Connections to the Past

Theresa Burke
with David C. Reardon
Forbidden Grief: Chapter 7
Reproduced with Permission

During the first six years after her abortion, Caitlyn's defense mechanisms were firmly in place. She seldom thought about it and was not conscious of any grief or guilt. Then, without any warning, her defenses collapsed in an unexpected way.

I remember taking my dog to the veterinarian. I got her when she was a puppy and I was really attached to her. Her name was Vagabond. Well, she ended up getting real sick and the vet recommended I have her put to sleep because she was suffering so much.

As he began to schedule the arrangements, I realized I just couldn't do it. I told the vet that I had a hard time allowing something to be killed. As I spoke those words, the memory of my abortion came back like an overpowering nausea. My thought was literally, "Well, you killed your baby; why can't you let your dog die?"

I thought I would throw up right there on the spot. My legs started shaking. I couldn't catch my breath. My abortion had never bothered me until that very moment. I felt so much guilt. My brother ended up taking the dog to the vet for me. I guess I realized I couldn't go through that pain again.

When she was gone, I missed Vaggs, but even more I missed my baby— who should never have died. I kept thinking that I should have a six-year-old there with me! It was really horrible.

My friends thought I was ridiculous because I cried all the time, for almost a year. I would burst into tears at work during the most inappropriate times. I just couldn't hold back my pain. The worst part was that my friends would say "Why don't you just get another dog?" This would make me cry even harder because it wasn't even the stupid dog I was missing . . . it was my baby. Of course I couldn't tell anyone that!

This is an example of how buried emotions may suddenly burst past the defense mechanisms set up by one's mind. Caitlyn's defense mechanisms had been firmly rooted for years. But when her veterinarian asked her to allow him to put her dog to sleep, this became a powerful mental "connector" to the time she had authorized the death of her unborn child. In this case, the connector was so strong, and the accusation from Caitlyn's unconscious was so unexpected and mockingly vicious, it triggered the complete collapse of her defense mechanisms. Her repressed emotions seized control of her conscious mind and could no longer be ignored. In the absence of adequate support and understanding, however, it was a long time before those feelings of guilt and grief could finally be resolved.

Connections, Connections, Everywhere Connections

Simply put, while defense mechanisms try to keep unwanted emotions out of the conscious mind, these unwanted feelings are constantly alert for opportunities to breach the defenses and gain attention for themselves. One of their chief means of doing this is through "connectors."

Any person, place, event, or time in the present that even remotely resembles the unwanted memories related to the suppressed emotions can serve as the connector between the present and the past. When a connection is made, the suppressed emotions will surface. In most cases, they will be quickly pushed away by the mind's defense mechanisms. In addition, the mind is well aware of the unwanted emotions' form of attack and will consciously or unconsciously avoid connectors. In chapter five, for example, we saw how many women will avoid pregnant women or babies because these people are connectors to their unresolved feelings over a past abortion. In these examples, the connectors (children and pregnant women) are very hard to avoid completely.

Other connectors are more easily shunned. For example, the first place Sara ate after her abortion was Taco Bell. Thereafter, she developed an aversion to Mexican food. She knew she used to enjoy it, but she had lost her taste for it. It was only after she was in post-abortion counseling that she realized that Mexican food had become a connector to her abortion. Whenever she had seen tacos or burritos on a menu, her everalert defense mechanisms would warn her to avoid this troublesome connector by choosing something else.

In a post-abortion group counseling session, Sandra reported a similar insight into an irrational behavior of her own. For years, she had been irritated by the "arrogance" of any man whom she dated who would pay for their dinner with a credit card. If he clicked the card onto the table, she was especially repulsed. It was only after she had begun dealing with her post-abortion grief that Sandra realized that this was a connector to how her boyfriend had paid for the abortion -- with the click of a credit card on the receptionist's counter. This visual and audible connector had resulted in an irrational judgment of men for many years, until Sandra finally exposed the connector for what it really was.

Some women will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid connectors to their abortions. Sherry, for example, took a 35-minute detour each day on her way to and from work in order to avoid passing the Women's Health Clinic where she had undergone her abortion.

I just can't go near that place. It freaks me out. I'd rather drive a hundred miles than have to pass that place. I just can't do it. It makes me sick.

Sherry was conscious of why she was avoiding the clinic. Tina, on the other hand, developed a more general aversion -- to music -- which she did not understand.

After my abortion, I had a distressing time going anywhere that played music . . . any kind of music. The only memory I had of my abortion was the songs playing in the background. Afterwards, when I heard music, I got sweaty, my heart raced and I felt frightened and upset. I always felt like something horrifying was going to happen.

One of Nancy's connectors was the weather. For a long time she could not understand why she would frequently experience days of deep sadness and depression. These days seemed to hit her for no apparent reason. Finally Nancy realized that her negative emotions were linked to misty, damp days similar to the day when she had her abortion.

I remember the moistness in the air the day of my abortion. The earth drizled with the rain . . . and my tears.

For many women, doctors, hospitals, and surgical equipment are powerful connectors. Rianna had a major post-abortion reaction when she went to visit a friend at a hospital.

Since my abortion I always hated doctors, hospitals, and waiting rooms. I remember going into a hospital to visit my friend who had been in a car accident. She was okay, just looking for company. As I walked down the corridor I remember being overcome with grief, anxiety, and an unnamed panic. I couldn't control my crying.

On the elevator I remember crying so hard that I could not see the number to push for the correct floor. I was so embarrassed that I could not stop crying. People were looking at me and I remember thinking that they must assume that someone I love just died, due to the way I was grieving. I felt so stupid! I never made it in to see my friend. I had to leave the hospital.

It took me a while to figure out the source of my hysterics. On the way home I realized that the last time I had been in a hospital was the day of my abortion. And actually, if someone on the elevator thought that a death had occurred, they were right. It's just that it happened a long time ago, but I never felt the grief. To this day whenever I go to a hospital I feel a pervasive anxiety and sadness.

Post-abortive women frequently report that gynecological exams are tense and unnerving experiences because of the many strong connectors to their abortions. Wendy described her panic attack this way:

I remember a particular incident when I was at the gynecologist for a routine exam and pap smear. The nurse pulled out the leg stirrups from underneath the exam table and instructed me to put my feet in them. I remember being in that position and staring at the block ceiling above. Suddenly, from out of the blue, I began to panic. Later I realized that it was the same kind of block ceiling I had stared at during my abortion. All I could say was, "I have to get up . . . I have to get up!" I started screaming, "I have to get out of here!" The doctor helped me to sit up and instructed me to place my head between my legs to stop the hyperventilation. I could barely catch my breath. The attendants were very kind and gentle, and l slowly began to calm down. Then they offered me orange juice . . . yet another connector. It was the same beverage they gave me following my abortion . . . and to this day l can't stand orange juice.

People, like places and events, can also be connectors. Jeannette's traumatic abortion memories were unexpectedly triggered when she saw the father of her aborted child 14 years after her abortion.

l was working as a teller in a bank. l saw Paul go over to the counter for a transaction. My emotional state exploded. Floodgates of memories and emotions came crashing all around me. l began having panic attacks. l stopped sleeping. l'd just lie in bed half the night and cry.

Jeannette did not initially connect her panic attacks to the abortion. Shocked by her response, she struggled to make sense of why they happened.

The second time he came into the bank, he looked right at me. l don't think he recognized me. l began having physical symptoms of cramping and l almost passed out. l had to leave work. At that point l knew l needed help. l thought l was going crazy.

The cramping sensation Jeannette experienced was very real. The sight of Paul had triggered a buried psychic trauma which reemerged in the form of cramping, the same pain she had felt during her abortion. As she thought about Paul and their relationship, she remembered the abortion, but as if she were watching from a distance, or viewing a foreign film captioned with subtitles. Her grief over the abortion surfaced like a tidal wave, and she cried for days in utter agcny.

For many, news stories about abortion arouse intense emotions: anger, fear, and defensiveness. In the Elliot Institute survey, over half of the women surveyed reported that their negative feelings about their abortion became more intense whenever they were exposed to information about fetal development in the media or any kind of news or commentary about abortion from either side of the issue. Rita explained:

l can't stand to watch television or flick through the channels. l am so afraid of coming across some abortion controversy in the news. When there is a story or political protest going on, l never watch TV. It drives me crazy that this issue is in the news. l just want to forget about it.

Whenever exposure to the topic of abortion activates deeply repressed memories and feelings, women and men who normally cope by avoidance are unable to engage the topic with even a remote degree of objectivity. They are more likely to become angry and accusatory.

Another common connector for post-abortive women and men is the mention of God, churches, and anything related to religion. This is because abortion is clearly an important moral issue. For those who are trying to avoid thinking about this issue, distancing themselves from religious beliefs or activities they were previously involved in may become necessary. For Shawn, churches and babies were both strong connectors to her abortion.

After the abortion, l got panic attacks and negative feelings whenever l went into a church. l also had a diffcult time seeing other women pregnant. l felt like a baby killer. l was afraid to hold babies.

The connection between abortion and religious beliefs can lead to avoidance and distancing behaviors. According to Kitty:

l had been active in a gospel church choir on Sundays. After my abortion l could never step foot in a church again. l figured God hated me for what l had done, and l did not feel worthy. l reasoned that if l went to church l was a hypocrite.

Anniversary Reactions

Anniversary dates are often connectors to past trauma. In the case of abortion, researchers have found that women are more likely to experience depression, suicidal ideation, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, abdominal pain, cramping, headaches, and increased relationship conflicts around the anniversary of the abortion or on the anticipated due date of the aborted child than at other times.(1) In addition to the anniversary dates, holidays such as Mother's Day or those associated with children (e.g. Christmas and Halloween) can serve as connectors that aggravate post-abortion symptoms. These times can become regular and predictable triggers of traumatic memories. In the case of Rosetta, she faced a double-whammy:

My baby would have been born at Christmas. Now l hate Christmas. Holiday carols just kill me, and anything to do with Baby Jesus puts me over the edge. l feel excruciating sadness when l go past stores with baby clothing. l try to stay away from kids because they make me sad with thoughts about what I could have had. But Christmas is really the worst. It's a time for kids and I aborted mine, so I can never enjoy the season. Every year I have to suck it up.

Often the anniversary connection is not consciously recognized. It was only after she had begun working through her post-abortion experience that Bonnie came to understand her lack of interest in Mardi Gras.

Every year I experienced depression. It was always at the time of Mardi Gras, in February. This is a time when things are supposed to be one big "party-allthe-time.~, But I could never get into it. I just wanted to crawl into bed and let it all go away. My husband would sometimes go to the festivities without me, and that would make me furious. I felt such alienation and depression! I never knew why. I had never allowed myself to figure a due date on the pregnancy that I aborted because "it wasn't meant to be." Doing all the arithmetic would have made it real. After going through an abortion retreat, I sat down one night and calculated the approximate birth date of my child, and sure enough, it was right there in the throes of the Carnival season. All those years, my body knew that I was mourning, but I never connected the depression to the abortion. I had turned my attention away from the loss . . . all those years!

Another of my clients, Carol had spent several years in therapy trying to uncover the source of a draining depression that made her apathetic, unmotivated, and an underachiever at work. Unfortunately, her counselor assumed that forgotten childhood abuse was the origin of her helplessness and apparent amnesia. But her unconscious sent out clear clues, particularly on February 24 -- the anniversary date of her abortion—when Carol made the following entry in her diary:

February 24 . . .
Seems funny—like I know this day . . .
So what's to remember about today?
A clouded memory is the ritual of my unconscious
telling me what I can remember now,
and what I can leave alone,
What is okay to get into,
And when I must exit the scene.
What cannot be endured
and what must be erased.
How could I forget this day?
It is the day I had an abortion . . .
Abortion . . . my pen trembles as I write the word.
I have spent three years in therapy giving the same stupid answer.
I can't remember, I think I forget.
Let's talk about something different today.
I don't remember being abused. Was l?
Can everyone notice my pain is intolerable?
Like the life of my child, I have obliterated the ache,
By forgetting what happened.
Like a dream, like a vapor, it all never was . . . was it?
I am left with an uncertainty about who I am,
Because I can't remember who I was
or about the life that tried to come from me.
And how I felt when it was destroyed.
There are no feelings. Just blank space where other people
write on the pages of my life
about who they want me to be.

Something about the diary entry gave Carol the vague feeling that another loss was at the root of her melancholy. It had taken her 15 years to write down that word: "abortion." It took another four years for her to gain the strength to deal with it. It was at that point that she joined one of my support groups. Hearing the stories of other women helped to confirm the validity of her own reactions. Although Carol still had trouble recalling specifics about her own abortion, their stories were a bridge to releasing her own strong emotions and grief. Looking back, it amazed Carol that she had been able to block such a dramatic event from her memory so successfully.

While not strictly an anniversary reaction, many women discover that Mother's Day is a connector to unresolved abortion issues. For Rachel, buying a Mother's Day card was the trigger.

I went to buy my mom a card for Mother's Day. I was reading the cards and I suddenly became irritated and anxious. I actually left the store because I felt as though I might burst into tears. I kept telling myself "l have to get out of here!" I figured it was probably my hormones or sugar levels, because I was about to have my period. Later that same week, I went back to the mall a second time to buy a card. I read some more "sappy" cards and felt myself getting upset again. I was so overwhelmed by my feelings! I ended up grabbing a card, without even thinking. It was so weird . . . I bought a card with a mother holding an infant baby. Later, when I read the card I started to cry so hard and I realized why I had been so upset. It was another Mother's Day that I would not be honored, because my own child had been aborted. This was such a painful realization. I cried for days and days. I never did give the card to my own mother, because I thought the card was really for me.

For some women, a different kind of calendar acts as their countdown to grief. Deirdre, for example, did not have any particular recollection of her abortion until her daughter turned 16. At that point Deirdre became agitated and anxious and began to smother her daughter with controlling overprotectiveness. She finally realized she was terrified that her daughter might get into a situation like the one she had found herself in at 16: pregnant and seeking an abortion.

Once Deirdre understood the reasons behind her anxiety, she began to experience grief and depression over her own abortion. She acknowledged her previously forgotten abortion as the greatest trauma of her life. Unfortunately, although Deirdre realized what bothered her and its connection to her 16-year-old daughter's sexual development, she could not explain her apprehension and fears to her daughter. She felt too ashamed to tell her about the abortion and its impact on her. Her own embarrassment, low self-esteem, and shame silenced any meaningful communication that she might have shared.

Monthly Reactions

One of the strongest connectors for Natalie was her menstrual period. The sight of blood was symbolic of death and a pointed reminder of her barren womb. "Each day of my period reminds me of my abortion," she explained. "I can't stand the sight of it. I am filled with panic and then depression." Using birth control pills allowed Natalie to cut her period down to two days rather than five. She said she didn't think she would ever go off them, purely for the sake of minimizing her period. Natalie's conscious reaction may be indicative of a more widespread unconscious reaction. A survey of Japanese women aged 20 44 compared the characteristics of menstruation among women with and without a history of induced abortion. Those who had experienced abortion reported a sign)ficantly higher incidence of cramps, swelling, and nervousness compared to women with no abortions. The authors of the study suggested that this difference might reflect a psychological reaction.(2)

A woman's capacity to reproduce is brought to her attention every month when she has her period. When her fertility has become associated with the traumatic memory of an abortion, she may become more prone to anxiety, pain, or nervousness during her menstrual flow. This finding suggests that more studies should be undertaken to look for a link between abortion and pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is considered to be a modern-day epidemic. While many other factors may also be involved, it is quite possible that much of the emotional distress, tension, and stress associated with a woman's period might actually be related to psychic trauma arising from a history of abortion or sexual abuse.

It's eleven years since my abortion. Trying to get pregnant has been one of the greatest heartaches for me. I continually think of the abortion and I feel enormous guilt. Each period pulls me into a depression and fear of being punished. I feel my husband would leave me if I ever shared this secret of my past. So I continue to carry on . . . all alone.

The Birth and Death of Babies

The birth of her sister's baby was the trigger that released Tessie's delayed reaction to her abortion.

The night my sister had a baby, I partied my brains out. I got stoned and drank all the time. Within a month of my nephew's birth, I got kicked out of school. I got in another school and was almost finished . . . till I disappeared one night with some cutthroat scum-bag. For two days I popped pills -- uppers and downers -- and drank and drank. I ended up almost comatose in the hospital. That was the weekend of my graduation. I was on a deep destructive streak. It was pure chaos. I totally hated myself and wished for death. By the end of the summer I got pregnant again. I knew I couldn't have another abortion so I decided to go it alone.

Tessie tried hard to numb her feelings through drugs and alcohol. She found an outlet for her grief by acting out self-destructive, suicidal, and masochistic behaviors. She punished herself through delinquency, promiscuity, and substance abuse. In the end she got pregnant with a replacement, or atonement, baby.

The birth of later children is often a trigger for post-abortion reactions. In the Elliot Institute survey, nearly half of the women surveyed stated that their negative feelings about their past abortion became worse when they gave birth to later children.

The sight, feel, and smell of a newborn child can overwhelm one's defense mechanisms with the realization that, "I aborted a child just like this beautiful baby. What have I done?" For Julie, this was expressed in her dreams.

After the births of each of my living children, I experienced nightmares where I was frantically searching the bed for the "lost" baby. My fear was not for my new baby because I knew that one was safe. It was for the other one that I was searching -- the one I would never find -- the one that I was never told I might miss someday.

Kelly's denial of her feelings was roughly disturbed every time her husband suggested buying a baby gift for the wife of one of his friends.

I've had two abortions. People having babies always trigger memories of my abortions. I remember my husband wanting me to buy gifts for friends who were "having babies." I used to get furious with him. I thought it was cruel of him to ask me to go out and buy presents for women having babies. I was so ticked-off because he had never acknowledged our baby.

For Brenda, rather than the birth of a child, it was the death of her niece from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) which became the triggering connector to her own unnamed loss.

I didn't realize the events were related at the time -- but I had never grieved the loss of my baby who was aborted. When my niece died, I took it so hard. You would have thought she was MY child. I quit my job. I cried all the time. It took me about a year to let go of the pain.

Since the pain of her own abortion was still being denied, Brenda's unconscious used the death of her niece as an occasion to release her own repressed grief. Grieving for her niece, at that time, was more acceptable to Brenda's conscious mind than grieving over her aborted baby, which would have involved questioning her own decision to have the abortion. Mourning a baby's death over which she had no control was easier than confronting her abortion.

Hanging on to Baby

In the previous chapter, I described the approach-avoidance conflict of women and men who want to resolve (approach) unsettled feelings about a past abortion but who also want to avoid the painful expression of those feelings. There is another interesting two-sided aspect to the abortion experience that helps explain post-abortion trauma.

While memories of abortion bring pain, memories of being pregnant and of one's unborn child may be fondly and jealously guarded. In the latter case, connectors related to the "missing" child may not provoke avoidance behavior, but rather lead to approach behavior. By this I mean that women may save, nurture, and protect memories, feelings, relationships or objects that they associate with the "missing child." This behavior is analogous to how families who have lost a child will often keep the deceased child's bedroom intact, refusing to change or move anything for many years. The child's possessions, saved as if the child might return any day, are preserved as a shrine to memorialize the child.

In the case of an aborted child, however, it is not so easy to create a shrine of possessions to the child's memory. But there are parallels. For example, when attending her post-abortion support group, Jan suddenly had a realization. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a receipt and spoke to the group.

I've just realized that I've been carrying this around with me for eight years. It's the receipt from the abortion clinic. I've never paid much attention to it, but for all these years, every time I transferred my stufffrom one purse to another, I never threw it away. Just now, I finally realized why.... It's the only thing I have that's a connection to my baby. It's the only thing I have that is evidence that he was once alive.

As if little light bulbs were turned on in the heads of the group, three other women fumbled around in their purses and pulled out their own abortion clinic receipts. What most people would consider a morbid bit of trash was to these women nothing less than a "birth certificate" substitute -- or more, a physical connection to the children they never held. For Cindy, the connector she hung onto was a pair of shoes.

At the abortion clinic, I wore new house shoes that my mother had given me. They had blood on them from my walk from the bathroom to the bed [after the abortion]. After I returned home, I wrapped them in a towel and hid them under long dresses in the back of my closet. Every time I moved between dorm rooms and apartments after college, I moved them and hid them at the back of my new closet. After several years, I washed them but still couldn't look at them because I could still see the blood. Finally, it came to me that I could throw them away.(3)

Samantha remained connected to her aborted child by picketing outside abortion clinics. She was a pro-life activist, yet none of her friends ever knew about her abortion. Although she was aware that her abortion had always haunted her, she had never told anyone or gone thrc,ugh any process of grieving. Meanwhile, she was consumed by the compulsion to be present at every demonstration, regardless of other needs or family demands.

I have been a protester outside abortion clinics for the past 16 years. I go faithfully, several times a week. My family has complained that I am obsessed with abortion, and I have to agree with them. I might be fighting a cold and it could be snowing out, and I will drag myself out of bed. I curse the whole thing, but don't feel like I have the choice to stay home. The whole abortion thing makes me so angry.

Samantha's grief was funneled into angry protests. By picketing outside abortion clinics she was able to hold a memorial vigil for her dead child. Her unwavering loyalty and sacrifice to anti-abortion activities was motivated by years of repressed grief and guilt. After attending a retreat for post-abortion healing, Samantha did not feel the burning and unbridled drive for protests. While still opposed to abortion, she can now make freer choices about which activities she will undertake. She is no longer motivated by feelings of agitation and guilt.

Baby Substitutes

As previously discussed in chapter five, babies and pregnant women can be connectors to a past abortion that elicit strong feelings of anger and disgust. For some post-abortive women, however, the reaction is exactly the opposite. In the Elliot Institute survey, roughly 20 to 30 percent of the women surveyed described themselves as becoming "excessively interested" in pregnant women or babies. Marta described her feelings this way:

After my abortion I desperately wanted to be around babies. My abortion left me empty inside and yearning to hold a child. I ended up taking a job as a nanny in a family with newborn twins and a 3-year-old toddler. Both parents were professionals and were seldom home. I lavished those children with my time and attention, especially the babies. Sometimes I felt a lot of anger at the parents for being too busy to pay attention to their kids . . . but I savored the feeling that the children needed me.

Marta described a genuine love and affection for the children under her care. This satisfied her need to be a mother. At the same time, she was able to redirect her own feelings of grief and anger into her resentment of the working mother who was not the "good mother" Marta wanted to be. Marta was not confronted with her own grief until five years later when the twins were enrolled in pre-school. She felt as though they were being unfairly taken away from her. This was the event that triggered Marta's grieving for her own child.

Molly's interest in babies led her to start a daycare center in her home. She describes her craving:

I have to say my love for babies did not develop for quite a long time. Five years after the last abortion I had my daughter. Not long after that it was pretty clear we were only going to be able to have one child. For a long time I thought it was a kind of punishment for having had the abortions. Of course I was thrilled with the child I was blessed to have, but I wanted more. My girlfriend's situation is exactly the same. As we get older, I think the true reality of what we have done and lived through hits home more and more. The simple joy of watching a mother nurse her child can bring me to tears. I do love children. There is something so pure and totally innocent about them, especially babies. I think it has to do with something we could not capture with our aborted babies. To love all the ones we can now, while we have the chance, is somehow affirming.

Making the Connection

Every thought, every emotion, is connected to other thoughts and emotions. It is part of our human nature. We can never escape these connections. Nor would we want to. They are fundamental to the nature of our memory, our intuition, and our wisdom. Without connections between our memories, our emotions, and our thoughts, we would not have any meaningful memories, emotions, or thoughts.

The problem is not connectors, but our lack of awareness of connectors to negative memories, emotions, or thoughts. Whenever these connectors trigger aversions or feed compulsions, their effect is to inhibit our free will. Connectors that are not understood end up distorting our ability to make rational choices. They can be likened to pinball bumpers that spring up unexpectedly in our lives and send us off in a different direction than we intended to go.

When connectors are related to negative emotions and experiences, they are there to call our attention to unresolved issues. If we do not want to be controlled by these connectors, if we want to be free to choose our own course without feelings of fear, anxiety, deFession, and guilt, we must trace these connectors to their source, see them, acknowledge them, and understand them. By following these connectors to their source, we finally confront the truth, and in doing so, overcome our bondage to fear and past mistakes. By acknowledging the past and seeing it for what it is -- the past -- we are no longer bound by it, but are able to build on it.

The past is like a great cave. It's easy to be afraid of what might be lying in all those dark corners. But when we fearlessly explore it and understand its terrain, we can mine it for precious gems and nuggets of gold. Those memories of mistakes, those experiences of trauma, which we were once afraid to explore, can be mined for nuggets of wisdom and empathy that will serve us well in the future. By exploring these dark crannies, these disturbing connections, we will discover the resolve and resources to better serve both others and ourselves.


Theresa Burke, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist and founder of Rachel's Vineyard, a post-abortion training and healing ministry that annually serves thousands of women and couples throughout North America and overseas.

David C. Reardon, Ph.D., is one of the nations's leading researchers and authors on post-abortion issues and the founding director of the Elliot Institute.

Book: Forbidden Grief
by Theresa Burke, Ph.D. with David C. Reardon, Ph.D.
Acorn Books, Springfield, Illinois