb, frequently "men and women who have been touched by abortion long to find a safe place to privately share their story with a sympathetic family member or friend, but they often fear their experience will be diminished or exaggerated, that their confidence will be violated, or that they will be judged, keeping them from reaching out for the support they desire and deserve," Michaelene Fredenburg, author of the upcoming "Grief and Abortion: Creating A Safe Place to Heal," observes.

People will argue that there is no such thing as post-abortion stress syndrome, as many have in the wake of Kevin Burke's piece. But it's hard to honestly deny there is a lot of hurt out there -- both physical and mental. Increasingly, there are resources online that can help facilitate a more anonymous, safe way to cope with this reality -- websites like Fredenburg's abortionchangesyou.com and www.afterabortion.com. But even talking even under the protection of confidentiality is painfully difficult.

After 38 years of legal abortion, the next person you run into may very well have been affected by an abortion. She may have wished she had that child she aborted 20 years ago. He may, too.

It's something to bear in mind when we discuss the topic.

The Burkes, Bonopartis, the Northwest Center, and Fredenberg each represent alternatives to abortion, and help with healing for those who have experienced or participated in or been otherwise effected by it. And they're not alone.

"I think the experience of Julia and Tyler reflects on a more spectacular and dramatic stage what has happened in the lives of so many who grew up in the time of drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll and (who) may not understand how (the) sexual  activity and abortions impacted their lives," Kevin Burke observes. "A story like this hopefully brings attention to the losses that need repentance, reconciliation and healing, and provides hope that this is possible."


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.