A Biblical Perspective on
Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS)
Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS). Thousands have discovered they suffer from it. They are grateful to finally have a name for their varied symptoms, which may include: guilt and anxiety; grief and remorse; uncontrollable crying; shame and fear of others finding out; denial; alcohol and/or drug abuse in order to forget; sexual problems; nightmares and flashbacks; the inability to tolerate the sound of a vacuum cleaner or dentist’s drill because it sounds like the suction machine; bitterness, anger, and resentment; distrust and feelings of betrayal; broken relationships; preoccupation with becoming pregnant again or dread of future pregnancies; depression and mental breakdown; fear of punishment from God; difficulty forgiving others; and thoughts of suicide.
Women (and men) have eagerly latched on to the term post-abortion syndrome as a lifeline which will pull them to the safe shore of “others are hurting too.” But, just as terminology (e.g., product of conception) helped convince millions to abort their babies, so terminology following an abortion continues to keep people bound in guilt and suffering with cords of deception. The word syndrome comes from two Latin words meaning “to run with,” and refers to a combination of symptoms in a disease. Thus syndrome gives the impression of a consistent cycle of adverse emotional and/or mental reactions, a merry-go-round, if you will, that follows the same path over and over.* The hurts following an abortion are genuine and often long-lasting, but can we honestly accept abortion’s aftermath as a disease?
Notice that each aspect of PAS focuses on self and what we have endured. “I need something to forget . . . I was lied to . . . I was betrayed . . . I can’t have children . . . Others won’t forgive me . . . God will punish me . . . I hurt . . . I can’t go on.” This focusing on self will eventually lead any person to despair, no matter what their problem. Looking for and identifying symptoms may help a person understand that they need healing, but the focus must be on God who can heal the hurts. As one woman writes, “You can talk about it, cry, fellowship, go to shrinks, but without Jesus there is NO peace.”
People who have experienced abortion need compassionate assistance, but in order to offer genuine help, we must guide people to the source of healing and help them cleanse their wounds at the root. I suggest the term “post-abortion sin-drome” would be the most appropriate term to use. Although the focus is usually on dealing with one’s emotions in order to feel better, bad feelings are only a symptom of the true problem. The emotional and mental upheaval which occurs following an abortion is caused by a spiritual problem. That is, abortion’s aftermath results from failure to confess and repent of the sin of abortion and/or sinful responses to various emotions (anger, grief, shame, etc.) which rise up within us. Our God-given emotions should serve as a barometer to indicate when pressure is rising in a particular area of our lives. Guilt tells us we have done something wrong. Since abortion is a particularly heinous sin, people involved in an abortion (and the immorality which led to it) can expect to experience guilt. If not properly dealt with, our guilt will generate sinful anger, grief, shame, and fear. The Bible shows us in Psalm 38 that sin not dealt with leads us to despair. Attempts to cover up the root of the post-abortion problem (which is unconfessed sin) with denial, self-indulgence, self-punishment, or “easy-way-out” solutions are futile at best. . . . The guilt will run its course until it destroys us and those around us.
The action taken to correct problems in one’s life must be biblically right or the experience may deceive us. For instance, in an attempt to relieve a person’s guilt, many counselors and support groups advocate focusing on one’s inner feelings. Women are sometimes encouraged to focus on the aborted baby for purposes of reconciliation to visualize the baby in Jesus’ arms, to assign character traits to the baby, and even pretend to rock the baby by holding a doll. Such actions make us feel better. We may even believe we have been reconciled with the baby. We are wrong. The truth is that an abortion negates the possibility of having a relationship with that child on this earth. Thus we find ourselves grasping at straws of untruth in an attempt to gather evidence that we are healed. Resolution of abortion-related trauma is not based upon experience or feelings. It is accomplished through application of the truths of Scripture to one’s wounds.
God is the only source of healing. He heals us by His Word. He heals us as we trust Him by faith in Jesus Christ. He heals us without the fantasy many have been lead to believe is necessary. Other methods may appear to work for a while, but they will never provide permanent results. God can heal us because He is the Great Physician.
Let me give you an illustration. Two times I cut my little finger. These were deep wounds. The first time I cut my finger, I applied pressure to stop the bleeding and then bandaged it. The wound became infected and never healed properly. To this day I have a painful scar reminding me I didn’t get the proper help when it was needed. The second time I cut my finger, I immediately went to the emergency room of the hospital. There the doctor cleansed the wound, applied antiseptic, and stitched the gaping hole. That wound healed properly. You can barely see the scar, and the pain is gone. That is the result of properly treating a wound.
Wounds from an abortion must be treated properly also. We can apply the bandage of self-help, visualization, holding it inside, or any of various other methods of coping. Hiding our hurts under bandages of false hope hinders healing. One day the bandage will fall off to reveal an oozing, infected wound much worse than before. What then? Can the wound be cleansed and healed? Yes.
Healing involves changing the way we think and act. God has the answer to any problem we face and meets us at our point of deepest suffering with compassion and love, but He requires our active participation in the process. The following six steps are essential for change which results in spiritual and emotional healing:
1. Recognize (admit) areas of sin. (Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:8)
2. Repent (turn away from) your sin. (2 Corinthians 7:8-11; 1 John 1:9)
3. Request God’s help, depending upon Him alone to heal you. (1 John 5:14-15)
4. Relinquish your sinful thoughts or actions. (Romans 6:5-7; Ephesians 4:22-23; Colossians 3:8-9)
5. Replace your sinful thoughts or actions with a godly response. (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10)
6. Repeat the above steps until your godly response becomes a habit. (John 3:21; Colossians 3:23)
The above steps are only applicable to you if you have first accepted Christ’s atonement on your behalf. Until you come by faith to trust Christ as your personal Savior, all attempts to overcome abortion’s aftermath will be done in your own strength.
We can rejoice that the sins and hurts of abortion can and will heal if dealt with in God’s way. In order to overcome our abortion-related trauma, our focus must remain on Jesus Christ and what He has done rather than on ourselves and what we have endured. Then our trauma turns to triumph as we walk with God in this process and move forward useable to God for His purposes. We don’t need the world’s philosophies to treat post-abortion “sin-drome.” God’s grace, love, and compassion are sufficient.
Text and Artwork Copyright 1990-2017 P J Koerbel
All rights reserved · Reproduction prohibited
* Post-abortion trauma is a better term because the word trauma indicates a wound which can eventually heal.