Transcript 16 Nov 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
Guest Speaker: Jeff Baker, Founder, ShoesOptional
Host: Karin Barbito, Special Projects Manager, Support After Abortion
Length 1h 4m
Super excited to be here today. We have some great, great information, some great resources that we’re rolling out for you today.
I see so many familiar faces. Hi Donna. Hi Renee. Hi Terry. Hi Erica. Hi Greg. Hi, Sue. I just saw you yesterday. If I don’t know you, if I’ve never met you, please make sure that we connect somehow. I know there’s a whole lot of people that registered. I want to give them a few more minutes to come in, um, and not miss out on the recap of last month and what’s going to happen today. So we’re going to give it a couple more minutes. Again, if you could rename yourself first and last name so that we know who you are, that would be really great. Thank you for being here.
I know I don’t look like Lisa Rowe, but I’m going to channel my inner Lisa today for you all. She’s actually traveling for work right now.
Okay, we’re going to get started. As I said, my name is Karin Barbido. I’m the Special Projects Manager for Support After Abortion, and I’m going to be your host today. We’re so glad that you’re here. We have some of our support team here, Kylee, the COO of our company, and Ivy, Lisa’s Executive Assistant. And we have Greg Mayo here who’s part of our Men’s Task Force. So you are going to be well taken care of today. In case you couldn’t attend last month’s meeting, I just want you to know that it was live streamed on our Support After Abortion Facebook page. This recording is also being live streamed and recorded. So if there’s somebody that you know that could benefit from watching it, please let them know where they can find it.
Last month we talked about, if you remember, if you were here, memorializing children and, and why that is an important part of the healing process. We said that we had Certificates of Life that you could use when you’re facilitating a group or doing one-on-ones, or if your clients wanted to do that themselves at their own pace. We have upped our game! We created 10 new certificates for you, and they’re beautiful. I think that Kylee might have a link for you at the end when she gives all kinds of information. If you could mute yourselves, that would really be helpful so everybody can hear what’s being said. If we’re going to ask questions, I’ll invite you. You can raise your hand and I’ll invite you to unmute yourself so that we can hear your question live. So we have those Recognition of Life Certificates, and there’s a whole bunch of varieties of them. There’s some for men, some for women to memorialize their children. It just brings dignity to the life. There’s some that are religious, some that are more secular, just whatever would meet your needs.
So today, I’m so excited to announce that we are launching our Abortion Healing Provider Referral Directory! So excited. Three things that I want to tell you about this. (1), it’s a way for you to refer a client to the services that they’re requesting that perhaps you don’t offer yet, right? So it’s a win for you because you’re connecting a client to the healing that they’re looking for. (2) You also, on the other end, will be receiving referrals from other people. If you have your profile updated and you have your information in there – all of the options that you offer that people can find you and make referrals to you. (3) And the third win is for that client because we’re respecting where they are, we’re meeting them where they’re at, and we’re connecting them to the healing that they’re asking for, right? So it’s a win, win, win.
And the person that’s been working on this with me and our team for so long is with us. His name is Jeff Baker. Let me tell you a little bit about Jeff. Jeff has been working in the website world since 1996. He launched his digital marketing company, ShoesOptional, LLC, in 2014 with the goal of building websites that will help clients share their business and their passion with the world. Throughout the last several years, Jeff and his ShoesOptional team have been rolling out their own proprietary digital marketing roadmap that helps businesses and organizations dominate in their respective industries. Jeff’s entrepreneurial experience and passion for emerging technology allows him to meet the ever-changing requirements of today’s business world head on. So, without further ado, I’m going to hand it over to Jeff who’s going to introduce you to our directory.
Awesome. Thank you, Karin. That’s a great introduction. I didn’t realize I did all that stuff. No, I’m kidding. I do a lot of that and have a lot of fun doing it. So thank you for allowing me to be part of the webinar today.
Just to kind of share some things, obviously one of the main goals, if you look at anything to do with Support After Abortion, one of their passions is the concept of building capacity to help those in need. And so part of that is not only revamping the website this year, redoing quite a bit of content and messaging, but also making sure we have additional resources that can allow people to get help for things like after-support healing. It’s targeted towards men, women, and friends and family – those who might have been impacted on some level.
So what we’re going to do is we’re going to take a look at a couple things today. So let me go ahead and share my screen and I’ll go through a couple thoughts here, and then we’ll get going.
We’re going to talk about what’s called the Abortion Healing Provider Referral Directory. It’s a mouthful, but it’s very accurate in what it does. So Support After Abortion, obviously in their, their passion to build that capacity, we decided there’s got to be a way to allow people to find the resources, connect providers to other resources that are either nearby or global. You’ll find that through our network, as it continues to grow, this will have a global footprint. So if you are serving clients literally anywhere in the world, there will most likely at some point be a resource for them to be able to access.
So here’s what we’re going to take a look at today. We’re going to go through a couple things. We’re just going to do a quick flyover of how the process works.
So one of the things about any search directory, there’s always nuances to it. So one of the things will be how can we get the best search results possible? So if you’re literally on the phone with somebody and you’re trying to find a resource and you’re using the directory to locate something, there are going to be times when you run into No results found, for example.
So, how do we improve our search capabilities? How do we look at improving that so you can get the best possible thing? And again, as it grows, there’s going to be more and more resources. There’ll be less and less likelihood that you’re going to not get any results. But right now we have about a little over 150 people in the system. And if you are part of that network already, you’ve most likely updated your profile. We’re actually going to talk about that as part of this today too, of making sure that your profile is as accurate as possible. The more accurate your information is on the system, the more likelihood that we will be able to use that information to connect people well within the provider network. The other part is, if you get stuck, we’re always here to help. And so one of our email addresses that’s available to you is firstname.lastname@example.org. So kind of keep that in the back of your mind, but that’s if you get stuck somewhere, if your profile doesn’t work, if something happens, email that and somebody on our team will be able to help you out as best as possible. And then last, but not least, we’re going to take a look a little bit about how you get the word out. If you know others out there that provide abortion healing support, then there’s going to be some ways that you can recommend them to us. And we do have somewhat of a vetting process where we want to make sure we understand what their programs are, what they offer, so that we can then go ahead and add them to our system. And then finally, at the very end, there’ll be a little bit of time for Question & Answer. If there are things that you’re curious about, if there’re features that you would like to see down the road, maybe some of those types of things, we can ask questions then. But let’s go ahead and kind of take a look here.
So, the main focus of why we have this network is to build capacity, right? So what we’re going to do is, I’m going to switch screens and we’re going to dive in and actually go through a live example on the site.
So right now, this is sort of a hidden link at the moment. And what I mean by that is, this is behind the scenes, it’s live, the world can see it, but it’s not linked to anything up here yet.
So eventually we’re going to actually put this right under here where it says healing providers.
Right now it says directories, but it will ultimately say is Abortion Healing Provider Referral Directory and will be under the Healing Provider tab. And when you get there, this is the starting page. The good news is, if you come to this page, you’re going to already see that there are 150+ providers in the network. And if as you scroll, you’re going to see some that have fairly complete profiles with logos and contact information, and then you’re going to see some that don’t.
Again, as we grow, we’re going to have more and more people updating their profiles and getting that as accurate as possible. So to really take advantage of this, you can either just scan through what’s already there and just go page by page. Obviously 150 providers is a lot to go through, but if you’re looking for something specific, we want you to start right here.
So in, in our little search filter, if you click on that, it expands some, and there’s a lot of different search capabilities.
If you already know a provider and you know the name of that provider, you can go ahead and search by a provider name. So for example, you could search for Support After Abortion and our profile would show up. However, it also does a little bit of a keyword search. So in their profile, if they have the term support after abortion, it will actually bring that profile forward as one of the options there. And then we also have other things here where we have the ability to pull up different categories. So we can either search by female, or male, or friends or family. This is kind of the big bucket. So think about it in terms of starting the search as high as possible and then narrowing it down. So we usually start with these two things. So if you’re helping somebody that’s either male or female or friends and family – right now we don’t have anybody in that [friends and family], so I’m going to actually use that to show you what a Results Not Found might look like.
And then also under here, you can search and narrow by an actual location and there’s radius information there, as well. We’re just going to do a quick search by friends or family, and I’m going to go ahead and just use that without narrowing the search at all.
There is one that we do have – this is an example profile that I’ve been working with just to show how some of this works.
So if I just did friends and family, you’ll see that it actually serves female and friends and family. If you hover over it, you can also quickly get to their contact information right here on the profile.
Or if you click into the profile, you’ll find a lot more information. And this is going to give you a little bit of an idea of how some of this works for the providers.
So again, the programs that they offer are typically going to be a more abortion minded, groups, religious, there’s a whole bunch. We’ll show you what those look like here shortly. You have the ability to have a description, some information about that profile. And then also what you’ll have is the ability to look at any of their contact information, any of their social profiles and go from there. And then if there’s a video, we do allow a link to both YouTube and Vimeo type videos where you can plug those in.
And it gives you the ability to give more of a quick profile or quick intro about what your program is, what you offer. And then down here is the map. The map has a little bit more information on it, as far as how to get directions if they need it, or they can click in and find and zoom out and get a better idea of how to get to your location.
Now, just to give you a quick heads up, there is a little formatting issue I’m seeing here today. This is usually full screen. So I’ll, I’ll just kind of let you know that that actually is a little bit wider than what you typically would see on the screen, or what you would typically see on the screen is wider than what we see at the moment.
So that’s one way to, to do a quick search. The other option is if I do go in here and I start my search over, I can either get rid of friends and family, I can do female, and then if I do a search by radius, so I can do a search by say, Venice, Florida, if I click on this, it’s going to bring this radius option up for me.
And I can say, you know what? I want to see if there’s something maybe within 60 to 80, maybe 90 miles, and you can narrow it down even farther. What we found is that if you increase the mileage a little bit, you’re going to definitely find more resources. And I don’t even have to put any programs offered at the moment, but again, these checkboxes are the different programs available. If I hit search now, what you’ll see is it will go ahead and bring any programs that are focused on helping female clients within a 90 mile radius of that particular zip code, that location. And now we have what looks like 11 providers. So as I scroll down, you’ll see 11 different profiles you can take a look at.
Again, you’ll see that there’s an option to quickly see their contact information right on this screen, or if you click into it, it will again go further into that profile where you can get additional information, social media links, if they have them updated, videos, if they’re available, all that contact information.
So this is kind of how the search works. We are putting a lot of those finishing touches on it. So there are a few little things that I’m seeing in our presentation that are being fixed.
Another part is if we actually do not find results. So let me go ahead and do that. So say for example, Greenville, South Carolina, which is near where I’m at, if I do a search, it may not bring anybody within zero miles. So see where it says no listings found.
Basically that means that we don’t have anybody within zero miles of Greenville. We might have somebody a little bit spread out, but that’s why we have this header up at the top. So up to the top here, it says, here’s some tools about how you can navigate the search a little bit better. So if we click on that, it’s a little popup. We have a video that talks about a lot of what I’m talking about today of how to, how to get the best results for your search and your strategy. This little popup window will give you some really quick information.
And then if you don’t see a provider that you think should be part of our network, we actually have a button up here that says, recommend a provider. It’s going to take you to the contact page.
Then that’s where you’d fill it out and just say, I think this provider would be a really good asset to the provider network, and we would go ahead and begin the process of trying to get them on board as well.
So that’s the search tool as a whole. And again, we’ll talk a little bit about that. If you have some questions, we’ll get to that here in a minute.
The next question really becomes, how do you update your profile? So I’m going to switch over to this tab. If you just go to our regular Support After Abortion.com, in this upper right hand corner between the About section and the Give button, there’s a little profile icon.
If you hit the login button…
If you don’t have a login, let us know and we’ll make sure we tie your login to your profile if it’s already in the system, or we’ll attach it to that somehow.
So, what we have is, if we go into this section, by the way, this is a broader login function of our website. So if you’ve purchased things through the store, if you’ve been part of our provider training, if you’ve done some other things, we’ll show you that.
So when I log in as a user, I’m going to hit the login button, it’s going to bring me to my dashboard screen, and this is where I can manage my account.
So, for example, if I want to change my name or my primary email that I’m using in my system, I can go ahead and change all of that right here. If for some reason you want to change your username, let us know. We can do that manually on our side. But typically your username in most cases will be your email address. Not always. You may have already had an account that didn’t have an email address and it just had a regular username. You should be fine to use that. If you need to change your password for any reason, you have an option here under your profile, you can put a profile picture. Most people aren’t going to see that, by the way. It’s just a placeholder. But if you go ahead and use the change password, you can update your password so that it’s easier to use for you. And again, as I mentioned, if you’ve already purchased things through our online store, you can manage that here. So if I click on this button, it’s going to take me to any of my accounts, my past orders, any of those types of things there. The training center, if you’ve already been part of our training platform, this is how you would access any of the trainings that you’ve already signed up for or potentially sign up for additional training, if you’re interested.
The purpose of our login today is to go ahead and go into the profile that would be set up. So down here, the provider directory, if I go ahead and click on this, it’s going to take me into my profile that is tied to my login.
Some of you, if you have multiple locations and you need to manage multiple profiles, we can set it up so that when you get to this screen, you would see all of your different locations and different options there. So let us know if you have multiple locations that need to be managed, we’ll help you get that taken care of. Again, you’re going to use email@example.com to reach out for that.
So this is just the one I’ve been using as a test profile. If I hit the edit button, it’s going to give me all kinds of things to make sure. So this is the important part for everybody that’s on this webinar today. We really, really value accuracy in data. The more accurate the data we have, the better chances of helping those looking for support, better chance we’re going to get them plugged in, right? So again, Title, this is your organization name, so make sure you have that spelled exactly the way it needs to show up down here. Again, this is your description. You can use certain font elements just as a caution on that. I would recommend that you don’t get crazy with your profile fonts, like don’t do a bunch of weird colors and all that stuff. You can do some heading levels, for example. You can do some bold, italics, and some bullets.
The profile is really meant to give people a really quick overview of what your organization is about and the types of things you help with. You can also add additional contact information in here. Your profile allows you to have two phone numbers – we’re going to look at that in a second – and one email address as part of the profile. You can add additional stuff in this text box if you need to, to direct people in different options, right?
So again, this is your description. You can have a tagline. It shows up briefly a little bit under your profile name. I just used Healing one day at a time [as a sample tagline].
This is very important. Your location is going to be based on the location of your primary office. If you have multiple occasions in different states, then I would set up a profile for each one, because we’re going to use that as part of how the radius search works. But this is based on actual states and countries and other things. All the states are here, but if your country or other things aren’t in here that you need to be tied to, let us know and we’ll add those. That’s your location.
The other part of these are all the tags. They’re called tags, but what they are on the front end, what we describe them as, are programs that you provide. So if you look in this dropdown, you’ll see that a lot of these coincided with some of the emails that Karin had sent out about getting your profile added in the first place. You’ll see a lot of these are the same. So anything that is true about your organization… if you do after abortion healing, if you do things that are in English or Spanish, if you have a helpline or in person or it’s a pregnancy center, make sure you check every one of these so that they all show up here. You want this box to be as full of the actual tags and programs that you offer. So that, again, if somebody’s searching for that, your results will show up. And again, the category is really, are you focused on male, female, or friends and family? If you do all three, that’s great, but sometimes some organizations may be only focused on helping women heal, right? Or maybe you focus more on helping men heal. Just make sure your category is accurate on how you do that.
Down here is extremely important. So your postal code, your zip code is kind of part of how that radius search starts to work. Your phone number, you have a primary and secondary phone number you can fill in. We do ask and recommend that you use this format here for your phone number with the dashes because if somebody’s on a mobile device and they hit that number, it’s actually going to flip over to their phone and it’s going to be able to dial that number directly without a lot of weird formatting issues. So try to use the area code dash and then the rest of the phone number the way it is there. If you have a fax number, go ahead and put that in there. People can access that.
This email address is extremely important. This will be the primary email address that people will use to contact your organization. So make sure that that is accurate. A lot of times people have an info@, or they’ll have support@ type of an email that allows people to connect initially.
Then, your website. Very important, as much as possible, to use the full website address with the https and all that in there. It makes it a lot easier to format it and make it easy to click on.
Then here are your social media options. So if you have multiple accounts, you can add as many as you want. Not all accounts are represented here, but a lot of them are. The big ones like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,YouTube and several others are all in here. If we need to add additional social media things down the road, let us know. We can look into that.
The map is very important. This is where you actually want to put your exact address in here. And as you start to type it in, you’ll notice that it actually brings a drop down here. And this is what you want to click on when you’re adding your address. The reason why is it triggers the Google map to go ahead and put the marker right here in the middle. And it actually helps with the radius search because it actually gives the latitude and longitude coordinates that it uses for that radius to work. If for some reason Google doesn’t put it in the right place and you happen to know your own latitude and longitude, you can actually come down here and put your own latitude and longitude in. I would highly recommend that you don’t do that because most of us don’t have any idea what that is. But if Google is not positioning you correctly, then you can manually override that if you need to.
Then down, here’s where you are able to put your primary photo, which is typically your logo. But you can also add additional photos if you have a slideshow, or if you want to add some additional kind of depth to your profile, you can add a couple more photos. There’s a maximum of five files allowed.
And this Preview Changes really is basically a save button. What it’s going to do is save it and it should bring you back into this profile here where we just started from.
Now again, if you have more than one location while you’re in here, you can actually hit this submit location or submit listing option.
And this is also a link we can send to you if you need to add your profile, if it’s not in the system at this point, we can send you another link to this. This submit listing will actually open up basically, I’ll do it here, iIt opens up a blank screen where you put in all the information we just walked through. So we’ll go ahead and share that with you if you need it.
But that’s basically how our provider network works. So the front end is over here:
And this is how the Search Our Provider Network starts. This is our starting page right here:
And this is where we begin to narrow the search and view.
You can sort different ways as well. Right now you can sort things differently. You can view them even as a list or a grid or a map. There’s a lot of functionality here, but overall, most people are just going to quickly come in here.
They’re going to either type in a name, search by radius, look at a program that might be offered and hit the search options or search and it will go ahead and begin that entire process.
So that gives us a very high flyover of what we’re doing. And so what I’m going to do is I’m just going to kind of pause there and open it up for any questions or answers, and hopefully you have questions and I think hopefully I’ll have the answers.
Jeff, thank you so much for that. That was very informative. I’ve been working so closely on this with you and there were things in here that I didn’t know that you had created that are really outstanding. So thanks for surprising me as well.
I have a question, as you were going through the profile part of it. Tell us why building out that profile with a logo, and with a description of what you provide, and what maybe your mission and vision is, and making sure that you look through all of those tags (because there’s a lot more than just those four tags – there are 9 or 10 tags) and make sure sure that you’re including all the options. Why is that so important for them?
Jeff Baker That’s a really good question. Here’s an example of that, right?
So if I’m looking at a list of results, I’m going to be drawn to the ones that actually have a logo and have a lot more information, right? Some of the ones that are just kind of sitting out there at the moment that haven’t really been updated, we just have this placeholder logo saying that they’re a support provider with Support After Abortion. So we do have a little bit of that there, but what’s happening is, if you don’t have your logo, then your profile has a tendency to be just kind of bland, and it just kind of fades in the background. The more information you have, the more likelihood you’re going to get some better results, obviously. The other part is making sure that if you’re focused on helping male or female clients or friends and family, making sure that’s accurate as much as possible because that is going to influence what type of results people see on the screen. And then having all those programs that you offer checked and making sure they’re part of your profile is going to be extremely important as well.
Let me just follow up on that, Jeff, because we have categories where it’s a multiple choice kind of situation. You have to choose women, you have to choose men, family members, you might have to do multiple searches if you have men and women that you’re working for, but on the tags, which we call them, which is like the options that you offer, it’s a checkbox. So what could happen with that, Jeff? Somebody searches on something that they think is really specific and then when they click on the profile of the company, they find that they’re not really offering what they thought they were offering. Can you address that?
That’s a really good thing. Let me pull that part up and kind of walk through through what you’re talking about there.
So if I use these check boxes to search – And these are supposed to be in a different order here. They’re supposed to go down the page. I’m fixing that as we’re talking. – But basically what this does is, even if I check multiple boxes, it’s important to understand that this is not saying, Hey, I’m only going to show results of abortion-minded options peer counseling and groups. What it’s going to do is show me anybody that offers abortion-minded peer counseling and also [anybody that] offers groups. So it’s going to bring back multiple results.
So if I just search for that and I want something that’s focused on female, and I use that search criteria, I should get quite a number of results. Yeah, so we had 59 providers and I didn’t use a location. All I did was these search options here, abortion minded groups and female. And so all of these definitely offer female, but some of these may also offer it for both male and female.
But if I go into… let’s use An Even Place here, they have a logo.
So if I go into here, they do offer after abortion and they also offer groups. So this actually kind of meets a little bit of that criteria, but they also do that for male and female both, right? So yeah, it’s very important to have that as accurate as possible because that will allow people to most likely find what they’re looking for.
Thank you, Jeff. We have some hands raised here, so I’m going to go ahead and ask Jill Marquis to unmute herself and ask your question to Jeff.
Okay. First of all, this is fabulous. Oh my gosh, kudos. Huge kudos. My question is, how will you keep the information up to date? Does that fall back on the provider? Or is there something in your system that’s going to trigger, like, Hey, you guys need to come update your stuff?
That’s a really good question. Right now it is, as much as possible, we are giving the keys back to each provider to maintain their information for accuracy. Obviously with several hundred profiles already, that could be a daunting task for us to try to follow up and manage that. Ideally, each provider should really do that. I would say that maybe off and on throughout the year, we may do spot checks and make sure that the providers are doing what they can, but ideally that should be something that, maybe in your own calendars, I would recommend just maybe putting, every two or three months or every six months, a little popup on your calendar that says, Hey, go check my profile and make sure everything’s still accurate. That would be ideal if everybody would do something similar to that.
Thank you so much, Jill. I see Debbie Tilden’s hand. Debbie, would you unmute yourself and ask
Yes, yes. Again, awesome. Kudos to you guys doing this. Specific to location -can we put it as vague as a state? I don’t do a lot out of my home office. A lot is virtual and we can be a rescue home sometimes, so I really don’t want my home address out there most of the time. So how specific does that have to be? Can I do a P.O. Box?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. You’re absolutely right. A lot of providers don’t have a physical location. So if you don’t have a physical address, we actually have one of the options here that says virtual. Let me show you here.
Under location, if you did virtual only, there’s an option that says virtual only that would be recommended. And then you wouldn’t really have to worry about any of this other stuff like your postcode or your map address. You wouldn’t need to put anything in those, those two options.
Awesome, thank you.
Thank you Deb. Donna, I see that you have your hand raised. Would you mute yourself and ask your question?
Okay. So when you first go into your profile, it’s asking for a username and password. How do we get that username and password?
Yeah, that’s a good question. If you have done anything within our system before, whether you’ve purchased something through our store or have done any of our provider trainings, then you will have a username and password. You will have an email address that you would [use to] log in for the training, for example. So if you have that, but you don’t have a profile attached to it, go ahead and email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what your login email typically is. If we need to set up an account, we can also do that through that process as well and then tie it to a profile if it’s in the system or begin the process of setting up a new profile for you.
Are there any other questions? Shauna, unmute yourself. Ask your question while I look to see about the questions in the chat.
Yeah, I’m so sorry, I was a little bit late joining, and so my question may have already been answered, but this database, is it just for providers, like if we would get a phone call, for us to refer somebody to something near them or can individuals looking for help just do a search on this website and find what they’re needing?
That’s a good question. We had some general discussion about making this a password- protected area that’s only for providers, but the kind of the fallout of that dialogue is that if somebody is looking for help and they’re able to access the directory –
Now it is going to be under the Healing Providers [website section] in an area called Directory, or the full name of [the Abortion Healing Provider Referral Directory], so it will be sort of more focused on you, as tool for you guys to use.
But anybody can use it honestly. It’ll be open for anybody that wants to use it. It’s just whether or not they will find it here specifically.
Okay, thank you.
Kylee Heap (Support After Abortion Chief Operating Officer)
I’d like to speak to that for just a moment. We are seeing, at Support After Abortion, a growing number of our potential clients who have a lot of fear around reaching out to abortion healing providers. And they have shared a desire to be able to directly connect with a provider in their area or who suits their particular needs and search criteria. So we do hope that this will be a huge win for providers to connect with clients in that way.
Yeah. Thank you, Kylee, for that. There are a couple of questions in the chat and then I see a couple hands raised. This is great engagement and conversation. I really appreciate your participation.
How do you add more than one tagline, Jeff?
Yeah, so that’s a good question. There is only room for one tagline here. But if you wanted to add maybe more quotes or little things like that, you could do it in your profile. So if you wanted to come down here and add another tagline of some sort, you can always, highlight the tagline and make it a different heading level and it would stand out that way.
You can even make it bold or italic and that way it would highlight that. You can even put it at the very top of the page or top of your profile and then all the other information is below. But the tagline only has room for one option.
Thank you, Jeff. And we have another question that says I’m working on setting up a website. I haven’t completed a directory profile because of that. Can she go ahead and set up her profile even if she doesn’t have a website?
Yes. I would go ahead and do that. And then all you would do is leave [the website] field blank. Instead of a website, you could even link it to your Facebook profile or whatever there. Ideally you would want to do that as a social media link down here, but you could also put it there as a temporary placeholder.
Awesome. Thank you. Jeff. Mary Jean, I see that you have your hand up. Would you like to ask
Yes, ma’am. I am in the process of [becoming] a volunteer at Support After Abortion and am now at the point to have an interview. Is that part of this at all? Is that totally separate? Would it take the place of having a discussion about what we have to offer? I’m just confused.
So Mary Jean, help me to understand – you are onboarding as a volunteer with Support After Abortion?
Do you know in what capacity you’re looking to volunteer?
I thought we were talking about Support After Abortion recovery healing.
Okay. So Support After Abortion is represented in this directory and as a volunteer at Support After Abortion, you would be represented through our agency. Does that make sense?
Yes, it does. Should I then, because we will also offer things here locally, set up a profile as well as being covered [as a volunteer with Support After Abortion]?.
If you have your own ministry that offers abortion healing, yes. That would be separate from your volunteering at Support After Abortion.
Great. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Okay. We have another question here. It says, do people share their stories? I’m going to ask for a little clarification from Michael. If you could unmute yourself and, and give us a little bit more detail on what you’re asking relative to this directory.
I’m wondering if a person tell their reason what occurred their life in some manner what pointed them towards abortion or kind of thoughts or ideas they got and what brings them there.
So really how this is, is going to be used is if you are in a location, let’s say that you’re part of a pregnancy center and someone comes in and through your process of intake, you find out that they’ve had an abortion and they’re looking for a retreat model because they’re busy and they can’t spend weeks in a support group. And so you don’t offer retreats. So you as the provider, the pregnancy center, could come into this directory and find a retreat for them that might meet their needs. It would be during that. I mean, certainly you can start the conversation with them about their woundedness and their abortion experience, and we encourage you to do that, but the actual healing process would be put into the hands of a retreat. Does that make sense, Michael?
Is there a high proportion of people who have abortion that need healing? Is there, you know what I’m saying? Is there a high proportion that people, they have an abortion is a high proportion that turn to look for healing or, that make sense?
Yeah, it does make sense. Kylee, do you have those statistics available from our consumer research? The percentage of men and women, if they knew where to go for healing, would reach out for that?
Yeah, so what we’ve learned through our research is that 82% of people who are impacted by abortion do not know where to go to receive the help that they desire. And we know [from our consumer research] that a third of [women and 71% of men] overall are hurting after abortion and [3 out of 5 women and 4 out of 5 men indicated a] desire to receive support. We’ve learned through our work that the support that they desire is varied, and that it could come in many shapes and and spaces over time. It’s not one and done. So perhaps you would experience one element of healing that might later on reveal for you a desire to experience different healing. At our AFTER ABORTION LINE our team works with people who just want to have somebody listen to them in a phone call, and that may be their entire experience of healing that day. It may take them months before they reach out again to say, I’d like to join a group, I’d like to talk about this with my peers. So we just see such a variety of people and their needs and always want to step forward into supporting them and meeting them where they’re at.
We have another question. Are you complete Michael, or did you have something?
I’m good. I’m good. Thanks.
Thank you, Kylee, for that. Jeff, there have been several questions about If I don’t have a login or password, how do I get one? Could you go through that little person emoji and explain again, if they’ve ever purchased anything from our store or been part of our provider training hub, that they already have a username and password. Thank you, Jeff.
Yeah, that’s a really good thing. So let me go ahead and do this. I’m going to log out. So if you’ve come, if you go to Support After Abortion.com and you come up to this upper right hand profile, you’ll see an option that says log in
When you hover over it, when you click on the login, it’s going to give you an option, right?
The first option is, if you already have a username and password, you can do this by putting your username or email address in. Hit your password, sign in, and you’re ready to go.
If you forgot your password, you can just go ahead and put your email address or username.
If you click on Forgot Password, it will send it to you based on username or email address. And then that will allow you to log in. It will give you what we call a reset password link, right?
The other option is, if you come here and you have not registered, you can go ahead and hit the the register right here:
It’s going to take you to what’s called our Training Registration Form:
This is a lot of your information that most of this is not currently required other than your name, your email address and phone number. You can use this to create your username and password. And once you log in, that’s getting at least into the system. That doesn’t necessarily mean your listing profile is going to be tied to that at that point.
So what we would recommend is that once you create an account, let us know. And what we’ll begin the process of trying to either find a profile if it’s already in the system and link you to it. Or if we need to have you create a profile, we’ll send you a link that says how to add a profile. We’ll show you how to do that in a little bit, or we’ll send that out to you in a little bit.
Thank you so much, Jeff. I have time for one more question. Does anybody else have a question? If so, go ahead and unmute yourself or raise your hand.
I have a question. This is Michael again. I’m wondering, I don’t know if this is all going on a tangent, but I wonder if people who have had an abortions and gone through the healing process, do they present themselves to other people who are thinking about getting an abortion?
Say that again, Michael? Would they present themselves to other people? I’m not understanding your question.
Like giving a speech or at a meeting or something and there’s people who are considering an abortion. If you have a person that already went through the abortion and has gone through the healing process, would a person that has healed present their story to prevent others from having abortion?
I understand your question now, Michael. That’s a great question. So under heal, under receive healing on this page of the website where Jeff is, can you click on that, Jeff? Receive Healing and down under the Client Healing Center
We have little videos exactly talking about what you just asked.
So we have videos for people that are considering an abortion, testimonies of people that have already had one. We have videos for people that have experienced abortion and what that experience was like for them. So clients can come in here anonymously. There’s no registration or no log in is necessary. Why don’t you click on the Considering an Abortion one, Jeff, just so that they can see what the options are.
So we have What you may experience after having an abortion, Considering an at home pill abortion?, and Pregnant? Making a sound decision. So these are really short videos that people that might be in a similar situation can come to. So we have developed that. We’re building it out all the time, but this is what we have so far.
So how do you lead a person to that? I mean, I’ve been a witness where a man, a woman don’t want to be told what to do with her body. I think you people said it’s more than meets the eye. I mean, there’s a baby to consider, there’s a woman to consider, and a husband or boyfriend.
So Michael, how about if we make a connection with Support After Abortion and you so that we can talk about these things individually? I’d be happy to have conversations with you or Greg Mayo. Greg is with us here today. From a man’s perspective he’d be happy to talk to you about some of the things that you’re asking about, would that be okay with you?
It’d be okay.
Michael, put your email in the chat, that would be great, and we’ll capture that. Thank you everyone for all of the conversation. It has been really riveting.
Kylee, I’m opening it up to you for announcements and next steps and all the great things that we have coming.
Thank you Karin. I do have one question I really wanted to get answered for Sherry before we move on. Sherry asked if she can have more than one login per center. So if she has multiple team members that want to log in, is that possible?
At this point, we would request that you have a master login that manages all of your profiles. So you can have multiple profiles tied to one login, but you can’t have multiple logins with multiple profiles at this point.
Great. Thank you. And Terry, your question asking us if we’re going to direct clients to biblical or secular studies, we are focused on directing them to the resource that they need. So if they desire clinical, one-on one, group, secular, religious, whatever really is appealing to them is where they’re going to land first. And that may morph over time. They may desire something different the next time they encounter or seek healing and we’ll be there to direct them once again to perhaps a new resource or a different level of the existing resource that they’re at.
So Karin has invited me to talk to you about some next steps. And I can’t believe that we’re in November wearing long sleeves and it’s cold and we are just really focused on wrapping up the year, but already planning for 2023, as I’m sure each of you are. So as we wrap up the year, I really want to emphasize to you that we have launched this Client Care [Webinar] for clinicians. It’s a meeting led by clinicians Lisa Rowe and Greg Hasek. They have different topics every month. It feels a lot like this meeting, but it’s clinical. So if you have somebody on your team who is that clinical arm for your pregnancy center or if you know of a clinician in your town that you’re referring clinical level support to, this is the place where they’re going to receive that training because as Lisa and Greg will both say they did not receive that kind of training in school. They didn’t receive it as they were doing internships. And this is kind of your one-stop shop for that kind of support. Next month that meeting is on Tuesday, December the 20th, the third week of the month, at noon. And it’s going to be on the topic of The Role of Codependency in Abortion Experiences. Our very own Karin Barbido will be a special guest alongside Greg Mayo, who has been extremely quiet in this meeting, which is not like him, but I know he must be lurking in the shadows here. What I’m going to do is put the link in our chat for you to register yourself for that event.
And of course, everything’s available on replay in our Provider Training Center . So, be sure that you look for that. Next step is our Abortion healing provider meeting, this meeting. Next month what we’re going to talk about is Remaining Curious within the Abortion Healing Process. One of the things that I’ve taken so much for granted is remaining curious and how to ask questions because so much of my heart is to try to alleviate suffering, and sometimes I try to swoop in a little faster than what is appropriate for our situation. So we’re going to have Lisa Rowe and Karin Barbito lead us in a conversation about remaining curious. I’m going to put that registration link in the chat, and you are going to click that to sign yourself up.
And then we have listened to you, we’ve heard you say that you want to learn how to lead Keys to Hope and Healing, or you want a refresher, but doing it week after week after week is just a little too spread out for some of you. So what we’ve decided to do is to have it on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of December at lunchtime, at noon Eastern Standard Time. And what we’ll do is we’ll go through that six step journey of introductory abortion healing with you, and we’ll do it back to back days so that it is just like an immersion experience for you. And I think you’re going to have a lot of fun with it
In 2023, sneak peak, we’re going to route people through this [Keys to Hope and Healingfor Leaders] training, then through our certification course on our website. And then if you’re offering Keys to Hope and Healing virtually, you’re going to be a part of an inside track for us of people that we refer to when we have clients who need a virtual group and people that we offer some special just VIP awesome training courses about how to lead a group, how to deal with that rogue group member who talks too long, and different other facets of conversations that are just particular to leading virtual groups. So we hope that you’ll join us for [the December 13-14-15 Keys to Hope and Healing for Leaders training webinar series].
Karin and Ivy are heading out to New York. So if you are in New York, and you’re going to that Pregnancy Center Conference in New York, please, please, please say hi to Karin. She’s a hugger; I’m just going to tell you now. <laugh>. So everybody will be greeted with a big hug and just excitement over being able to finally match faces to names in person, which is such a joy for us as we travel around the country. And that is our last big conference of the year. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I just am so excited about Christmas. So I hope that each of you have a good rest of November, a good, happy Thanksgiving. And please email us at email@example.com if you have any questions. And Karin’s already wanting to ask one [question]. <laugh>
Yeah, the Recognition of Life Certificates. Do we have a link for them or is that coming? Will that be in the follow up email?
It will be in the follow up email. Our Graphic Designer, Cindi has been working on this, with a lot of input from our team, about what it is that would speak to the hearts of a lot of different people walking through this kind of loss. And we’re going to send you all of our templates. They’re ready to fill in. You can use them with your team. And we look forward to getting your feedback on which ones really resonated with you because man, there are so many different ways to approach this type of certificate.
All right. Well, we have two minutes to go. We’re going to let you out early, y’all.
Thank you, Karin. Thank you, Jeff. What an extraordinary day to be able to launch this. Yes, thank you. Take care.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent or the program host, Support After Abortion.
Transcript 20 Oct 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
Guest Speaker: Karin Barbito
Host Lisa Rowe, CEO Support After Abortion
Lisa Rowe 0:07
[Our Guest Speaker today is Karin Barbito, who serves as our Special Projects Manager at Support After Abortion. Karin really understands memorializing children lost to abortion.] She has walked through a lot of different recovery programs. And the one thread that is so similar in all of them is the memorialization process. Before I turn it over to her, I just really want to share my own experience clinically. I took a Death and Dying class in undergrad, and my professor, who’s a very well known national speaker on death and dying, said two things that will always stand out to me. She said, (1) people that believe there is something higher than themselves when they experience grief and loss, usually grieve better than people that don’t know there is something higher than themselves. And (2) it is absolutely invaluable when walking through the memorial process that you have a place and space to meet your loved one who has died or you’ve lost. And so she recommended not only having the grave site to visit, but a tree or a bench or somewhere or something that you could feel like you could connect to that loved one. And so, we talk a lot about how often abortion isn’t, in our culture, looked at as a loss so many times. In the clinical space we call that disenfranchised grief, which means our world doesn’t acknowledge most reproductive losses as grief and loss. And so, many times we feel so isolated in our experience. And so, we’re here to talk about the importance of it. We’re here to talk about how to do it well. And Karin’s going to take it away from here and offer up her best practice and her understanding and experience. So, welcome, Karin. We’re excited that you’re here, and I’m really thrilled to learn from you today.
Karin Barbito 2:02
Thank you so much. All right, I’m going to share my screen.
Today the presentation is called Memorializing Children Lost to Abortion: The Why and The How.
So, why is it so important to memorialize children Lost to Abortion? I did a little research on this and on funerals and memorial services, and this is some of the bullet points that came up for me on my Google search on grieving loss.
First of all, grieving loss is critical to the healing process. I don’t even think that needs any explanation. Once we experience a loss, if we don’t grieve it, it’s going to show up sometime later in life unexpectedly. Participants at a memorial service can comfort and support each other by sharing their pain and sadness. That level of vulnerability really opens the door for strength and hope. Can you remember the last time somebody told you something really genuinely vulnerable and how that impacted you? It opens the door for strength and hope.
Memorializing children lost to abortion, brings dignity to the life however short lived it was. I want to stay here for a moment because I liken it to when my father died. He lived a long life, but I’m just thinking about the service itself. Friends and family came, we reminisced about how my dad had impacted our lives. The grandchildren shared how Grandpa taught them how to fish, and we sang some hymns. And, when the service was coming to a close, they gave my mom a flag because my dad was in the military, he was a veteran. And then the service was over, and we had to leave that building. And we still left that building sad. But we knew we left having to come to understand a new normal. My dad wasn’t going to be with us anymore. And that’s what the memorial process is really all about. It’s about grieving your loss, finding closure, and moving on.
So there’s all kinds of ways, all kinds of memorials to happen, from really simple like lighting candles for children lost to abortion, or it can be really elaborate like a churchwide event that I’m going to share with you today. And then we’ll talk about some of the options that you have at the end of this presentation.
This is New Life Church. It’s in Venice, Florida, which is close to where I live.
The pastors, the leadership of that church had gone to Israel and visited a Garden of Life, was what it was called. And they knew about Support after Abortion. We had used their church to have some of our support groups and things like that. And they came back so on fire for this concept that they created a space for us to use for memorial services. We launched this on Mother’s Day in 2019, and they opened it up to their congregation. For anybody that had any kind of reproductive loss. There were over 200 people from that congregation who had experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, or other reproductive losses. And they were in attendance. And so I’m going to take you on that journey. I took pictures of it.
This is the pre-preparation and an inspection. This is the first time the garden was used. The church maintains the property. They buy the flowers and the plants. They installed a sprinkler system. There are beautiful benches and a fountain. And it overlooks a beautiful pond. The atmosphere in this garden is just perfect for people to come to closure over the lost lives that they’ve experienced.
As I said before, the church purchases the flowers and keeps them in a greenhouse so that they’re ready to go. When we have a memorial service following a healing program, the participants can choose the color (They buy them in a variety of colors) and they can pick their location. And that really matters to people that are grieving loss. Here’s some examples of other colors.
The white flags you might notice here indicate which flowers are open for selection. People can choose a flower for each child that they’ve lost to reproductive loss, and they have naming cards so that they can put the name of the child, and then that goes in the ground and the plant is planted on top of it.
Here church has let out and people are arriving who’ve lost children.
This, I think, is a really great picture. This is a couple walking around the brick walkway and looking at the flowers and making their selection of the one that they want. It’s such an intentional part of the whole healing ceremony.
This picture just grips me in a way that I can’t even explain. I just look at the hands of that gentleman, how tenderly he’s holding that and what that means to him, what that symbol means to him in that flower. And it makes me wonder, who has he lost to reproductive loss?
Here all the flowers have been selected. This is a kind of fuzzy picture, but you can see them holding them, those that are going to plant them in the ground. And this is the pastor opening in prayer. This isn’t how we conduct our services, but we’re going to get to that in a little while. This is just how he chose to do it for his congregation. And activities like this, like planting something in the ground helps people to grieve their loss.
I was really surprised by the number of men that participated in this memorial service. I was surprised by the variety of ages as well, from very young siblings to grandparents, even great-grandparents.
Pregnancy loss impacts so many more people than just the mothers and the fathers of the children. Loss affects parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, coworkers – anybody that’s in our sphere of influence. If we’ve experienced abortion or reproductive loss, that’s going to rub off on other people because we’re grieving and we can’t help but not have that impact other people in our lives. I love that picture.
So how do you have a memorial service? That was just an example from the church where we have ours. Maybe before I go into the how, Lisa, you’ve been to a memorial service that we had in that garden with real participants of a group. Would you like to share what that experience was like for you?
Lisa Rowe 9:13
Absolutely. I don’t think I could have ever really understood what this process looked like, no matter the comparison with a memorial celebration that I had been to in the past for maybe one of my older friends. There’s something really unique about the experience, Karin. And, what was really special is that we were able to share with different women, including my mom, including a woman that was in a different state. Janine [Marrone, founder of Support After Abortion and President of the Board of Directors] was there with us, and we had the virtual component and the live component. Everything you talked about was so special. But actually being in that experience, memorializing my niece and watching everyone memorialize their children, I didn’t feel so alone in the experience. I was so emotionally connected through listening to the music, hearing the poems and the letters, and releasing the balloon. There were so many things, Karin, that, until I actually touched and experienced it, I wouldn’t be able to understand how important it was for me and for those people that were there with us.
Karin Barbito 10:21
Thank you for that. Lisa touched on some of the how and sharing what her experience was like.
You can make the memorial service your own. It can be religious or it can be secular, depending on the participants in your group. We definitely want to honor their wishes and respect their religious beliefs, or lack thereof. It can be simple or elaborate.
We mailed things to people when we were doing it virtually. They got a balloon from us to release. And however it is that you want to set it up, as Lisa said, it can be in person or virtually in a combination of both. We’ve done it. We’ve had people that none of them lived in our area. So we had stand-ins come, volunteers of ours that would come and stand in and we’d have somebody Zooming it, recording it, and we would walk around the garden and let them select what flower they wanted when it was their turn to bring dignity to their children’s life. We let them do that in whatever way that they chose. You can get creative and it doesn’t have to be just in person.
These are some of the options that Lisa was just talking about, of ways that you can bring dignity to your child’s life. You can (we do this often, and this is really profound) encourage our participants to write a letter to their children and read it aloud. There’s something so much different between writing it and saying it out loud. I think it engages different sides of the brain. Have you ever noticed that when you read something out loud, it intensifies the emotion? My mom gives me beautiful birthday cards every year, and I read them out loud all the time because they bring me to tears. And it’s just a warm place for me to be when my mom honors me in that way.
You can select a favorite song. It doesn’t have to be a hymn, it can just be a favorite song. You can quote something that really inspires you. You can read scripture if that’s what brings you comfort. Balloons are probably the most effective thing that we’ve ever used. We use permanent markers so you can write a letter on a balloon for each of your children. And then we release them all at once. I’m telling you, people won’t turn away. They will watch that balloon until they can’t see it anymore. And that could take 15 minutes, depending on how quickly it rises in the air.
One of the things that we do, and I can make a template available to you, is that we provide every participant in our healing groups a Certificate of Life. I asked them to open themselves up to having the gender revealed to them. You know, if a particular name comes to mind for them, or how do they picture their child? What kind of personality would they think that they had? And we make up the certificate and we give it to them. If you want a template, just make sure that somehow I have your contact information, put it in the chat, perhaps. Ivy, if you could collect all those email addresses, I’d be happy to send that out.
This is one of the ones that I first learned about, which was lighting a candle and just silently, with eyes closed, have a conversation with your children, whatever it is that might be left unsaid. And then when they’re finished, blow the candle out. In all honesty, I was surprised by this. This is one of the most difficult things for people to do – to blow out that candle because they feel like they’re ending that life again. Some people prefer it though. It’s all up to you and what your participants want.
Plant a tree, a shrub, a flower. Name your child. We talked about that earlier. I live in Florida and one of the things that we’ve done is gone to a park that’s right by the ocean. I’ll bring flowers for everyone’s children that are in the group, and we’ll let them drop them in the ocean and watch them float away. It’s very similar to the balloon exercise. I have bought myself something to remind me of my child every day. It’s a ring that I wear. It’s silver and it’s got two floating gold bands around it with a heart cut out of it. And on the back it says Brave Love. When I saw it, I couldn’t think of any more love that was braver than me honoring my child that I aborted. I had a past participant get herself a tattoo with her child’s name on it.
So those are just some ways that you can bring dignity to the life like I shared with my story about my dad’s funeral. That’s what that was for us. It was really just bringing dignity to his life and how he mattered to us. And for those of us, myself included, that have lost lives due to abortion and reproductive loss. I want to honor that life.
That’s all I have. Any questions?
Lisa Rowe 15:16
Awesome. Before we do, I just want to do some housekeeping. You can put questions in the chat feature or raise your hand and Karin can answer those questions, and I’ll do my best to do the same. Karin, before we jump into those questions, and while people prepare their questions, I’d love for you to share your thoughts on this big question that we get. Often, when we ask people, mostly our volunteers, if they’ve healed from their abortion experience or gone through healing, sometimes they say yes, but sometimes they say no. Your second question I feel is really profoundly connected to today. And it’s Have you gone through the naming process for your child? Have you memorialized your child? Can you talk to us a little bit about why that is such an important second question?
Karin Barbito 16:07
Because it makes it real. It makes the life real. I mean, I’ve never had a miscarriage, but I would imagine that somebody that had a miscarriage would name that child, right? Because you want to make that life matter. You want to make that life real and relevant in your life, right? It was here for a purpose and it was short lived, but it still mattered. You know? I mean, it was really important to me to listen to God as I’m a person of faith. Some people aren’t, and so I don’t know how that would happen [for them]. But God revealed to me in a very tangible way what the gender of my child was and what her name is. Then there was one day, when I was in my first healing program, I heard me sit, refer to her as her or she. And it kind of stopped me in my tracks. Like, where did that come from? Like, did I make that up? And the way that I found out what my daughter was named brought me to my knees, <laugh>. It was at the conclusion of another healing program that I was in. Because I’ve done a lot of them. I like to test them all out. And there’s always further healing, always layers to unpeel in healing. I was rearranging flowers at New Life Church because we had a program there and I said, Man, you know, when I was growing up, I really wanted to have a flower shop. And the participants said, What are you talking about? Flower Shop, Lily Rose. That was the name that God gave me for my daughter, Lily Rose. And I never would have named my child after one flower, let alone two. But when they said, Are you kidding me? Do you not see the connection here? I just fell to my knees. God is that intentional with us and that loving towards us. For me, it just makes it all real and matter.
Lisa Rowe 17:58
It’s powerful. And you talked about how the way you refer to your daughter even changed. And I’d like to bring up this topic too, as we further develop this, because I often talk with folks that say, I have three children. But then when you further investigate that conversation, they actually have children in heaven. And they don’t connect that. So perhaps, Karin, could you unpack that a little bit for us? How this memorialization brings life to even the children that aren’t living with us currently?
Karin Barbito 18:31
It wasn’t until I went through my healing. I had my abortion a long time ago. It was in 1977. And I forever, once I couldn’t have kids, got married, and adoption fell through. I believed that I was never going to be a mom. I convinced myself, I’m never going to be a mom. When I went through healing, I’ve realized and recognized and acknowledged that I am a mom. I am a mom. The light bulb didn’t go off as to why I always hated Mother’s Day because I sat in those pews, considering myself not to be a mother because I had ended the life of the only child that I was supposed to have, and I hated it. But as relative to the memorial service, I think we start to recognize that these are children of ours. People have children die all the time. It’s tragic, but they still honor their kids, right? They would never say that once they had four children, now they only have three. They would always have four children. And it’s no different. Just because we were forced to make the decision or we made the decision ourselves. It doesn’t change the outcome. It doesn’t change it.
Lisa Rowe 19:44
That’s powerful. Karin, thank you for allowing us to expound on that. And there’s people here that have lost children to miscarriage and stillbirth. Can you talk about the importance of having the same sort of memorial for those children as well?
Karin Barbito 19:59
Society’s gotten a lot better with both of those reproductive losses because they have ceremonies right in the hospital now where they dress the child up, they have a memorial service, and things like that. It shouldn’t be any different for any other kind of reproductive loss or any kind of loss of life. We should be able to bring dignity and honor to the people that lived no matter how long it was that they lived. For any of you that have had miscarriages or stillbirths or maybe infertility issues or anything like that, I just wanted to tell you how, sorry I am for your loss. I want you to hear that from me to you: I’m sorry for your loss.
Lisa Rowe 20:42
Interesting statistic, Karin, and then we’ll jump into the questions. Nearly half of our participants (42) have not experienced a memorial ceremony. And then the other portion has. Why is that so much more common than what we might believe to be true in the healing process?
Karin Barbito 21:03
Well, I would ask a follow up question. I don’t know if they’re offering abortion healing and they’ve never had a memorial service, or if they’ve never been impacted by reproductive loss so there’s really no need for them to go through a memorial service. But I would highly recommend that people experience it themselves.
I think we’re going to have to do a training, Lisa, a video training on a memorial service and what it could look like and the value and benefit of it.
That is where the transformation usually happens. Do you know what I’m talking about? You know, when you have head knowledge and yet it’s not part of who you are yet. Lisa can attest to this, that that memorial service is where that connection is made. And when that connection is made, there’s no going back. You can’t go back to what you were. It’s become part of who you are. And so, I really feel like we are doing our clients a disservice now.
We need to make sure that we’re honoring their request [in our choice of memorial]. Some people are environmentally conscious and don’t feel comfortable letting a balloon go, right? Other people don’t want to blow the candle out. So we need to be mindful of the participants and what they’re comfortable with. We never want to make somebody do something that they’re not comfortable with. But we have a strong case to make of why we do the things that we do. Why we encourage you to name. Why we encourage you to visualize. Why we encourage you to do the things that were in this presentation.
Lisa Rowe 22:29
Thank you, Karin. So for those of you who aren’t equipped to do memorial services or haven’t, there is some training on our platform, it touches on this topic. But you are affirmed, Karin, to develop something that’s very intentional.
One of the questions, Karin, is how did it feel for somebody who personally experienced abortion and having the family members and other people impacted alongside for the memorial ceremony?
Karin Barbito 23:02
That doesn’t happen very often. Again, that’s really up to the participants. Usually it’s just the participants that attend the memorial service because they’ve been together now, depending on the resource that you’re using for 6-8 weeks, right? And they’ve shared a lot of stuff. To have new people come in at the end … if they’re okay with it, I’m okay with it. I did have a husband who married someone who had abortions in her life before they got married and, she wanted him to be there for the memorial service. And I’ll tell you what, it was compelling. So if your participants are willing, I really encourage it. When he wrote a message on a balloon and broke down and cried that he really got in tune with how much his wife’s abortions prior to their marriage impacted him today. He would have had two more children in his life. How would his family look different? And so he grieved with his wife. I still have pictures of them letting go of their balloons. I’m standing behind them, man, they don’t even know I’m there. They are glued to the balloons that they released. It was really a special moment, and it really meant a lot to them. It brought them closer as a couple.
Lisa Rowe 24:19
Thank you for sharing that. It really goes to talking about that ripple effect that we hear so often that abortion can have in families and in communities.
This is a great question. Victoria, I’m going to kind of ad lib a little bit here. She’s specifically asking how what you’re talking about is different than Project Rachel. But I’d like to expound on that. How is this memorial process, if there is a difference, different than any other abortion healing program? Or does it fit in with all of the abortion healing programs that you know of?
Karin Barbito 24:52
That is a great question. Project Rachel is one thing that I haven’t done, that’s on my bucket list. So if anybody has a recommendation of where I should go, I’m going to do that. So what we have developed here is taking a little bit of various programs, aspects of the Memorial service. Let me make that make sense. Sydna Massé uses candles. She’s the author of Her Choice to Heal. I think it was Wendy Giancola, author of Transforming Your Story, who suggested writing a letter to the children. So we didn’t develop our own from scratch. We’ve taken from those that are already out there and just made it bigger and better. Does that make sense? I don’t even want to say better because I’m sure that they’re all really effective at connecting the clients to what they’re looking for. But we’ve kind of just borrowed from everybody else.
Lisa Rowe 25:55
That’s great. And I would just further insert that whatever healing program, we’re not a proponent of one over the other. Whatever your clients are looking for is what we want to encourage them to walk through. This is an added element that if the Abortion Healing Program isn’t already doing this, we’re encouraging you [to add it]. And you’re hearing all the reasons why from Karin that this be a part of the process. If you’re a therapist on the call today and you don’t have a specific program that you follow, perhaps this might be something you introduce to your client, maybe you do one-on-ones, or your pregnancy center, wherever you’re coming from, make sure that this is a part of the opportunity that you’re offering to your clients.
Karin Barbito 26:41
I have done it one-on-one, so it’s no less effective than if it’s just one person. Because I can remember what you said to me, Lisa. I don’t know how many people were in that group when you came to the Garden of Life, but you said that you went from person to person to person, and it was like nobody else was here except for the one that was memorializing their children at the time. So you really do want to concentrate on who it is from the group that’s memorializing their children. We do it all individually. That might be different too than what some other memorial services are like.
Lisa Rowe 27:16
Rachel’s Vineyard, there’s a comment here that they do it differently depending on the leadership, depending on the priest, and the discernment there. There’s also a comment from Greg Mayo and he speaks about his experience from a man. Perhaps Greg, if you wanted to come off mute and maybe share your experience for the group.
Greg Mayo 27:35
Lisa, Karin, good to see you again, <laugh>. So when I went through [after abortion healing], there were no groups anywhere, and I was the only guy I knew of doing it. So I worked through books I could find with my pastor and whatever. But when it came time to memorialize the two children I had lost, I took a blank notebook, and I went to a spot along a river here in the state I live in that mattered to me, to my dad and so forth. And, I sat down on the beach. I have no idea how long I was there, but I wrote letters to each one of the children, both of them, as well as to their mothers. And, then I stood up and I read each one of the letters out loud and I said a prayer over it, and then I put it in the river and let it go down. It was an incredibly powerful and incredibly hard experience looking back on it. I wish I wouldn’t have done it alone because I had an hour and a half drive home alone. But, the other thing about it is, walking back to my truck, I could feel the burden lifted. And then, like Karin said just a minute ago, the process of recovery really never ends. Three years ago, I wrote a novel about abortion, and I made Ben and Abby the main characters, which is what I named my children. Then my sailboat, the bigger one I’m going to buy this summer, I’m going to name Benjamin Abby. So it to me, anything I can do to just keep their names on my tongue, right? to continue to honor them. I speak about my children and I have four children that are alive and three that aren’t. You mentioned that too, Lisa, and that’s a powerful thing to keep in my mind because they are my children and they were, whether I met them then or not.
Karin Barbito 29:37
That’s really good, Greg. I really appreciate that. The one thing I want to mention is at the church in Venice, it’s always open. People can come and look at their flowers, sit on the benches, listen to the fountain. The fountain has Jesus’ hands with a baby in them where the water comes out that overlooks a pond. They can come there and meditate, talk to God, pray. It’s a place where they can revisit because our children weren’t given a funeral. They weren’t buried. Right. And so, that’s just an added thing when you have a permanent place like that where you can go.
Lisa Rowe 30:16
There’s some discussion on how important it is to have pastoral care, a priest or a pastor present for the memorial. Karin, can you open us up into a conversation?
Karin Barbito 30:30
Well, I’m seeing something from Father Allen that says, as a pastor or priest, I can definitely confirm the truth of the above statement that allowing me a pastor to be involved in this work has a very meaningful effect. I think if the people are of faith, I think that would bring a tremendous amount of comfort. There was a priest when I did Project Rachel, and there was also a therapist that you could talk to if you weren’t Catholic. And that was great to know that there was a clinician there that I could unload some of the feelings that I had. That was the second or third healing program that I went through. So if that’s a possibility, and the participants are good with it, then I think it would bring comfort. What do the people in this meeting think? I would think that it would bring a tremendous amount of comfort.
Lisa Rowe 31:21
Yeah, that’s great. Thank you for bringing these, these are all opportunities for all of us to access. And I love how Karin, you really bring about this. If that’s where the participant is, then we can meet them right where they are. Can you, and you’ve done this, can you do a memorial without bringing in faith?
Karin Barbito 31:45
Lisa Rowe 31:46
How do you do that?
Karin Barbito 31:47
Well, it’s not about me, it’s about them. Right? And if I have participants that don’t believe in God, I’m not going to encourage them to read scripture. I’m going to encourage them to write a poem expressing everything that they want their children to know. You know, I really just want to drive this point home that it’s client focused, it’s compassion driven, and it’s filled with respect and honoring the requests. That’s how we operate.It’s not a one size fits all. You can’t put a circle into a square pole, right? And so, there’s all kinds of creative ways. They can make a painting. They can create something, a pottery thing. However it is that they want to express their grief and their loss and their love for their children that aren’t here. That’s what it’s all about. Again, it’s to bring dignity to that life, to make that life matter. It matters to them. And it doesn’t have to be religious. God shows up anyway. I mean, as a person of faith, I believe that God shows up anyway. I mean, he certainly was present in my life before I ever believed in him, you know? And so I expect he would do the same for everyone else that doesn’t believe in him.
Lisa Rowe 33:00
Thank you for shedding light on that. We always like to say that healing’s a journey, not a destination. And so what the memorial looks like today might not be what the memorial looks like 10 years from now,
Karin Barbito 33:15
Right? Yeah, so true.
Lisa Rowe 33:20
And more, Karin, with medication abortion on the rise – we know that 70% of abortions completed this year will be medication abortions. We’re hearing more and more clients sharing that they’re seeing their babies before they’re flushing them down the toilet, before they’re going down the drain, or all the different things that we hear. Are you seeing a need more than ever for the memorialization of those children lost to medication abortion?
Karin Barbito 33:54
It’s so traumatic. That’s the young girls that you were talking about when you led the first Keys to Hope and Healing for those of you here that might have been in the last webinar. They were all young, in their 20s and a few weeks to a few months to maybe a year separated from their abortions. And they felt so deceived, and they were so angry. It’s just tragic. When I think about it, when people aren’t prepared for what they’re about to go through…, that’s why I liken it to doctors. If you went to the doctor, and the doctor said that your foot had to be amputated, you would be asking a million questions and getting all kinds of answers, knowing what the recovery process was going to look like. These girls don’t have that. They haven’t been prepared for what to expect. And so, having seen, and for some of them it was recognizable for what it was, having seen it, the memorial service is even that much more important. How do you get that image out of your head unless you process through it? And a memorial service will definitely help someone to do that.
Lisa Rowe 35:06
Yeah. Actually, there’s a article in the Washington Post right now speaking to this exactly – where a woman experienced a medication abortion and she could identify the limbs of her baby. She could identify the eye sockets and other physical features of her baby. And she and her boyfriend buried their child in the backyard. So Karin, you’ve had these experiences where women have kept their babies in shoe boxes and different things like that who were not able to get rid of their baby the way that they’re told to. Talk to us more maybe about how important it is, and what you’ve done to walk those women and men through that experience.
Karin Barbito 35:50
I remember working with a woman who had an abortion. She didn’t know what to do with what came out. She put it in a little box, and it had been three months since she had her abortion, and it was still in this box, and she was going to bury it in her backyard. But she has a dog, and she thought for sure her dog would dig it up. And she didn’t want to lose her child in that way. I’m not exactly sure what the outcome was, but that is just like serious stuff, right? Like most of us, me of the older, older population, I shoved down my abortion experience. I wasn’t that connected to it in such a short amount of time. I can only imagine how traumatic that is for somebody. Me, I shoved it down. I lived an unhealthy life for decades before I got into recovery, because I became an alcoholic and an addict. And I thought I had cleaned up my side of the street. But for people like this that witnessed something that’s so horrifying, it has to break denial immediately. I was in denial for a long time. And let me tell you, denial is kind of a comfortable place to be <laugh>. It’s a lot less comfortable to acknowledge what happened, right? And so, man, I just hope that if there’s any clinicians here in the webinar that you ask questions about reproductive loss. Because there could be somebody that’s never told anybody about their abortion. And you could be that very first foot in the door to have them start to process through their pain.
Lisa Rowe 37:23
Thank you for that. And, this segues great. You guys are asking some great questions. I hope this conversation is as enlightening to you as it is to me. The question is, do you think women have to go through a six to eight week program before the memorial? And what is your timeframe before doing a memorial?
Karin Barbito 37:41
Well, in our experience, most healing resources are structured very similarly. You share your story, you talk about denial, you talk about anger and forgiveness. You grieve your loss, you have a memorial service. And then how do you bring hope to others? It’s very similar. Sometimes the order is different in some, but each of those topics builds on itself. And I think it’s really important to go through all of those to express your anger, to forgive yourself and others, to receive forgiveness, to break denial, to stop rationalizing and justifying your decision, or if you were forced to have the abortion. I just think that it’s important to go through those subjects prior to being at a place to be able to really embrace that child’s life.
Lisa Rowe 38:40
Right? I see that in Keys to Hope and Healing, a resource that Support after Abortion has helped author with Word Among Us, that it’s important because so many women and men who are experiencing abortion aren’t sure what they believe sometimes, or if they do do have a belief system, like Karin said, they have that denial factor at play. High emotions, huge suppression of those emotions, wherever those clients are. It’s absolutely important that you build to this place of a memorial. Memorial is a very, very significant event that requires preparation. So it’s that preparation that comes in the weeks prior to, the memorial that helps that client sit in that space, really truly embrace that space, process the emotions that are connected. And it shouldn’t be the last thing you do either, Karin. Right? There’s a follow up afterwards.
Karin Barbito 39:37
Oh yeah, yeah. It’s not the last thing. I’ve been through probably 15 different types of groups. And like I said before, there’s always something else that’s revealed. Lisa said it so well, it’s not a destination, it’s a journey. I am grateful that I haven’t arrived.
I’m grateful that I haven’t arrived. I’m so glad that God’s not done with me yet, that there’s more growth to happen. And what we also learned, Lisa, and you can, speak to this as well, is that abortion is a symptom of some much deeper root. There could be sexual trauma, there could be abandonment, there could be a huge codependency issue. And so we always have a plan like once you finish this, you can go into another healing program. Maybe you want to go into something that’s more in depth. Maybe they want to transition from something that’s secular into something that is religious now that they’ve come to recognize that it was a baby and not just tissue. Life is a journey and we want them to stay connected for as long as they can and to grow as much as they can.
And somebody asked the question about how many weeks before the memorial service? It depends on the resource that you’re using. And if there’s multiple abortions, there might have to be multiple ceremonies.
We encourage that because your children are different, you were a different person at the time of life that you had that second, third, fourth, 10th loss. We encourage you not to lump them all together because they’re all individual and unique.
Lisa Rowe 41:10
Unpack that a little bit more for us, Karin, because I think that’s a really big statement that you said, and I’m not sure we were all prepared for that. We’re talking about people that have experienced multiple losses, in particular multiple abortions. And what I heard you say is that some people might need to process each abortion individually.
Karin Barbito 41:31
Yeah. I think that’s extremely important. People that I’ve worked with have had multiple abortions, were in different places of their life. When they had them, their circumstances were different, leading up to the pregnancy was different, how they processed through the decision was different. What it was like after [the abortion] was different for every each and every one of them. They were in a different place in their life. And so the stuff that they needed to process through, the emotions that they felt, how they felt about themselves – is different for each one. It would be like if multiple people in a family died in a car accident, even if you had the funeral service altogether, you would recognize each of them individually, right? You wouldn’t just say that the Rowe family, you would say Lisa and Rob, and I’m not putting that on you. So Lisa, I don’t want to project that on you, a car accident for your family. But, do you understand what I’m saying?
Lisa Rowe 42:45
Absolutely. That’s a really great, clear point for us to understand that. Perhaps we need to slow our clients down if they come and they say, Hey, I want to address these three abortions. Perhaps there’s some more conversation that needs to take place as a result.
We have just a few more minutes, 10 more minutes or so. And I’d love to see if there are any more questions. You guys have been really great. Is there anybody that would like to raise their hand, perhaps share their memorial experience so that we could glean and understand from you? Or you can ask your question out loud if you please. Just raise your hand and we’ll call on you.
Greg shared his Deborah, I know you shared a little bit about your experiences. Do you want to share it out loud for us?
Lisa Rowe 43:44
I know when you brought up the slide of all the different ways that people grieve differently. I think of different Mother’s Days over the years, it’s been almost 40 years, because Mother’s Day for us is significant because our daughter would have been born around Mother’s Day. So one of the things was that my family added a birthstone to my mother’s ring. They physically took it to the jewelry store and added it. And so that was something that our whole family, a season of our whole family, my husband and our three living children process through, but just a plaque my office has. It’s just that daily reminder of how precious that life was and is. Writing a letter, just all of those things. And again, it really goes along with how someone is wired and,I just have to say you guys truly are rock stars. That you are taking on this issue in the way that you are is just incredible. So I thank you, Lisa and Karin. The thing that just is so heartbreaking, and I guess this is just a season for me where I’m just craving the state of our culture even and what we are doing with these young women who are so unprepared and the things that they are told, it really is heartbreaking. I’m thankful for you guys out here doing what you do.
Lisa Rowe 45:31
Thanks Deb. Appreciate you. All right. Linda, if you come off mute, we’d love to hear from you.
I want to just underline the whole allowing them to plan, be a part of the planning of the memoria. That is so powerful. I think it’s actually a part of the healing. I also wanted to underline having, if they are comfortable with it, of course, inviting people. We have had so many breakthroughs in relationships with mothers and husbands and even kids. It’s like people suddenly get it, you know – now they understand what mom’s been going through. And, if they’re comfortable with that, really to encourage them. There’s the whole thing we didn’t really bring up of the hesitancy to do the memorial. You know, it is sometimes a huge battle and you have to really encourage them that it’s going to be worth it, <laugh> and it’s just amazing that it does. Also with the men, giving them a way to participate in it. We had one that accepted the Lord through a memorial service. It was just fabulous. It was the Christian-based service. But, for the men also, and maybe people that don’t have a memorial, the National memorial for the unborn, being able to place a plaque on the national wall is really powerful because it’s so tangible, too. It’s a permanent way to have that name presented. I want to thank you, too. This has been great.
Lisa Rowe 47:13
Wow. Linda, thank you so much for sharing that. I’d love to capture that Ivy, that national memorial for the unborn with the plaque, that’s new to me. That would be great for us to know and have that in our toolbox. Priscilla, you were next. Would you like to take yourself off mute and share?
Thank you so much for today. I was talking to my daughter who’s had two miscarriages. I’ve had two abortions. We were talking about doing a memorial with our family because we’ve not ever really recognized these babies as part of our family. So thank you. This has greatly encouraged me to pursue the ideas for the memorial. We’re entering winter in Alaska, so the planting idea <laugh> may not work, but something else could be done. I’ve a couple times put out this medication abortion issue and I’m just pursuing more information about how much you’ve been getting contacted by women that have gone through these abortions. And if there’s anything that you would like to share with us about that particular population, and maybe it’s not the right time right now because I see other people want to talk, maybe I can talk to you in some other format for that <laugh>.
Lisa Rowe 48:48
Absolutely. And Priscilla, your topic is very timely. We’ve just created a white paper on medication abortion with a lot of questions answered for you based on research. And so why don’t we start there, Priscilla, we’ll get you a copy of that and then we can connect offline.
Karin Barbito 49:17
Priscilla, you can go to our website under the research tab and find that white paper.
Lisa Rowe 49:23
And Kylee just added the link in the chat, so thank you for that too. All right. Donette, if you would like to come off mute or are you frozen? I think she might be frozen. All right. Father Allen, you’re up next.
Fr. Allen 49:45
Thank you ladies. You’re great. There’s no group of souls that have greater love and care for women who’ve had abortions. As a pastor, as a priest, I’ve been on a couple of Rachel’s Vineyard retreats. I’ve done a number of memorial services with women and some men. I carry these little symbols with me, these little models of unborn babies, but these represent real children – Baby Angie, Baby, Mikey, Baby Norbert – whose mother I know. She’s deeply repentant. I worked very closely with her. And, doing some of the things you’ve mentioned here, although you’ve given me some better ideas, we created an honor stone for them. Almost every day she says, I’m going to visit my kids, to honor them in a public Catholic cemetery. Baby Nova was a little one I tried unsuccessfully to save at an abortion mill in California. So I honored him and others with our honor stone because it affects those of us who go out to the abortion mills. I wept, I still grieve over Baby Norbert. So, this is very good information. Thanks to whoever told me about the National Memorial Service for the unborn, that was actually a goal. Maybe we should have a couple of those across the country, physical places where they could go and honor children. That’s one of my dreams. As a pastor, it’s not only important for the healing for the woman, but it’s in the mother and the father. For me, I was always involved in pro-life work from the time I was young, but getting involved with Rachel’s Vineyard and some of these memorial services, it’s made it personal, right? It’s not just some abstract moral or political issue. I know Mikey, I know Angie, I know their mom, I know Norbert, I know all these children, right? So, thank you. I would say too, with the memorial service of Mikey and Angie, I did consider whether we should have separate ones or one together as, I think, Karin was referencing. I think it’s a great point, Karin, to, memorialize each individual one. We did decide to go with one just to show the unity of the two together, but I could see in other circumstances how you might want to have separate ones. I think it just depends on the mother and the circumstances of the abortion, of the time of memorial service, et cetera. I think the important thing is to remember each child.
Lisa Rowe 53:02
Thank you Father Allen. So what I’ve heard said is that the individualized process is so important and the babies we found at times can be triggering to some mothers and some fathers. So what that is, is a transitional object we call that. And so it’s a reminder of that child, like Karin’s ring or a blanket or that sort of thing. So, just another opportunity instead of the baby, which I did see somebody in the chat say that sometimes is triggering. We were just in a training a couple weeks ago where she said, I can’t see the fetus on the picture, and that sort of thing. So, just like you said, it’s such an individualized process. Knowing where our clients are and what they can endure is really important, and what they want is important.
All right. We have about three minutes, Karin, can you conclude us with your final thoughts? Maybe for the half that are participating that have never done a memorial, what might you suggest that they do? And for those that have, what might be one thing that they can consider moving forward?
Karin Barbito 54:16
Well, thanks for putting me on the spot with the toughest question of the day, <laugh>. So what would I recommend for the half of the people that have never gone through a memorial service before? I’m going to ask a question. Have you ever gone through a healing program before?
If you’ve gone through a healing program and haven’t gone through a memorial service, I suggest that you find another healing program that offers one and go through it so you can experience it yourself. Whether you’ve had reproductive loss or not, it’s really important for you to understand what someone goes through that’s lost children. It’s also important for them to understand that even though you haven’t, you can still grieve losses, loss of a relationship, loss of a job that you love. There’s a connection and a relatability that can happen. For those of you who have gone through a memorial service, maybe think about this presentation. If there was anything that resonated with you on some of the things that we offer in a variety of our memorial services, try adding it. If you’re a provider, maybe consider having a virtual memorial service. It was really fun. Add something to whatever it is that you’re doing. We’re real proponents of building capacity and the way that you build capacity is to add something to what you’re already doing. It just makes the door that much wider to allow people to come through that are searching for what you’re not offering.
Lisa Rowe 56:03
Thank you, Karin. I really appreciate you and Donette, you froze before. We have one minute if you’d like to ask your question or make your comment and then, we’ll send everybody on their merry way.
Hi. I’m in Vancouver, Washington. We have the She’s Restored program with Jess Lane. I’ve been through it with her. Now I’m one of her facilitators. One of the things we do after we read our letters is hold a baby doll wrapped in an Afghan <laugh> and we’re reading them to the baby right there. It’s very, very effective. And when we’re done reading those letters, we put the baby down by the cross. We have a big wooden cross with candles around, and we’re by ourselves in the room. Then we just pray and release the babies to the Lord. It’s just amazing. It’s life changing and women are just changed after they do that. We’ve seen it.
Lisa Rowe 57:06
Thank you. That is very similar to Rachel’s Vineyard and their process, as well. So very, very common there. Karin.
Karin Barbito 57:15
Surrendering the Secret also has you hold babies. Deeper Still has you hold bears? Stuffed bears, Yes. One for each child. So that’s a common practice in a memorial service.
Lisa Rowe 57:27
All right. Well, we are at our time, Karin, thank you so much for sharing your time and talent with us today, all of your experience. And for those of you who shared, and those of you who are open to new ideas, we are grateful and we are here for you. If you want to visit us at www.training.supportafterabortion.com, we have the resources we’ve spoken about today. [The link is] in the chat feature. Many of you are new today, and so we’d love to connect with you further and make this a continuing conversation every month with you. So let this not be the last time that we see one another. Without further ado, we just want to thank you again for coming and we’ll see you next time.
Register for next month’s Abortion Healing Provider Webinar.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent or the program host, Support After Abortion.
Recap of July 20, 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
The July 20, 2022 Support After Abortion Webinar for Abortion Healing Providers featured guests Angela Burrin of The Word Among Us and Elias & Audrianna Falero of Falero Studios on the topic of self-guided abortion healing.
Angela Burrin is Director of the Pregnancy Hope and Healing and Prison Ministries Outreach of The Word Among Us. Angela is the author of the Support After Abortion Keys to Hope and Healing resources, which are offered in both faith-based and not-faith/clinical versions for men and women. Before working at The Word Among Us, Angela spent 20 years in the education field as a teacher and principal.
Elias & Audrianna Falero of Falero Studios – Elias, who goes by E.J., is the Creative Director of Falero Studios, and his wife Audrianna is the Producer. Falero Studios is the videography and production group for Support After Abortion’s newest video series. Audrianna is also a lactation consultant and care coach who thrives in helping women to understand their bodies. Together they are parents of four children, who range from one to nine years old.
The Story Behind Keys to Hope and Healing
“The story begins in the women’s prison in Jessup, Maryland where I volunteer on Sundays,” started Angela.
One Sunday Angela was told that two female inmates were really suffering from their abortion experiences.
“My heart really went out to them,” Angela said, “because there was nothing that I could offer them. They were alone in their grief, and their shame, and their guilt.”
On the drive home Angela decided she needed to put together a resource to help women find healing after abortion. That was the start of what later became the Support After Abortion Keys to Hope and Healing faith version for women.
“I thought it would just stop there,” Angela said.
She distributed the booklet in the women’s prison, and also in the men’s prison through the chaplains. Then someone from Project Rachel in the Catholic Archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia reached out to ask if Angela could adapt it for non-prison populations – removing all the references to cells, sentences, chaplains, etc. After that was printed, Vicki Thorn from Project Rachel asked if Angela could create a men’s version. Then Spanish versions were requested. These were all faith-based.
Support After Abortion’s founder, Janine Marrone, read an article in the Word Among Us magazine about Luncheons4Life bringing together men and women interested in pro-life ministries. She met with Jeff Smith, President of Word Among Us. They began speaking about Angela’s healing after abortion booklet.
“Janine spoke about the need for resources for those who are not ready for faith-based messaging,” Angela remembered, “because our faith-based versions are very scripturally-based. God is mentioned on every page.”
“At that time, I said I don’t think it can be done,” Angela said, “Then Janine commissioned some amazing research. She found out that something like nine out of ten people don’t know where to go for healing. And something like 85% don’t want a faith-based approach. That just struck my heart. It struck all of us. With that, during Covid, I worked with my friend, Karin [Barbito, Support After Abortion Special Projects Manager] to create a not-faith based version, which we called Keys to Hope and Healing. We then created a Men’s not-faith based version [with the help of the Support After Abortion Men’s Task Force] and Spanish not-faith versions for men and women.”
“The latest thing, which I find so incredibly exciting, is that it’s now videos!” Angela exclaimed, “I would never have thought a little inspiration in a prison [would become what] it is now.”
“We’re so inspired by your journey. It’s that first step that you took that allowed us to continue on. Thank you for being open,” Lisa Rowe, CEO of Support After Abortion said, “that the way you saw the resource serving people initially could be modified, could be adapted, could be connected, which invites more people into the [healing] journey, and we’re so grateful that you could see that.”
Lisa invited Karin to share a bit about their dream to create a multi-faceted approach to the abortion healing journey.
Karin spoke about the success of the Unraveled Roots program, which consists of a book, facilitator’s guide, training videos for facilitators, and client-facing videos.
“The client-facing videos are really important,” Karin said, “because they speak directly to the client about things they may be experiencing as they’re going through the book.”
Karin explained that the videographer who collaborated with Support After Abortion to produce the Unraveled Roots videos now focuses only on short videos, so a new videographer needed to be found. Support After Abortion explored a few different agencies and ultimately selected Falero Studios, which is located in Greenville, South Carolina.
Karin’s excitement and pride in this project were apparent as she spoke enthusiastically and with huge smiles. “These guys are so professional,” Karin raved, “They made it so easy for me to keep up with what they were doing. They were so well organized. I can’t wait to show you just the little clips of one of the videos. Audrianna was our narrator, so she had the biggest role. Then we hired six actresses to do the testimonies for each chapter. It was a big production and a big deal. It’s done, and it’s on our website. I’m so excited! It was a big project, and I’m very proud of it.”
“I hope you all will go to our learning platform and check out what’s in there,” Karin encouraged the attendees, “Our website is really becoming developed with a lot of content. And it’s only going to continue to grow.”
The People Behind the Camera
“How did this project and scripts start to stir in your heart?” Lisa asked E.J., “And what was something really big that came out of that?”
“Well, obviously it’s a sensitive topic,” E.J. said, “so when I saw it I thought, ‘Okay, this is something I’ve never filmed before.’ It turns out that I actually have personal experience on two aspects. It was very close and personal to my heart and my wife’s heart. So, it was an honor to be a part of this. I really wanted to be able to film this because I knew that I would take care of it. I feel that I did it to the best of my ability, and I’m really proud of the outcome and what we’ve been able to produce and deliver to all the potential viewers.”
Lisa asked Audrianna what it was like for her when she read and absorbed the scripts.
“At first I was taken aback [by the idea of the project],” Audrianna said, “I thought, ‘Whoa, this is a big deal.’ Like E.J. said, it’s a sensitive topic. I was really in shock. I thought I would have a part as one of the testimonies, but E.J. told me they wanted me as the narrator. It was a big moment of can I really do this. This is an amazing opportunity, of what I’ve personally been through, and to be able to help others. It’s been amazing.”
“Thank you for saying yes,” Lisa said and asked E.J. to share more about his personal experience.
“I recently found out, maybe a couple of years ago, that my mother had an abortion with my father,” E.J. said, “I would have had a sibling four years older than me, but now I’m the oldest of five. It was a very emotional meeting when she told me and my brothers. So, when I saw this topic, I definitely wanted to be a part of it. Now my mother has gone through her own healing.”
“Before I found out about my mother, a few years into our marriage, I learned my wife had an abortion experience,” E.J. said, “I’ll let her take it from here.”
“I do have my own personal experience,” Audrianna share, “When I was in my teenage years, I made the decision to have an abortion. I didn’t find that healing we’re talking about. You don’t really know what’s available for you. You just experience it all alone.”
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is something I’m going to take to my grave,’” Audrianna continued, “Like, I’m not telling anybody about this. Then when I got married, I was still dealing with emotions, and the root issue was from my abortion.”
Audrianna said, “We discussed it together, and I felt I really needed to get some healing. found a local group and was able to experience healing, and that really helped. I don’t think I’d be here today if I hadn’t experienced that healing to be able to talk about it and share with others.”
“Like he said, we found out about his mother a couple years ago, and I recommended to her the healing that I went through,” Audrianna said, “She said she’d been to healing and thought she was healed. Then she took the local course and said there was nothing else like it. She felt like she was able to love her grandchildren more. She realized she hadn’t experienced true healing before. It’s definitely important to really experience true healing.”
Lisa thanked E.J. and Audrianna for sharing their stories and commented that “there’s so much purpose in our pain, and you guys are seeing that purpose illuminated right before you. Thank you so much for saying yes.”
Karin interjected, “This was Divine Providence: finding this studio that could film our videos and then finding out the connection they had to the content – was just not something we could have done on our own.”
Karin reflected on E.J.’s mother saying she was all good and had healed, “We hear that so often. Healing from abortion is different from any other kind of recovery or healing we can do because it’s so personal and there’s so much shame behind it. Thanks for sharing that so eloquently.”
In comparing filming Keys to Hope and Healing to the experience she had locally, Audrianna said, “It was different because I wasn’t going through it as someone who needed healing at the time, but I feel like I was able to provide that emotion for how it feels before, during, and after an abortion because I had already experienced those things.”
“Of course, being local is amazing. You can actually go and meet someone in person, which I think is very important. The books are great, and I love the books. But, sometimes it’s hard to motivate yourself to self-care and read what you need to read,” Audrianna said, “So, the videos are a wonderful idea, especially with Covid happening, and people not wanting to be together. They don’t have to. They can watch these videos and experience healing in their very own homes, which is amazing.”
“What we know to be true,” said Lisa, “is that so many programs are similar in the way they present content. A lot of times it’s very faith-based, a lot of scripture, and you have to meet in person. Keys to Hope and Healing swung to the other side of that spectrum, really trying to meet the needs of women and men who want a non-faith based approach, so we really wanted to pay attention to that when we produced [the client-facing videos for] Keys to Hope and Healing with The Word Among Us and Angela.”
“We also wanted to be very cognizant that we need to pivot in this world,” Lisa said, as she spoke about how Support After Abortion offered virtual groups in 2021 that had participants from across the country and from other countries.
“Not everyone is fortunate to have a group right in their community,” Lisa said, “but sometimes they’re not willing to go to that group right there in their community.” Virtual groups can be a way to meet their needs and desire for anonymity or remote access.
*NEW* Keys to Hope and Healing Online Healing Resources
Karin walked attendees through accessing Support After Abortion’s new online resources for Keys to Hope and Healing.
The Provider Training Center offers training and many resources for abortion healing providers. After creating a user ID and password and logging in, you can access all the Training Center content.
When you click on Keys to Hope and Healing Begin Course, you can view or download the Facilitator’s Guide. It coordinates with both the men’s and women’s not-faith/clinical Keys to Hope and Healing programs.
Karin walked attendees through the course content for each key (chapter), which is found immediately after the Facilitator’s Guide in the training center.
She then played clips from the newly released client-facing videos. Karin played a clip showing Audrianna narrating and a clip of a client testimony. She pointed out the text boxes within the videos that “pull out words that we really want to emphasize.” Providers can use these videos with their clients individually or within their Keys to Hope and Healing support groups.
Through the Support After Abortion Client Healing Center, clients can access the Keys to Hope and Healing women’s not-faith English booklet and watch the client-facing videos, providing a multi-faceted, self-guided, beginning-level abortion healing program.
Karin encouraged providers to watch all the new videos. She said, “the testimonies are just so relevant. That testimony [that I played] is something we hear quite often. It’s real.”
“Abortion healing is not a one-size-fits-all,” Karin said, “and our consumer research shows that. So, we’re trying to provide for clients what they’re asking for. Keys to Hope and Healing is great for that person who maybe isn’t ready to start healing, says that she’s fine – or he’s fine.
Lisa said, “We also have pregnancy centers that use Keys to Hope and Healing for a woman who is deciding whether or not to have an abortion.
“It could be for an abortion-minded client,” Karin explained, “so she can find out on her own, self-guided, going through the booklet, what it might be like for her if she does have an abortion.”
“[This not-faith version] is great for people who don’t want to start with God,” Karin said, “It’s an entry point. We know healing lasts a lifetime. It’s not a one-and-done. This is just the beginning.”
“I could see someone doing it by themselves and journaling it,” Karin said. When Karin shared that Support After Abortion is considering creating a fillable journal to accompany the booklets, there were audible gasps of excitement.
“We know that when you put thoughts down on paper, it makes it real, Karin said, “When we keep it in our head, it’s not as impactful as when we can see it in print on paper.”
Considering the many client situations for which Keys to Hope and Healing would be beneficial, Karin chuckled and said, “I would give one to everyone I came across! It’s really simple, it’s relevant, it meets the masses. It can be used one-on-one, in a group, virtually, in person, however you want to use it.”
Lisa echoed Karin, “This is not the only healing tool. Support After Abortion isn’t endorsing just one way of healing. We’re saying there’s a variety of healing. What Keys to Hope and Healing offers is that entry-level conversation with someone. There’s been a void in our industry of a tool like this, and that’s what Keys to Hope and Healing is. There’s a purpose behind its very thin nature, the eighth grade reading level – it’s entry level.”
“There may be some who say “You can’t heal with this book,’ Lisa said, “that’s not what it’s ever been meant to be. It’s meant to start a conversation because sometimes we can’t start at 8, we have to start at .5 for some people, if we’re looking at a spectrum. We’ve seen a huge void in [the abortion healing movement] for that beginning level connection.
Future Program Development
Karin shared, “Right now, we’re in the process of writing the script for the Facilitator Training, which E.J. and Audrianna and Falero Studios will be videotaping for us. It’s going to be different. Audrianna has agreed to be the narrator again. Once the scripts are done, we’ll videotape them, then we’ll have a complete package: the booklets, the Facilitator Guide, the client-facing videos, the facilitator training videos, quizzes after each video. And hopefully in 2023, BrightCourse will pick them up for any agencies that subscribe to what they have. And they’ll be available to thousands of pregnancy centers around the country. E.J. said they’re hoping to complete the Facilitator training videos by the end of the year.
Keys to Hope and Healing Resources
Keys to Hope and Healing resources currently include:
– Men’s Faith and Not-Faith/clinical, each in English and Spanish
– Women’s Faith and Not-Faith/clinical, each in English and Spanish
All are available for free download individually or as a bundle of all eight.
Printed booklets are also available for purchase individually or as a bundle or in bulk.
Facilitator’s Guide – English – accompanies men’s and women’s not-faith / clinical versions. A Spanish version is in the works.
Q. For Angela: Is the Prison Ministry version with the prison ministry language still available?
A. Angela: No, it isn’t. The language of the whole booklet is the same, whether it was the original prison version or what it is now. All I really did was take out any references to cells, sentences, and chaplains. But, I would be very happy to connect with anyone who would like to use this in a prison setting. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. For Angela: Have you ever used it in a prison? Is it still happening? What does it look like?
A. Angela: I have not personally used it. But, I have sent so many copies of both versions to chaplains, and I’ve seen them on the table when I go to Sunday services at the prison. It’s up to the chaplains whether or not they’d like to hold a support group. But, I think most likely, it’s individual men and women who pick it up and work through it themselves.
Q. Lisa: That was the intention behind the thin, magazine feel booklet [that people would see it as an easy read and pick it up.]
A. How do you suggest we get the word out in the community that there is after abortion healing available?
Q. Karin: We have to start the conversation about abortion healing. We have to go to our churches, and our community social service agencies, and whomever. We have coined the phrase Be an Ambassador for Abortion Healing, which is your opportunity, in your community, to let people know where they can go for help. Align yourself with a local pregnancy center that’s perhaps offering abortion healing. We have to start talking about it.
A. Lisa: That means making meetings with your pastors, your social service organizations, your local therapists, your gynecologist, anyone that could be entering in and having those conversations.
Q. Do you suggest conducting multiple teaching courses on the materials from the faith-based and non-faith based? Do you suggest on the intake form to ask this question? (That is, should we offer a variety – faith and non-faith, and how do you ask when you’re starting the conversation with a client?)
A. Karin – We ask clients, Do you prefer something that’s Bible-forward or religious in nature, or would you prefer to start with something that’s more clinical and secular in nature? We let them decide. This is about what they want, not what we may want. We promote everything. We know that people gravitate toward whatever it is that they gravitate toward, and it’s their decision to make. And now that we have options on both sides, we can provide that for them. So, we don’t shy away from questions like that.
Q. When giving this wonderful booklet out to women in pregnancy centers, do they say I don’t really want to abort, but I must. Then I will use your information to heal.?
A. Lisa – We get asked this a lot, basically By leading with a Support After Abortion message with someone who hasn’t made that abortion decision, does that push them toward choosing an abortion. And I would say, absolutely not. From my experience, it simply offers them an opportunity to heal sooner, if they do choose that course of action, so they don’t have to feel alone in that decision.
A. Karin – We have abortion-minded clients call the After Abortion Line frequently, really feeling like having an abortion is the only option they have. I can relate to that because that’s how I felt when I had an abortion when I was eighteen. The only thing I considered was abortion. I wasn’t pro-life or pro-choice, I was pro-me. We hear it all the time – people coming to us conflicted about making the decision, but feeling like they have to. Some people don’t really want to talk about what it might be like afterwards. So, giving them a booklet might be good. I’m very honest and non-judgmental when I tell them what they can expect after abortion. Oftentimes they’ll go through with the abortion, and then come back to us and say Everything you said was right. And now we have an opportunity to connect them to healing. Now we have that open door to be able to say You’ve come back to the right place. We can help you. And then we guide them on that journey of healing.
A. Karin – When a woman who is pregnant comes in who is unsure of whether or not she wants to continue that pregnancy, I am looking at her – the woman who is facing the unplanned pregnancy. That’s who my concern is for – that woman and what her life is going to be like if she decides to abort. I can only share my experience with her, and tell her what we’ve learned from the thousands of people that we’ve worked with. And if she decides to abort, my goal is to make sure that she feels comfortable enough and trusts us enough to be able to come back to us for healing. It’s her decision to make. We don’t, at Support After Abortion, focus on the baby when we’re interacting with that woman who’s in a crisis situation. Now, are we an agency that believes in God and is pro-life, absolutely, but our focus is on the woman when we’re dealing with that abortion-minded client. My focus is on her and how this decision is going to impact her life, and to plant that seed so she’ll come back to us if she’s struggling afterwards.
A. Lisa – Often times it’s nice to pull this away from the abortion conversation. I see this a lot [in my clinical practice] with my clients who have suicidal ideation. If they’re struggling with depression in a session with me, and we contract for safety, and we know that this is a real issue for them and that being in isolation could be a real struggle for them, I give them a series of support systems they can lean on should they feel they are in a really tough situation. So, by giving Keys to Hope and Healing as a resource for a woman and man who might be considering abortion, it’s not saying Go have an abortion, here’s your healing tool, it’s saying Here’s a resource should you make this decision. You are not alone. We will be here with you on this journey.
Q. We use Unraveled Roots first, then Keys to Hope and Healing, and then we move them to a further healing program. Is that your recommendation for use?
A. Lisa – We’ve done it that way. We’ve done it flip-flopped – Keys to Hope and Healing followed by Unraveled Roots. It’s simply the opportunity to follow along with that client, offering them the support services that they need.
What we like about Unraveled Roots as a way to enter in is that it kind of addresses all the things – all the stuff from the past, all the possible reasons that client might be sitting in front of you. And then Keys to Hope and Healing can get more focused on the abortion experiences. Then further [resources] can follow because we know that healing is a journey. So, either way. We’ve had success with both. I would just say it’s based on your client – where they want to start.
Some of our clients want to start with Unraveled Roots because they say they’re unhappy in their relationship, or their relationship didn’t work out as they hoped. For others, they say their abortion experience is right in front of them, [so Keys to Hope and Healing would be appropriate first]. We need to listen to our clients and their needs.
Q. I’ve had men shy away from healing material written by women. I would love to see resources written by men for men. Were there men involved in this project?
A. Karin – For the men’s versions, we developed a Men’s Task Force, which is led by Nathan Misirian. Greg Mayo, who’s here today, is on the task force. So, I’m going to defer to him to explain what that process was like, where you sourced the testimonies, and why the change in language was so important.
Greg Mayo is a member of the Support After Abortion Men’s Task Force, author of Almost Daddy, and creator of a 12-Step abortion healing program for men.
A. Greg: The Men’s Task Force was a brilliant idea. What it did was take a bunch of guys that are involved in the after abortion healing movement and put their ideas together on how to reach more men and how to help more men.
When Keys to Hope and Healing [not-faith/clinical version] for men came up, what we really wanted to focus on [was the language]- especially me, someone who has an abortion story in my past. When I started recovery, all I found were materials written by women. I say all the time that I’ve been married for 24 years, and the one thing I’ve learned is I don’t know how women think, and they don’t know how I talk.
So we sat down, and we went over this material. We paid really strong attention to the verbiage and to the way things are phrased. If you walk up to a guy, for example, and you say Bob, share with me how you feel right now, Bob’s going to turn away, or he’s going to laugh, or he’s going to punch you in the arm or whatever. So, we wanted to pay attention to that. We wanted to pay attention to how men process their emotions, which oftentimes is not talking directly about their emotions. I think it was super important that it was a collaborative effort because all six of us [on the Men’s Task Force] have different experiences and come from different backgrounds. I think by going over it a few times, we were able to make it more effective for a male reader.
Q. What part of this is now available on BrightCourse?
A. Karin – Keys to Hope and Healing is not yet available on BrightCourse. We need to create the Facilitator Training Videos and quizzes in order to have it meet their requirements. However, it is available on our website free of charge. Everything that we’ve completed so far is on our website as of right now.
Q. I have used this book in groups, and if all participants are okay with a faith discussion, I have added my personal testimony about forgiveness and about a next steps study. There’s no need to fear that it’s non-faith based.
A. Lisa – Angela, you had a very strong conviction that God had to be on every page, then you were a convert, so to speak, in saying let’s not do it that way, the research shows otherwise. What has helped to shape that for you? How did you come to terms with that?
A. Angela – After my initial, No, it can’t be done, I think it was the statistics [that changed my mind]. I think every woman and every man deserves to have a tool to facilitate their healing. And we realized that there was a whole group of people that we just weren’t reaching. So, that was my inner conviction, my conversion. In the clinical/not-faith version, I had a quote from Mother Teresa, but I realized that even that could turn someone off. We need to meet people where they are. I can’t remember who said this, You go through their door first, so that they will come through your door. We want to open every door to allow every woman, every man to receive some beginning level of healing and know they’re not alone.
A. Lisa – When we first launched Support After Abortion in 2020, in the midst of the Covid pandemic, we were able to collect a lot of demographics. Our first [virtual] conference was attended by over 8,000 people. The majority of the attendees – the demographic we attracted as an abortion healing organization – was 60-year old white women. That’s incredible shocking to me because the Audrianna’s of the world – the many young men and women we see – were part of the statistic [of 9 out of 10 people] not knowing where to go for help, but also not being served in a way that met them right where they were in this place and space in their life. So many of the men and women have been hurt by other things. Their abortion experiences are the symptom of something way deeper that has clouded everything. So, Angela, when you speak about entering their door and then finding their way through our door, it’s such a gift to me that you would be open to that. Otherwise, there’s no conversation happening. We’re not serving a bulk of our population. And with abortion shifting and growing to more medication abortions, people are in a more isolated state than we’ve ever been. So, it’s really important that the mindset you carry, Angela, and the conversion you had, that we all embody and share that with the world.
Q. Catholics with abortions are more often married mothers. (Lisa commented, “I haven’t seen that statistic to know that.”) We need to offer resources that meet a busy parent in their lives.
A. Lisa – Angela, talk to me about what it might be like for a Catholic versus a Protestant versus a non-believer from your perspective.
Angela – In the Keys to Hope and Healing booklets, we’re asking the woman, whatever her denomination may be, to really acknowledge where she is at. And then we’re encouraging her to talk about where she is at. I think, if she can, from a non-[religious] place begin to share openly, I think she would gain comfort and consolation. And, if she feels the need, she can then go and talk with a priest for the sacraments, or a protestant may want to talk to their pastor to receive a blessing. Keys to Hope and Healing opens it up, provides a base of healing to go further forward. As we’ve said, it’s a stepping stone. Someone may come back to you and say I’ve done the [non-faith/clinical] Keys to Hope and Healing, but I’d like something more God-based, and you can give the other booklet.
A. Post-Webinar Commentary –
According to Guttmacher Institute’s 2014 abortion demographics1:
Of women experiencing abortion:
60% are 20-29 years old
14% are married
59% have 1+ prior births
24% self-identified as Catholic, 30% as protestant
According to American Magazine2, using Guttmacher’s 2002 data, one out of every 16 women procuring an abortion is married and Catholic. The author states, “This data suggests that the face of a Catholic woman choosing abortion is … a stretched-thin married mother with children at home.
A. Post-Webinar Commentary
Karin – Keys to Hope and Healing is perfect for any busy person. It’s an easy read. It’s self-guided. The new videos are available to help them as they go through each key (chapter). They can do it by themselves on their own time.
We especially want to know about openings you have in virtual abortion healing groups and necessary details, so that we can refer clients to your groups.
After Abortion Line
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with an abortion experience, we’re here for you. We’d like to support you in a private, confidential way. You can reach to us via our no-cost After Abortion Line. A member of our Support Team, who has training and experience, will meet you with compassion and love anonymity and walk you through this journey. We don’t want you to do it alone.
Call or text: After Abortion Line 844.289.HOPE (4673)
Recap of June 16, 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
Music has the unique ability to speak to us in a way that connects to our deepest emotions, as such, music can be healing for those dealing with trauma and grief. Support After Abortion has licensed two songs from Music for the Soul with related course content and created a journal for client reflection. CEO Lisa Rowe, LCSW, together with our guests, Steve Siler and Greg Hasek, MA/MFT, led this month’s webinar discussing how abortion healing providers can incorporate music in their healing programs.
Steve Siler is a professional songwriter with a lengthy career first writing music for TV and then for contemporary Christian recording artists. He is the founder and director of Music for the Soul, a multi-award winning Christian not-for-profit that creates music to help people in recovery or going through difficult life circumstances. Steve is a Dove Award winning singer with over 500 recorded songs. He is the author of three books, the latest being a devotional entitled Twenty-Three, based on the Twenty-Third Psalm.
Greg Hasek, MA/MFT, is a licensed counselor for 18 years who incorporates music into caring for some of his patients. He is the Executive Director of Southwest Florida Christian Counseling, a non-profit counseling agency. Greg specializes in sexual addiction, PTSD within the couple relationship, male specific trauma, and the impact abortion trauma has on men and women. He is an expert on identifying how unresolved male trauma is often at the root of many addictions and on how abortion affects men.
The Story Behind the Music
“My songs that had been attached to issues of pain, I didn’t intentionally write for that, but it just wound up happening,” Steve said, “I felt there was a gap – a void if you will – because I had seen so much pain and seen the power of song to provide healing for people struggling with difficult issues.”
Steve shared that he thought, “What if someone got up every day and made it their purpose to look at issues of pain that were not being addressed through song and intentionally worked to do that.”
He continued, “With the issue of abortion remorse, I thought, there’s so much here that’s not being talked about. It seems like I’m hearing about it all the time, but all I’m hearing is arguing from polar opposite sides, and the people who’ve actually been wounded by it aren’t even being addressed, so I felt if we could help with songs, that would be a blessing.”
Steve recounted attending a concert for which he had written the songs and meeting a woman who had an abortion healing prayer ministry. This intial encounter with the idea of abortion healing immediately inspired him to write his first song on the topic, We Forgive You, which appeared in his Mercy Great Enough project.
Steve and Greg had known each other well at that time and Greg was already using some of Steve’s projects in his counseling practice. Steve said, “When I began to look at doing a full-length project on this, he was my go-to consultant, insisting we not leave the men out, of course, but also in making sure that we hit all the target specific issues that needed to be addressed on the project.”
Why Use Music in Therapy?
Greg said that he and Steve “share a heart for healing music.” Greg explained that he had learned through counseling men that words were not enough.
“In graduate school we learned to talk to people about their trauma, but I realized in working with men, that’s not effective,” Greg said, “Men are defensive. Trauma causes people to develop walls of survival…they wall off their memories of trauma and emotions of trauma.”
Greg shared, “Before YouTube was around, I developed PowerPoint presentations creating slides with music clips that I showed my clients. Through the process of visuals and music with different topics – at the time mostly sex addiction issues – I was able to get beyond the wall a man had when he was sitting in front of me.”
“In graduate school, I was taught that talk therapy is most effective to get to trauma,” Greg continued, “But, through my practice, I discovered that because trauma is stored in the right brain, music was a much more effective tool to get to those areas of trauma versus just words.”
Steve added, “That’s because melody is processed in the right hemisphere of the brain.”
“If I show them a video with music, the men’s defenses come down,’ Greg expounded, “They think, ‘This guy’s not trying to challenge me. He’s trying to get to some of my emotions that I’ve not dealt with my whole life.’ It’s really powerful.”
Greg shared an anecdote of talking with a client recently who came in very defended about the pro-choice position and the right to a woman’s body. Greg knew she was coming from a place of trauma. He explained he was going to show her a song with a video and would like her to share with him her thoughts.
“As I was watching her watch the song, tears started coming down her face, and she started to cry,” Greg said, ‘All of the defenses because of her previous trauma started to come down by watching this video and music, and now, we could talk about her pain as a pro-choice woman. There’s no way I could have done it just through words. It was a very powerful experience.”
Steve commented that “many therapists have told me they have clients who haven’t been able to talk for literally years about abuse or trauma, and they play one song, and the tears are like this speed of light thing.”
“There’s no defense against that because of where music goes,” Steve said, “It goes right under the door or through the cracks in your wall or whatever, and opens up that heart. Then, once you open up that heart, you can put that message in.
He explained, “Melody is a memory device. People remember 90% of what they hear in songs as opposed to 10% of what they’re told. That’s why advertisers sing to us about toilet bowl cleansers and beer and all sorts of things. But we can harness that power to sing a healing message to somebody. And if they hear it in a song, they’re going to have a much harder time forgetting it. So, you want to speak truth, life, and healing words into those wounded hearts once you get that opening that then they can carry with them.”
New Resource: Music as a Bridge to Abortion Healing
Lisa introduced Karin Barbito, Special Projects Manager for Support After Abortion, to describe the new abortion healing resource that came about as a result of what Greg and Steve shared.
Karin laughed and said, “I gotta be really honest and say I wasn’t a believer at first. I thought this is not going to work. But, I’m converted because what we’ve been able to develop is exactly what we’re talking about. It’s another option for a client or someone working with a client to use in order to help people get in touch with their feelings and emotions.”
I’ll be the first to admit, I shoved my abortion down and I didn’t think about it for years,” Karin shared, “When we’ve facilitated groups, we’ve experienced that it does take quite a while for people to connect with their emotions depending on how big, how deep that wall is they’ve built.”
She explained, “Steve sent over a whole curriculum from his project Mercy is Great Enough that Greg had been instrumental in developing. We took a look at them and decided to test it out. We picked out a couple songs to have on our learning platform and created a pretty journal to go with it to test as a proof of concept.”
“We haven’t even rolled it out yet, and over 70 people have already accessed it on our site without our even promoting it or telling anyone about it,” Karin said, “That, to me, is a win. We haven’t even told people about it yet, and somehow they found it. I’m super excited to share it with you.”
Support After Abortion Learning Platform
Karin shared her screen to walk attendees through the new Support After Abortion Learning Platform. She showed the Client Healing Center side with six options:
She scrolled through the Music as a Bridge to Abortion Healing, played one of the songs, Hidden Things by Music for the Soul, and showed the accompanying Journal which people can write down their thoughts and feelings after listening to the songs as a way to process through their pain.
How to Use Music as a Bridge to Abortion Healing
Greg shared that in his Christian counseling practice, “I take guys back to the Garden of Eden where shame began and God said, “Where are you Adam?”
“Because I work a lot with addictions and abortion, I connect [guys] to the reality that shame has been there since the beginning, and men have been hiding since the beginning and how can we come out of hiding,” Greg said, “Then I might play [Hidden Things].”
He shared that he’s been using music in therapy for 20 years. He said he has all of Steve’s products plus others. He explained that he selects songs for certain stages of healing. For example, if they are focused on forgiveness or shame, he might use the song, Your Life has Made a Difference. He told providers that the more they use music, the more intuitive it will become knowing what songs to use for a particular issue and the timing of when to use them.
Lisa shared that “Support After Abortion has worked to integrate songs into the weekly sessions for Keys to Hope and Healing.” Karin suggested using Your Life Has Made a Difference during Celebrations of Life in abortion healing programs because it talks about bringing dignity to the child’s life. Lisa advised providers to give virtual support group clients the link to the song they want to play, so they can listen on their own devices to avoid bandwidth and streaming issues. Each can mute themselves, listen privately, then unmute for discussion.
Steve offered other ways to incorporate the songs into abortion healing programs. He said, “I hear from therapists that song can be a great way to introduce a topic, and also a way to follow up a discussion as a way to reinforce the message and be that memory piece – like Your Life Has Made a Difference where the singer is realizing their child’s life made a difference even though lost to an abortion decision.”
Greg shared that when working with couples, he will sometimes have them hold hands while a song is playing and provide time for reflection and ask one simple process question afterwards, like What was that like for you? Then be silent. He said, “You’d be surprised what comes out of the discussion with that one question.”
Steve elaborated, “Music expresses the inexpressible, and in the silence that Greg is talking about, feelings are being processed that may not be able to be put into words quickly, but there’s processing going on, and making room for that is something music can do, also.”
Using Songs with Men
Karin shared that Support After Abortion is going to develop or get Men’s songs, along with creating a journal, and packaging them for men noting that “for every abortion there is a man involved who has been impacted, whether they know it or not.”
Greg said he had suggested two main topic areas for songs for guys. He shared, “The most inspiring song that I helped Steve develop was I Wasn’t There. That came from my work with men feeling like they abandoned their partner and their child at the abortion clinic and the healing process that has to happen. When a guy says to his partner or spouse, ‘I wasn’t there for you, and I acknowledge that and how can we heal together,’ that song has been very powerful in my counseling.”
Steve shared the experience a female counselor relayed to him from her work with couples who have been through an abortion. “She talked about playing the song I Wasn’t There for a wife and husband who were having trouble talking to each other about it. The man had never really talked about it or opened up about it. She said that as they…got further into the song, she saw his hand inching toward his wife, and by the time the song was over, he was holding her hand. After the song ended, they talked together. It was the first time he had ever spoken with her about it.”
“Musical tastes differ. On the Mercy Great Enough project, some songs are more of a country flavor sung by a man, one is more pop rock sung by a man – that was deliberate. It’s a matter of a therapist knowing the right time for the right song,” Steve said, “For that couple, that was the moment that broke the ice for them and got them started talking together. And I checked with the therapist, that couple made it. They’re still together several years later.”
Greg said, “I use a lot of the women’s music. It’s an interesting way to access a male’s empathic responses to their partner. Then I use questions like What do you think that was like for your wife as she was going through that experience? or Do you want to say something to your wife right now, now that you have more empathy? You’d be surprised at how a man can get empathy by listening to a song that he’s never connected with before – or about what the woman might have experienced.”
Steve mentioned the Somebody’s Daughter video project on healing from sex addiction. In the song Is it me?, a woman is singing about rejection, asking Is it something wrong with me that you’d chose pornography?
Greg explained, “I have a guy listen to that song. He’ll say, ‘That sounds like my wife when she’s screaming at me.’ I’ll ask, “But, what is that like for her in those moments to say ‘Is it me? And can you communicate to your wife now what that must be like for her in an empathetic way, all the rejection she’s feeling, sadness she’s feeling.’ You’d be surprised how it gets [the men] there.”
One of the male abortion healing providers attending the webinar said, “I Wasn’t There sounds like a real winner.” He asked Steve, “In my own experience with Father’s Day triggering me, I was wondering if you’ve ever thought about writing a song for Father’s Day [like Another Mother’s Day].”
Steve reflected that whenever they write a song from a certain perspective, they are asked about creating a song for the other perspective. He said “My heart would love to write and record every day, but we have to make choices.” He explained that Another Mother’s Day was written by two women sharing their experiences, and when he heard it, he knew he needed to share it.
“If you listen to Another Mother’s Day, I think, as a father, everything it references would resonate with you because the experiences the mother is talking about – okay, now you’d be 35 and what would that be like – you’re going to have had similar reflections as a father,” Steve said, “I would be curious for you to listen and let me know how you receive it.” The provider said he would listen and email his thoughts to Steve.
Another provider commented, “Based on mine and my husband’s own healing journey, the title alone I Wasn’t There is a profoundly powerful statement. I will play it for my husband and share his thoughts (with his permission, of course). We both want to see couples heal from their abortions and other relationship fracturing.”
Steve explained, “On every project, we do a lot of research, spend a lot of time talking to people, hearing their stories, a lot of time reading, talking to people who counsel on the issue, and we let the folks who’ve lived it and who counsel it… approve our content before we record.”
“Whenever we go to write, I always pray the same prayer,” He continued, ”’Lord, we know the target that we are feeling called to aim at. But, we also know that You know where each and every song is going to go and each and every person who’s going to hear it, and we don’t know that.’ So, I always pray that the songs are specific enough to resonate with the lived experience of the listener, but open enough that they might go somewhere else.“
Steve shared what he called a perfect example of this phenomenon in the first two responses they received when they did the More Beautiful project for breast cancer survivors.
“A lady who was a throat cancer survivor who had been ashamed of her scar said that song made her throw away all of her turtlenecks. Well, I didn’t write a song about throat cancer, right?”
“Another woman wrote and said she’d had a miscarriage, and hearing the song More Beautiful enabled her to not hate her body anymore.”
Steve shared another example:
“There’s a song on Mercy Great Enough called Stain Upon My Heart, and I was specifically writing about the stain of abortion on somebody’s heart and the feeling that they could never be washed clean, and we want them to know that that’s not true, that again – there’s Mercy Great Enough. But the truth of the matter is that whatever the stain may be, whatever it is in your past that you feel like is beyond the pale and God could never forgive, that stain can be washed clean, too.”
Steve invited the providers to browse his Music for the Soul website and “as you go around the website, there may be a song that wasn’t even about abortion healing in my mind when I wrote it, and you’ll hear it, and [think a particular client] really needs to hear that. It might be on a completely different project, because, let’s face it, abortion remorse is grief. So, we have lots of songs about remorse, and grief, and sorrow in all the topics that we deal with. So, I invite you to use your imagination. And, like Greg said, once you start thinking like this, you’ll realize that there are songs you can cherry pick when you hear something and think someone needs to hear that message…Abortion loss is grief and other songs will fit.”
Greg mentioned that before Steve’s music addressing the abortion issue, he used a secular rap song Happy Birthday by Flipsyde, an African-American singer with abortion in his history. “That song has 10 million views on YouTube and we’ve used that over the years…it was our only men’s song back then.” He said it has been great to integrate some Christian music in his practice.
Clinical Usage Guidance
In answer to a provider’s question about how to handle a situation where a song brings up powerful emotions the client isn’t ready to deal with, Greg explained, “I have a process I go through before I even touch trauma…I’m working on coping skills, addiction recovery, staying sober, healing trauma with a spouse, PTSD. I’m doing all this work before I even get to touch the abortion issue or the abuse issue or whatever is there in their past.” He discussed the stages of developing the therapeutic relationship and assessing when they are ready to address the issue, then using songs at the right time along those stages when it’s appropriate.
“For the longest time, I was not a fan of having people do things self-guided for that very reason,” Karin said, “We know that the process of going through abortion healing is emotionally painful. And when you get to the What If stage – when you’re replaying what happened in your head – that’s a dangerous place to stay. As a facilitator we want to make sure that they don’t get stuck there, that they continue through the grief and loss process.”
She continued, “I’m starting to change my mind because we’re finding more and more people don’t want us to know who they are, they want to be able to do things anonymously. And the only way that we’ve been able to figure out how to allow them to do it completely anonymously is to have something on our website that they can go to completely anonymously.”
Karin said, “They have the ability to hit the pause button any time they want. All over our site we have information to call or text the After Abortion Line, a contact form, inviting them to reach out if they’d like to talk to someone about what they’re processing through.”
Lisa added, “We want to make sure we always follow our clients, never push them into places they can’t or don’t want to enter into.”
“Abortion healing can often be healing a wound,” Lisa said, “When we’re addressing wounds, we need to think of them in a clinical manner. When we’re walking alongside someone to grow and strengthen, it’s more of a coaching model. It’s always important that we stay present to our client’s needs.”
Accessing Music for the Soul Songs
Karin explained, “Support After Abortion has entered into a licensing agreement with Steve for one year, so however may people want to listen to [the songs] on our website can.
She also gave information about downloading songs directly from the Mercy Great Enough page on Steve’s Music for the Soul website. The songs are downloadable individually for $1.29. The whole record is downloadable for $11.97. Steve has created a discount code (SAA) for our abortion healing providers to receive 15% off.
“If you’re counseling or working with clients, once you download a song, it’s yours to use with unlimited clients,” Steve said, “Our heart is that people be served. We didn’t create this stuff so it could be hidden away, so if you’ve got somebody who needs that song, and you downloaded it, and you play it for them, and tomorrow someone else needs it, you go ahead and play it for them. That’s what they’re for.”
“If you want to put our songs on your website, please ask and pay the small license fee,” he requested.
Steve added, “It’s kind of the wild, wild west out there. It’s really the honor system at this point. We’re a small nonprofit, records are expensive, and videos even more expensive. So, we appreciate it when people pay.”
Providers’ Reception to Music as a Bridge to Abortion Healing
The reception to this new resource among the abortion healing providers in attendance was immediately positive. Comments included:
“This is amazing! Excellent work! Very impressive!”
“I am thankful that you are acknowledging the value of music therapy in support after abortion.”
“Such great work!”
“A great addition to the abortion healing movement! Music has played a wonderful role in our retreats, especially Rachel’s Vineyard.”
“Such a wonderful tool!”
“This will be wonderful to add to our healing ministry.”
“I am always enriched and encouraged by the work of Support After Abortion – always learn something new!”
“Thank you so much for today’s information. Today’s presentation was excellent.”
Future Music Projects
“Hopefully these two songs will take off,” Lisa said, “and we can get some forward momentum, so we can build out more music, maybe change up some of the tunes to be more relevant or relatable.”
“We really believe in this project,” she continued, “So we hope you take this back, and share your feedback with us, so we can continue to grow it and make it really powerful for those who need healing – in Support After Abortion fashion – providing options, so it’s not just a single way to healing.”
Recap of May 18, 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
“Answering the questions was like getting undressed in front of someone,” Jane Abbate said as she described what it felt like when she first reached out for support after her abortions. “Each question was like taking off a different piece of clothing. My anxiety increased as the questions got more personal.”
Jane has succeeded as an Executive Director and entrepreneur. She is the author of Where Do Broken Hearts Go? Healing and Hope After Abortion, and currently serves as part of the after care teams with Rachel’s Vineyard in St. Louis. Her passion is to support people on their abortion healing journeys. She leads small groups to explore the emotional aftermath of abortion and to grow beyond that painful experience. She also offers mentoring to build the mindset, skills, and habits that lead to a life of purpose and happiness.
Her own healing journey began in 1999 with a phone call to Rachel’s Vineyard. She had seen advertisements for a few years before finding the courage to make that call. It was the first time she had told anyone about her abortion experiences other than her husband. She recalls the advertisement read Are you suffering from an abortion?
Jane said, “I was suffering from abortionS – and not just two, but three. I was mortified to have to say I had had more than one.”
Jane recounted how after taking that first frightening step of calling, she had to muster up the strength to drive into the parking lot. She had to summon the courage to get out of her car and walk inside. She had to push past feeling intimidated and fearing judgment and condemnation. She was relieved the staff members were compassionate and welcoming. They provided emotional care and support to help her through filling out the paperwork.
Reaching out, getting support, and finding healing after her abortions “changed my life, saved my life. It was the most important thing I’ve ever done,” Jane declared.
Eventually Jane wrote a book, Where Do Broken Hearts Go? Healing and Hope After Abortion, about 19 different emotions she experienced – from numbness, anger and fear to freedom, joy and peace. She explained, “I wrote it that way because I didn’t experience my abortions in my head. I lost my children – the only children I would end up having – through my emotions and the bouts of anger, loneliness, and guilt I was drinking away.”
Jane served on the Rachel’s Vineyard team in Pittsburgh for nearly 15 years. Now she leads after-retreat groups in St. Louis that meet for 4-6 weeks using her book as a basis for discussion and support.
How to Ensure Your Intake Process Prompts Truth
Based on her lived experience as someone who sought support and her expertise gained as a leader in providing abortion healing to others, Jane offered several tips on how to ensure your intake process prompts truth. She emphasized the need tocreate a safe space for clients to open up and share their stories.
Use Language to Ease Client Fears
Her first suggestion is to use language that eases the client’s fears of the unknown by gently explaining what you’re doing and why. Jane said it would have been helpful and less scary if she knew what to expect. For example, she suggests starting an initial phone intake with a statement such as I’m going to ask you some general questions about your abortions. I won’t ask you to share your story, yet. We’ll do that later when we meet in person.
“That would have relieved the tension I was feeling not knowing what was coming, when I would be asked about my story, or how deep the questions would be.” Jane said.
Jane suggested pausing periodically during the intake process for “you are here” type updates and to affirm the client with words such as I know this has been tough. Thank you for sharing. Now we’re going to _______. Jane shared, “it would have been helpful to know I wasn’t going to have to tell it all in that first conversation.”
Lisa Rowe, LCSW and CEO of Support After Abortion, agreed and advised abortion healing providers that “It’s not just the abortions. Clients are exposing the vulnerable places they’ve traveled, so don’t do that all at once.” Lisa also discussed the need to help clients distinguish between shame (I am bad) and guilt (I made a bad decision).
Create a Safe Space for Trust and Sharing
Continuing with her tips for intake that prompts truth, Jane recommended providers reflect on what our purpose is – providing a safe space for clients to trust and share. She explained, “There are so many things you [providers] want to know and that are important to know, but consider if they all have to be asked at the same time.” She talked about the discomfort that many providers have felt “moving from being the compassionate, caring caregiver to the data-collector” and how it’s possible to blend both necessary roles.
Jane encouraged providers to recognize the difference in how questions that require more sensitive and vulnerable responses may affect clients, for example benign answers such as my email address is _____ compared to I’ve had five abortions to I was abused as a child. She discussed how by adjusting our language and intake process and mindfully listening and empathetically engaging with clients, we will put clients more at ease, foster trust, and elicit truth.
Practical Suggestions to Create Space to Prompt Truth During Intake
Karin Barbito, Director of Special Projects at Support After Abortion and a former pregnancy center program director, then shared practical suggestions to create space to prompt truth during intake. She recommended examining your agenda noting, “Barring anything else, you want them to connect with healing, and they’ll know that if you focus on them, not judging. Time during intake is just to be present with them, to normalize their feelings. They’re sharing stuff with you they may not have shared with anyone before. We want them to know they’re not being judged, they’re being loved, and we’re here to serve them. Create that space.”
Tip 1 – Let Clients Know Why We’re Asking Questions
Karin echoed Jane’s advice to let people know why we’re asking these probing, personal questions. For example, “I’m going to ask you about the type of abortions you’ve had, so we can help you with what you’ve been through because the type of abortion often affects people differently. Similarly, we ask the date of the most recent reproductive loss because someone whose loss was only two weeks or two months ago presents much differently than someone 20 years removed from their experience.”
Karin said her purpose for the questions she asks is always “to understand what the client is going through, so I can serve them well. We ask questions in order to offer better support.”
She asked, “How many of you lied when asked about reproductive losses or abortions? I did because I was ashamed and I didn’t want to talk about it.”
Karin said to keep it very relational and create a safe place that will help them to be honest with us, so we can help them find healing.
Tip 2 – Review and Revise Your Intake Regularly
Karin started with saying, “Let me be completely transparent. We did it wrong, and we’ve changed our questions and language along the way because we learned. There’s no shame in pivoting the questions you ask because of personal experience – yours or ours.”
Lisa shared, “We’ve discussed intakes at least once a month for several hours since starting Support After Abortion because we’re constantly learning new things. We’re always open to new understanding. I encourage you, if you haven’t taken a look at your intake in a while, to do so. It’s one of the most important things to begin a conversation and start the relationship on solid footing. It needs to be something you review regularly.”
Karin recommended providers allow clients anonymity during the initial call. She noted that at Support After Abortion, we only need one thing at that point – some form of contact information they’re willing to share so we can follow up. We also try to get a zip code, so that we can connect them with resources near them or in their time zone.
Tip 3 – Use Gentle, Non-Judgmental Language
Karin spoke about using gentle, non-judgmental language. A key example is not to use the term post-abortive because “it’s a label with some really negative connotations.” She shared her personal experience saying, “I had my abortion in 1977, I don’t want to be labeled by that for the rest of my life.”
Another critical language term to avoid is using abortion singularly, as it stigmatizes those who have had multiple abortions. Instead, always use the plural, such as abortions and reproductive losses.
A third language change is to move away from only asking about abortions – or only about miscarriages and stillbirths – rather asking about reproductive losses you’ve experienced including miscarriages, stillbirths, infertility, infant/child death, adoption placements, children removed from the home, abortion pill reversal failures, and abortions. This better captures client experiences and enables us to refer them to organizations and agencies that can support them.
Tip 4 – Meet Clients Where They Are
Karin said, “Politics aside, religion aside, I just want to help people find freedom and walk into their destiny.” She explained that “not everyone wants to start with religion. They may feel judged and condemned.” She encouraged providers to use and provide clients with Support After Abortion’s beginning abortion healing resource Keys to Hope and Healing, which is available in secular or faith-centered editions for men and women, in English and Spanish.
As she continued offering practical suggestions for prompting truth during intake, Karin suggested using a Likert scale instead of the usual How are you doing emotionally? Noting that clients often simply respond fine, Karin shared that we can elicit more genuine responses if we instead ask, How are you doing emotionally on a scale of one to five, with one being “feeling bad most days” and five being “feeling good most days”? It validates the range of emotions clients may be feeling and encourages conversation.
Jane affirmed the value of Likert scales, stating that “it helps give the client something to focus on.”
Additional Likert scale questions on a client’s emotional and mental health well-being were made available to participants after the webinar by sharing the Intake Questions presentation.
Karin suggested following up one month after the client’s retreat, one-on-one, or group and asking the same questions in the same way to see if there has been progress – if healing helped. Karin said this helps us further support the client and capture information confirming that “If someone goes through healing, the likelihood of their choosing abortion again for a future unexpected pregnancy goes down.”
Tip 6 – Determine If Clients are Ready for Support Groups or Therapy
Karin then addressed how to determine if a client is ready for a support group or is in need of clinical therapy.
Karin emphasized the importance of assessing a client’s risk of suicide and encouraged providers to ask the question directly, Are you currently, or have you in the past, had suicidal thoughts? with answer choices being Yes Currently, Yes in the past, and No. If you are having the client complete the form independently, we recommend you include If you are having suicidal thoughts now, please call 800-273-8255, which is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This question is essential to determine whether to refer a client to a support group or therapy and to immediately connect clients with current suicidal thoughts or ideation to effective help.
Karin affirmed the need to ask Are you currently in therapy? and If you’re in therapy, has your therapist approved your participation in this group? Karin stated, “Many groups aren’t professional clinical help, so we want to make sure their therapist is okay with their participation.”
Additionally, Support After Abortion encourages providers to use the Likert scale emotional assessment responses to help determine how to best direct clients. For example, if a client were to answer “1” to all four emotional assessment questions, they should be referred for clinical support. If a client answered “1” to several questions, providers should discern together with the client if clinical support or a support group is best for their needs.
Tip 8 – How to Respond to “I’m Fine”
Lisa urged providers to “see that 20-30 year old man or woman who’s going to expose their deep selves to you, or that 60 year old self who feels like they’re undressing in front of you.” She also addressed providers in pregnancy centers engaging in conversations about previous reproductive losses with pregnant clients, who aren’t expecting these questions.
Karin added, “The client comes into a pregnancy center because they’re pregnant and they’re either happy about it or not. They’re looking for an ultrasound, maybe an education program, maybe gestational age to pursue abortion. We need to slow them down. As people in crisis, they’re not thinking about or hearing what you say.”
If a client indicated they had reproductive losses, Karen shared she would ask them about their losses, and they’d say “I’m fine.” She would ask ‘Can you spend another 10 minutes with me after your pregnancy test to circle back to how you’re doing after your losses?’”
“Then, for example after a negative pregnancy test and sexual avoidance test, I’d say, ‘I’d like a few more minutes, please.’ I made sure I was completely available to them in that moment.”
Her voice softening with compassion, Karin said, “I would then share, I had an abortion, and I thought I was fine, but I really wasn’t. So, tell me, how are you really doing?” She added, “Usually, they started crying because someone was asking about them. Give the opportunity to let people share those secrets that are eating them up. Invest our time in them. In order to love and help them, we need to have the conversation. Consider that when that person leaves your center, you may not see them again. Seize every opportunity.”
Lisa encouraged providers to have someone on their team who has experienced abortion and found healing. Support After Abortion’s consumer research shows that a majority of people would like to speak to someone who has walked in their shoes.1
For providers who have not experienced abortions, Lisa recommended using wording similar to what she says, “That is a very common response. I understand this isn’t an easy place to travel to, but would you mind sharing with me a little bit about your story? The minute their brain is engaged in sharing that story, that’s when the tears come and there is something that then presents. When those tears come and their story generates emotion, I’ll say, I’m so glad you shared that with me. We have support programming for that.”
Lisa encouraged providers, “Don’t stop at ‘I’m fine.’ Start the conversation. Ask more in-depth questions, encourage greater understanding. This is a conversation, not a fill-in-the-blank.”
Tip 9 – Focus on the Client
One provider reflected, “It isn’t about the process so much as the person.
I have to put aside all of my preconceived notions about who she is, and where she is, and what she ought to be, so she can heal. She needs to know that we see her as she is – or he is – in that moment.”
In closing the training session, Lisa said, “We want to be that soft landing place. It’s about her and what she needs, or about him and what he wants to do next.”
She continued, “It’s not about pro-life or pro-choice or about what numbers you need to report to your board. It’s about the client in front of you and what they need and want to do next.”
Jane concluded by urging providers to approach clients from their viewpoint: “I’m not a program participant or member, I’m a woman (or man) – at whatever stage of life – who has come to you at great expense of my shame, guilt, experience, and I need your help and support.
Click here to register for the next Abortion Healing Provider Webinar.
How to Help Clients Experiencing Anger After Abortions
Excerpt from April 21, 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
During the March 16 Abortion Healing Provider webinar, hosted by Support After Abortion, Fr. Shawn Monahan, OMV, shared great insights on forgiveness in response to questions about how to help clients deal with anger after abortions – toward others and themselves. These ideas and steps can be applied to other anger situations or trauma, as well.
My Client is So Angry, What Can I Say?
Anger is a huge obstacle to healing. You can say, “You may be angry at someone else, God, the world, or even yourself. Working through your anger and pain – and forgiving those who caused it – is for you, not for them.
Forgiveness isn’t forgetting or saying what happened is okay, or letting someone off the hook, and it doesn’t have to be something you feel. It is a decision of the will to move away from punitive anger and focus on your own healing and loving yourself.”
What’s Holding My Client Back From Forgiving?
If you want to figure out what’s holding your client back from forgiving – why they are struggling to forgive – it can be helpful to ask, “What do you feel – or what do you fear – would happen if you were to let go of this anger and forgive this person?” Then ask, “Is that true?” For example, a client might say, “If I forgive my boyfriend, maybe that means what he did to me was okay.” You ask, “Is that true?”
Learn how to ask questions to effectively dialogue with clients from Chris McClusky, President of the Professional Christian Coaching Institute and member of the Board of Directors for a Pro-life Center with this Coaching Clients article and training video.
How Can I Coach a Client Through the Forgiving Process?
Fr. Shawn presented 15 Steps to Forgiving Someone. As you share these steps with a client, emphasize that it is a process and that they are not alone. Remind them that healing and forgiving take time and can feel overwhelming. You can say, “Just begin wherever you are. And, know that while it is your healing and your forgiveness, it isn’t a Do-It-Yourself project. You are not alone. Jesus is inviting you to walk with him and share your wounded heart with him. And, I am here for you.”
15 Steps to Forgiving Someone
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you who you need to forgive. It could be a family member, friend, abuser, God, or yourself. Let that wound surface and take you where the Holy Spirit wants you to go.
Picture that person in front of you. Just look at them and pay attention to what you feel. What do you notice as you look at them? Are you angry? Disgusted? Little? Powerless? Nothing?
Make a full account of the debt they owe you. What did they take from you? How did they hurt you? Don’t gloss over or censure your thoughts or feelings. How has what they did to you affected you? It’s okay to feel angry.
Imagine yourself telling them to their face what they did to hurt you and how it has affected you. Say it however you want to say it.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you believe about yourself based on that incident – what you believe about yourself in this area of sorrow. This is called an “identity lie.”
Renounce that identity lie. For example, “I renounce the lie that I am not loved or cared for.” “I renounce the lie that this is my fault.” “I renounce the lie that I am too little, or a failure, or ugly, or I will never be…” Then ask, “Holy Spirit, reveal to me now what the truth is.”
Announce the truth. For example, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I announce the truth that I am seen, worth defending, protected, cared for, good, and whole. God is always with me.”
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the judgments you hold toward the person who hurt you.
Renounce those judgments. (“I renounce the judgment that…” refer to Step #6)
Picture yourself at the foot of the cross. Place yourself and that person who hurt you somewhere in the scene with both of you looking at the face of Christ. Think about what it’s like to see Jesus gaze upon you, to know that he knows your heart, your sorrow, and that He cares for you. Think about what it’s like to have Jesus look upon you with such love and understanding. Think also about what it’s like to see Jesus gaze upon the person who hurt you. He knows their story and why they did what they did. He loves them too and knows the pain in their heart that caused them to do what they did.
Ask Jesus to forgive the person for they know not what they do (or did). Pray, “Please forgive them.”
If you are willing and safe enough – bring that person close to you, to see their face, look them in the eye, and stand there with Jesus, and say, “Through the power of this cross, I forgive you. I choose to forgive you. I choose to release my desire to make you pay for what you have done. I surrender that desire to Christ and ask Him to make it right. I don’t seek revenge. I choose to bless you. I forgive you today and ask Jesus for healing.” Pray for every person who has hurt you, wherever they are, for healing and restoration for them.
Pray a prayer of blessing over that person. Ask God to bless them in the opposite way that they hurt you.
Ask Jesus to seal this forgiveness and heal the wounds.
Thank God for his healing.
Encourage your client as they work this difficult process. You can say, “Through your healing and forgiving, you will experience a ripple effect, particularly in your relationships with others, with family members, with your community, with your church community, with God. While it involves and affects others, your healing journey is for you – for your wholeness, your restoration and your well-being.“