Why Denying the Guilt Associated with Abortion Will Never Work

For decades women have been promised that their lives can be happy if they follow the counsel to “terminate your pregnancy,” the deceiver’s language for “kill your child.” Yet I’ve talked with countless women who years later still weep over their abortions.

The adverse physical and psychological consequences of abortion are well documented, with higher levels of depression and suicide. Dozens of studies tie abortion to a rise in sexual dysfunction, aversion to sex, loss of intimacy, unexpected guilt and extramarital affairs, traumatic stress syndrome, personality fragmentation, grief responses, child abuse and neglect, and increase in alcohol and drug abuse. Numerous national and international abortion support groups exist to help women heal after getting the abortion they were told would bring them happiness.

That’s what makes a recent viral prochoice video all the more disturbing and deceptive. Emily Letts, a 25-year-old abortion counselor in New Jersey, chose to make and share a video about her own first-trimester surgical abortion, claiming that she feels “super good after having an abortion.” She told Philadelphia Magazine, “Women and men have been thirsting for something like this. You don’t have to feel guilty.”

Albert Mohler writes:

So Emily Letts set out to make a video of her own abortion in order to create “a positive abortion story” that would show the world that women seeking an abortion should feel no guilt. Over and over again, she suggests that she feels absolutely no guilt about terminating the life within her.

And make no mistake—guilt is her major focus. In her words: “I know there are women who feel great remorse. I have seen the tears. Grieving is an important part of a woman’s process, but what I really wanted to address in my video is guilt.”

Actually, what she wants to address is her argument that the guilt women feel in having an abortion is simply imposed upon them by society. “Our society breeds this guilt. We inhale it from all directions,” she asserted. “I didn’t feel bad,” she insists. Her purpose in her video is to eradicate the link between abortion and guilt. “I am thankful that I can share my story and inspire other women to stop the guilt.”

…If Emily Letts truly believes that there is no guilt rightly associated with abortion, she would not have to insist, over and over again, that she feels no guilt. When she tells of women who “feel guilty for not feeling guilty,” she testifies to the fact that they are moral creatures who cannot stop making moral judgments, especially about themselves, even when they insist there is no moral judgment to be made. And this must be especially true when a woman has sought to terminate the unborn life within her.

(I encourage you to read Mohler’s excellent article about Emily’s video in its entirety.)

It’s true that abortion may relieve a woman of some immediate stress and responsibility, but it often creates much more than it relieves. Ironically, those women who do not experience psychological consequences as a result of their abortion can maintain their mental health only through denial. By choosing not to acknowledge it, they escape the emotional trauma that invariably comes with realizing you’ve killed a baby. This is a tenuous situation, requiring a lifetime of running from reality. And reality has a way of pursuing and catching us. Sadly, many women will testify to the fact that it is much easier to have a doctor scrape a baby from a moth­er’s uterus than to scrape the child from the mother’s mind.

Emily would likely agree that millions of women and men, both in society and in the church, are suffering under the “guilt of abortion.” But what she fails to understand is that it’s counterproductive to try to eliminate guilt feelings without dealing with guilt’s cause. No matter how often someone says “you have nothing to feel guilty about” to someone who has sinned against God and others, his or her guilt feelings will remain. What these women and men need—and what you and I and Emily all need—is a permanent solution to our guilt problem, a solution based on reality, not pretense. The good news? The Bible offers that solution in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

No sin—including abortion—is beyond the reach of God’s grace. He has seen us at our worst and still loves us. There are no limits to His forgiving grace. And there is no freedom like the freedom of forgiveness.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries