by Tanya Flores, Reproductive Loss Coordinator & Community Educator with Sierra Pregnancy + Health, Certified Safe Place Trainier with Life Perspectives.
Only after starting my own abortion recovery did I realize the depth of pain abortion left imprinted on my heart. I am eternally grateful for the Presbyterian church who recognized the need for an after-abortion care ministry and offered the safe place for me to heal. Since my healing journey twelve years ago, I now have the privilege to stand alongside other women who make the decision to heal from their own abortion losses.
But abortion is not the only type of reproductive loss. Many years later I experienced a miscarriage and infertility. Through the grief of my reproductive losses, I realized just how ill-equipped we are culturally to support those who are hurting. Reproductive loss is often categorized as disenfranchised grief: losses not culturally talked about, which are often seen as “non-events,” resulting in those who are hurting feeling they are not entitled to grieve. Through my personal experience and testimonies shared with me, I believe it’s necessary to consider all reproductive loss in our support ministries, since those experiencing miscarriage, infertility or stillbirth may reveal they have also had a past abortion.
Because so many have been touched by reproductive loss in one way or another, there is a great need for a safe place to heal. That need for healing extends beyond the men and women experiencing loss, to a culture that does not know how to talk about reproductive loss or be a strong support for those who need it. As I researched to understand the deeper impact of reproductive loss, I learned of the nonprofit Life Perspectives (LP) www.LifePerspectives.com . For over a decade LP has offered a refuge for men, women, family, and friends experiencing reproductive loss, and equips individuals with training and resources to better serve the men and women in their communities.
As the availability of abortion evolves with recent laws and science, grief education is critical for those who struggle with confusion, regret, shame or guilt after their abortion decision. We must remember how important it is to recognize the impact of reproductive loss and the unique process of grieving and offer healing to those who often feel alone and unhopeful. I recently expanded my ministry by becoming a Certified Safe Place Trainer with LP, and now offer training to pregnancy centers, pastors, community leaders and individuals on how to become “invitations to heal.”
LP offers several digital resources for reproductive loss support, including the websites http://www.abortionchangesyou.comand www.miscarriagehurts.com. These resources offer 24/7 anonymous support for individuals and loved ones and provide an online help directory for after-abortion care and other reproductive support. I encourage you to visit these websites for more information and how best to serve as a safe place and becoming a safe place to heal.